A “Call Out” and “Two Thumbs Up” to Professor Patrick Deneen

Sunday, January 29, AD 2012

What’s a tenured associate professor of government teaching at a Catholic university to do when he believes the institution isn’t really Catholic?

It’s pretty easy to say “Give up your tenure and go where you will find what you are looking for.”  Sometimes, witness to one’s faith entails suffering.

Agreed.  But, making that decision isn’t so simple when other considerations—like those of family, financial obligations (a mortgage, for example), and the like—must also be factored into the equation.

The situation presents an authentic ethical dilemma, one that confronted a former Associate Professor of Government at Georgetown University, Patrick Deneen.

In a letter published at Front Porch Republic, Deneen said with regard to Georgetown University:

…Georgetown increasingly and inevitably remakes itself in the image of its secular peers, ones that have no internal standard of what a university is for other than the aspiration of prestige for the sake of prestige, its ranking rather than its commitment to Truth. Its Catholic identity, which should inform every activity of the community, from curriculum to dorm life to faculty hiring, has increasingly been cordoned off to optional activities of Campus Ministry.

Describing his experience, Deneen wrote:

In the seven years since I joined the faculty at Georgetown, I have found myself often at odds with the trajectory and many decisions of the university.  In 2006 I founded The Tocqueville Forum as a campus organization that would offer a different perspective, one centered on the moral underpinnings of liberal learning that are a precondition for the continued existence of liberal democracy, and one that would draw upon the deep wisdom contained in the Catholic humanistic tradition.  I have been heartened and overjoyed to witness the great enthusiasm among a myriad of students for the programming and activities of the Forum.  However, the program was not supported or recognized by the institution, and that seemed unlikely to change.  While I did not seek that approval, I had hoped over the years that the program would be attractive to colleagues across disciplines on the faculty, and would be a rallying-point for those interested in reviving and defending classical liberal learning on campus.  The Tocqueville Forum fostered a strong community of inquiry among a sizeable number of students, but I did not find that there was any such community formed around its mission, nor the likely prospect of one, among the more permanent members of the university. I have felt isolated and often lonely at the institution where I have devoted so many of my hours and my passion.

So, where is Professor Deneen headed?

The University of Notre Dame (UND).

However, Deneen appears not to be headed to South Bend blinded by all of the UND hype.  He wrote:

I don’t doubt that there will be many battles at Our Lady’s University.  But, there are at least some comrades-in-arms to share in the effort.

UND hired Deneen, he wrote, because they regard him as “someone who can be a significant contributor to its mission and identity, particularly the Catholic identity of the institution.”

Although considerations like these are not typically a criterion for hiring at Georgetown as Deneen noted, The Motley Monk would humbly suggest that even in those institutions where they are, there’s quite a distance between espousing those ideals and translating them to pedagogical lessons in every classroom, dorm, and student activity.

For Professor Deneen’s willingness to witness to the importance of an institution’s Catholic identity in name and in fact, The Motley Monk offers a “call out” and “both thumb up.”

To read Professor Deneen’s letter, click on the following link:
http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/2012/01/why-i-am-leaving-georgetown/

To follow The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

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9 Responses to A “Call Out” and “Two Thumbs Up” to Professor Patrick Deneen

  • Two old sayings come to mind. “Never say die.” and “Out of the fire, into the frying pan.”

  • My impression — and it is only that — is that Notre Dame accepts its Catholic identity and is genuinely proud of it, even if it all too often misunderstands it; while Georgetown cannot quite decide if it should accept its Catholicity or be embarrassed by it. I could be wrong.

  • The rise of the gay pride organisation at Georgetown with its lavender graduation was coerced by the Supreme Court in view of a D.C. law and presages the recent arising health insurance dilemna facing the Church:

    from their history of their rise….
    1980

    “GPGU petitions GU for recognition again and is denied for the third time; GPGU and the Gay Rights Coalition (GU Law Center) sue GU for recognition under the DC Human Rights Act. In Gay Rights Coalition v. Georgetown University, the Supreme Court rules that Georgetown University has violated the D.C. Human Rights Law by refusing to recognize its LGBTQ organization.”

    see their history with their frequent infiltrations of campus tours for new students:

    http://studentorgs.georgetown.edu/pride/?Action=About

    In a 1988 settlement, GU ends up indirectly funding them:
    “After 8 years of litigation and 199 years after its founding, GU settles with GPGU , agreeing to fund the group through a secondary body as to not violate Catholic teaching regarding homosexuality. This led to the creation of the Student Activities Commission (SAC). ”

    So the question is….would Christ fund a sodomy group through a secondary body. No…I think He would close the school and move it to another area. My cousin is gay and I’ve prayed for her for decades and will pray until her death as I prayed for her partner who died and was a divorced Catholic who turned gay after divorce. She, when alive and thinking I would agree, denounced to me certain relatives who objected but then was fiercely mad at me for agreeing with them and saying to her face that
    Scripture is crystal clear in Romans 1 that it is deadly sin for both genders.

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  • I have a couple of questions regarding this and maybe it is because I am in search of, on a conquest for my own authentic masculinity. Do we stay and fight in a situation like this…or is the can kicked so far down the road that return to Catholic University status at G’Town is slim to none? Can more of an effective fight be waged at ND which needs to be more authentically Catholic (at least what I can see from the news the last few years).

  • As an ND alum, I cannot speak for Georgetown, but I say without reservation that there is hope for Notre Dame, and the last thing that the oft-beleaguered faithful among the students and faculty at ND need is to be written off as a lost cause by the rest of the Church. Here is a good place to start:

    http://www.projectsycamore.com/

  • Michael,
    I think that folks should fight the good fight from whereever they sit. I see no reason, or really any practical ability, to engage in our unfortunate culture war on just certain fronts or battlegrounds. Catholics who care about Georgetown or who are in a position to be influential there should direct their energies there, just as Catholics with ND relationships should fight the good fight there. That is just my 2 cents.

  • In case it was not clear, my last comment was in response to MJP’s.
    I agree completely with MB’s post.

  • “conquest”

    “fight”

    “fight”

    “war”

    “battleground”

    “fight”

    “fight”

    I love it when you guys comment thusly.

    Let them also “admonish”, “counsel”, “instruct”, and “pray for.”

The Real Fighting Irish: A Review of Notre Dame and the Civil War

Monday, January 24, AD 2011

The peaks of Notre Dame history are shrouded in the mists of war.

Father Hugh O’Donnell, President, Notre Dame-1941

I think it was in 1964 when I read my first book on the Civil War, The American Heritage Golden Book of the Civil War, and I immediately thereafter developed a life long passion for the subject.  Over the intervening 47 years, I have read hundreds of books on the War.  Truth to tell, more than a few of the books I have read on the Civil War have left me with a ho hum feeling, not telling me much that I haven’t read many, many times before.  I am therefore always pleasantly surprised when a tome on the Late Unpleasantness can give me lots of new information, and such is the case with Notre Dame and the Civil War, by James M. Schmidt.  Mr. Schmidt, knowing of my interest in US Catholic Chaplains in the military, was kind enough to send me a review copy, and I am glad that he did, as he has brought forth facts and new pieces of information about Notre Dame and the Civil War that I have not read elsewhere.

Many Protestant denominations in the country were ripped asunder North and South by the Civil War and the decades of turmoil leading up to it.  Not so the Catholic Church in America.  As a global Church, it was not unusual for Catholics to find themselves on different sides in civil wars or national conflicts, and there was never any threat to the unity of the Church in America.  Individual Catholics fought bravely for both the Union and the Confederacy.  The Catholics of Notre Dame, except for a few students from the South, were whole heartedly for the Union.

Even before the Civil War, as Mr. Schmidt brings out,  Notre Dame students were preparing to fight.  Two student military companies were organized in 1858, part of the craze for militia companies, well drilled, in fancy uniforms that swept the nation in the late Fifties.  It was fun being a part time soldier:  drills, nice uniforms, parades, pretty girls cheering on the side lines.  Many of the students of course were soon to have first hand knowledge of darker aspects of military life.

Schmidt skillfully relates the fever to enlist in the Union army that swept through the students of Notre Dame after Fort Sumter.  Along with their students, Notre Dame priests also served as chaplains.  Most famous among them was of course Father William Corby, who marched and fought with the Irish Brigade and who gave them mass absolution on the second day at Gettysburg before they charged into battle.  The book relates the adventures of Father Corby, but also relates the stories of other Notre Dame priests who served as chaplains, including Father Paul E. Gillen, Father James Dillon, Father Joseph C. Carrier and Father Peter P. Cooney, all of whom will be featured in posts in the future.

The Sisters of the Holy Cross of Notre Dame also got behind the war effort.  Sixty of the Sisters would serve as nurses during the war.  The role of Catholic Sisters as nurses in the Civil War is one of the great largely unsung stories of the War.  Usually nursing Protestant soldiers, the Sisters, through their bravery, skill at nursing and simple charity and kindness, often turned fairly anti-Catholic men into friends of the Church and not a few converted to the Faith.  Mr. Schmidt gives these heroic women their due.

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5 Responses to The Real Fighting Irish: A Review of Notre Dame and the Civil War

  • Thanks for posting this! I can’t wait to read it!

  • Pat,

    Glad to see you here on The American Catholic!

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito

  • Thank you!

    ND has helped train gallant officers for America since.

    Today, the University offers Army, Navy and Air Force ROTC commissioning programs. In 2006, 62 ND grads entered commissioned officer service, including three Marines.

    My son served with an ND grad officer/PL in Afghanistan. He had played football there, too. I met him when they came home. Another great grandson of Ireland serving America . . .

  • Don – I am humbled and gratified at the wonderful review. Thank You so much. One of the great things about this book – and the goal I was shooting for – is that it appeals to different audiences: the typical Civil War enthusiast, Notre Dame alumns (bona fide and “subway”), people interested in American Catholic history, and more. Hopefully I did that.

    Thanks so much to the commenters for their enthusiastic response.

    I’m an avid reader – and hopefully a more frequent commenter – here at THC.

    God Bless!

    Jim Schmidt

  • Thank you Jim for your hard work in writing this fine addition to Civil War and Notre Dame scholarship.

Notre Dame 88

Tuesday, October 5, AD 2010

By Charles E. Rice

Fr. Norman Weslin, O.S., at the complaint of Notre Dame, was arrested in May 2009 and charged as a criminal for peacefully entering the Notre Dame campus to offer his prayer of reparation for Notre Dame’s conferral of its highest honor on President Obama, the most relentlessly pro-abortion public official in the world.  The University refuses to ask the St. Joseph County prosecutor to drop the charges against Fr. Weslin and the others arrested, still known as the ND 88 although one, Linda Schmidt, died of cancer this past March.  Judge Michael P. Scopelitis, of St. Joseph Superior Court, recently issued two important orders in this case.

The first order denied the State’s motion to consolidate the cases of multiple defendants.  That motion would have denied each separate defendant his right to a separate jury trial.  The order did permit consolidation of the trials of twice-charged defendants on the separate offenses with which that defendant was charged; a defendant charged, for example, with trespass and disorderly conduct would therefore not have to appear for two trials.  Judge Scopelitis also denied the prosecution’s attempt to force each defendant to return to South Bend for each proceeding in the case, which would have coerced the defendants to abandon their defense.  Instead, the Judge permitted the defendants to participate by telephone in pre-trial conferences.

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38 Responses to Notre Dame 88

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  • What an outstanding article!! It would be nice if Catholic Universities actually lived up to “being Catholic” or that they lived out Catholic principles which are in line with Church teaching. Even those that are Traditional or conservative Catholic colleges find it very hard in some cases to actually walk-the-walk and not just talk-the-talk when it really counts (I know this from personal experience). I guess human nature takes over or something.

    The charges should have been dropped a long time ago. Shame on Notre Dame!

  • Catholic in name only.

    “We shall go before a higher tribunal – a tribunal where a Judge of infinite goodness, as well as infinite justice, will preside, and where many of the judgments of this world will be reversed.” Thomas Meagher, statement on sentencing by a saxon court.

    Matthew 12:34: “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”

  • “Notre Dame appears to be governed by academic ruling class wannabes. The operative religion of the academic and political establishments, however, is political correctness. Activist opponents of ROTC and activist advocates of “gay rights” are politically correct. Activist pro-lifers, such as Fr. Weslin and the ND88, are not. For Notre Dame’s leaders to show respect for the ND88, let alone apologize to them and seek an end to their prosecution, as they ought, would be to touch a third rail of academic respectability. It would not play well in the ruling academic circles. What would they think of us at Harvard, Yale, etc?”

    Bingo! The powers that be at Notre Dame are defending their faith against the heretics of the Notre Dame 88, and that faith has nothing to do with Catholicism. It is a disgrace that every bishop in this country has not condemned this.

  • Maybe ND simply wanted to protect its students and faculty. The mob had already shown its penchance for breaking the law — no one was capable of knowing whether the mob would become violent — it is not unheard of.

    ND’s “inconsistent” treatment is also not shocking. Given the history of trespassing and the fact that past light treatment did not stop it, ND may be sending a stronger message to protect the safety and security of its community.

    Mr. Rice should also know, as a lawyer, that Fr. Weslin’s health or his past deeds are irrelevant as to whether he broke the law. Surely, they are great rhetorical flourishes, but they are just that, a trick used to distract you from the fact that a law was willfully and knowingly ignored.

    Finally, Mr. Rice also should know, as a lawyer, that clients discourage employees from being deposed for all sorts of reasons — not necessarily related to whether they are “hiding” something. This is libelous.

  • This is libelous.

    An easy stone to throw for someone hiding behind the veil of anonymity.

  • “The mob had already shown its penchance for breaking the law — no one was capable of knowing whether the mob would become violent — it is not unheard of.”

    Yeah, you can never know when an 80 year old priest peacefully praying will turn violent.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2010/03/08/father-norman-weslin-champion-of-the-unborn/

  • I was there, on campus for the mass and rosary. My daughter is one of the ND88. I walked out and joined the protesters for much of the day. The activities were all available on youtube. Only a deeply dishonest person could conceive of a “mob” anywhere near Notre Dame that day. Peace.

  • What about the 87 other people? Did ND and the police know the intentions of each of them? Frankly, I think it’s despicable that you use Fr. Weslin as your shield. Also, I missed the memo where we excuse the aged and people who have done otherwise good things in their lives for breaking the law. These people made conscious decisions to trespass. They could have stayed outside the university and gotten their point across. Rather, they wanted to make a spectable and get on TV, which they succeeded in doing. They now need to be adults and accept responsibility for their transgressions.

    Also, just because a person is 80, just because someone is a preist, just because someone is praying, doesn’t mean they can’t be violent. People pray to their god all the time before committing acts of violence — that cannot be denied. People who are 80 commit acts of violence, and we certainly have learned that priests are not above committing acts of violence. I would also point out that Fr. Weslin was just one person — there were many more.

    To an objective observer, and clearly you are not, these people trespassed. They were arrested. End of story. Any excuse you want to make is a consequence of your relgious and political views–which, of course, is your right and fine. Just don’t pretend it’s anything other than that.

    That day was supposed to be about the graduates celebrating their accomplishment. These clowns made it about their cause, which is a shame.

  • ” Only a deeply dishonest person could conceive of a “mob” anywhere near Notre Dame that day. Peace.”

    As our anonymous commenter is amply demonstrating. The Notre Dame 88 are being persecuted because they are a standing rebuke to the Notre Dame administration honoring the most pro-abortion president in our history. All the obfuscation in the world cannot disguise that very simple fact. My congratulations Larry on the fine job you obviously did in raising your daughter.

  • Anonymous, how long have you been a member of the Notre Dame administration?

  • In case Mr. McClarey does not have acces to a dictionary, please see the definition of “mob” and “dishonest.”

    Definition of MOB
    1: a large or disorderly crowd; especially : one bent on riotous or destructive action
    2: the lower classes of a community : masses, rabble
    3chiefly Australian : a flock, drove, or herd of animals
    4: a criminal set : gang; especially often capitalized
    5: a group of people : crowd

    Definition of DISHONEST
    Characterized by lack of truth, honesty, or trustworthiness : unfair, deceptive

    Here is an entry on ad hominem attacks — often resorted to by those who cannot win an argument on the mertis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

    Let me get this straight, a group of 88 religious zealots trespass onto private property on which the President of the United States is speaking and you are surprised/indignant they were arrested? Seriously?

    If you can, deep in your heart say that you would be defending, with the same zealousness, people who were protesting the “right to choose” or Islamic protestors, then, maybe I would believe you.

    It is sad that people turned a day of celebration for the graduates into a political side show. They should be ashamed of themselves.

  • a group of 88 religious zealots

    Thank God Notre Dame is doing its damnedest stamp out religious zeal.

    Then again, it’s been doing that since the Land O’ Lakes Statement, so I guess it’s consistent.

    Oh, and nice job of hiding behind “the graduates,” anonymous ND admin guy.

    It’s this sort of mindset that reminds me why I’m recommending that my children go to an avowedly secular college as opposed to a Land O’ Lakes one. Sure, they’ll hate your faith at a state university, but at least they won’t wear a cloak of Catholic sanctimony while doing it.

    Better to be stabbed in the chest than the back.

  • Let me get this straight, a group of 88 religious zealots trespass onto private property on which the President of the United States is speaking and you are surprised/indignant they were arrested? Seriously?

    There are over 11,000 students at Notre Dame. Add the faculty and the staff and you have 15,000 people on the campus as a matter of course. Then you add in any visitors that day. The ’88 religious zealots’ will increase the size of the campus population by 0.6%. The rathskellar at the campus I know best will have that many people present around noontime, and that particular institution is one-quarter the size of Notre Dame.

    You might also note that his primary complaint is not that they were arrested, but that the institution has persisted in pressing charges when they had not done so in previous circumstances, and lied publicly about their resons for so doing.

  • Just for the kind of clarity and exactness which is typical of Catholic thought, it is not Notre Dame which is prosecuting the ND88. It is Fr. Jenkins – personally. The buck stops at his desk. He hides behind the institution. Let us make an analogy – he is hiding behind the skirts of Our Lady.

  • I looked up your ip address anonymous, and I really hope that you are not an attorney at the law firm you are e-mailing from, because you are not very good at arguing in comboxes and I truly would hate to be paying you to do so in court. The firm that you are e-mailing from seems to have quite a few contacts with Notre Dame. I wonder if you are doing this on your own time, or if someone at Notre Dame is actually foolish enough to pay you to mount this type of sophistical defense of the indefensible?

  • It’s a pretty large firm – I interviewed with them a while back and have friends that work there. In the DC office alone, there are fourteen Domers. It’s unlikely that the commenter above is billing time for arguing on blogs, but the tone of the comment and the handy dictionary references suggest a feisty 1-3 year associate.

  • “but the tone of the comment and the handy dictionary references suggest a feisty 1-3 year associate.”

    Quite true. I hope for anonymous that he wasn’t doing this on a firm computer equipped with tracking software. If I were a partner there I would take a dim view of associates wasting time on blogs during office hours. Ah, the advantages of being a self-employed attorney!

  • If I were a partner there I would take a dim view of associates wasting time on blogs during office hours.

    um…yeah…I agree…no junior associate should ever waste time on blogs during office hours…right on. Who are these people? 😉

    In their defense, I will say that many partner’s definition of ‘office hours’ is roughly “any time during which the associate is alive and not undergoing major surgery.” Another benefit of being self-employed, I suppose.

  • “In their defense, I will say that many partner’s definition of ‘office hours’ is roughly “any time during which the associate is alive and not undergoing major surgery.””

    That is precisely one of the main reasons I became self-employed John Henry. I wanted to have a family life and not work on weekends, and too many firms seemed to think that associates lived only to practice law, and to be the handy target of the ire of dyspeptic partners.

  • “Just for the kind of clarity and exactness which is typical of Catholic thought, it is not Notre Dame which is prosecuting the ND88. It is Fr. Jenkins – personally. The buck stops at his desk.”

    bingo. Fr. Jenkins is doing all he can do to stay in the good graces of his liberal friends. chump.

  • I believe Professor Rice’s general thesis is unquestionably correct: Notre Dame craves the approval of the Princes of this World.

    But from the belly of the beast, a few qualifications may be appropriate.

    I have been told, at any rate, that because the charge is criminal trespass, Notre Dame, despite what everyone says, cannot ask the county prosecutor to dismiss the case. The prosecutor could ask that the case be dismissed, but he would have to justify the request to a judge.

    As Professor Rice documents, previous instances of this sort had been handled quietly by the university itself.This time the South Bend and St. Joseph county police were brought in, and I suspect that everyone in the administration now sees this was a blunder. Part of the reason for deposing Mr. Kirk may be to determine just how this decision came to be made.

    Notre Dame has offered “generous”terms to the defendants. Plead guilty, accept some kind of nominal or suspended punishment, and put the whole thing behind us. The university is in the position of the poor Roman magistrate judging the typical virgin and martyr: Cut me some slack–just genuflect to that damned idol over there and we can all go home. Such blandishments were generally rejected; and I suspect the current ones will be as well.

  • I have been told, at any rate, that because the charge is criminal trespass

    No kidding. If I am not mistaken, under New York law, an act of trespass does not qualify as criminal trespass unless (at a minimum) there is a fence or wall around the property which excludes intruders.

  • “I have been told, at any rate, that because the charge is criminal trespass, Notre Dame, despite what everyone says, cannot ask the county prosecutor to dismiss the case. The prosecutor could ask that the case be dismissed, but he would have to justify the request to a judge.”

    You have been misinformed. Prosecutors nolle prosse countless cases across the nation each day. The consent of the court is pro forma since the court lacks the power to compel the State to prosecute anyone, which is wholly in the discretion of the prosecutor.

    “Notre Dame has offered “generous”terms to the defendants.”

    Of course this demonstrates that Notre Dame is the driving force behind the prosecution. The terms that the Notre Dame 88 should accept from Notre Dame are the dismissal of all charges, payment of their legal fees, a written apology from Notre Dame, and a promise from Notre Dame that they will no longer honor pro-abort politicians.

    This of course is in the spirit of Theoden’s reaction to Saruman’s request for “peace”.

    “We will have peace. Yes, we will have peace, we will have peace when you and all your works have perished — and the works of your dark master to whom you would deliver us. You are a liar, Saruman, and a corrupter of men’s hearts. You hold out your hand to me, and I perceive only a finger of the claw of Mordor. Cruel and cold! Even if your war on me was just as it was not, for were you ten times as wise you would have no right to rule me and mine for your own profit as you desired — even so, what will you say of your torches in Westfold and the children that lie dead there? And they hewed Hama’s body before the gates of the Hornburg, after he was dead. When you hang from a gibbet at your window for the sport of your own crows, I will have peace with you and Orthanc. So much for the House of Eorl. A lesser son of great sires am I, but I do not need to lick your fingers. Turn elsewhither. But I fear your voice has lost its charm.”

