All eyes on South Bend

Today’s the day. Notre Dame’s commencement ceremony in which President Obama will give the address and receive an honorary doctorate of Laws. Devout Catholics of all different persuasions are split on this item. Some, like myself, believe that President Obama should be allowed to speak at Notre Dame despite his pro choice viewpoints. Others think he should be shown the door. Still others have no problem with him speaking but detest that he’s getting an honorary degree.

The sideshow is sure to be in full effect as the nutty end of the pro-life faction is sure to be out in full force. They unfortunately always steal the show from those who do the real work of the pro-life cause and who do it quietly and still effectively.

Regardless some thoughts:

I always respected the fact that Catholics–and most especially, the Bishops, would target issues they abhor over individuals. We always seemed to welcome conversation even with those who disagree with us. Bill McGarvey did a good job of pointing that out in his column on BustedHalo recently.

The controversy surrounding Obama at Notre Dame that rages on among Catholics has made that point painfully clear. Admittedly, as a Georgetown graduate, my first thought was, “If Notre Dame is no longer sufficiently Catholic to do this, what institution is?” Initially, those who made the distinction between inviting the pro-choice President to speak and giving him an honorary degree seemed like a good compromise, until I discovered that in 2007 Pope Benedict himself honored the twice-divorced, pro-choice French President Nicholas Sarkozy by bestowing the title of honorary canon of the Basilica of St. John Lateran. Even pro-choice Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico was honored by the Pope in Rome this past April on the occasion of his state abolishing the death penalty.

Are we now more Catholic than the pope? Are we incapable of sharing a stage with those we are in disagreement with? Have we grown — as the former New York State Capital Defender Kevin Doyle has said — too comfortable in our bunkers?

Indeed, my esteemed colleague makes a valid point here. If President Obama shouldn’t be invited to speak at Notre Dame, and Catholics should not hear a message given by him then what else should we ignore? Should Catholics also stop reading newspapers that print President Obama’s words in them? Should they also pass on listening to the state of the union address? How about even turning a blind eye to Supreme Court decisions since they have upheld Roe v Wade for the past 35 or so years?

This sounds a whole lot like book burning to me–and that