  • Not to sound like I’m defending Anonymous here, but…. if the ND88 were KNOWINGLY risking arrest, by crossing a line they had been warned not to cross, and if they were clearly told by university authorities that they WOULD be arrested if they persisted in their actions, then they should accept the consequences, plead guilty and serve whatever sentences they get. That’s what other practitioners of this kind of civil disobedience do (or should do, in my opinion). They don’t argue that they are innocent and being persecuted, they acknowledge that they broke the law to call attention to their cause AND they’d gladly do it again. If that means they go to jail, that goes with the territory, doesn’t it?

    That being said, it would be fitting if Fr. Jenkins or other authorities at Notre Dame asked for the charges to be dropped as a gesture of mercy and solidarity with the cause they were espousing.

    All this, of course, presumes that the ND88 knowingly engaged in illegal actions and were clearly warned that they were risking arrest. If it was a case of a LEGAL protest gathering getting out of hand, or of the participants crossing some invisible “line” they hadn’t been told was there, that would be another story completely.

  • Also, the fact that Notre Dame allegedly let other protesters off more easily doesn’t change the nature of the illegal actions committed by the ND88. While it does show that Notre Dame isn’t being consistent in enforcing its supposed rules regarding protests — and that is a significant issue — still, you can’t argue your way out of any other punishment by saying “But someone else got away with it!”

  • “Not to sound like I’m defending Anonymous here, but…. if the ND88 were KNOWINGLY risking arrest, by crossing a line they had been warned not to cross, and if they were clearly told by university authorities that they WOULD be arrested if they persisted in their actions, then they should accept the consequences, plead guilty and serve whatever sentences they get.”

    Only if Notre Dame wishes to be in the same moral category of the segregationists who legally prosecuted people who sat in at restaurants. When one is being punished unjustly, I see no merit in accepting punishment meekly. Make them prove it at trial. Turn the case against the prosecution by making a big stink about it in every forum possible. Make sure that the injustice of the prosecution becomes a cause celebre. Jenkins and his cohorts would love nothing better than the Notre Dame 88 to meekly admit their guilt and for them to accept their punishment like good boys and girls. I am glad that this satisfaction has been denied them by the intestinal fortitude of the Notre Dame 88.

  • “still, you can’t argue your way out of any other punishment by saying “But someone else got away with it!””

    Actually Elaine I have done just that in some of my cases by proving selective prosecution and having judges determine that prosecutors have abused their discretion. It isn’t easy to do, but given fact situations egregious enough, it is possible.

  • “his (Rice’s) primary complaint is not that they were arrested, but that the institution has persisted in pressing charges when they had not done so in previous circumstances, and lied publicly about their reasons for so doing.”

    I understand this and it’s an appropriate question to raise. And, I suppose that by pleading not guilty and fighting the charges every step of the way, the ND88 could bring those two injustices to light. But, at the end of the day, it seems to me that “don’t do the ‘crime’ if you can’t do the time” applies to civil disobedience actions as well.

    Also, for reasons I have explained before, I don’t think civil disobedience that involves deliberately trying to get arrested for trespassing as an attention-getting device is quite in the same category as lunch counter sit-ins. Sit-ins involved people breaking a law that was inherently unjust — a law designed specifically to prevent people of a certain skin color from doing something they had a natural right to do — to show the world just how unjust and ridiculous the law was. Going out of one’s way to break an otherwise JUST law that has nothing directly to do with the injustice being protested (abortion) is different.

  • What is remarkable to me, and what I really just don’t grasp, is *what possible motive* ND could have in continuing with these charges. Fr. Jenkins, for all his limitations, is certainly no dummy, and he, as well as the other members of the senior administration (to say nothing of the Board of Trustees) must realize that ND qua university will not gain anything from this process. It’s not as though Princeton or Duke will suddenly kowtow to the Dome because a few pro-life activists were arrested there. This view can’t seriously be entertained. It’s also only attracting *more* negative press to ND, and further alienating fence-leaning Catholics who were not happy about Obama but were neither entirely supportive of much of the shenanigans and selective (and sometimes politically motivated) outrage expressed at his visit. These Catholics, seeing now ND’s apparent inconsistency of procedure, will now take more darkly a view of the administration than they ever did before. So I don’t see that ND has anything to gain here, while they have much to lose. If I did not already have experience with administrators’ capacities for practical reasoning, these two considerations would make me think that ND *can’t* remove the charges at this point (something Donald denies). The whole situation is just weird.

  • The whole situation is just weird.

    If you posit that Notre Dame’s administration despises the demonstrators and wants their ilk to stay away forever, the effort to humiliate and injure them seems less weird.

  • I suppose I find it self-evident that that strategy is counterproductive *given* the interests of ND, whatever they think of the demonstrators. (Whatever one thinks of the ND88, and I am generally supportive of them, turning them into martyrs for the pro-life cause will hardly have the effect you suggest.) And I suppose that I think the administrators themselves should realize this. But again, never overestimate administrators’ capacities for practical reasoning.

  • Just to be clear: I yield to no one in contempt for how Notre Dame has handled the case; and my opinion of the real motives of the university administration is culpably uncharitable. Nonetheless. . .

    In Indiana, criminal trespass includes entering private property without permission and refusing to leave when requested to do so by the owner or an authorized agent of the owner. If I come to your front door and, say, hector you about joining the Jehovah’s Witnesses; and you ask me to go away; and I refuse: then you can call the cops. I don’t have to climb over a wall or anything like that.

    What possible motive can Notre Dame have for continuing these charges? Notre Dame has only itself to blame for the pickle that it is in, but it may have less freedom of action (pace Mr. McCleary) than people assume (if also more freedom of action than implied in my previous post). The risk of nolle prosse, I think, is that the the judge might react by dismissing the case (rather than just letting things hang). If the case is dismissed or the defendants acquitted, the university (and perhaps the South Bend police) might find themselves in line for a false arrest suit. How plausible this is I don’t know, but it’s what I gather third or fourth hand from lawyers familiar with the case.

    On a more principled level, the university has a legitimate interest in keeping its status as private property. Again, as I understand it, one line of defense by the 88 is that the university campus is in fact open pretty much to anyone, that it amounts to public space where they may legitimately exercise their first amendment rights (and, after all, the university took no action against those demonstrating in favor of the award to Obama). But the university does not in fact let the general public come and go as it pleases. At every home football game the area around the campus is filled with ticket scalpers, but scalpers are not allowed on campus. If the 88 win their point, would the university have welcome in the scalpers?

    (I also wonder if there isn’t some relevance to the Westboro Baptist case. One’s sympathies would be on opposite sides, but there may be a family resemblance in terms or principle. The families of fallen soldiers may have a legitimate complaint against those who obnoxiously interfere with the funerals; and Notre Dame may have a legitimate complaint against intrusion from those who the administration finds, however perversely, obnoxious to itself or its undertakings.)

    I hope the 88 get off, and, while normally I’m not wild about punishment of any kind, I hope the consequences to the university are sufficiently severe to cause some in the administration to rethink the actual values they live by. But in the abstract the university’s case is not entirely without merit.

    I’m also partly sympathetic to what I take to be Elaine Krewer’s point: If I actively court martyrdom and martyrdom is consequently offered to me, I should probably accept it gratefully, not whine about it. But it’s not clear that the 88 were actively courting martyrdom. It seems that many of them really did not think that the university would react in the clumsy, small-minded, militantly graceless way that it did.

  • “The risk of nolle prosse, I think, is that the the judge might react by dismissing the case (rather than just letting things hang).”

    You are confusing apples and oranges. Nolle Prosse is not a dismissal with prejudice. The Defendants could bring a motion to dismiss with prejudice at any time, as could the prosecutors, but nolle prosse is not the same thing. A nolle prosse simply means that the prosecutor is not proceeding with the prosecution. No double jeopardy attaches and the defendants can be recharged at any time. As for a civil suit from the ND88, that could be brought at any time and has little refence to what happens in the criminal case. A perfect example is how OJ Simpson could be found not guilty of the murders and still lose the civil suit over the murders.

  • If I come to your front door and, say, hector you about joining the Jehovah’s Witnesses; and you ask me to go away; and I refuse: then you can call the cops. I don’t have to climb over a wall or anything like that.

    In New York, there is a ‘Trespass’, which is in a submisdemeanor category called a ‘violation’, and ‘Criminal Trespass’. There are three degrees of criminal trespass. For the most part, you have to be inside a building to be charged with ‘criminal trespass’, but you can be charged with the 3d degree criminal trespass if you enter grounds enclosed in some way.

    If I am not mistaken, the crime you describe is, under New York law, [non-criminal] ‘Trespass’. The maximal sentance for trespass is 15 days in the county jail and a three-figure fine. As a rule, the judiciary is quite lax when they are given the discretion, as they are in non-felony cases hereabouts. Then again, a large fraction of the municipal court case load Upstate is heard by lay J.P.’s. A buddy of mine in the state Attorney-General’s office tells me that lay judges are often quite good, but when they are bad they are horrid.

  • This may be getting to be too much inside baseball, and I’m not a very good player.

    Nolle prosse: The risk is that the judge’s reaction would be to dismiss with prejudice, which does happen sometimes. I hadn’t thought about a civil suit–but that’s unlikely on its face; and, anyway, Notre Dame didn’t suffer any damages.

    The Indiana law on criminal trespass is more stringent than what is typical of other states.

  • In regard to a civil suit I was referring to a hypothetical suit by ND88 against Notre Dame.

    I can’t imagine a judge dismissing a criminal case with prejudice based upon a nolle prosse motion by the State, absent a motion filed by either the State or the Defendants to dismiss with prejudice. In a nolle prosse motion the current prosecution and case simply ends because the prosecutor does not wish to proceed. A motion to dismiss with prejudice by the Defendants would have to establish that a successful prosecution was impossible due to some legal defect in the prosecution or that under any possible facts shown at trial no conviction would be possible. That is a very high standard to meet, and I do not see any way in this case that a judge could so find under the existing law and facts of the case.

  • This whole incident caused me to rule out ever applying to Notre Dame, which I seriously considered at one point. While attending a law school fair in New York, I approached the Notre Dame booth and asked the representative, in as neutral a tone as possible, if there was any emphasis on the Catholic nature of the school reflected on its campus, not mentioning that I myself was Catholic. She downplayed the notion, saying something to the effect of “no, it’s not a big deal.”

    “Maybe ND simply wanted to protect its students and faculty. The mob had already shown its penchance for breaking the law — no one was capable of knowing whether the mob would become violent — it is not unheard of. “

    No, indeed not. Recall the brave and truly Catholic students who stood up to and battled the ku klux klan in South Bend in 1924.

    How tragic that Notre Dame now wields nothing but moral cowardice in utilizing secular police power to promote abortion, the political lineage of which is directly traceable back to psychotic white supremacists and eugenicists.

Father Jenkins: Looking for a Pro-life Initiative? Drop the Charges Against Father Weslin

Tuesday, September 22, AD 2009

NotreDameDialogue

 

Hattip to Ignatius Insight.  Father Norman Weslin, arrested at Notre Dame for protesting Obama Day, faces trial on October 1.  Notre Dame has refused to drop the charges.  Now that Father Jenkins is trying to get some pro-life street creds,  perhaps a good place to start would be to drop the charges against Father Weslin. 

An open letter from Dr. Charles E. Rice, Professor Emeritus of Notre Dame Law School, to Fr. John Jenkins, President of University of Notre Dame:

Open Letter to Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., President, University of Notre Dame

September 21, 2009
Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
President
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Indiana 46556

Dear Father Jenkins:

Professor Fred Freddoso has shared with me the response on Sept. 17th by Dr. Frances L. Shavers, Chief of Staff and Special Assistant to the President, to Fred’s email of that date to you asking that Notre Dame request dismissal of the charges against the persons arrested for trespass on the campus in relation to the honoring of President Obama at Commencement.  Dr. Shavers responded on your behalf to Fred’s email because, as she said, “the next few days are rather hectic for [Fr. Jenkins].”  I don’t want to add to the hectic burden of your schedule by sending you a personal message that could impose on an assistant the task of responding.  I therefore take the liberty of addressing to you several concerns in the form of this open letter to which a response is neither required nor expected.

First, permit me to express my appreciation for the expressions of support for the pro-life cause in your September 16th “Letter concerning post-commencement initiatives.”  I know, however, that in a matter as significant as this, you will appreciate and welcome a respectful but very candid expression of views.  In my opinion, the positions you have taken are deficient in some respects.

In your Letter of Sept. 16th, you rightly praise the work of the Women’s Care Center (WCC) and of its superb leader, Ann Murphy Manion.  I commend you on your statement that the WCC “and similar centers in other cities deserve the support of Notre Dame clubs and individuals.”  Your praise of the WCC and similar efforts, however, overlooks a practical step that Notre Dame, as an institution, ought to take.  That would be for you, on behalf of Notre Dame, to issue a standing invitation to the WCC to establish an office on the Notre Dame campus to serve students, faculty and staff if, in the judgment of the WCC, that would be desirable and effective.  Such would give practical effect, right here at Notre Dame, to your words in support of the WCC and similar efforts.

Your Letter announced your formation of the Task Force on Supporting the Choice for Life.  Rather than offer a detailed evaluation of my own, I note my agreement with the personal analysis of William Dempsey, ND ’52, President of the Sycamore Trust, calling attention to “the obviously deliberate exclusion from Task Force membership of anyone associated with the ND organizations that have been unashamedly and actively pro-life: the Center for Ethics & Culture and the ND Fund for the Protection of Human Life.  Nor was the student representative chosen from the leadership of the student RTL organization or from anyone active in last year’s student alliance protesting the honoring of the President, ND Response.  It is hard to resist the inference that this is as a move toward marginalizing the Center and the Fund, neither of which receives any University support the way it is…. Finally, it is unsettling but instructive that this announcement comes a day after Fr. Jenkins’ annual address to the faculty in which he described his goals for the year, which included increasing female and minority faculty representation but not a word about the most crucial problem facing the university, the loss of Catholic identity through the failure to hire enough Catholics to restore the predominance required by the Mission Statement.  This is a striking falling away from [Fr. Jenkins’] wonderful inaugural address.  The fact that ND did nothing to serve the pro-life cause until forced by the reaction to the Obama incident testifies to the fact that, without a predominance of committed Catholics on the faculty, any pro-life efforts launched under pressure will in time fade away.  The risk, and surely it is real, is that this initiative and the publicity ND is generating about it will deflect attention from the fundamental problem besetting Notre Dame….But I return to where I began: A project that deliberately excludes from participation those who have courageously manned organizations standing against the faculty attitude toward the pro-life cause ought to be regarded with suspicion.” 

My main concern in this letter arises from your statement in your Letter that “Each year on January 22, the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, the March for Life is held in Washington D.C. to call on the nation to defend the right to life.  I plan to participate in that march.  I invite other members of the Notre Dame Family to join me and I hope we can gather for a Mass for Life at that event.”  I understand that Notre Dame students have invited you to participate with them in the March.  The problem arises from an aftermath of Commencement.  On this I refer back to Chief of Staff Shavers’ response to Professor Freddoso’s request that Notre Dame ask dismissal of the charges against those arrested.  Dr. Shavers states that “these protesters were arrested for trespassing and not for expressing their pro-life position.”  That is misleading.  This is not an ordinary case of trespass to land such as would occur if a commuter walks across your lawn and flower bed as a short-cut to the train station.  Notre Dame is ordinarily an open campus.  Those 88 persons, 82 of whom are represented by Tom Dixon, ND ’84, ND Law School ’93, were arrested not because they were there, but because of who they were, why they were there and what they were saying.  Other persons with pro-Obama signs were there but were not arrested and not disturbed.  Serious legal and constitutional questions are involved, arising especially from the symbiotic relationship between the Notre Dame Security Police, who made the arrests, and the County Police.  This letter is not a legal brief.  Rather I merely note that it is disingenuous for Notre Dame to pretend that this is merely a routine trespass case.

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9 Responses to Father Jenkins: Looking for a Pro-life Initiative? Drop the Charges Against Father Weslin

  • Wow.

    (I hope professor Rice is tenured).

  • Even better c matt, he’s retired! (Knowing Professor Rice, however, I suspect he would have written precisely the same letter even if he were a young Professor, newly employed at Notre Dame, and lacking tenure!)

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  • Prof. Rice is the man! I encourage you to read his new book, What Happened to Notre Dame?. I’m reviewing the book in a series of posts at my blog.

    Prof. Rice does take one unfortunate turn in the book, however, when he intimates in a few throw-away lines that there may be some legal credibility to the “birther” claims. By going there, I’m afraid it gives his detractors the means to completely dismiss his important book.

  • That’s gonna leave a mark.

  • There is a petition to Notre Dame gaining momentum, called the university to intervene with the county prosecutor and drop the charges against 88 pro-life advocates facing up to 1 year in jail and heavy fines.

    Sign it here
    http://www.tfpstudentaction.org/get-involved/online-petitions/urgent-petition-to-notre-dame-please-drop-the-charges.html

    God bless!

    Let’s pray Notre Dame’s Catholic identity is restored.
    Maybe Fr. Jenkins should retire early.

  • Fr. jenkins shouls be removed from his post as president of the university. There is no other way. We should not judge but he seems devious, and I wonder if there is a possibility that he is trying to undermine the activity – pro life and otherwise – of faithful Catholics on campus. He is going to continue to damage the Catholic identity of the University and severely damage the souls of the young people who are sent by their parents expecting there to be a real “Catholic” adherence to the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church. Fr.Jenkins publicly thumbed his nose at, not only his own Bishop, but all Bishops who disagreed with his honoring the most radically pro abortion President/politician in our history. He has covered himself and the University with shame and has dishonored the trust given to him and failed his students and his Church…how far does he have to go before the Bishops have the courage to say: “Enough!” We’ll see…

  • He is going to continue to damage the Catholic identity of the University and severely damage the souls of the young people who are sent by their parents expecting there to be a real “Catholic” adherence to the authentic teachings of the Catholic Church.

    Sorry to disappoint, but I don’t recall a time when Notre Dame ever adhered to strict, authentic “Catholic” teaching.

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McBrien to Eucharistic Adoration: Step Backward

Tuesday, September 8, AD 2009

Father Richard McBrien, Professor of Theology at Notre Dame, boy that comes as a shock doesn’t it, doesn’t think much of eucharistic adoration.  McBrien of course has been a fierce defender of the secular zeitgeist for decades, and has done his very best to wean generations of Catholics from anything in the Faith that would not pass muster at fashionable parties in academia. 

For myself I love eucharistic adoration.  I never have done it without feeling much closer to God.  Since John Paul II also approved of it in his letter DOMINICAE CENAE, I guess I will just have to bear up under the strain of being thought backward by Professor McBrien.  Father Z gives McBrien his patented fisking here

You know, tenured dissenters like McBrien have a real problem on their hands in the age of the internet.  It is very easy now for ordinary Catholics to have access to church teaching by a few clicks and read what John Paul II wrote:

“Adoration of Christ in this sacrament of love must also find expression in various forms of eucharistic devotion: personal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, Hours of Adoration, periods of exposition-short, prolonged and annual (Forty Hours)-eucharistic benediction, eucharistic processions, eucharistic congresses.”

Of course Pope Benedict’s views are well known and are set forth here.  When we have such easy access to the words of Peter, it is much harder for Catholics to be bamboozled by flim-flam artists like McBrien seeking to distort the teaching of the Church in service of their personal agendas.  The modern world provides many challenges to the Church, but I think in the long run the internet may become a great advantage to the magisterium of Holy Mother Church.

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47 Responses to McBrien to Eucharistic Adoration: Step Backward

  • From the McBrien article:

    Notwithstanding Pope Benedict XVI’s personal endorsement of eucharistic adoration and the sporadic restoration of the practice in the archdiocese of Boston and elsewhere, it is difficult to speak favorably about the devotion today.

    Now that most Catholics are literate and even well-educated, the Mass is in the language of the people (i.e, the vernacular), and its rituals are relatively easy to understand and follow, there is little or no need for extraneous eucharistic devotions. The Mass itself provides all that a Catholic needs sacramentally and spiritually.

    Eucharistic adoration, perpetual or not, is a doctrinal, theological, and spiritual step backward, not forward.

    “Could you not stay awake with me one hour?”

    Apparently that would be entirely extraneous. I guess I’ll just have to remain an ignorant layman encrusted with medieval devotions.

  • “It is difficult to speak favorably about the devotion today.”

    Well, I suppose all the members of parishes that have grown and thrived after instituting Eucharistic adoration, all the priests and religious whose vocations have been discerned after taking up “the devotion”, and all the laity whose prayers have been answered and who have grown closer to God as a result of this “step backward,” would beg to differ.

  • McBrien and fashionable parties in academia in the same sentence? Amusing.

    But seriously, can you not even take Fr. McBrien’s arguments seriously, at face value, without ridiculing them? All this post says is, “Well, I like it, and the Pope likes it, therefore McBrien is wrong.”

    Interesting, too, that I have seen many of you criticize others on the web for not using proper titles, like “Father” and “Bishop.” I have never seen a right-wing Catholic blog refer to McBrien as “Father McBrien.” Donatism dies hard.

  • “I have never seen a right-wing Catholic blog refer to McBrien as “Father McBrien.” Donatism dies hard.”

    Then you haven’t been looking very hard.

    “But seriously, can you not even take Fr. McBrien’s arguments seriously, at face value, without ridiculing them?”

    Fr. McBrien made a serious argument? His inane commentary is nothing but dissident chic. He is basically saying “Never mind what that quaint little old man in Rome says, adoration of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is for suckers.”

  • McBrien doesn’t make an argument. He makes a sneer. His sneer is set forth in verbiage, but a sneer it remains. His comment about well-educated Catholics was especially risible since recent polls indicate how large a portion of Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence. His sneer is, in essence, that really bright Catholics like him are ashamed of eucharistic devotion and that only simpletons, like John Paul II and Saint Thomas Aquinas I assume, would have any use for it.

    As to Donatism, the Donatists defied the Popes and persisted in their schism. One can observe throughout McBrien’s career a careful determination not to follow Papal teaching when it deviated from his.

  • But seriously, can you not even take Fr. McBrien’s arguments seriously, at face value, without ridiculing them?

    I guess I’m having trouble seeing what exactly is an “argument” to be taken seriously. I don’t see how the point that the mass is in our own language and we’re well educated means that the mass itself provides the only sacramental and spiritual sustenance that any Catholic should possibly need. It’s not an argument, in that the one statement in no way follows from the other, and even as an assertion it seems a bit nonsensical. Why should the fact that the mass is well understood (to an extent) mean that no other devotions have any place in the Catholic life — particularly one with such a long and rich tradition, and so consistently followed and encouraged by the Church and her leaders.

    Do you see any actual argument to even engage with there?

    Interesting, too, that I have seen many of you criticize others on the web for not using proper titles, like “Father” and “Bishop.” I have never seen a right-wing Catholic blog refer to McBrien as “Father McBrien.” Donatism dies hard.

    Actually, I’m not aware of any of us having criticized others for this, and I’m sure that I’ve referred to Fr. Neuhaus simply as Neuhaus when I’m talking about him as a writer, despite the fact I have great respect for the late father. But no, I have no particular objection to calling Fr. McBrien by his honorific, and indeed, if you’ll look at the text of the post the very first words of it are “Father Richard McBrien”.

  • Beat me to it Donald in posting this.

    This is simply incredible.

    He does sneer at us with his comments and it smacks nothing more than treating us as less than smart.

    Sad.

  • Look, I like Eucharistic adoration. I don’t agree with Fr. McBrien all the time. But he is right to point out the disproportionate interest in adoration in our history, as well as the centrality of the Mass. You need to be willing to read for insights and to appreciate the truth of what he says even if you don’t go as far as he does.

    Fr. McBrien is right to “sneer” at certain tendencies in the Church.

    He does sneer at us with his comments and it smacks nothing more than treating us as less than smart.

    Some of you are “less than smart.”

  • Imprimatur,

    No one has said one iota about not attending Mass and replacing it with the Eucharist.

    You sound a lot like the Catholic Anarchist.

  • I can’t believe such offensive and patronizing drivel was written by a Catholic priest.

    Of course it is “difficult” to say anything good about a practice that is ridiculed as the province of illiterate bumpkins. This equivocation of a serious faith with academic learning may be convenient for the smug hypocrites of academia, but I for one am glad that the practice is still alive and well.

    Some people wouldn’t understand spirituality if it smashed them repeatedly in the face. This Catholic, with three university degrees, is more than happy to participate in Eucharistic adoration.

    Long live the Latin Mass, and long live Eucharistic adoration. And good riddance to the spoiled, self-important boomer generation that tried its best to destroy authentic spirituality within the Church.

  • No one has said one iota about not attending Mass and replacing it with the Eucharist.

    Well here you go. That whole “less than smart” thing. Good example.

    It doesn’t surprise me that you think I sound like a Catholic anarchist considering the way you paint everyone you think is a “dissenter” with the same brush. I haven’t met too many anarchists who pray the rosary and the divine office or who, as I said, like Eucharistic adoration.

    My point is that you need to be able to actually hear what a person is saying. A better response to his article would have been, “Here is here he is right, pointing out incorrect emphases, etc.” and “Here is where he is wrong, and here is why Eucharistic adoration is a valuable practice and WHY IT FITS WITH THE “NEW” MASS and does not oppose it.” All we have here is “McBrien is a fool,” followed by Joe’s comment of “long live the old way, the ‘true’ spirituality, and good riddance to the new, the inauthentic.”

    The result is that you all look very imbalanced, purely dismissive, unable to appreciate catholicity (small ‘c,’ referring to unity in diversity), and very very foolish.

  • That said, I think McBrien also displays a lack of catholicity in the sense that I described it above. He goes to far. But the core critique that he presents has some validity.

  • Oh please.

    In whose eyes, exactly, do we look “foolish”? Those already inclined to look upon those who actually do take tradition seriously as foolish. Who are these fence-sitters that would love everything we have to say, if only we would smile politely when a McBrien ridicules us? They don’t exist.

    I would gladly remain a fool for tradition before I would take seriously these hollow and meaningless attacks upon it.

    We heard exactly what he said – that Eucharistic adoration is a “step backward”. What are we supposed to say to that, exactly? Who is this man to declare what Catholics “need”? Who is he to declare what we don’t “need”? That level of arrogance and presumption is highly offensive, not to mention “foolish”.

  • Joe >>>

    In whose eyes, exactly, do we look “foolish”?

    Catholics who attempt to be moderate, you know, to be catholic.

    Those already inclined to look upon those who actually do take tradition seriously as foolish.

    There is not one single “tradition.” Our church is catholic. You are not the only one who takes “tradition” seriously. You take one set of Catholic traditions seriously. McBrien takes another set of traditions seriously. This “we’re the only ones who take tradition seriously” crap is silly. You’re a thoughtful guy. I read your stuff. I expect better from you, unlike some of your co-bloggers.

    We heard exactly what he said – that Eucharistic adoration is a “step backward”. What are we supposed to say to that, exactly?

    Try to understand WHY he is saying that, think about it, and then critique it while trying to appreciate what might be true about it.

    Who is this man to declare what Catholics “need”?

    Who are YOU to do the same? Who are YOU to declare that he is “attacking” tradition, that the traditions that he values are not authentic, that the ones YOU value are the only ones that are authentic?

    That level of arrogance and presumption is highly offensive, not to mention “foolish”.

    You are the one who sounds arrogant when you say: “Some people wouldn’t understand spirituality if it smashed them repeatedly in the face” and “And good riddance to the spoiled, self-important boomer generation that tried its best to destroy authentic spirituality within the Church.”

    If McBrien is being arrogant, then so are you.

  • For some curious reason, Father McBrien calls to mind the first several chapters of Thomas a Kempis’ Imitation of Christ.

    A proposal — let’s say a prayer for Father McBrien next time we find ourselves before the Blessed Sacrament.

  • Imp,

    First of all, what is this set of traditions that McBrien takes seriously? He is clearly a ‘progressive’ who believes that the march of technological progress (which in the final instance is what enables widespread literacy and education) necessitates the transformation of the liturgy and spiritual practices. How is that adherence to a tradition? How is that not a crude historicism that reduces spiritual and liturgical practices to products of their historical-material circumstances as opposed to inspired by God?

    I know exactly “why” his kind argues as they do; they believe in progress at the expense of tradition. They don’t wish to look foolish in the eyes of the secular world, which has never properly or accurately understood spiritual practice to begin with. The holy sacrifice of the Mass must be reduced to a ‘community meal’ and Scripture reading, while practices such as Eucharistic adoration are dismissed are holdovers of a medieval past. They find Catholic spirituality embarrassing in the modern world.

    I don’t tell Catholics what they need – there are certain things I believe are poisonous to the soul, but that argument could never be made about Eucharistic adoration. McBrien doesn’t reject it because it is objectively bad for Catholics, but because it makes him and his friends feel foolish. It is a shameful argument.

  • A stopped clock is right twice a day, and there is one nugget of truth in what Fr. McBrien said: “The Mass itself provides all that a Catholic needs sacramentally and spiritually.”

    It is true that actually RECIEVING the Eucharist is a sacrament, while adoring the Eucharist (wonderful though it is) is not, and that the actual Mass is obligatory for Catholics while Eucharistic adoration is not. A parish must offer Mass regularly but does not have to have perpetual or regular Eucharistic adoration. One could attend Mass faithfully, but never attend adoration, and still be a good Catholic.

    That being said, the fact that Eucharistic adoration doesn’t replace the Mass and that an observant Catholic can get by without it doesn’t mean it’s bad, or backward, or wrong. Devotion to particular saints, the rosary, novenas, etc. also aren’t strictly “necessary” for Catholics but that doesn’t make them bad.

    The fact that Fr. McBrien would say something like this doesn’t surprise me at all because he’s always been a “usual suspect” among the progressive/liberal wing of the Church.

  • The McBrien column recalls the story of a newly minted priest who was walking through a cathedral with his Bishop. The Bishop had decided to send the priest to Rome to study towards a doctorate because the young man was very bright and showed great promise. He was also afraid the young man suffered from intellectual vanity. He pointed out to the priest a Mrs. McGinnis who earned her daily bread by scrubbing floors and who was kneeling, saying a rosary silently as she gazed at the eucharist. Out of earshot of the woman he told the priest, “Do you know that she couldn’t tell you precisely who the Doctors of the Church are to save her soul?” The priest responded that such ignorance was terrible if not surprising. “Yet Father,” the Bishop continued, “since each morning she is here before she commences her daily toil to adore our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, I have no doubt she understands in her heart what each of the Doctors of the Church meant.”

  • Imprimatur if you are the Catholic Anarchist, Michael Iafrate, you will kindly stop posting in this thread since, as you know, I have banned you forever from posting on my threads. If you are not Iafrate, my apologies for raising the issue.

  • And good riddance to the spoiled, self-important boomer generation that tried its best to destroy authentic spirituality within the Church.

    Large segments of the Baby Boomer generation have done a lot of harm. I’ve always thought of that generation as having endured a civil war with itself….let’s hope those determined to bend the country to their infantile will continue to discredit themselves in the eyes of their children – the “sexual revolution” and divorce in particular have been terribly destructive.

  • No, there is nothing to engage here: McBrien doesn’t discuss anything anymore, he simply issues declarations larded with ipse dixits.

    Preconciliar BAD! Pope Benedict BAD! are the two arrows in his quiver, and both the tattered missiles are launched here.

    Where in this tossed-off essay is the slightest hint that he has seriously engaged with the topic? Instead, we have the following:

    1. A selective and deliberately incomplete reading of history;

    2. Well-poisoning (pointing to ridiculous excesses to discredit the entire practice);

    3. Universalizing certain contemporary progressive American Catholic experiences as normative for the entire Church;

    4. Preening self-regard (the “most educated laity” trope);

    5. Pitting pre-conciliar Church experience against certain post-conciliar practices (always to the detriment of the former);

    6. A gratuitous dig at the Pope (quelle suprise);

    and

    7. A gratuitous shot at the sacrament of reconciliation, another McBrien bete noire (“the Mass itself provides all that a Catholic needs sacramentally”–a titanic lie).

    “You’re hopelessly backward” is not an invitation to discussion. He deserves each and every brickbat tossed at him.

  • BTW, Elaine: please note that the “titanic lie” line wasn’t directed at you–I hadn’t even read your comment before posting. Fr. McBrien’s consistent dismissal of the sacrament of reconciliation sets my teeth on edge.

    But I do suggest that the Mass does not provide all that we need, and is not intended to, by design.

  • First of all, what is this set of traditions that McBrien takes seriously?

    He takes Vatican II and that initial set of reforms of the liturgy seriously.

    He is clearly a ‘progressive’ who believes that the march of technological progress (which in the final instance is what enables widespread literacy and education) necessitates the transformation of the liturgy and spiritual practices.

    There is nothing in his writing that suggests a belief in “technological progress” in relation to liturgy.

    How is that adherence to a tradition?

    There is no traditionless thinking of belief.

    How is that not a crude historicism that reduces spiritual and liturgical practices to products of their historical-material circumstances as opposed to inspired by God?

    Again, nothing suggests that a belief in change and/or reform entails a belief in “crude historicism” or a reduction of liturgy to “products.” Vatican II itself talked about continual reform as part of the nature of the church.

    I know exactly “why” his kind argues as they do; they believe in progress at the expense of tradition.

    Again, “tradition” is not one thing. Tradition is a process not specific content. Vatican II reforms, as you know, entailed a going back to the sources. The reforms that came out of VII are precisely all about tradition. With reference to Eucharistic adoration, the Church wanted to place a renewed emphasis on the centrality of the Mass to curb the way in which some devotional practices can distort the meaning of the Eucharist. Whether you agree with it or not, that is still a problem in the Church today. I have worked in parishes and saw it day in and day out. McBrien is right to remind us of the possibility of sacramental distortion.

    YOU on the other hand want to preserve, in cold cement, ONE PARTICULAR tradition which is ITSELF a product of history and not simply “given by God.” Liturgy, in its various forms and in the very process of its reform, is indeed inspired by God but not apart from history and not apart from persons and the community of the Church discerning the action of the Spirit. The tradition you prefer is NOT eternal, but a snapshot of a particular point in time. It’s fine for you to prefer that, but you need to know that your preferences tend to amount to a radical denial of the activity of God in within the Church. And God does not stand still. Hang on to your preferences — the one, true, authentic Tradition — but do not complain when the rest of the Church is moved somewhere else.

  • And it goes without saying that whether you like it or not, the Church did change its liturgy at Vatican II and it changed its very liturgical mindset at VII.

  • Michael/Imprimatur,

    With reference to Eucharistic adoration, the Church wanted to place a renewed emphasis on the centrality of the Mass to curb the way in which some devotional practices can distort the meaning of the Eucharist. Whether you agree with it or not, that is still a problem in the Church today. I have worked in parishes and saw it day in and day out. McBrien is right to remind us of the possibility of sacramental distortion.

    I’m not aware of any sense in which the Church actually expressed a desire to curb Eucharistic adoration as a devotional practice because of a fear that it distorted the meaning of the Eucharist.

    The Church did seek to institute liturgical reforms that would make the mass more easily understandable and to introduce elements of catechesis into the mass — and certain devotional practices which amounted to doing something else during mass (say, saying the rosary during mass rather than following the mass itself) have certainly been discouraged, but it is by no means apparent how Eucharistic adoration is in conflict with a proper understanding of the mass.

    If Fr. McBrien is aware of some way in which this is a problem, he certainly goes to no effort to mention it in his piece, which instead is primarily just a sneer of “we’ve moved beyond these embarrassing practices” combined with vague hints that the urge to participate in adoration is rooted in an overly physical understanding of the nature of transubstantiation.

  • You people are so narrow minded. Don’t you realize that you’re ***c***atholics? There is no single tradition. Me myself, I just yesterday participated in a solemn caterwauling liturgy of the vegan transgendered Ethiopian rite. They’ve been around since way before Trent, you unwashed fools. They don’t do Eucharistic adoration, by the way. They know *better*. Plus they make me look cool when I take them to meet my dissertation chair at the faculty club.

  • Darwin, how did you know my name is Michael? That’s a little creepy…

    I’m not aware of any sense in which the Church actually expressed a desire to curb Eucharistic adoration as a devotional practice because of a fear that it distorted the meaning of the Eucharist.

    What I actually said was that the church was trying to curb the distortions, not the practice of adoration.

    but it is by no means apparent how Eucharistic adoration is in conflict with a proper understanding of the mass.

    You’re right. And I said above that I like Eucharistic adoration and that I don’t think it conflicts with the Mass. What conflicts with the Mass is the distortion that can occur in some ways of understanding Eucharistic adoration.

    If Fr. McBrien is aware of some way in which this is a problem, he certainly goes to no effort to mention it in his piece, which instead is primarily just a sneer of “we’ve moved beyond these embarrassing practices”

    I also said above that I have some problems with McBrien’s article. I think he goes too far. He lacks catholicity. But so do you when you read him (and me, apparently) with no desire to understand him or to be challenged by what IS true in his thinking. You commit the same sin, sneering at McBrien instead of hearing him out.

    …combined with vague hints that the urge to participate in adoration is rooted in an overly physical understanding of the nature of transubstantiation.

    Catholics don’t believe Christ is physically present in the Eucharist, but that he is really, sacramentally present. If McBrien does imply that in his article (I’d have to read it again to see, and I don’t want to), then is is accurately reflecting Catholic teaching on the Eucharist.

  • Darwin, how did you know my name is Michael? That’s a little creepy…

    Because I’d previously put you on moderation for bad behavior both by email address and by IP address. Since you’re using the same computer as before, even though using a different email and handle, WordPress tells me who you are. (And surely you can see how it’s a bit dishonest to blog under several different names, while denying the connection between them, in the same venue.)

    On the topic — I guess the basic breakdown here is that it seems to me that what little of value might be taken of McBrien’s article is stuff which is at best implied or hinted at. I can’t really see that there’s anything of what’s actually there that’s of value. And so, while I can see the value of reading things charitably, I just can’t see that there’s any worth to what he wrote. Maybe if one is deeply familiar with the McBrien oeuvre there’s some background insight that shines through, but just reading this piece in isolation the few things he says that are true are so obviously so that one hardly needs to put up with the other flaws in the piece to recognize such truths.

  • Imprimatur\Catholic Anarchist, I assume you are Iafrate and thus any further comments by you will be deleted from this thread and any other threads in any of my other posts.

  • Imprimatur writes: “Catholics don’t believe Christ is physically present in the Eucharist.”

    Do Catholics not believe that the “body, blood, soul and divinity” of Christ is actually present in the Holy Eucharist?

  • e.
    Actual or Real Presence transcends carnal or physical presence. They are not the same. Impramatur is right on that. He is wrong on most everything else, as is McBrien.

  • Catholic Anarchist,

    Donald is probably sleeping now, but I’m around, so don’t bother going on the campus computer to get around your ban.

  • Thank you Tito!

    “We few, we happy few, we band of bloggers,” as my wife observed after reading the above comment by you!

  • non-Imprimatur,

    Catholics who attempt to be moderate, you know, to be catholic.

    to that the Lord replies:

    Apocalypse 3:16 But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, not hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth

  • ps. nice to see some solidarity on this blog!

  • Of course McBrien would think adoration is a step backward – he’s facing the wrong direction.

  • As an Eastern Catholic, we do not do adoration; nor do the Orthodox. I have no problems with people doing so, and think it is a good devotion, but many people forget other devotions because of it (like icons) and also forget the primary purpose of the eucharist (communion). It’s a complicated issue, but the Orthodox world do have questions about the practice and find it strange — all without being liberal. On the other hand, I don’t think McBrien’s reasons are based upon the Orthodox response, since I think he would probably question iconographic devotion, too.

  • The way it has been explained to me AFAIK is the substance of Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity (hence, transubstantiation) is truly present under the accidents of bread and wine. Can’t really explain more beyond that.

  • Its a weak comparison, but imagine that by some processing method they could make tofu look, feel, taste and smell like and in all other respects act like certified angus beef. The substance would be tofu, but it would have the accidents of real beef.

  • HK,

    many people forget other devotions because of it (like icons) and also forget the primary purpose of the eucharist (communion).

    that’s absurd. You’re suggesting that one can over do the WORSHIP OUR BLESSED LORD before HIS REAL PRESENCE as opposed to worshiping Him before a likeness???

    If the Lord came to your parish in his entire Glorified Body and sat in the adoration chapel for you to go and Worship and speak with Him, would you caution against overdoing it???? Excuse me Lord, I must go and pray before a picture of you, I don’t want to “over do” this face to face stuff.

  • What I find hilarious in all of this is that Pope Benedict, in his wisdom (God bless and keep him), is now proposing a “reform of the reform” designed to increase reverence for God and the Mass.

    It is now absolutely undeniable that some of the changes, if not most of the changes, made at “VII” have had a harmful effect – whether we look at what the average Catholic now believes theologically or even worse, morally or politically, or the child molestation scandals, the declining membership, the declining priesthood, etc, etc.

    Tradition can absolutely be added to, but there is a difference between adding to tradition and subtracting from it, distorting it, and throwing it away for some new innovation based upon what is popular in the secular world. Motivation here counts for a great deal – why were the changes made? In what spirit?

    Looking back now, the Papacy has come to realize that the essence of tradition, the reverence and devotion that Catholics once had for Christ through the Mass, has been slipping away – and is taking steps to do something about it. The Catholic ‘Anarchists’ and Father McBriens are on the way out, and not a moment too soon (and hopefully not too late).

  • Matt

    Icons present to us the real presence of Christ as well. The image is always related to and bring to us the presence of the prototype, and it is real. Read St John of Damascus and St Theodore the Studite on Icons. Then read Orthodox commentary about worship — they point out that communion was not reserved or meant to be reserved, but is for the sake of participation, eating — that is what it is for.

    “If the Lord came to your parish in his entire Glorified Body” would you grab a knife? Your second point is therefore inappropriate. The whole point is you have his presence, his glorified presence, in the icon. That’s why St Thomas Aquinas said,

    “Consequently the same reverence should be shown to Christ’s image as to Christ Himself. Since, therefore, Christ is adored with the adoration of ‘latria,’ it follows that His image should be adored with the adoration of ‘latria.'”

    ST III-XXV.3

  • HK,

    what your missing the point here entirely. Christ is present everywhere, even in us, but not in the same sense as he is present in the Eucharist… Body, Soul, and Divinity – in substance. It IS Him. Not a “prototype”, not in the same way as He is present whenever 2 or more are gathered, but really, truly and physically present, as He would be sitting in the Chapel.

    Yes of course, the body is to be consumed and that is the principle purpose of the Eucharistic Miracle, however, it is not a question of quantity. You would not see greater graces from receiving every hour of every day. There are graces from spending time in His presence for every additional second.

    This really is fairly basic, I’m not sure why you’re having so much difficulty.

    Finally, you completely neglected to address the point that you have created a straw man. Nobody does what you suggest, excessive adoration at the expense of worshiping at the Sacrifice and receiving Him in Holy Communion. Nobody.

  • Matt

    You are the one who is missing the point. I would highly recommend Schmemann’s “The Eucharist,” and leave it at that.

  • Matt says: “[Christ] is present in the Eucharist… Body, Soul and Divinity…[He] is really, truly an physically present [in the Eucharist].”

    I thought likewise (i.e., Body, Blood, Soul & Divinity; and, therefore, really & *physically* present); however, didn’t Mike Petrik suggest this is not actually the case?

  • Dale — thanks. Likewise, I hadn’t read the full McBrien article, so I didn’t realize his comment about the Mass being “all that a Catholic needs sacramentally” implied that the sacrament of penance isn’t necessary.

    Now I have heard SOME interpretations of canon law which claim that the obligation to go to confession once a year strictly applies only if you have mortal sins that need confessing. So according to this interpretation (which I would imagine McBrien subscribes to), if one manages to avoid mortal sin, the sacrament of penance is never “necessary.”

    However, in practice, I doubt very much that many Catholics who don’t bother going to confession even once a year successfully avoid serious sin for the duration. Even liberals admit that “once a year only in case of mortal sin” is merely a bare minimum legal requirement, not a recipe for a fruitful spiritual life.

USCCB Issues A Statement of Support For Bishop D'Arcy

Tuesday, June 23, AD 2009

Bishop John M. D'Arcy

Hattip to reader Rick Lugari.  The USCCB* has issued this statement of support for Bishop John D’Arcy, the Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend:

“The bishops of the United States express our appreciation and support for our brother bishop, the Most Reverend John D’Arcy.  We affirm his pastoral concern for Notre Dame University, his solicitude for its Catholic identity, and his loving care for all those the Lord has given him to sanctify, to teach and to shepherd.”

Bishop D’Arcy had been in the forefront of protesting Notre Dame honoring Obama on May 17, 2009.

* United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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30 Responses to USCCB Issues A Statement of Support For Bishop D'Arcy

  • I wonder if, now that the entire USCCB has voted on this resolution, people will stop claiming that the ~80 bishops who spoke out against Notre Dame’s actions at the time were some sort of partisan hack minority.

  • “A sad testament to the co-option of the USCCB by Republican partisans…” will probably be the editorial gloss from the usual suspects, followed by more faux hand-wringing about “civility”, which, as practiced by its proponents, rarely involves a good faith attempt to respond to legitimate criticism.

    It is nice that the USCCB decided to recognize Bishop D’Arcy. I thought his firm and temperate response to the Notre Dame controversy was a model for other bishops.

  • The members of the Obama cult will have no difficulty discounting this.

  • How soon we forget!

    D’Arcy was one of the more moderate of those who expressed concerns about the Obama visit. Some of you even called him a coward! Now you’re spinning this as you wish. I commend the USCCB’s recognition of his leadership. In doing so, they have expressed their solidarity with HIS view, not the views of the mosr radical, Republicatholic bishops.

  • Catholic Anarchist, I defy you to find a quotation from any member of this blog in which Bishop D’Arcy was called a coward.

  • Michael, I think it’s you who are spinning. Bishop D’Arcy could not have been more clear in his position that Notre Dame was wrong to honor president Obama and that in doing so, they violated the 2004 Bishop’s statement (both statements are available on the diocese website and the one interview he gave is available on youtube). His response was direct and prayerful. I read all the bishops statements and I didn’t see any who said anything markedly stronger than Bishop D’Arcy. Maybe I missed it. Can you point me to the bishops you think are the “radical republicatholic bishops” and which parts of their statements went so far beyond Bishop D’Arcy that the USCCB’s statement of support can’t fairly be said to apply to them also?

  • D’Arcy was one of the more moderate of those who expressed concerns about the Obama visit. Some of you even called him a coward!

    Michael,

    I have no recollection of such a statement by anyone on this blog. As far as I know, I am the only one who (gently) criticized any of the bishops, and that post suggested Bishop Olmsted had been too harsh with Fr. Jenkins (a view I later revised as more Bishops spoke out). I praised Bishop D’Arcy’s response as striking the perfect balance; certainly, no one called him a coward. Please either produce a link or retract the accusation.

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/03/26/bishop-olmsted-accuses-president-jenkins-of-disobedience/

  • As I recall the debate the only thing negative and disrespectful said about any of the bishops were from people who called them Republicatholics and the like because they spoke out against a Catholic college honoring a vehemently pro-abortion politician who happens to be a Democrat. Those who supported the bishops were called partisan hacks who don’t understand what true Catholicism is – strikingly similar to Schiavo affair when the enlightened Catholics told us that Terri’s supporters and the many vocal bishops simply didn’t understand. Now the USCCB, albeit a late, gave voice, just like the Vatican did – thought at least in the Schiavo case Pope John Paul II and the Vatican were speaking out all along – but the arbiters of true Catholicism ignored all that too.

  • Rick

    Thank you for combating the revisionist history

  • I read all the bishops statements and I didn’t see any who said anything markedly stronger than Bishop D’Arcy.

    This is simply absurd. D’Arcy was about the tamest of the bishops who spoke out. This, jh, is revisionism.

  • Now, now, now–don’t confuse the excitable lad with facts. He expects neologisms like Republicatholic actually mean something to others, which is almost endearing.

    About the only truly intemperate statement was from Bishop Bruskewitz, the exception which proves the rule.

  • “Republicatholic bishops”

    Like I said, self parody. Who needs “i” when you have the real iafrate?

  • D’Arcy was one of the more moderate of those who expressed concerns about the Obama visit.

    What a hack. So a “more moderate” response was D’Arcy’s boycott of the Notre Dame graduation, along with his prayer for “Our Lady to intercede for the university named in her honor, that it may recommit itself to the primacy of truth over prestige.”

    After your behavior over at VN, no one in their right mind thinks that your positions have anything to do with fealty to the Church. Your comments are dripping with contempt and intellectual pride whenever anybody in the Church suggests disagreement with your precious political positions.

  • Michael J is the embodiment of the axiom that being on the left means never having to say you’re sorry, either for baseless accusations or for a bad memmory. There does seem to be a catholic modification to his leftism; he generally tells those he disagrees with to merely “shut up”. This is vastly better than the Che Guevara supporters on youtube who say they are going to kill me.

  • Michael J is the embodiment of the axiom that being on the left means never having to say you’re sorry, either for baseless accusations or for a bad memmory.

    What should I apologize for? I was against the idea of Obama receiving the degree from the beginning.

    he generally tells those he disagrees with to merely “shut up”.

    Prove it.

  • What should I apologize for?

    For claiming that you were against Obama receiving an honorary degree, when in fact you ridicule the Bishops that you supposedly agree with as “radical Republicatholics.”

  • Yeah, SB, that second example you posted is something I’ve seen more than once from him.

    Michael J. Iafrate Says:
    October 29, 2008 at 3:47 pm
    S.B., shut up or you will be permanently banned from commenting on my posts. Understand?

    I assume that smart people on the left resort to verbal bullying and intimidation because they know their arguments are weak. Some on the fringe right have the same tendency.

  • For claiming that you were against Obama receiving an honorary degree, when in fact you ridicule the Bishops that you supposedly agree with as “radical Republicatholics.”

    I was against Obama receiving the degree but I disagreed with the viewpoint expressed by your “heroic” bishops who went much further and said he should not be allowed to speak at ND and even went so far as to make judgments about Fr. Jenkin’s spiritual state. Surely you see that there is a difference.

    In the first example you cite, S.B., I clearly did not simply say “shut up” as a way to end an argument.

    Nor did I do so in the second example. In fact, “Pauli,” if you look at my comment in context you will see that was in fact S.B. who was engaging in verbal bullying. That’s his tactic as I’m sure you well know. I have no qualms about telling him to shut up when he does such things at my blog. But that is not the same as saying “shut up” in order to shut down an argument. Once again, you and S.B. must resort to mischaracterization in order to “win” an argument.

  • It wasn’t verbal “bullying” to point out the obvious fact that you were making an astonishing claim (about starvation being caused by “deliberate policies of global capitalism”) with zero evidence to back it up (“click around the internet,” you said, when you turned out to be incapable of finding any supportive links yourself).

    So you’re merely proving the point that leftists sometimes resort to verbal bullying (“shut up”) when their arguments lack logic or evidence.

  • S.B. – Your bullying reputation is obvious to anyone who reads this blog or Vox Nova. But continue to claim otherwise. It’s nice to have a little giggle in the middle of a busy day.

  • People who say stupid things often experience it as “bullying” to have it pointed out.

  • Ha! Two giggles in one day! You are too generous, S.B.

  • Addendum: People who tell outright lies in defense of unorthodox beliefs, and yet who derive enormous intellectual pride from their faith, often experience it as “bullying” to have that pointed out as well.

  • Reading his stuff is kind of like looking at pictures of crystal addicts–it keeps most sane folks from going over to the left. At least I would hope so.

  • I was against Obama receiving the degree but I disagreed with the viewpoint expressed by your “heroic” bishops who went much further and said he should not be allowed to speak at ND and even went so far as to make judgments about Fr. Jenkin’s spiritual state. Surely you see that there is a difference.

    Of course there’s a difference. But it says much more about your partisan idiocy, and about your willingness to put your own ideology above respect for the Church’s stewards, that you think a Bishop’s fierce opposition to Obama’s position on abortion makes him a “Republicatholic.”

  • Please, by all means, prove that I am a “partisan.” I am, and have been, against the republicans and democrats for many years. You are just spewing filth, nothing accurate, nothing based in reality.

  • It’s not “filth” — just the obvious truth — to point out that you are unorthodox, as are some of your fellow bloggers. If you’re not intelligent or honest enough to admit that fact, that’s your problem.

  • Is partisanship equivalent to unorthodox?

    It doe not matter here… SB is allowed to live out rather ungracefully his continued obsession with MI.

  • No, they’re unorthodox on several moral issues.

    I’m not “obsessed.” Believe me, it takes but 30 seconds or a minute at most to type out an occasional comment. I spend far more time thinking about my family, my work, the book I’m publishing, the classical guitar album I’m making, and how to improve my squat form as I progress towards squatting 405. It’s just that when I read this blog, and I keep coming across obnoxious and asinine comments from unabashed dissenters who nonetheless have managed to convince themselves that they are the only true Catholics, I can’t help responding.

25 Responses to Obama and Notre Dame – a Belated Follow-Up

  • Agreed 150% on the PWSA as a good common-ground measure. Heck, it’s good legislation regardless of whether it brings folks together or not.

    But, if you google around a bit, you’ll find that there is a lot of resistance in left-wing circles to the Act, coming from the mindset of the “reducing pregnancies, not number of abortions” crowd. The PWSA forthrightly (and rightly) presumes that abortions are bad and discourages them, which is a no-no in those circles.

    Given that the President appears to share that mindset, I think the odds of him putting his clout behind the PWSA are vanishingly small at this point in time. If/when he needs pro-life Democrats to get something he truly cares about passed, then you might see the horse trading.

    Sadly enough, I think we’re much more likely to see Rep. Slaughter’s “Prevention First Act” than the PWSA. And, make no mistake, Slaughter is in the hard-core choicer camp.

  • Father Jenkins- surprise still in his job- received his 15 minutes of fame. Dear Leader received another day of adulation. Both care about the unborn about as much as the crumb sitting on my desk. By me. Lovely rhetoric about Dialogue and such. But no other significant issue- and this is as significant as it gets- is more polarizing. Designed to be no other way. Tim notes those rare creatures known as pro-life Democrats- endangered species who should receive legal protection. Perhaps Dear Leader will open up TARP money for Planned Parenthood and non-franchise clinics. Might have the same beneficial effect as to Ford and Chrysler. Oh, just to note before posting- Tiller The Killer’s big time abort business is shutting its doors. What a shame. Maybe it could have qualified for TARP funding.

  • (1) Scalia does not really believ ein Original Intent

    (2) I don’t know what you mean by the “American Right” wanting to wash it hands of abortion by sending it to the States. First many on the right are for the Human Rights Amendment. ALso the “AMerican Right” would be working in their respective State legislatures to prohbit abortion. Activity does not stop just because it does not happen in the District of Columbia

    (3) Archbishop Chaput said recently there was no “Catholic way” to the interpret the Const. I think he is right.

    (4) what you refer to as States Rights is more commonly know as Federalism that has not been abolished. I think if you are proposing that getting this issue back to the States is against Catholic SOcial Doctrine you need to flesh that out some.

    (5)THere are Natural Law folks on the right such as Arkes and Robert George etc etc that are trying to influence the Court and polticy

    (6) There is nothing to probhibit Legislators from legilsating based on the Natural law

  • Let me add the whole Subsidarity , Federalism, abortion issue was fleshed out in some detail in response to Kmiec.

    See this entry at America magazine

    http://americaelection2008.blogspot.com/2008/10/different-take-on-kmiecs-book.html

  • Yeah, I would say that States Rights is quite consistent with Catholic Social Teaching. Subsidiarity and all. That is a principle you know.

  • I will grant that labels like American Political Left and Right are very general- but I think that those who feel comfortable self-labeling themselves liberal or conservative, will fit those larger categories. I reject these labels for myself because I believe like Archbishop Chaput- I use his great book “Render..” in my classes- that there isn’t going to be a Catholic political party- as the Compendium states we are always to be critical members of any political party- that implies that there is always going to be an incompleteness in any purely political party.

    I don’t mean to take a cheap shot on those who take the Federalist position, that abortion can only be resolved at the state level because that’s how our Constitution was written- but I advise all Catholics to read Notre Dame prof. Rice’s book on Natural Law. He describes Justice Thomas as pretty much putting the idea of natural law reasoning to death, when he backtracked during his confirmation hearings on previous positive assertions on the role of such reasoning in juridical decision making. I do view Scalia and Thomas quite negatively for the way they come across in interviews when they seem proud to assert that their Catholicism has absolutely nothing to do with their work as Justices- I don’t think anyone in any position should say that- the natural law is everyone’s responsibility- especially those with juridical and political power- this is an intellectual dodge- even if it is an honest one- to come across as some kind of progressive, non-partisan in contrast with those who do use reasoning beyond the deciphering of the original intent of the Constitutional framers.

    Professor Rice says that on abortion we don’t even have to pull out the natural law trump card- it would be rare to have to do that given that much of positive law in the Constitution is already rooted in natural law reasoning- if we apply the 5th and 14th Amendments to the unborn, we would be good to go- but this is not on the radar in the Scalia/Thomas circles as far as I know- and I would say that these Justices are very well regarded in general by conservatives/ American Political Right.

    I am offering a critique that isn’t designed to play well to liberals or conservatives, I don’t think Jesus played to such narrow audiences, and I don’t find the complete social doctrine of the Church to be in conformity with any ideology that I’ve encountered thus far- so I work in both liberal and conservative circles depending on the issue- but sometimes neither camp seems to get it right- like on abortion- the liberal juridical approach is ice cold, while I grant the Scalia et al approach is luke warm- not sure I can get on board with lukewarm even if it offers a legislative endgame in every state. I want the unborn to be safe in every state, all over the world- the Law should reflect this- the Law must reflect this, and then all other aspects of society will need to reform to adjust to this reality- economically, culturally- all of it needs to upgrade to deal with the children we will be welcoming into the world instead of terminating.

  • Subsidiarity is not to be viewed apart from the universal common good and solidarity- it also isn’t a replacement for the natural law requirements for all people- Catholic or not. This emphasis on natural law is found throughout the social doctrine and papal encyclicals

  • Thank you for a thoughtful diary. Another bill that I hope starts gathering support is the “Newborn Child and Mother Act”. Approximately 1500 mothers die in childbirth across Africa EVERY DAY. I gather most of their babies die, too.

  • TIm

    Let me say I am not saying that Natural Law Jurisprudence is forbidden. As Arkes says where in the Const does it forbit it? I am just saying that if lets say a Catholic Judge does that think that was part of the Document then I think he can in a valid way interpret it otherwise. I mean in the end his Power and authority come from the Document or the “Pact” as it were. So when Scalia looks at the text he does not that think he has the power to change it

    It is in a sense similar to the situation of the Federal Judges that lets say were anti Slavery. They might have been anti Slavery but because their power and authrotiy came from an agreement that made an compromise with this evil they very well could not just ban it nationwide.

    Again as to Natural Law and the Social Compendium what should Catholic Judges do. I can’t imagine that they would start citing the Comepndium of SOcial Justice. In fact what authority would they have to base Opinion on that at all.

    I am not sure Scalia or THomas for that matter have an agenda to end abortion nationwide. I think they probally think that is not their job but the job of the legislator. I strongly suspect that Scalia thinks Gay marriage is wrong. However I doubt he would think he ahd any authority to “ban” it in lets say Iowa.

    TO quote Chaput in Full
    “CHAPUT: The Supreme Court doesn’t make law, as we know. It interprets the law. I think it’s much easier from a moral perspective to be a justice – a judge – than it is to be a legislator. Legislators are the ones who make laws and change laws. But to interpret the law in its fidelity to the Constitution is a much less morally compromising kind of position to have, I think.

    I’d rather be a justice than a politician, in terms of dealing with my conscience, because if we write bad laws in this country that are constitutional, then the judges – the justices – have to interpret the laws as allowed by the Constitution, even if they don’t like them, even if they would think they’re not good for the country, it seems to me, even if they think they’re not moral. That’s what justices do. So I had the impression that Wendy thinks that the Supreme Court writes the law. Certainly that’s not my impression. I know it can’t write the law. In terms of not wanting all the justices to be Catholics, I agree with you, Michael. That would not be a good idea in the United States”.

    http://pewforum.org/events/?EventID=213

    Now I think Judical attitudes matter that is for sure. The attitude of the Iowa Supreme Courts Justices was frightening as they basically shot down arguments because they thought they could smell religous intent.

    I just think from a Natural Law standpoint that the key is if one wishes to adovcate that is to start in the legilatures. That is where the action is.

    As Chaput stated

  • “Subsidiarity is not to be viewed apart from the universal common good and solidarity- it also isn’t a replacement for the natural law requirements for all people- Catholic or not. This emphasis on natural law is found throughout the social doctrine and papal encyclicals”

    Well Tim I don’t think Federalsim gets rid of that. I mean what is changed or what is at issue is what branches of the Governements have the responsibility, power , and authority to act as to the common good or solidarity.. As to the abortion question is it the States or the Federal Govt or a combination of the two.

  • What other aspects of the natural law should the Justices be concerned with? Should a Catholic-based interpretation mandate that all homosexual acts be outlawed? Should a natural law view of the Constitution mean a ban of contraceptives? How far do we take this? And what do we do when we have a majority of Justices whose interpretation of the natural law leads to conclusions quite the opposite of our own?

  • Tim

    I think my other post did not go through for some reason

    Let me clear I am not saying that Natural law Juridprudence cannot be had. As Arkes says where in the COnst is it forbidden.

    I just think that if you really want Natural Law and to have it part of our system one needs to start with the legislature where the real action is at. THat is not to ignore the Judiciary. We should recall that Iowa Supreme Court mandated Gay marraige and in that argument they shot down opponets of it because they say said they could smell religious reasoning. That is a problem

    I am not sure at all that THomas and Scalia have a “plan” to end abortion. I suspect they don’t think that is their job but that of the legislature. Just Like how I think that Scalia is against gay marraige but I could never seem him overturning a state law allowing it because it goes against the natural law or because he does not like it.

    I suppose if we are going to get natural law more in the discussion first the Catholic schools nned to be teaching it more.Then we are going to have to have an discussion with our neighbors about it.

    Political parties are not going to be able to do that. In fact in GOP circles where such an approach has fans in some segments there would have to be some on the evangelical side that would have to embrace it. SOme are open others are wary.

    So as to Natural law principles I think there is a lot of work to be done before we can expect polticos to start using it. In fact we might need to breed a whole new generation of polticos that understand it.

    When I talk to Catholic about the natural law it sometimes seems like they look at me like I am from Mars. That has nothing to do with left, right, or center but just horrid Catholic education in the Puplit, in CCD , and in the schools.

    As to Catholic social justice concerns and principles I think there will be porgress till each “side” that is engaging this start talking to each other instead of yelling at each other.

  • Tim,

    Of course subsidiarity is to be seen in the context of the common good and solidarity. Just as solidarity is to be seen in the context of the common good and subsidiarity. The claim of solidarity does not rule out allowing more basic units of society tend to the common good. Catholic Social teaching never says this. In fact higher units of society are to take over only when lower units cannot meet a common need. States rights fits perfectly in this framework.
    When to allow higher units to take over from lower is a prudential judgement in many cases and you will not find such a criteria in the Compendium.

  • My impression from reading the social doctrine is that the common good is the only real reason for having governing authority in the first place- when this focus is lost then that authority can soon run amuck- I do not dispute or ignore the principle of subsidiarity but we are talking about abortion here, and that is something that cannot be left to even a popular vote- it smacks of the whole scene with Jesus being condemned by popular vote, and Pilate standing by, washing his hands of the affair, even as he seemed to side with Jesus on the level of basic justice- Pope John Paul II even used this comparison with abortion and Christ with over-reliance on democratic outcomes in determining all important matters- now Pilate has not gone down in history as a heroic figure- and I don’t think that a State’s Rights approach to abortion is going to be seen as the best we could do at the level of civil authority.

    We have a problem with subsidiarity as a primary principle to view abortion or the global economy through right now- with the power of multinational corporations usurping even the power of national governments- read Bailouts- it would seem that the local government powers have not kept up with the times- and Free Trade Pacts have taken economic decisions far afield from local control. With abortion, we simply have to have everyone doing what they can with whatever power they have to establish the legal and moral sense that an unborn child is worthy of our human rights. Natural Law reasoning does not have to be overused to the point where we have an effective theocracy- but we ignore the Natural Law to our own peril as a nation, as a people.

    Again- I cannot go into the detail here on this as Professor Rice did in his book- 50 Questions on the Natural Law- if anyone has read that book and has any comments I would love to hear of your thoughts. I think he represents the most orthodox Catholic position on the importance of Natural Law, and how we can promote it without having to force the nation to convert to Catholicism wholesale. There is something religious behind the Natural Law, and the Catholic social doctrine is a necessary guide- but the Natural Law is something reasonable and can be argued with non-believers and believers alike. We cannot continue to cede everything to the secularists- at some point we have to fight for more than merely symbolic gestures like Nativity Scenes on government property- we need Catholics willing to stand behind Natural Law reasoning and Catholic social doctrine- the Natural Law reasoning is all we need to use in public debates, and all the Justices need to make certain that Justice prevails when opportunity comes for them to render decisions that obviously offer life and death for many. Imagine if genocide came up for a vote? Abortion is a genocide of unborn, unwanted children- millions of them- if this doesn’t call forth a universal decision on the part of our Supreme Court- then they may as well pack it in, and leave our Capital empty of Justices and Justice.

  • Tim

    So a vote on the Supreme Court is legitimate but a vote in the Staer Houses is not. Also one can amend State Const a heck of a lot more easier than you can the U.S. COnst to show these natural law principles

    Again it is not a principle of “State Rights” but Federalism. I am not saying fight for a Human Rights AMendment. In fact I suspect that a HUman Ruights amendments would gain steam when it returned to the States.

    You know we can’t just blame nameless polticos in D.C. for not getting the pro-life cause done. It is suddennly much more in our faces where we must convince our neighbors

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  • Tim,

    Its not a problem of seeing subsidiarity as a primary priciple for in fact it is. As are the principles of the common good and solidarity. They are an organic unity. The problem becomes how do we apply these primary priciples to concrete situations. You have your problems with multi-nationals. I have a problem with strong (an ever increasingly stronger) national and international governments. The Compendium does not have a policy to address these. Catholics in good conscience apply the primary principles. At times Catholics in good conscience disagree, sometimes strongly. That’s life in the secualar for the Christian.

  • Honestly, Tim, I think your argument sets up a couple of straw men that you then proceed to effectively slaughter; I disagree with a couple of your premises, and must, therefore, disagree with your conclusions.

    First, I believe you fall victim to the same illogic that drives most who claim to not be “right-wing” Catholics: namely, you choose to lump all Catholic Social Teachings, and abortion, into the same mass and call it legitimately Catholic. I disagree for a couple of reasons:

    1. You mentioned that you would have invited neither PResident Obama nor President Bush to speak at Notre Dame, given the authority to make such a decision. You cite both men’s lack of conformity to basic principles of Catholic Social Doctrine as your reason.

    This comparison sufers for at least two reasons. first, abortion, and , say, the death penalty are not equivalent issues. The authority to make the decision to mete out a penalty of death rests with duly elected civil authorities. SOLELY with them. And while the Compendium of Catholic Social Teaching may decry the occasional necessity to mete out such a sentnece, and while it may state that the circumstances which should require such a penalty are so rarae as to be almost nonexistent, in the end, the judgment of the circumstances lies SOLEY with those duly elected to exercise such authority.

    Similarly with the exercise of war powers. The Church rightly decries the use of military force in *any* circumstance; however, it recognizes the right of governments to enter into armed conflict against those nations or entities which pose a credible threat, and which cannot be subdued by other means. That right flows from the national leader’s responsibility to provide for legitimate defense of its territory and citizens. And the authority to make such a decision rest, again, SOLELY with the likes of President Bush and President Obama.

    Man, this is brain-wracking. I will amend my opening statement to include the thought that I can only respond to one at a time.

    But i fwe are goin gto use Catholic Teaching to justify our positions, it wold seem prudent…to use ALL of it, not jsut the parts that nicely fit our preconceived schema.

    God bless.

  • Totally apart from the extremely interesting issues and discussions in this thread, it occurred to me [somewhat belatedly] that Father Jenkins was greatly disingenuous in the reasons he gave for inviting Mr. Obama to speak at the Commencement exercises.

    Commencements they are meant to be – but commencements to the world wider than the campus in South Bend.

    Now if the graduating students had not pretty well covered the subject – personally and intellectually – in four years’ attendance at the school, what is the purpose of a dialogue about it just as they are about to leave? Surely their teachers must have discussed [dialogued?] the issues during the campaign a year previously.

    I said disingenuous; I repeat disingenuous.

  • And the authority to make such a decision rest, again, SOLELY with the likes of President Bush and President Obama.

    But it does not end there. The authority to pass judgment on the decision made by presidents lies with the Church and SOLELY with the Church.

  • Tim,
    I would go further in this line of consistent criticism of the American political Left and Right. I don’t believe that the state’s rights approach to abortion rights is truly consistent with Catholic social doctrine. The juridical philosophy called “Originalism”, which is championed by many Catholics supportive of the American political Right, is not one that is rooted in Natural Law.

    Conservative Catholics hold to the belief that the laws of the land should be rooted in Natural Law. They belief that the way to change those laws is through democratic processes which are established in the United States constitution and the constitutions of the several states which it comprises. There is nothing in Natural Law which states that a judiciary should act in contravention of the laws which are established.

    Professor Rice says that on abortion we don’t even have to pull out the natural law trump card- it would be rare to have to do that given that much of positive law in the Constitution is already rooted in natural law reasoning- if we apply the 5th and 14th Amendments to the unborn, we would be good to go

    I agree completely.

    but this is not on the radar in the Scalia/Thomas circles as far as I know- and I would say that these Justices are very well regarded in general by conservatives/ American Political Right.

    I’m not so sure, have they ruled that way? If a case came before them which way would they rule? I think you’re mistaken. Those justices have consistently ruled in a way that would allow us to infer they do in fact believe that the unborn are human persons and are protected. Their Catholic faith (and basic empbryology) teaches them that, and there is no contradiction with the Constitution which would preclude them as “originists” in ruling that way.

    we simply have to have everyone doing what they can with whatever power they have to establish the legal and moral sense that an unborn child is worthy of our human rights. Natural Law reasoning does not have to be overused to the point where we have an effective theocracy- but we ignore the Natural Law to our own peril as a nation, as a people.

    Absolutely, but I think there is limits to what a Catholic is compelled to do given the restrictions of his office, especially if he has taken an oath to be bound by those restrictions. Now, no Catholic is permitted to commit an immoral act regardless of his office, but that doesn’t mean he is obliged to use their office illegally in their actions.

    Michael J. Iafrate,

    But it does not end there. The authority to pass judgment on the decision made by presidents lies with the Church and SOLELY with the Church.

    No. Wrong. While the Church has the authority to pass judgments when a public act is in objective violation of Church teaching, she does not make such judgements on purely subjective reasoning (sound thought it might be), nor does the Church pass judgement where she does not possess all of the relevent facts that the civic authority does. She may and often does issue opinions based on what is known and the preponderance of evidence, but that is not the same thing. Ultimately the judgement falls to the Lord God Almighty.

    Jh,

    I just think that if you really want Natural Law and to have it part of our system one needs to start with the legislature where the real action is at.

    exactly!

    Deacon,

    awesome! You nailed it.

  • No. Wrong. While the Church has the authority to pass judgments when a public act is in objective violation of Church teaching, she does not make such judgements on purely subjective reasoning (sound thought it might be), nor does the Church pass judgement where she does not possess all of the relevent facts that the civic authority does. She may and often does issue opinions based on what is known and the preponderance of evidence, but that is not the same thing.

    No, YOU are wrong. The Church has the right to make judgments on wars. Period. That it does not do so regularly with unambiguous force does not mean it does not possess this authority.

    Your mistaken view is precisely one of the results of buying into the americanist separation of secular and sacred authority. Too many Catholics (usually so-called “patriotic” ones) fall for it. What you do not realize is that you are contributing to the marginalization of the Church by promoting such nonsense.

  • “There is nothing in Natural Law which states that a judiciary should act in contravention of the laws which are established.”

    Because the Natural Law, i.e. the Law of Human Nature has no conception of “judiciaries.” However, the moral principles to which we’re oriented would suggest that laws that are not in accord with true justice–thus, not actually being laws should be contravened. Simple establishment makes no case in itself for not contravening it. Now you’ll argue that’s the role of the legislatior; I’m establishing that the Natural Law is not silent about the matter.

    “I think there is limits to what a Catholic is compelled to do given the restrictions of his office, especially if he has taken an oath to be bound by those restrictions. Now, no Catholic is permitted to commit an immoral act regardless of his office, but that doesn’t mean he is obliged to use their office illegally in their actions.”

    Well, I see your point. But this is again my problem with Scalia’s philosophy. I talked about it in a different thread. Effectively, I think the American conception of “justice” and “law,” at least in terms of judicial philosophy is based largely on positive law philosophy and Western Enlightenment philosophy rather than natural law thinking, and therefore, a proper notion of justice and law. Therefore, I think the “originalism and textualist” position might do-the-least-harm, it remains fatally flawed.

  • Eric,

    so how do you propose a “natural law” based judiciary should act? Do we need a legislature at all, just for administrative types of laws? Why not just a system of judges who base their rulings on their understanding of natural law? What reference documents for natural law would be used as a basis?

    I reject this idea because it is akin to anarchy. Each judge applying his own understanding of a very broadly contentious set of rather non-specific rules.

    I believe self-governance is in accord with natural law, and so the people guided by conscience establish the system of laws, the judges do not overturn them they simply apply them.

    There may be certain cases where heroic violation of laws will not cause more harm than good, that any moral person should stand up against them, this can not be the general case.

  • Matt,

    Well, I am no constitutional law scholar. However, I do think that the “originalist” and “textualist” position contradict, to some degree, my understanding of both law and justice because of the inherent lack of consideration of natural law principles. This, I think, is a built-in recipe for disaster. Granted, while the philosophy itself might be, relative to other theories, the “lesser of evils” because of its do-no-harm mantra, it still can create quite a few ethical problems for Catholics.

    I earlier used the example of pre-Civil War slavery. Hypothetically speaking, if there were a case regarding slavery before the United States Supreme Court, tied 4-4, and I’m a Catholic sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court, I certainly would not rule to uphold slavery as the law—and with no apology. It seems that the American notion of “justice” is not whether or not a law is in conformity with the natural law, reflecting the eternal law of God. No, rather, “justice” means having laws conform immediately to the written letter of the U.S. Constitution strictly and legal precedence. While this is not immediately a problem (I’m not saying that the U.S. Constitution should be irrelevant), while it is not in and of itself wrong—it does give rise to ethical issues.

    From the originalist viewpoint regarding slavery, a Justice would have to rule in favor of an unjust law which contradicts the very essence of their title: Justice. An unjust law is not a law according to the scheme of the natural law. However, to an originalist, that point is irrelevant. If law is not meant to be in conformity with the natural law, which reflects perfect justice, then our inherent goal is not to uphold real laws at all but human decrees with no consideration or concern of objective conformity with the laws written into Nature. This, to me, seems to be clearly antithetical to Plato’s The Laws, Cicero’s On The Law, Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, and St. Thomas Aquinas’ Treatise on Law which are four of the most important works in the natural law tradition. There is a fundamental disagreement then about the nature of law itself, about the nature of justice, and therefore, the likeliness to reach just conclusions, while not impossible certainly, is more difficult.

    Alexander Hamilton put it this way: “The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of Divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.” Even the more secular-minded Thomas Jefferson agreed: The “only firm basis” of freedom, he wrote, is “a conviction in the minds of people that their liberties are the gift of God.”

    These words are clearly a natural law commitment (and I’m not suggesting they are advocating it be used by the U.S. Supreme Court). Yet contemporary judicial philosophy is based largely on the Enlightenment-borne philosophy of legal positivism—that is, there is no inherent or necessary connection between the law and ethics, but rather laws are rules made by human beings entered into a social contract with no regard for moral objectivity because the contract is inherently relative.

    If you consider such broad phrases such as “cruel and unusual” or “unreasonable searches and seizures,” it seems to me that the Founders presuppose that you would reference some sort of objective moral criteria that exists outside of the text of the Constitution to know what constitutes such activity. What is cruel? What is unusual? What is unreasonable? Unless there is some objective, unchanging standards that it is presupposed, that is known and can be known because of a common human nature with an unchanging law—the natural law—then it seems that the “concepts” of these things evolve and change with society; thus, this lends itself to the argument for a “living Constitution” that should be read in light of the relative values of the contemporary people. Yet the “originalists” pore scrupulously over the text for some criteria, the Founders (in a world yet to have fully abandon the natural law) may have presumed to be self-evident, or they commit to some legal precedence judged to be in conformity with their judicial philosophy versus what it may be the Founders actually intended. Again, to what do you reference as the criteria to define such “concepts” (cruel, unusual, unreasonable)? Their time period? Our time period? And barring natural law ethics, it becomes inherently relative, which requires one to inject their “personal values” into the constitutional text.

    Simply put, I cannot fully embrace this judicial philosophy and am rather interested in projects to rethink, reasonably, how to interpret the Constitution and develop an American legal system that is more harmonious with the ongoing project of Catholic legal theory. Though, I will add that originalism does guarantee some sort of consistency in judiciary judgments and protects Americans from arbitrary changes in constitutional interpretation. Moreover, to fully reject originalism there needs to be a ready, clearly articulated criterion for interpreting the Constitution, otherwise the matter of law will be solely at the discretion of political inclinations of sitting Justices. Perhaps, at best, originalism constrains the worse temptation of Justices to overreach.

    But it still remains that originalism isn’t perfect. It faces hermeneutic difficulties to which Justice Scalia admits, when he said, “It’s not always easy to figure out what the provision meant when it was adopted…I do not say originalism is perfect. I just say it’s better than anything else.” That is, anything else so far. So while I am not in favor of a hasty departure from originalism to an anything-goes Court, I’m not going to back the theory.

    I still think that it poses quite an ethical dilemma and I’m weary of the Catholic support it gets despite the fact that its philosophical underpinnings, i.e. legal positivism, are fundamentally contradictory to Catholic moral and social thought. While I am sympathetic to the intellectual commitment to protect the integrity of the legal system and the constitutional order, I don’t think that requires an immediate advocacy of originalism over attempting to find some other way to interpret the Constitution. I am not convinced it’s all or nothing—either originalism or the “living Constitution” theory.

    As Edmund Randolph set out at the Constitutional Convention, the goal was to “insert essential principles only; lest the operations of government should be clogged by rendering those provisions permanent and unalterable, which ought to be accommodated to times and events.” Now, this quote, granted, can be misconstrued and interpreted as advocacy of an “evolving” doctrine in regard to constitutional interpretation. However, it seems to me, that the U.S. Constitution seeks to create a government that recognizes and respects the natural, inalienable rights that are self-evident in the natural moral law which are enshrined within the text of the Constitution. While the “essential principles,” which are moral, cannot change—as the moral law does not change; positive laws, however can. Different situations, different circumstances, different cultural values may have a need for different positive laws to best accommodate and promote human flourishing and the protection of human rights. (I’m not saying these laws come from or should come from the Court.) Now how such a view could reasonably and practically be played out in terms of judicial philosophy is quite a debate.

    Nevertheless, originalism strikes me as too keen on preservation of the status quo, that is, order rather than on actual Justice, ifthe circumstances puts the two in contradiction. It brings to mind Machiavellian principles (which I think is the actual beginning of modern philosophy) specifically the re-definition of prudence as a purely pragmatist virtue oriented more toward some end, judging and weighing consequences, i.e. consequentialist and utilitarian ethics that masquerade as natural law thinking when it really is not. It seems the concern is not necessarily on what is moral, but to what works (pragmatist). Therefore, one of the Cardinal Virtues is employed in such a way that its immediate and direct concern is not necessarily intertwined with its sister virtue of Justice, real justice. And the divorce of the two, characteristic of modern thinking, is precisely what I am arguing against.

    Again, I’m not constitutional law scholar, but I do find it curious that the framers of the Constitution did not indicate, in the text itself, how the Constitution should be read. I have no idea why. Perhaps they could not agree on a method themselves, as we cannot.

    Though, I do wonder if one is arguing “original intent” or “original meaning,” does this include taking into account the fact that the words (diction), come from other common law traditions based largely around natural law thinking? Do you seek to understand the words in those light as to get a greater understanding of the words in light of the historical situation? This might be comparable to using the historical-critical method as a tool for scriptural exegesis. In other words, one would read the U.S. Constitution in light of the Declaration of Independence and the natural law tradition? Or, does one read the text strictly, isolated from such references?

    My question arises because of this: The Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal. The Bill of Rights establishes natural human rights. Yet in the U.S. Constitution there is legalized slavery. A natural law thinker would see that as a blatant contradiction. If such a matter were before a Catholic on the Supreme Court, should the Catholic uphold the unjust law as a matter of originalist intent even if contradicts the natural law and say, the majority of the United States citizens refused to conform with natural justice and outlaw it legislatively. For instance, what if abortion was a right written verbatim into the U.S. Constitution. Would I have to be complicit with an intrinsic evil until such a time that society changed its mind? I know I certainly wouldn’t. I am not sure if any oath or commitment can exempt you from stopping an objective moral evil. Consequences aside, as judging whether or not to end slavery or abortion based on how the populace will respond is judging the rightness or wrongness of the act based on the consequences–which again, is consequentialism and not natural law morality. The problem again persists.

    This is the challenge and difficulty of natural law jurisprudence, of which, I am profoundly interested in. Perhaps, I should send Prof. Robert George, a proponent of the “New Natural Law Theory”, another email and ask him a few questions about the matter; he usually replies rather quickly.

Nat Hentoff takes President Obama to task

Friday, May 29, AD 2009

Nat Hentoff’s characteristically blunt and ‘no b.s.’ columns used to be one of chief attractions of the Village Voice, before they made the foolish mistake of letting him go. Politically he’s not one you can apply a label to — in 2003 he supported the removal of Saddam Hussein’s murderous dictatorship on humanitarian grounds, but as a supporter of the First Amendment and civil liberties, harshly criticized the more excessive measures taken by the Bush administration.

Unapologetically pro-life, he is a staunch opponent of the death penalty and abortion (the latter apparently causing some tension with his liberal colleagues at the Voice) and vigorously opposed the court-ordered murder of Terry Schiavo.

Not surprisingly, he established a rapport with the feisty John Cardinal O’Connor, about whom he wrote an appreciative biography.

A self-described “member of the Proud and Ancient Order of Stiff-Necked Jewish Atheists,” he is also one who might merit the attribution: “on the side of the angels.”

Now, he takes aim at President Obama’s faux-support for “dialogue” at Notre Dame:

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5 Responses to Nat Hentoff takes President Obama to task

  • “No matter how much we want to fudge it … the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable”

    – I have to agree with that.

  • We rejoice in seeing that the esteemed Mr. Hentoff has found a place to hang his polemical hat- the Cato Institute, no less. His former employer, the usually Marxist Village Voice, recently terminated his 50-year relationship. So gratifying to see he is not mellowing in his golden years. Also gratifying to see that this Support Pregnant Women Bill is sponsored in the Senate by our own PA Senator Bob Casey Jr. No doubt communing with the ghost of Pop who is saying remember the family tradition and support the women and babies. Not surprising that no record exists of Dear Leader’s support for the bill- tends to shy away from those messier intramural skirmishes, like supporting La Pelosi from the Intelligence Community’s wrath. So bravo to Prof. Dr. Hentoff and ad multos annos and many more years of comforting afflicted and afflicting comfortable. In a word, embarrassing the young sellout whippersnappers holding sway in the MSM these days.

  • Oh might I add that fewer Americano writers have been more insightful on the topic of American Jazz- AKA A Legit Americano Art Form. Also worth examining from the esteemed Dr. Hentoff.

  • Nat Hentoff, my favorite liberal atheist! If one had to give an award for an unending dedication to the pro-life cause in a hostile environment, I would unhesitatingly give it to Mr. Hentoff.

  • The word “Dialogue” seems to be the latest sacrificial victim on the altar of ideological codespeak.

    Dia-logos, opening-words, seems to take for granted a hope in the existence of objective truth buried in the words of another and a sincere desire to find it.

    Doesn’t really apply to what happened at Notre Dame’s commencement, but it sounds really good.

What does President Barack Obama actually MEAN?

Wednesday, May 20, AD 2009

For consideration: an excerpt from President Barack Obama’s commencement speech at Notre Dame:

The soldier and the lawyer may both love this country with equal passion, and yet reach very different conclusions on the specific steps needed to protect us from harm. The gay activist and the evangelical pastor may both deplore the ravages of HIV/AIDS, but find themselves unable to bridge the cultural divide that might unite their efforts. Those who speak out against stem cell research may be rooted in an admirable conviction about the sacredness of life, but so are the parents of a child with juvenile diabetes who are convinced that their son’s or daughter’s hardships can be relieved.

The question, then — the question then is how do we work through these conflicts? Is it possible for us to join hands in common effort? As citizens of a vibrant and varied democracy, how do we engage in vigorous debate? How does each of us remain firm in our principles, and fight for what we consider right, without, as Father John said, demonizing those with just as strongly held convictions on the other side?

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18 Responses to What does President Barack Obama actually MEAN?

  • I didn’t interpret the president as naively asking us to put aside our differences and just get along. His point in these words was 1) to acknowledge that we do have serious differences – conflicting and irreconcilable differences – in how we understand justice and over what means we advocate in building a just society and 2) ask how we can work through these conflicts without putting aside our differences or demonizing the other. His answer to this question is implied in the first quoted paragraph: we work through these conflicts while recognizing that the other really is concerned for justice, even if we think that the other’s conception of justice is gravely wrong. To be sure, this is a difficult road in our pluralistic and postmodern society. We disagree not only about particular actions and behavior, but over the very meaning of justice and how justice should be applied.

  • The soldier and the lawyer may both love this country with equal passion, and yet reach very different conclusions on the specific steps needed to protect us from harm.

    this is a none to subtle slur against those who offer their lives to protect our nation. It is implying that the soldier is a war-monger, and the lawyer a peace-monger. Soldiers do not make policy, they do not decide when war is necessary. When war is necessary then all who are able must fight.

    In fact, without soldiers, efforts at peaceful conflict resolution are completely useless.

  • I can see the soldier and lawyer disagreeing on the steps necessary to protect the nation. I just think that when the lawyers mess it up they join the soldiers in the fight. Solidarity and all.

  • Phillip,

    and I can see the tinker and the tailor disagreeing. So what? There’s nothing about the profession of soldiering that makes one pro-war, and that’s what Obama is implying. Lawyers resolve problems “peacefully”, soldier’s resolve them “violently”.

    It’s a false dichotomy.

  • Kyle,

    Thanks for commenting. I comprehend the President’s advice about ‘not demonizing the other’ and call for a civil discussion. Those familiar with my own blog will understand I’ve long been an advocate for a more civil and charitable discussion.

    But I admit what gets to me — not only here but throughout the campaigning — is the talk of “working through these conflicts” and “join hands in common effort”. What does this actually mean with respect to abortion and ESCR?

    Granted, we can perhaps say that our President may want abortion to be “safe, legal and rare’ — but he will maintain that the “right” be preserved to commit abortion and will strive to repeal any legal restriction put up by those who conscientiously stand for protection of life.

    We can concede that those advocating embryonic stem cell research are motivated by a noble aspiration (to end sickness and suffering); but our President has insisted nonetheless that embryonic stem cell research continue — and at the financial expense of those who believe it to be a grave evil.

    What “common effort” can actually be accomplished with respect to these matters, when two clearly conflicting principles are at play?

  • Let’s not forget that this president at the same time as he authorized funding of baby-killing embryonic stem cell research, he cut off funding for actually successful and non-baby-killing adult stem cell research…. common ground? Give me a break.

    While in dialogue we at times must be “diplomatic”, we need to speak truth to power as it were and not allow the opposition to dehumanize the victims by conceding to their erroneous language.

  • I do not believe that Obama has any interest in justice for the unborn. He regards their lives as worth less than nothing if their mothers decide to abort them in the womb. His idea of a compromise is hot air for the pro-lifers and “abortion now, abortion forever” for the pro-aborts. His calls for dialogue on this issue are deeply duplicitous and purely an attempt to divide and weaken the pro-life cause.

  • Matt,

    Chill. My point wasn’t that soldiers were pro-war. Most I’ve known,(and I was in the Navy for seven years active and 14 reserve) are not. My point was that lawyers (and others) are quite capable of screwing up the safety of the nation and that soldiers were then obliged to suffer to restore it. I just wish that those lawyers would have to bear the suffering along with soldiers.

  • Phillip,

    You’re right, but I don’t believe that’s what Obama is thinking.

  • Oh I don’t either. I think he’s a Chicago politician and and first-rate liar. But there you have it.

  • “I think he’s a Chicago politician and and first-rate liar.”

    As an Illinois downstater I was brought up to believe there is no difference between those two categories!

  • I defer to your experience Donald.

  • Chris,

    Good questions. Obama seems to think that we can work through these conflicts while he implements policies that don’t just require us to tolerate what we hold to be evil, but require us to participate in those evils. That doesn’t strike me as a common ground approach. Either we as a society fund ESCR through our taxes or we don’t. There is no middle ground there. Regarding abortion, each side can at least work to reduce the number of abortions, but here as well we see issues with no middle ground: funding abortions, for instance.

    Personally, I think a good place to start is for both sides in these difficult conflicts to approach the conflicts and those involved assuming good motives, namely, a shared concern for justice. I’m of the opinion that legal victories in these conflicts last only as long as there is a consensus in the public to support them, so if we want to outlaw abortion and other practices, then we have to build that consensus. In my view, that consensus cannot be built when we’re demonizing one another and assuming the worst motives.

    Of course, there’s no magic trick to building consensus. I don’t expect it to happen, actually, but I hope for it.

  • Either we as a society fund ESCR through our taxes or we don’t. There is no middle ground there. Regarding abortion, each side can at least work to reduce the number of abortions, but here as well we see issues with no middle ground: funding abortions, for instance.

    Precisely. My concern is that sometimes this “come, let us dialogue together” is, whatever the noble motives of the advocate (in this case our President) is tantamount to an embrace of relativism.

    And it makes me wonder if Obama’s truly considered that the Church’s teaching that “no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being” is as absolute as, say, opposition to slavery.

    It’s simply not something that a Christian will negotiate away through dialogue, no matter how civil. We can “dialogue” about this conviction with President Obama or NARAL or whoever until we’re blue in the face, but when it comes down to practical policy — something’s got to give.

    In my view, that consensus cannot be built when we’re demonizing one another and assuming the worst motives.

    I’ll concur with you there. Thanks for responding!

  • Kyle,
    Civil rights laws and the judicial decisions that advanced them were forged without a social consensus. They were necessary anyway, because they were right. While they certainly did not serve to immediately alter hearts and minds, they did contribute to that phenomena over time. Indeed, Roe itself was a lawless judicial decision that flew in the face of laws reflecting popular opinion; and over time it contributed to public acceptnce of abortion. In any event, social consensus is legally irrelevant as long as their is a constitutional barrier, however contrived and phony, to legal change

  • Mike,

    I don’t deny the effect that law can have on shaping people’s beliefs, but for laws to remain on the books in a democratic society, they must, in the long run, have the support of the people. If the people remain divided or against a law, then that law is not long for the world. Consider how easily President Obama swept away recent pro-life legislative gains. On the abortion issue in particular, we are going to see a lot of back-and-forth until the country generally comes to see the issue one way or another.

  • Kyle, the back and forth you describe is minor because of Roe. Roe stacks the deck against the democratic process. While that process would produce very imperfect results, those results would be far superior to those that Roe permits at this time. More specifically, the state of the abortion laws in this country is far more pro-abort than is the state of public opinion, precisely because Roe does not allow public opinion to be expressed in law via the democratic process.

    I fully agree that persuasion is important and that persuasion requires that one normally assumes good faith on the part of opponents. But it does not follow that repealing Roe would be feckless or unimportant. That simply could not be more wrong.

    Finally, it is naive to assign good faith to all. What Obama did in Illinois to sabotage the state’s Born Alive Act cannot be explained away as simply good faith disagreement. He lead the effort to ensure that children born as a result of an attempted abortion procedure would not be entitled to ordinary care unless the attending physician pronounced the child “viable.” In other words born children, who in the eyes of a single doctor are not viable, may lawfully be discarded as trash. He justified this effort by citing his concern for Roe, a concern that in this context is so stupid on so many levels that it must be regarded as insincere. Sincerity is a prerequisite to the good faith you value. It is not universally present.

  • I didn’t say that we should always assign good motives; I said we should assume them when we approach these conflicts. Of course, our assumptions may be later proved or disproved.

    For the record, I don’t think overturning Roe would be feckless or unimportant.

Jenkins to Glendon: "OK, We'll Find Someone Else."

Monday, April 27, AD 2009

jenkins2obama-and-valentine4

Hattip to Hot Air.  Notre Dame’s reaction to the stunning Glendon withdrawal:

“We are, of course, disappointed that Professor Glendon has made this decision. It is our intention to award the Laetare Medal to another deserving recipient, and we will make that announcement as soon as possible.”

Now who could Jenkins get at the last moment?  Hmmm, someone on board with Obama, doesn’t mind ticking off the bishops, nominally Catholic, nominally pro-life.  I have it!  The perfect candidate for Jenkins is here.

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17 Responses to Jenkins to Glendon: "OK, We'll Find Someone Else."

  • Now that would really close the loop!

  • Kmiec is on my short list of possible suspects.

    I wonder though, if even Kmiec is willing to go that far.

    In spite of all the denials, my Vatican contacts have told me that Mr. Kmiec’s was nominated for the position of Ambassador to the Holy See and was rebuffed, and in no uncertain terms, by the Vatican. At this point, he is a tarbaby even to Obama.

    Do you think with 8.2 million already being held hostage in donations Jenkins is willing to pour fuel on the fire by replacing Glendon with Kmiec, Pelosi or Sebelius?

    Do you think Kmiec is foolish enough to burn every bridge?

    All very interesting!

  • Now if only the headline had read “Jenkins to Obama: ‘OK, We’ll Find Someone Else.'” 🙂

    Like Carol, I don’t see Kmiec being chosen as the Laetare Medal replacement, although I wouldn’t entirely rule it out.

    If Jenkins were to nominate Pelosi or Sebelius, however, I’d have to seriously wonder if he’d gone off his nut… that would be a bridge-burning moment of Blago-esque proportions.

  • Yeah. With Biden and Pelosi both having flares shot across their bows by the Catholic Church, I can’t imagine either one of them are stupid enough to get involved in this fugatz.

    Hmmm. With the electric atmosphere, what repudiator of Catholic tenets will be willing to back into the corner with Jenkins?

    Hmm. I just can’t think of a soul.

    Me thinks this year will be post humorous award?

  • I think you meant to say “posthumous”, as in “after death”. Although this whole affair has also gone past the point of being humorous, too, if it ever was humorous :~)

  • haha!

    Sister Denis Marie would clobber me after four years of Latin.

    I beg your indulgence!

  • (Guest comment from Don’s wife Cathy): Elaine & Carol, a “post-humorous” award this time would be at least as appropriate as a posthumous award, IMHO. (“Post-humorous” may have been unintentional, but I like it!)

  • Man, Notre Dame must be getting REALLY desperate:

    http://southbend.craigslist.org/evg/1143896969.html

  • Ha!

  • It appears that the WH is already paying ND back for the invitation and honorary degree. (That was fast!)

    http://newsinfo.nd.edu/news/11640-doe-to-establish-energy-frontier-research-center-at-notre-dame

  • I don’t understand the antagonism in this web space towards a caring, just, and intelligent president such as Barack Obama. He wants to reduce abortions by supporting adoption and all his other issues are in complete concensus with Catholic Social doctrine and the Gospels. (help the poor). Abortion is the law of America and most other countries and this law has prevented numerous abortions in unsanitary, illegal locations or abortions performed by scared young girls with hangers or other devices. Lets decrease the number of abortions and support the living who are poor and vulnerable. Abortions, I’m afraid will never be eliminated.

  • “Abortions, I’m afraid will never be eliminated.”

    With politicians like Obama in charge you are absolutely correct. To pro-lifers Mr. Sanchez every abortion kills a human being with just as much a right to life as you possess or I possess. A politician like Obama who celebrates abortion as a right is dedicated to perpetuating this evil. We are dedictated to stopping it.

  • Dennis,

    You don’t reduce something by increasing funding and promotion.

    Further, we didn’t combat slavery by concerted efforts to reduce it. And we certainly wouldn’t tolerate an administration that hired all pro-slavery people because we would know the direction such a president would be turning the ship.

    Killing people and enslaving them are to be eradicated in a civilized society. There is no other social program that can distract us from it.

    God Bless.

  • Another point Mr. Sanchez, if you are a Catholic, the Church requires that you be in favor of making abortion illegal. Here is the portion of the Catechism on that point:

    “2273 The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:

    “The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.”80

    “The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.”81”

  • Well done Donald.

    “Abortions, I’m afraid will never be eliminated.”

    Neither will rapes, but we outlaw them.

Bishop D'Arcy Responds

Thursday, April 23, AD 2009
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18 Responses to Bishop D'Arcy Responds

  • I hope it’s OK to comment. I am a Catholic, but I disagree with the Bishop somewhat. Plus: Why is it only abortion that matters? Obama is also pro-death penalty. Obama is not that pro-choice (what he says and who he appoints are two different things). But he is rabidly pro-death penalty.

    I don’t care if Obama speaks at Notre Dame. Lots of presidents speak at universities and to me it is something that students will always remember, whether they agree with that president’s political stands or not. I disagree with Obama on almost everything. I would rather see protests WHEN he speaks than protests about him speaking. IMHO.

  • Plus: Why is it only abortion that matters?

    That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it has been pointed out that the evil of abortion does outweigh some other issues. As then Cardinal Ratzinger put it:

    Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

    Obama is not that pro-choice

    Yeah, he kind of is. He is so rabidly pro-abortion that he opposed the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, which would have guaranteed some basic rights to babies that survived a botched abortion. Even Planned Parenthood didn’t hold such an extreme view.

    I don’t care if Obama speaks at Notre Dame.

    That’s nice. But that doesn’t really speak to the issue of whether or not honoring a public individual who supports a grave and manifest evil that is unequivocally opposed by the Church ought to be honored at a Catholic university.

    would rather see protests WHEN he speaks than protests about him speaking. IMHO.

    Why not both?

  • Carrisa,

    Whether you are Catholic or not, you are more than welcomed to comment here just as long as it relates to the topic, charitable, and constructive.

    Welcome to American Catholic!

  • Understatement of the year:

    Obama is not that pro-choice

    Yeah, he kind of is”

    I laughed when I read that 🙂

  • “Obama is not that pro-choice.”

    I think the argument used by some is that he is pro-choice but not pro-abortion.

    We’ll leave it at that.

  • Bishop D’Arcy talks about how proper consultation could have avoided all this. This is the real shame here. This all could have been avoided. Father Jenkins acted unilaterally. Where have I heard that unilateral action is the worst kind of sin? Hmm…

  • Father Jenkins acted unilaterally.

    Just because he didn’t consult with the bishop does not mean he acted unilaterally.

  • I’m pro-choice with regard to holding slaves.

    I think that every person should be free to hold slaves without government interference, the government should provide funding for people to purchase slaves if they can’t afford them, the government should provide facilities to keep slaves, also it’s good for the government to fund organizations which further the cause of slavery worldwide, I speak often at slavery conventions, and receive many political contributions from slavery groups.

    But…. I am not pro-slavery, I would not hold slaves, although if my children needed some help around the house I wouldn’t want them punished with having to do the work themselves, so I would take them to the slave auction and give them money to buy slaves).

    Slaves should be safe, legal, and rare.

  • Michael,
    Ought not a priest consult with the local bishop on a decision that was surely to be controversial? On a matter that cuts to the core of Catholic teaching and its alignment with the Natural Law? If not unilateral, then surely imprudent. The good father chose perishable wordly praise over timeless universal truth. How very sad.

  • Matt,
    Bravo. Can I borrow this comparison of yours? I may be able to make some headway with this.

  • daledog,

    I’m sure it’s been done before, but it fits Obama so precisely! Feel free to use it.

    I’m still trying to figure out how to make an analogy of the opposition to “Born Alive Protection Act” any suggestions?

  • “I’m still trying to figure out how to make an analogy of the opposition to “Born Alive Protection Act” any suggestions?”

    Not a direct analogy, but here goes:

    Fugitive Slave Act. If a slave actually manages to make it to freedom in the North, it is against the law for people in Northern states to aid said slave in his/her escape or otherwise provide assistance.

  • With respect to my comment that Obama is not that pro-choice, I realize in Catholicize there is no wiggle-room. But Obama isn’t Catholic, even though he gave more money to Catholic Social Services last year (as revealed on his income tax forms) than to any other group. Many Catholics belonged to a pro-Obama group (Catholics for Obama) because they believed that he was more anti-choice than pro-choice. I did not support Obama, but I think that group had good evidence. His first choice for Health and Human Services was Tom Daschle, a guy who had only a 50% rating from NARAL. And many of Obama’s associates are ministers like James Meeks of the Illinois Family Institute.

    Abortion just took over the Church as an issue. In the 1980s it became impossible to attend a mass or sometimes even a funeral without hearing about abortion. Now it seems to be homosexuality.

    When are we going to get back to the central message of love? When are the words of Jesus going to come to us from the pulpit? I have listed to pro-life men speak about abortion without ever using the word woman or mother: they say “womb,” like we are incubators. I don’t hear Jesus in that. I am not saying the Church should drop its doctrine or not take stands on issues of life. If I wanted no doctrine, no transubstantiation, no veneration of the Blessed Virgin, I would be a Unitarian or something. But I find more vitriol than love most of the time when Catholics talk about current politics.

    Thank you for letting me comment. God bless.

  • Above, second line should say Catholicism. Sorry.

  • Carrisa, here is a good site to learn about Obama and his record on abortion:

    http://www.lifenews.com/obamaabortionrecord.html

    The Church has condemned abortion since the time of the Apostles and Obama is a champion of abortion. The facts shout for themselves. A website you might find interesting is here:

    http://www.feministsforlife.org/

  • Carissa, even though I am 100 percent pro-life, I have sometimes wondered myself why the Church seems to “harp” on abortion so much.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because no other major institutions (other than evangelical Protestant churches) are doing so, and the Church HAS to go out of its way to remind people how evil abortion is because they aren’t getting that reminder anywhere else, with a few exceptions (e.g. Feminists for Life, noted pro-life atheists such as Nat Hentoff, some Orthodox Jews and Muslims).

    The Church doesn’t have to put quite as much effort into condemning war, poverty, capital punishment, or murder of people already born because there are plenty of other individuals and groups out there doing so already, and the force of civil law already condemns things like murder. With abortion (and now, gay marriage), however, Catholics and evangelical Protestants stand nearly alone in opposing it; so I guess they just have to repeat their message louder and more frequently.

  • The reason the Church harps on this so much is that Catholics DO NOT GET IT. Most voted for Obama, and every pro-abortion presidential candidate before him. Maybe they’ll take it easy when liberal Catholics get it.

  • Catholics say in the Creed: “I believe in the Holy Spirit the Lord and Giver of Life…” Anyone who thinks that abortion or euthanasia ought to be legal is an enemy of God and will receive the recompense which befits an enemy. This is so clear a child can understand. The enemies of God cannot see this which is the first sign that they are already being punished.

Lesser of Two Evils or Worthy of Honor

Friday, April 17, AD 2009

Since the Notre Dame controversy has all the staying power of an inebriated relative after a dinner party, I’ll attempt one more brief comment on it.

It is a disappointment to me, though hardly a surprising one, that just about everyone in the Catholic blogsphere who advocated voting for Obama in the first place (or sympathized with those who did) now find so much to object to in those Catholics (including quite a few bishops — all who have address the topic to my knowledge) who are upset at Obama being made the commencement speaker for Notre Dame and awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

The argument, which was made frequently enough during the election, was that while Obama was far from perfect (and, we were always assured, the speaker was indeed deeply troubled by his positions on abortion) he was the better of two distinctly poor alternatives available on the ballot.

If such was one’s true position, I disagree, but with a fair amount of respect.  Sometimes both options available are very bad, and choosing the lesser of two evils is quite the judgment call.

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67 Responses to Lesser of Two Evils or Worthy of Honor

  • To be clear,

    I think the decision to honor Obama is wrong, and that the bishops are right to speak out against it.

    My problem was more with the tone of the com-boxers and others. Critique is one thing, wrath is another. I stick with what my priest told us about wrath; it is only moral when it is proportionate and productive. If it doesn’t lead to anything but a cathartic release, or a sense of righteousness, then it is a self-indulgent sin. I’ve confessed it more than once.

    Some people can’t or won’t make the distinction between principles and tactics. Disagree with one, and you necessarily hate the other. It is a distortion of logic to say the least. If I can’t disapprove of your tactics without simultaneously being opposed to your principles, then what you want is a cult following, not a rational discussion. Why should anyone have to put up with that?

  • I meant the general “you”. Not you Darwin.

  • My position is that I am upset about those who are making a huge deal about this because 1) they are singling out Obama but have had no problems with other anti-life politicians (like Bush and C. Rice) being similarly honored by Catholic institutions, so their protests ring hollow, and 2) because very few people are distinguishing between Obama receiving an honorary degree and him simply giving the commencement address, and 3) the over-the-top rhetoric is simply hateful and, quite frankly, insane. The latest letter this blog posted, from the bishop of Lincoln, is proof of that.

  • Michael I.,

    Considering that you’re an expert on hate and hating and accuse others of such nonsense is silly.

  • Catholic Anarchist, when pro-life Republicans were confronted with Rudolph Giuliani being a serious contender in 08, we made it clear to all and sundry, through the Stop Rudy movement and other efforts, that he was unacceptable and that we would prefer defeat to having him as the nominee. Leftists like yourself who claim to be pro-life, excluding the honorable exceptions, largely flocked to the banner of Obama, as you did, because the struggle against abortion is simply not very important to them compared to other political goals. Now you bash those of us outraged that Notre Dame is giving a forum to the most pro-abortion President in our nation’s history, a man who has raised campaign funds touting his opposition to banning the barely disguised infanticide known as partial birth abortion. Frankly Catholic Anarchist, since you are a de facto pro-abort, I would have been astonished if you had not behaved in just the fashion you have. For an anarchist, you are very predictable.

  • Meanwhile, you can add Bishop George Lucas of Springfield to the list of bishops addressing the Notre Dame mess/issue/scandal/disgrace/abomination. He states in this week’s issue of Catholic Times:

    “It is hard to imagine the university honoring someone, no matter his office, who had consistently spoken against the value of football. We are not being unreasonable when we expect the value of human life to be a central focus of a Catholic university.”

  • I personally would be satisfied, or at least less disturbed, if Notre Dame withdrew the honorary degree or if Obama decided not to accept it, and just went ahead with the commencement address. However, that really should have been done from the outset, and to do so now would be too little, too late. Also, if the “commencement” address were given separately from the commencement — say, the day before, at a different venue or somewhere off-campus, with ND graduates and their family given first crack at seating IF they choose to attend. That way, the graduation itself isn’t ruined for anyone who is either scandalized by the whole thing or just doesn’t want to deal with the security and media which are bound to be there.

    As I have stated in a previous post, I attended Eureka College while Reagan was president and saw how much security and media attention was imposed on the graduation Reagan spoke at. If there had also been a huge number of protesters there it would have been even worse. I expect that is what will occur at ND.

  • And I have to add this: Reagan didn’t come to my graduation, and even though I and my parents voted for Reagan and agreed with what he stood for, we were glad he didn’t. My elderly grandmother, both my parents and my brother came to my graduation and were really stressed out and snapping at one another by the end of the day.

    I can just imagine what it would have been like had they been marched through a gauntlet of Secret Service people and reporters. I can also only imagine what it would have been like for them had they been die-hard liberal Democrats who despised nearly everything he stood for. We probably would have just skipped the whole thing and had the diploma sent in the mail.

  • Agreed Elaine. I found my commencements to be crashing bores. When I got my JD I skipped the general commencement at the U of I and sold my tickets for a good price. My wife, then my fiancee, did the same. I wish I had scalped my lawschool commencement tickets also, since I found it tedious beyond belief.

  • Catholic Anarchist, when pro-life Republicans were confronted with Rudolph Giuliani being a serious contender in 08, we made it clear to all and sundry, through the Stop Rudy movement and other efforts, that he was unacceptable and that we would prefer defeat to having him as the nominee.

    I remember that movement. I supported it because of Guiliani’s anti-life views on abortion and war. I do not recall the republicatholic part of the movement saying that they would “prefer defeat.” Can you point me to that official statement?

    Leftists like yourself who claim to be pro-life, excluding the honorable exceptions, largely flocked to the banner of Obama, as you did, because the struggle against abortion is simply not very important to them compared to other political goals. Now you bash those of us outraged that Notre Dame is giving a forum to the most pro-abortion President in our nation’s history, a man who has raised campaign funds touting his opposition to banning the barely disguised infanticide known as partial birth abortion. Frankly Catholic Anarchist, since you are a de facto pro-abort, I would have been astonished if you had not behaved in just the fashion you have. For an anarchist, you are very predictable.

    I’m predictable? You are so predictable (and utterly boring) that I suspect you have this little passage saved on your computer and you cut-and-paste in whenever you need to tell a non-republicatholic that he or she is “really” a “pro-abort.” Just because you can repeat this nonsense over and over does not make it true.

    As I have said repeatedly, I oppose Obama receiving an honorary degree precisely because of his views, and more importantly his actions on abortion. If the bishops who have spoken out (relatively few) and you loudmouth republicatholic bloggers would focus on THAT and not get into the business of condemning Notre Dame and making personal attacks on Fr Jenkins’ personal faith, I could agree with you. But as usual, you turn into a bunch of blowhards eager to prove your own supposed piety and “respect” for life when you are, in fact, woefully inconsistent.

  • You can say that again. My brother graduated from Illinois State. The ceremony consisted of a five-minute speech by the chancellor, then sitting on hard chairs for 2 1/2 hours in a sweaty auditorium listening to 800 names being read. We had to sit through about 400 of them to get to my brother, since “Krewer” is in the middle of the alphabet 🙂 When my husband graduated from University of Illinois at Springfield, we didn’t even bother going. (Our married name, which I don’t use on this blog, is farther down in the alphabet.)

  • “I remember that movement. I supported it because of Guiliani’s anti-life views on abortion and war. I do not recall the republicatholic part of the movement saying that they would “prefer defeat.” Can you point me to that official statement?”

    We said it many times Catholic Anarchist, including in this thread on an obscure blog you may be familiar with, where “Alexham”, the founder of the movement, and I made our intentions quite clear.

    http://vox-nova.com/2007/11/27/rudys-evolution-on-abortion/

    Of course Catholic Anarchist, when put to the test, you went with your Leftist agenda, threw unborn children under the bus, and climbed on the Obama campaign bus.

  • Of course Catholic Anarchist, when put to the test, you went with your Leftist agenda, threw unborn children under the bus, and climbed on the Obama campaign bus.

    Once again, just because you can repeat some cliches does not make them true. I did not “campaign” for Obama.

  • Having read how terrible are those Conservatives who make a fuss about Fr. Jenkin’s awarding an honorary degree to Mr. Obama, I note with bemusement Mr. Lafrate’s words about the Conservatives:
    “You are so predictable [and utterly boring]…”
    “You loudmouth repubicatholic bloggers…”
    “Bunch of blowhards…”.

  • Climbed on board the campaign bus Catholic Anarchist is my way of saying you supported Obama. It goes nicely with my comment about you throwing the unborn children under the bus by your decision to support Obama.

  • Gabriel – Glad you got a kick out of it.

    Climbed on board the campaign bus Catholic Anarchist is my way of saying you supported Obama.

    I made pretty clear the extent to which I “supported” him. Too bad you ignored what I said.

    It goes nicely with my comment about you throwing the unborn children under the bus by your decision to support Obama.

    Only if you’re illiterate, and if you feel comfortable MAKING JOKES about throwing fetuses under buses. Unlike you, I don’t make jokes like that. Hope you’re proud of yourself, old man!

  • Oh, that part wasn’t a joke Catholic Anarchist. For you unborn children are completely expendable in order to accomplish more important political goals. The ironic thing is none of those other goals are probably going to be realized, certainly not in regard to foreign policy. You sold out on the issue of abortion for bupkis.

    You know, for someone who finds me boring, you certainly do spend a lot of time responding to my posts and comments on this blog.

  • You can keep repeating it, but it doesn’t make it true. Keep saying it. We’ll keep laughing, old man!

  • Glad you think dead babies are so funny!

  • Actually Catholic Anarchist you are the one repeating yourself. You have also been guilty of two ageism insults. It certainly doesn’t matter to me, since I have used my 52 years on this Earth productively, (besides my 14 year old daughter is a grandmaster at age jokes slung in my direction) but I am concerned that you may have to go to a progressive version of Confession in order to purge yourself of your sin against the PC gods.

  • How many more dead baby jokes do you think you can make in this thread, Don?

  • I’ve made none Catholic Anarchist. How many more dead unborn children do you think will result in this country and around the world from the pro-abortion policies of the man you voted for to be President?

  • More than what? The administration of the formerly pro-choice John McCain? The formerly pro-choice George W. Bush? The formerly pro-choice George H. W. Bush? The formerly pro-choice Ronald Reagan?

    I have no idea what results Obama’s abortion policies will bring. Neither do you.

    But leave it to you to make jokes about their deaths, feeling smug about having voted the “right way.” Haha, right?

  • I didn’t think the remark about throwing unborn children “under the bus” was meant as a joke at all, but rather as a metaphor for casting aside someone or something that is no longer useful to one’s cause. In that context, it would be entirely appropriate to say that Catholics who cast aside concern for life issues in their eagerness to elect Obama did indeed throw unborn children “under the campaign bus” in a figurative sense.

    Illinois residents may recall this this phrase having been used by Chicago Alderman Dick Mell to describe his now infamous son-in-law, ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, as someone who would “throw anyone under the bus” who got in the way of his ambitions.

  • I didn’t think the remark about throwing unborn children “under the bus” was meant as a joke at all, but rather as a metaphor for casting aside someone or something that is no longer useful to one’s cause. In that context, it would be entirely appropriate to say that Catholics who cast aside concern for life issues in their eagerness to elect Obama did indeed throw unborn children “under the campaign bus” in a figurative sense.

    It was not a joke in the sense of seeking to garner laughs. But Donald proves through his use of such language that he has absolutely no respect for the lives he claims to want to save. He’s only interested in voting the right way to preserve his moral “purity” while he kisses his grandkids and feels good about himself.

    Of course, the men he voted for have been directly responsible for the deliberate killing of human beings, but he could care less because they were (mostly) not pure little white american babies.

    The laugh is on him.

  • And once again Michael tries to depict opposition to abortion as somehow inspired by racism. What a hackish and unCatholic liar.

  • And once again Michael tries to depict opposition to abortion as somehow inspired by racism.

    Not at all, pal! Because I too am opposed to abortion! It is Donald’s disregard for human beings who are nto american and not babies that seems to be inspired by racism. In fact, one could say that Donald has “thrown Iraqis under the bus” because he did not oppose the Iraq War, right?

  • Above, the “nto” means “not,” ok?

  • Well then, Michael, if you ever use metaphors such as “walk through a minefield,” “drop the bomb,” “take no prisoners,” “go nuclear,” or “declare war on (fill in the blank)”, should we regard that as proof that you have no respect for the lives of civilians or soldiers killed in war and that your anti-war stances are therefore totally hypocritical?

  • Elaine – Donald’s views on respect for human life are inconsistent. And he’s proud of it. If I used those phrases in the way that Donald does, and if I demonstrated some inconsistency in who I regard worthy of respect when it comes to human life, sure, go to town and call me “hypocritical.” Have fun!

  • Joe,

    Yes, to be honest I think the topic has been discussed to much. Notre Dame University was wrong, it’s that simple. And I think little is gained from repeating the point and getting worked up. (Though at the same time, though I dislike the protest mentality, I have to admit that there are some good things that have come of protests. Civil rights comes to mind. And I fear that I am probably very much indicted by Martin Luther King’s discussion of what “moderate” civil rights supporters were like in the 60s.)

    Michael,

    I see no evidence that Donald lacks regard for lives which are not American and/or not babies. Can it.

    All,

    I have the feeling that things are going down hill on this thread. And so if anyone says anything rude before I complete my martini (which will take me roughly ten minutes) I will delete his or her comment[s].

  • I see no evidence that Donald lacks regard for lives which are not American and/or not babies. Can it.

    Could it be that you have similar views and this prevents you from having any sort of critical distance from Donald’s views? Just a question. Not trying to be rude. Enjoy your drink.

  • No, I think it’s that Donald and I both have a lot of regard for lives which are not American and/or not babies, but that you and we have very different ideas of what is actually conducive to helping others. And I think we’d all be a lot better off if we all kept that in mind before lobbing accusations.

    Speaking of helping others, try 1.5oz Plymouth Gin, 0.5oz Noilly Prat dry vermouth and a dash or orange bitters with two olives.

    Mmmmmm.

  • Even if you think that support for the Iraq war was racist (not at all proven), it’s being a bully to conflate the issues by accusing someone of opposing abortion only for “pure little white American babies.” That is, it is a complete lie to suggest that anyone around here is opposed to abortion only or primarily as to white babies . . . folks oppose abortion all around.

  • Darwin – I’m having a St Ambroise Oatmeal Stout, straight from Montreal.

    …you and we have very different ideas of what is actually conducive to helping others.

    Stress on the word “very” of course. You and S.B. and Donald are open to killing people as a way of “helping” them. I am not.

  • It may be a bit of a segue but Obama also threw his primary opponent for senate, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and his aged white grandmother under the bus. So the unborn CHILDREN are in good company when it comes to this guy’s political agenda.

  • You and S.B. and Donald are open to killing people as a way of “helping” them. I am not.

    It is at the door, Rabadash. It is lifting the latch…

  • Catholic Anarchist, as I have observed before, it is going to be a very long four years for you. Better attempt to sharpen up on those rationalizations of your support for the most pro-abort president in our nation’s history. You are going to need them.

  • Michael,

    The charge of racism directed toward anyone who is anti-abortion is horribly inconsistent given that in this country a disproportionate number of minority child are the victims of abortion. Planned Parenthood, darling “health care provider” of the left intentionally sets up facilities in minority areas. American pro-lifers are as much against our government facilitating abortion overseas as well and have indeed always made a stink about that, often citing how Obama would rescind the Mexico City policy among other actions that would certainly help destroy children of color.

    On the other hand, a charge of racism could be plausible against supporters of abortion and those who pay lip service to immorality of it but don’t really act on it or who are critical of those who do.

    Personally I think it is erroneous (and even unfair) to consider someone’s support of a given war to mean that they are indifferent to the suffering and/or deaths of others. However, while it’s noble that you do care about the innocent Iraqi’s caught in the cross-fire, perhaps you’d feel a little stronger in your opposition to abortion if you considered unborn babies just as worthy of life as Iraqi adults. When you do, maybe you’ll understand why many of us come to a different conclusion about the gravity of the problems, what can be done about them, as well as the lasting effects of each.

  • You and S.B. and Donald are open to killing people as a way of “helping” them. I am not.

    As always, the preening self-righteousness combined with the gross mischaracterization of other people’s views.

    News flash: Killing the Nazis (for example) wasn’t helping the Nazis. But it was helping the rest of Europe, not to mention Jewish people.

  • However, while it’s noble that you do care about the innocent Iraqi’s caught in the cross-fire, perhaps you’d feel a little stronger in your opposition to abortion if you considered unborn babies just as worthy of life as Iraqi adults.

    You have no reason to think that I do not consider the unborn just as worthy as life as Iraqi adults. I oppose both abortion and war, unlike your buddies here at Catholic America.

  • You give every reason to think that you could give a flying leap for the unborn the way you fawn and protect your hero President Obama, the most pro-abortion president in the History of the United States.

  • You have no reason to think that I do not consider the unborn just as worthy as life as Iraqi adults. I oppose both abortion and war, unlike your buddies here at Catholic America.

    Actually, I have no reason to think that you do consider the unborn as worthy of life as others. All I have to go on are the words you utter online that I read. From those very words I don’t see much in the way of advocacy for the unborn, but I do see much from you intended to draw attention away from the abortion issue, coupled with a hostility and apparent hatred of those who do consider a Christian duty to defend the innocent. If you think others are lacking in their commitment you can certainly try to lead them to a more complete understanding, but you do no such thing. You condemn and insult those who should be your natural allies (if you indeed consider abortion an abomination). Frankly, your rhetoric tends to trivialize the cause of the unborn. In spite of your proclamations of “I’m against abortion too”, your remarks like “baby worshiping weirdos” speaks volumes.

  • As a couple people have pointed out, waging a war does not mean that one does not care about or value the lives of the citizens of the country one is fighting against or in.

    Otherwise, for instance, we’d have to assume that John Paul II didn’t care about Serbians because he advocated using military force against them to stop the strife in Kosovo.

    However, on both sides, I don’t think anyone will gain anything by discussing who does or does not care about the unborn, Iraqis, etc. So I’m going to ask that we drop the “you don’t care” “no, I care. It’s you who don’t care” line or argument. And if we don’t, I’ll close the thread.

  • It’s very perplexing that a few of the VN bloggers take that approach. If they deign to discuss abortion at all, 90% of the time it’s to ridicule and sneer at other pro-lifers for their political strategies, to urge people not to let anti-abortion sentiment sway their voting, to dismiss Obama’s pro-choice moves as “trivial,” to claim that pro-lifers are hypocrites, to mock Republican judicial nominees (but NEVER their Democratic inquisitors) for saying nice but meaningless things about Roe.

    But they get all sniffy if anyone wonders whether they’re really committed to being against abortion, given that opposing people who oppose abortion seems to be so much a higher priority. Then, and ONLY then, will they say, “Of course I’m against abortion.” Gee, thanks. Now how about writing that with conviction? How about focusing your voluminous contempt, for once, on pro-choicers rather than on other pro-lifers?

  • …but I do see much from you intended to draw attention away from the abortion issue

    Not at all. My intention most of the time is precisely to connect the issue of war with the issue of abortion. Their sinfulness flows from the same sacrificial logic.

    As for my use of the term “baby worship,” it is not mean to suggest that babies should not be valued and protected as any other human being. They absolutely should, by individuals and by the law. It is meant, rather, as a way to criticize the real god of many right wing Catholics. It is possible to care virtually only for unborn babies and to ignore the rest of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. So many Catholics are merely baby worshipers.

    Tito – Your comment is not worth a response.

    If they deign to discuss abortion at all, 90% of the time it’s to ridicule and sneer at other pro-lifers for their political strategies…

    I don’t ridicule the strategies of pro-lifers. I am a pro-lifer. But I not only sneer but oppose the “political strategies” of some pro-lifers: those who believe voting for republicans is the the way to enact pro-life politics. There is nothing pro-life about republican politics.

    …to urge people not to let anti-abortion sentiment sway their voting…

    “Sway” is an interesting word. I would urge people to vote pro-life, period. But the Catholic sense of the word pro-life is not limited to abortion. The Catholic anti-abortion position should absolutely play a role in the decision of who to vote for. A candidate’s view on abortion is important but not the only consideration.

    …to dismiss Obama’s pro-choice moves as “trivial”…

    Who is saying that Obama’s pro-life moves are “trivial”? I’m certainly not.

    …to claim that pro-lifers are hypocrites…

    I don’t claim pro-life people are hypocrites. A lot of them certainly are. Thankfully, there are many pro-lifers who are consistent and who do not isolate abortion as if it were the only pro-life issue. Why would I claim that pro-lifers are “hypocrites” if I am a pro-lifer?

    …to mock Republican judicial nominees (but NEVER their Democratic inquisitors) for saying nice but meaningless things about Roe.

    I have no party loyalty. I will “mock” any politician who claims to be pro-life and whose concrete political acts reveal otherwise. I oppose pro-choice policies coming from either party.

  • The real sticking point is in my last question:

    How about focusing your voluminous contempt, for once, on pro-choicers rather than on other pro-lifers?

    Can’t do that, of course, as it would jeopardize one’s reputation among other leftists. If you say anything about pro-choicers, it had better be couched amidst much more vehement criticism distancing yourself from all the “other” pro-lifers.

  • “How about focusing your voluminous contempt, for once, on pro-choicers rather than on other pro-lifers?”

    Because you have to recognize that this is a movement dispute!

    Do you guys realize how much time people on the left spend arguing with one another? I was there, I know – if any of you think there is some sort of united coalition over there, you’re completely wrong. Leftists fight amongst each other more often than the lesser chimps struggle with alpha male. There is an endless battle, and an endless purge, for ideological purity. This doesn’t happen on the right nearly as much, for reasons I won’t get into here.

    The left-populist author Thomas Frank tells us in his book “What’s the Matter With Kansas” that the only place he has ever seen the same amount of detailed, intellectual in-fighting is the history of the Catholic Church. That may not be exactly what is happening here, but then, it may be.

    To clarify, I actually DO write about abortion. But I don’t even bother with the pro-choice movement, and I suspect others don’t as well, because it is simply a given that they are wrong about everything. What reinvent the wheel by pointing it all out once again? We focus on our pro-life brothers who we believe are in tactical error because we remember what Christ said, and what he didn’t say regarding doctors and health: the sick are in need of a doctor, not the healthy, and here I’ll add, not the dead (i.e. choicers).

    We spend our time on Catholic forums, around people who are mostly pro-life – does it do any good to talk about choicers as if they’re here, as if they’re reading and they care? That’s just howling at the wind.

    All of that said, I think Mr. Iafrate is going out of his way to be disliked around here, so I’m not endorsing anything he’s said. Looks like there is already a history of conflict between him and others here – that this is more personal than anything.

    And, if anyone cares, I supported Mike Huckabee until he was out of the running.

  • We spend our time on Catholic forums, around people who are mostly pro-life – does it do any good to talk about choicers as if they’re here, as if they’re reading and they care? That’s just howling at the wind.

    There are plenty of pro-choice people who read Vox Nova, including one of the bloggers. Michael could easily write something about them that wasn’t just an offhand aside hidden amidst thousands of words aimed at other pro-lifers.

  • “There are plenty of pro-choice people who read Vox Nova, including one of the bloggers.”

    Who would that be?

  • Gerald Campbell.

  • There are plenty of pro-choice people who read Vox Nova, including one of the bloggers. Michael could easily write something about them that wasn’t just an offhand aside hidden amidst thousands of words aimed at other pro-lifers.

    You and I have a different understanding of Gerald’s position, obviously. Your simple-minded witch hunt mentality is discernible in a variety of ways, most especially perhaps with the way you engage Gerald on abortion.

  • But he IS pro-choice — there is no other semantically accurate way to describe someone who expressly says, time and time again, that he does NOT want the law to restrict abortion. Why would you dissemble on his behalf?

  • When in doubt, go to the horse’s mouth:

    Gerald Campbell-Vox Nova-January 28, 2008

    “MZ Forrest,

    “My problem with the Democratic candidates is that they seem to embrace abortion as a positive good.”

    If your statement were true, your point would be compelling. But, it’s not that simple.

    One cannot conflate pro-choice and pro-abortion. They are not the same. Most who are pro-choice are not pro-abortion. Some are; most aren’t.

    The pro-choice concern is primarily with the intrusion of the Federal government into the lives of individuals. It’s about personal freedom. This is a reasonable concern.

    When it comes to the legal route, I agree with you. The legal course has no future.

    Even if decisions are eventually returned to the states, it still becomes a matter of choice, doesn’t it. But in such case, the choice is abstract and distant from the person. Indeed, the choice of state legislatures will be based on numbers. At least when the women herself decides, a personal and existential dimension preserved. Moral persuasion then becomes an option.

    The best approach is to change “hearts and minds.” It’s a difficult journey. But it is a way that reaches into the very fabric of the person. It touches the wellsprings of human behavior.”

    http://vox-nova.com/2008/01/28/for-whom-i-shall-not-vote/

    If Campbell isn’t a pro-abort, no one is a pro-abort.

  • Here’s a recent comment wherein Gerald Campbell expressly said that he doesn’t support additional legal restrictions on abortion.

    Joe — this is yet another reason to question the commitment of Michael (and a few of his co-bloggers) to the pro-life cause. I.e., they’ll never question a co-blogger who has taken the pro-choice position repeatedly (and has even suggested that having the government pay for abortion is a matter of “equity”). Quite the contrary: they act like it’s a “witch hunt” just to quote the guy.

  • His answer is not, “No,” but “not within the specific context.” His answer is the same as Kyle who suggested that legislation without consensus does no good. It’s a question of strategy to reach the goal, not the goal.

  • Baloney! Campbell’s a total pro-abort as his comment about personal freedom and the federal government intuding into our private life indicates. Typical pro-abort talking points. As for waiting for a consensus, under that logic blacks would still be treated like fifth class citizens. At least Campbell is logical. As a pro-abort he of course had no qualms about voting the most pro-abortion president in our nation’s history. To attempt to claim that he is not a pro-abort, however, is simply risible.

  • More dissembling . . . “not within the specific context” simply means “pro-choice for the foreseeable future.”

  • This idea that Catholics can opt out of the struggle to make abortion illegal is contradicted by this provision in the catechism:

    “2273 The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:

    “The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.”80

    “The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.”81

  • Well,

    It seem to me that Mr. Campbell does make a number of valid points – however, none of them make the pro-choice position logically necessary. To point to the limitations of the political approach is one thing, to deny them altogether is another.

    For instance, there is simply no way to deny that Roe will remain in force for at least the next 4-8 years. Given that reality, it would be a tactical error to focus time and resources on a political fight that cannot be won. No general would fight a battle on principle alone. To choose an imprudent course of action is to put its success in jeopardy, which is also immoral (and that isn’t what I do on immigration, contrary to what some people may think).

    What the pro-life movement has often done, at least as I have seen it in action, is also fight for the lesser victories that have a long-term cumulative effect. Educational campaigns go a long way towards influencing not only voters but lawmakers themselves. Show a video of an abortion to a panel of state legislatures, and they become more sympathetic.

    I also have to agree that “pro-choice” is not always a sinister cover for “pro-abortion”. Some people genuinely believe that legal abortion is the lesser of two or more alternative evils; others believe it is a positive good. And that difference usually manifests itself in policy – the difference between those who are willing to restrict, if not outlaw abortion, and those who struggle against all restrictions. The enemy camp, in other words, is rife with exploitable dissent.

    The problem on the pro-life side is that it has lately been using the language of slavery and the Holocaust to compare abortion to – PETA does the same thing with respect to animal rights. In both cases it backfires, because like it or not, no one is forced by the state to get an abortion, and it is not a practice that is confined to less than 10% of the population. It’s something 1/3 of women will go through in their lifetime, and that also means 1/3 of men will be complicit. There’s no need to compare abortion to these things to demonstrate its evil. Evil is evil.

    That’s a lot of people and a lot of choices. And that’s really what we’re up against. So to me, real change begins at the level of community, and culture therein – the services and alternatives we can provide to women in need, sidewalk counseling, crisis pregnancy centers, educational campaigns, public prayer, adoption, etc.

  • Donald’s speaking to hear himself talk, as he did in the “Worthless Political Hack” piece…

    Yawn.

  • See Joe’s newest post. In one post, he’s already said more words in defense of the pro-life cause, and critiquing pro-choice logic, than Michael has managed in years of blogging.

  • Donald,

    Is there a reason you permit the humorless dissident Michael Iafrate to post here? He adds nothing to the conversation and insults you and your guests. In all his interminably verbose posts, I can’t recall a single point worth retaining.

  • Joe,

    It’s hard to pin down, because Gerald is very careful about how he says things on controversial topics, but I have the very strong impression from some of his more controversial comments on the topic that he thinks not merely that it’s not possible to substantially restrict abortion through legal means right now (which because of Roe and the political status quo is indeed very hard) but that it’s actively not a good idea to restrict abortion period. He argues that it is a moral decision which, in a theologically diverse society such as ours, should be left up to individuals.

    In this regard, I think he is very, very wrong, and quite arguably outside the bounds of where a Catholic ought to tread. If we think that positive law should reflect moral law at all, then we should support restricting abortion — even though right now we know that we can achieve only small and incremental steps.

    Mark,

    On the contrary, Donald is speaking in order to voice the truth, which is always a worthy effort — though occasionally one with a sort of tragic futility.

    Rich,

    We tend to each make the rules on our own posts, and I generally take a pretty libertarian approach to the whole thing. However, I think we’ve indeed reached the point of total futility on this thread with him. I’m going to go ahead and close comments on the thread, which among other things give me the benefit of the last word. 😉

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Catholic Democrats Come to the Defense of Notre Dame

Friday, April 17, AD 2009

catholic-democrats

Catholic Democrats come to the defense of their leader in regard to Georgetown and Notre Dame and run into a buzzsaw named Father Z here.

Update:  Good analysis of why Catholic Democrats and other Obama-philes are so concerned about the fallout from Notre Dame is given here by the always readable Damian Thompson across the pond at his blog Holy Smoke.

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10 Responses to Catholic Democrats Come to the Defense of Notre Dame

  • Isn’t Fr. Z the man whose writing verges on pornography, whenever he muses lyrically on his intense love for certain U.S battleships?

  • Obviously Mr. DeFrancisis you know nothing about Father Z. Enjoy the fisk. I know I am!

  • Isn’t Fr. Z the man whose writing verges on pornography, whenever he muses lyrically on his intense love for certain U.S battleships?

    Only in the perverted imagination of a couple rather odd bloggers. He just likes naval architecture. Many people have worse hobbies.

  • Mark,

    And you wonder why I call you a dissident Catholic.

  • He just last year salivated in writing over the armored appendages of one US battleship, one that he pointed out delivered missiles in the (unjust)U.S military aggression on Iraq of the early 90s.

  • Mr. DeFrancisis, doesn’t it get tiring dragging red herrings across the screen? Deal with the substance of Father Z’s fisk and stop babbling about battleships.

  • Tito – Opposing war makes one a “dissident” Catholic? Someone better notify the Pope.

    If find it outrageously funny that you people did the same thing to Bush and yet you’re criticizing Obama’s folks when they rush to defend him. Are you surprised? I’m not.

  • Tito,

    Fr. Z is a phenon in an obscure corner of the Catholic blogosphere. His pronouncements have no authority over me, as he is neither a bishop nor a priset in my diocese. Additionally, despite all of his clains to Catholicity, his views on the liturgy and other matters are mostly the predilictions of an ideologue and an aesthete, not ones which mirror the necessary pronouncements of Mother Church. I wish him all the cyber-success he seeks out, but, otherwise, we have nothing to do with each other.

  • We should pray for Fr. Z. He will surely lose a lot of sleep over Mr DeFrancisis’ poor opinion of him…

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56 Responses to "I can assure you of my prayers for your conversion, and for the conversion of your formerly Catholic University."

  • I think this type of rudeness is disappointing and counter-productive, particularly coming from a Bishop.

  • I think John Henry that we need a lot more blunt talk against people like Jenkins who make a complete mockery of the Catholic Church.

  • The world would be a better place if more bishops had the candor of Bp. Bruskewitz.

  • As I noted on my own blog, Deus caritas est, but God is also Truth.

    I fail to see any “rudeness” in His Excellency’s letter.

  • I think this type of rudeness is disappointing and counter-productive, particularly coming from a Bishop.

    Pardon my rudeness, but stuff it. While you might think moderate tempered mealy-mouthed reactions are what’s going to suddenly make people see the light, the rest of us applaud the fact that some Bishops have suddenly found their voice and are willing to call out those who aid and abet the culture of death.

    I’m frankly more disgusted by people who wag their fingers at those who raise their voices above a whisper.

  • The problem with the letter is

    1) Notre Dame has not lost its Catholic status, so the letter itself is mirepresenting the status of the university. If it had lost its status, this would be a proper letter to make. When it has not, then it only hurts the point the Bishop makes. It is always important to be honest and not misrepresent the situation by exaggeration.

    2) It’s also dishonest in saying President Jenkins is indifferent to abortion or the beliefs President Obama has on abortion. It’s over-the top.

    3) Should we use this line of reasoning, as exemplified in the letter, it would turn on upon the Catholic Church and end up calling the Church not Catholic for its historical mistakes and indifference to many crimes against humanity which it turned a blind eye to when regimes did them (such as the Spanish Inquisition). It’s really absurd, and poor ecclesiology.

  • Sorry to draw your ire, Paul(s). As I’ve said before, I am glad that bishops are addressing the issue, particularly Bishop D’Arcy and Cardinal George. The question is how to address it, and perhaps by temperament or whatever I prefer a lighter touch than the episcopal version of ‘I can only pray for you, you miserable quisling.’ I don’t like that style in com-boxes, and I’m not a fan in public discourse.

    Furthermore, I think he overstates his case; I don’t think accusing Fr. Jenkins of ‘absolute indifference’ is entirely fair, although I do think Fr. Jenkins has shown he does not place a high enough priority on the protection of unborn life. And Notre Dame is not a ‘formerly Catholic University,’ as much as it is one that is struggling with what it means to be Catholic. I’m not sure such harsh dismissals aid it in that endeavor. At a general level, I’d say there are different models for engagement; the prophetic is a legitimate model, but it’s not the only model, and I’m not sure it’s the best one here.

  • I agree that any indifference charge is unfair. But what is really “over the top” is conferring an honorary law degree on the legislator who led the effort to stop Illinois’ protective born alive legislation.

  • The bishop’s letter is unfortunate, both in its unbecoming tone and its untruth. Any productive point he could have made is lost in gross exaggeration and seemingly foul temper.

    What puropose can it now possibly serve, other than a personal, narcissistic one? Is this what prophetic witness entails or constists of? I too think not.

  • To preface my comment, I think his book “A Shepherd Speaks” is one of the best books out there. In many ways I think he has been a model of a bishop, providing clear leadership in exhortation and practice. If I’m not mistaken, he has been responsible for setting homes for unwed mothers and has done good things with the education system. I think this letter though is a pretty clear example of why he hasn’t been moved beyond Lincoln despite his many gifts.

  • When conservatives speak, people always worry so much more about how a thing is said than about what is said.

    But let liberals riot, and we’re asked to “understand.”

    It gets old.

    I disagree that the letter is over the top. Notre Dame has set itself at odds with Church teaching, and Fr. Jenkins has refused the correction offered him by scores of bishops, and the superior of his own order.

    If I had 30+ bishops telling me publicly that I was wrong about something, I would surely be moving to correct my error, not releasing statements to justify it.

  • That is why you have recanted your support of the Iraq War, ended your crusade against illegal immigration, and myriad of other things I take it.

  • Fr. Jenkins is a grown man and the President (or whatever, not sure of exact title) of a major university. I seriously doubt he is stupid. Which leaves the impression that he is indifferent to O’s views or at least does not feel strongly enough against them to withhold the honoray degree and opportunity to speak.

    Overly nuanced approaches are what have gotten us to this point in the first placed.

  • Unbelievably rude, condescending, and untrue.

    Where did you find the text of the letter, out of curiosity? It’s, in fact, so rude my immediate reaction is to suspect that Bill Donahue (or Donald McClarey!) wrote it!

  • And we all know how scrupulously Michael avoids any trace of rudeness and condescension in his own comments.

  • Michael,

    You’re so shocked by what you consider rudeness that you immediately accuse two people, by name, of forgery?

    What tender sensibilities you do have…

  • That is why you have recanted your support of the Iraq War, ended your crusade against illegal immigration

    Yes, because all those things are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Oh wait, no. That’s only what you told yourself to convince yourself that voting for Obama was a-ok. Whatever. Some people on this thread have clear consciences. Others, well, less so.

  • Unbelievably rude, condescending, and untrue.

    Wow, like every comment that michael has ever made. Bishop Bruskewitz must be a personal hero of yours.

  • Paul,

    The standard the other Paul gave was, “If I had 30+ bishops telling me publicly that I was wrong about something, I would surely be moving to correct my error, not releasing statements to justify it.”

  • And we all know how scrupulously Michael avoids any trace of rudeness and condescension in his own comments.

    I can be rude, and yes, condescending. But I don’t lie.

    Wow, like every comment that michael has ever made.

    Show me a comment in which I have lied.

    You’re so shocked by what you consider rudeness that you immediately accuse two people, by name, of forgery?

    T’was a joke!

  • No Catholics are ever neutral about Bishop Bruskewitz. One of the reasons he is a hero of mine is that he does not speak in ecclesi-speak, which tends to be rambling, vapid and full of weasel words. Bruskewitz always tells the truth as he sees it with the bark on. I concede that it is much easier to find this quality endearing when you agree with the substance of what is being said.

  • Bruskewitz always tells the truth as he sees it with the bark on.

    Sounds like Rush Limbaugh with a mitre.

  • Show me a comment in which I have lied.

    As I am sure you are clever enough to know, this is something of a tricky thing. To show that you have lied I would have to show that you said something untrue, knew it was untrue, and intended by saying it to decieve people.

    So for instance, while I recall you on various occasions of having said that I don’t care about the poor, don’t care about people after they are born, worship war rather than God, etc., it would be hard to make the case that you didn’t believe these to be true at least in whatever rhetorical sense in which you meant them.

    However, in this same sense, it is doubtless the case that Bruskewitz is saying that Notre Dame is “formerly Catholic” and that Jenkins does not give sufficient priority to abortion in a sense which is true in regards to what he believes to be the case. He is not, for instance, trying to decieve people into thinking that Notre Dame is not accredited as a Catholic university. (That would be lying.) He is stating, we must presume accurately, that Notre Dame’s actions represent an abandonment of its Catholicity and a lack of interest in the unborn.

    So basically, if you don’t lie in your comments, then Bruskewitz is not lying, and if he is lying, then you often do.

  • The bishop did not say Jenkins “does not give sufficient priority to abortion.” He said “absolute indifference.” He’s out to deceive.

  • Rush Limbaugh? No, actually he reminds me more of the gentleman who wrote this :

    “I wonder that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ, unto another gospel. 7 Which is not another, only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. 9 As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema. 10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”

  • “As I am sure you are clever enough to know, this is something of a tricky thing. To show that you have lied, I would have to show that you said something untrue, knew it was untrue, and intended by saying it to deceive people.”

    Quite right —

    This is something that even the great St. Thomas More himself had spoken quite eloquently in its regard during his unjust inquisition at Westminster, noting Aquinas own thoughts on the matter — in particular, the interoribus mortibus which no man is able to judge.

  • Also, when a Bishop says “X is not Catholic,” that has implications which are different from when you or I say it. Since a Bishop is the ultimate authority within their own jurisdiction, if they said that about an institution within their own jurisdiction, I would say it would have an effect, just like an excommunication or an anthema has had. Obviously there would be canonical issues, and could sometimes work to show a Bishop over-stepped their authority in doing so, but that would be decided under review, and their Bishop’s stand would have relative authority. However, when they try to say X is not Catholic to an institution not in their own jurisdiction, they are undermining the authority of another Bishop, and indeed, causing ecclesial scandal. This is, for example, caused great division throughout the ages when a Bishop acts beyond their proper authority (look, for example, to the ordination of Origen as an early example of where such mistakes can lead).

  • Donald – I see no resemblance whatsoever. One involves a pastor being firm with his congregation, but speaking the truth. The other involves a relatively obscure bishop taking advantage of a shallow, buzzing news story in order to gain attention, attempting to out-do his fellow bishops in rudeness.

  • Let’s see:

    Fr. Jenkins certainly hasn’t claimed the high ground here. He’s shown no qualms whatsoever about honoring and giving a free political podium to a man whose actions and words demonstrate a commitment to increasing the death rate of unborn (and even recently-born, the horror of it) life.

    Moreover, he employs reasoning in defense of his actions that can’t be dignified with the term “casuistry” and refuses to engage the opponents of his actions in dialogue after promising to do so.

    In other words, where exactly is the evidence that he does care about abortion? As in concrete actions, and not the usual attempts at verbal disinfectant and empty reassuring noises. If someone can point to a pro-life initiative by Fr. Jenkins as President of ND (or even before), then the Bishop’s accusation will be unjust, and the Ordinary of Lincoln should be presented with this evidence.

    If not, well, President Jenkins got himself into this mess, and he shouldn’t have expected plaudits.

  • Mr. Lafrate writes:

    “The other involves a relatively obscure bishop”.

    A relatively obscure bishop? Where have you been for the last two decades?

    That Fr. Jenkins had some sort of connection with the diocese of Lincoln surely gives Bishop Bruskewitz “standing”, as the lawyers call it to reprimand him.

  • A relatively obscure bishop? Where have you been for the last two decades?

    Well, I have not been intimately involved in the irrelevant circles of the Catholic Right, nor have paid much attention to whoever their episcopal heroes might be. Has Bruskewitz been a newsworthy figure in some way? I’ve not heard of him.

  • Mikey Mikey. So cute when you’re mad. Bishop B has been bad bold and boisterous for well unto a generation. Cries aloud and spares not. His comments about Father Jenkins were bang on the money. Funny how you get SOOOOO jumpy and personal on this that or other thing. Might wanna check your own self. Meanwhile Bravo Bishop B and keep on laying down smack.

  • Mad? Jumpy? Personal? If you say so. Merely pointing out the obvious. Other than than, I’m chillin’ like Bob Dylan.

  • Should read “other than that.”

  • A google search would quickly disabuse anyone that Bishop Bruskewitz has been obscure. Controversial? Yes. Ordaining more priests per capita in many years than any other bishop in the country? Yes. Contentious? Frequently? Obscure? Anything but!

  • I bet most Catholics in the United States don’t know who he is, Donald. Just because he is popular within a certain internet crowd doesn’t make him non-obscure. People might know what their local ordinary is doing, but beyond that? Not necessarily.

  • The diocese of Lincoln is ranked 131st in the nation by Catholic population, having 89,000. ( http://www.catholic-hierarchy.org/country/scus1.html ) The See has no historical importance and is one of the least important in the country.

  • Iafrate is obscure. Bruskewitz not so.

  • The American Catholic is obscure, as is Koss Nova. The diocese of Lincoln is obscure if you are a protestant living in canada.

  • “The See has no historical importance and is one of the least important in the country.”

    Wasn’t Jerusalem likewise an obscure and insignificant province of the Roman Empire?

    Yet, somehow this obscure backwater ended up being historically monumental.

    Go figure.

  • Koss Nova

    Eh!!! Did you come up with that one on your own? Wow! I’m so impressed!!!

  • MZ,
    As a matter of fact, I did, several months ago. But its formation was undeservedly obscure.

  • The diocese of Lincoln is ranked 131st in the nation by Catholic population, having 89,000. The See has no historical importance and is one of the least important in the country.

    I’m not really clear where all this argument about whether Lincoln is an “obscure” see is supposed to go — other than that some obviously agree with Bruskewitz’s opinions in re Notre Dame and others don’t.

    The diocese itself is, as MZ points out, rather small. However it is known for having consistently high numbers of vocations, and I’ve heard about Bruskewitz off and on in national Catholic publications like OSV for a good fifteen years. I imagine that if one did a citation count of National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter, OSV, Commonweal, This Rock and America one would find significantly more mentions of Bruskewitz over the last 15 years than of anything going on in my own see of Austin, even though we have far more Catholics.

    So aside from not seeing the relevance of the “obscure” accusation, I don’t really see that it’s true either.

  • I doubt Mr. Karlson if most Catholics know the name of their local bishop, just as most Americans do not know the name of their representative in Congress. This fact does not necessarily make either the bishop or the representative obscure. Compared to the other bishops in this country Bishop Bruskewitz is not obscure as the length of this thread both condemning and supporting his letter indicates. That we have so many visitors in this thread from Vox Nova indicates quite clearly that you and your colleagues are well aware of who Bishop Bruskewitz is.

  • A google search would quickly disabuse anyone that Bishop Bruskewitz has been obscure.

    I see. Because obscure persons and things tend not to show up on Google searches, right?

    Wasn’t Jerusalem likewise an obscure and insignificant province of the Roman Empire?

    Well, M.Z. and “e.”, I didn’t say anything about the man’s diocese being “obscure.” Most people have heard of Lincoln, Nebraska after all. But this bishop seems to be an angry, obscure one who is just looking for the latest “newsworthy” item to be outraged about so he can appear prophetic. I mean please; sending a priest that he doesn’t know a letter saying that he will pray for his conversion is pretty low. Who does he think he is? A combox participant at Vox Nova?

  • “That we have so many visitors in this thread from Vox Nova indicates quite clearly that you and your colleagues are well aware of who Bishop Bruskewitz is.”

    I hate to break it to you, but that in itself doesn’t prove or pull the good bishop out of obscurity just because certain Vox Novan visitors happen to know him; unless, of course, such persons are representative of the entire Catholic population of the United States.

    (The fact that this isn’t actually the case is, quite frankly, a relief.)

  • That we have so many visitors in this thread from Vox Nova indicates quite clearly that you and your colleagues are well aware of who Bishop Bruskewitz is.

    Why? We simply saw the latest hateful letter by a u.s. bishop and wanted to comment. Doesn’t mean we have a clue who this guy is.

  • e., the fact that they are also the same individuals contending that he is obscure rather disproves their point by the vehemence with which they are arguing about the letter from an “obscure” bishop. Bishop Bruskewitz is well known by those who follow the actions of the bishops in this country, and the Vox Novniks are in that category.

  • Catholic Anarchist, disingenuousness does not become you. A google search of Iafrate and Bruskewitz reveals that you are quite familiar with Bishop Bruskewitz.

  • Mr. McClarey,

    “e., the fact that they are also the same individuals contending he is obscure rather disproves their point by the vehemence with which they are arguing about the letter from an ‘obscure’ bishop.”

    Well, that wouldn’t actually be the first time that certain Vox Novans happened to engage in arguments that were, in fact, self-refuting! ;^)

    Yet, to be fair though, although the Catholic crowds that roam around various Catholic foras may actually know of the good bishop doesn’t really give any actual indication that American Catholics in general would happen to know of him.

    (About your last comment though about Catholic Anarchist, are you really surprised?)

  • Donald,

    I have known of him for quite some time, but I am also not your average Catholic in what I know or do not know. If I judged how obscure something or someone was based upon what I know, I would say the debates about who and what the icchantikas are must not be obscure to anyone.

  • e., when we say that a bishop is obscure the only proper comparison is whether he is obscure in regard to other bishops. For example, I doubt if the general public knows who General “Pap” Thomas was, a Union general from the Civil War. However, no one who has a working knowledge of the Civil War would ever call the “Rock of Chickamauga” an obscure Union general. To people who pay attention to events pertaining to the Church in America, Fabian Bruskewitz is not obscure.

  • Fair point and duly noted.

  • A google search of Iafrate and Bruskewitz reveals that you are quite familiar with Bishop Bruskewitz.

    Haha. Good one. I can’t find it, though, so you must be lying, right?

    Or wait. is he my long lost uncle or something?

    Interesting, too, that you always fall back on war comparisons. Always.

  • The Cure d’Ars and his parish was quite obscure. As was Lourdes. Likewise Lisieux.

    What is amusing – because pointless – is a discussion about whether Bishop Bruskewitz and the Diocese of Lincoln are obscure, rather than the matter of his letter.

    Just as an oddity, Fr. Jenkins was born in Omaha. That is a city in Nebraska, just like Lincoln. Lincoln and Omaha are a but a few miles distant. Thus Bishop Bruskewitz was correct in referring to Fr. Jenkins’ Nebraskan roots.

  • “Obscurity” is relative. A person may be very well known in a particular field of endeavor (art, sports, law, finance, technology, etc.) but not be well known to people outside of those circles.

    Bishop Bruskewitz may be “obscure” to the average Catholic whose only exposure to Church teaching comes from a 10-minute weekly sermon and who does not carefully follow news or trends within the Church. He doesn’t get a lot of mention in the secular media. He is, however, definitely NOT obscure to other bishops, Catholic journalists, and others who regard him as a champion of orthodoxy/conservatism/traditionalism (whatever term you prefer to use). In those circles he is very well known.

Jenkins to Pro-Life Students: No dialogue for you!

Thursday, April 16, AD 2009

obama-and-valentine3

jenkins1

One of the main defenses of Jenkins in regard to Obama Day on May 17, 2009 at Notre Dame is as follows:  “However misguided some might consider our actions, it is in the spirit of providing a basis for dialogue that we invited President Obama.”

It is therefore richly ironic that Jenkins refuses to meet with pro-life Notre Dame students opposed to the Obama homage:

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4 Responses to Jenkins to Pro-Life Students: No dialogue for you!

  • I never believed that ‘dialogue’ excuse for a nanosecond anyway.

    I remember hearing a few decades back that one way the pro-aborts used to get politicians to ‘change’ from a pro-life stance to a pro-abort one was to threaten to expose the pro-life politicians past involvement in an abortion…

    Hey when there is no logical explanation given for such an outrageous betrayal, one has to start wondering…

  • “conditions for constructive dialogue do not exist”

    Translation: “I didn’t expect 33+ bishops to uncork on me, and as sure as we have a cheesy leprechaun for a mascot, I don’t want to hear you quoting them. When I want input from the episcopate, I’ll send them talking points.”

  • Is this how the leftists in the Soviet Union did dialogue? The elitist masters speak and the masses listen intently with no dissent allowed?

  • Whenever someone to the left of me utilizes the word “dialogue,” I develop itch in various parts of my torso. So it was triggered on the news that Father Jenkins will not engage in it with pro-life ND students. Dialogue By Their Definition = We Will Lecture You More Forcefully. Not to worry. Father Jenkins has more immediate concerns. His job, more specifically.

Heee's Back!

Wednesday, April 15, AD 2009

kmiec-obama

Our old friend and Obama-phile Doug Kmiec, a subject of a few posts on this blog:  here, herehere, here, here, here, here, here, and here, has come out with a column in defense of the Notre Dame decision to honor Obama on May 17, filled with Obama fawning that would disgrace any self-respecting canine.  Father Z here does the task of fisking the rubbish so I don’t have to.

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7 Responses to Heee's Back!

  • That was the most over the top apologetic for Obama Kmiec has done yet

    The Obama administration has assumed the mantle of Catholicism? What?

    I really would like to know what was behind this “conversion” of his on a host of issues. I have a feeling that someone someplace hurt his feelings and he has been on rage ever since

  • JH,

    Kmiec reminds us every chance he gets what event huwt his wittle feewings and caused him to “convert” on a whole host (no pun intended) of issues.

  • Jay

    I suspect it was earlier and had to deal with the Romney camapign. Maybe he is upset that more Catholics dod not see his wisdom and flock to Mitt. Maybe somebody from the McCain group failed to do the necessary adoration to him after Mitt failed to win California.

    I don’t know it is all so bizaree

  • I think it’s a combination. Surely the Romney thing played a role and got Kmiec looking at Obama over McCain. But I believe the Communion thing seems to have almost radicalized him.

    Prior to that, he was at least making an effort to portray himself as a “conservative”.

  • Kmiec’s conversion to caesaropapism is complete.

  • LOL , Dale that is right.

    Perhaps next week Kmiec will be advocating that Bishops be confirmed and approved by Our Emperor

  • Dale,

    When he left us, he was but the learner. Now he is the master.

"diminishes the reputation of Notre Dame and makes one wonder what its mission truly is."

Monday, April 13, AD 2009

bishop-samuel-j-aquila

Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of the Diocese of Fargo, North Dakota,  takes Jenkins to task for the homage to Obama to Obama scheduled at Notre Dame on May 17, 2009 and also addresses the sophistical defense mounted by Jenkins of his decision:

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One Response to "diminishes the reputation of Notre Dame and makes one wonder what its mission truly is."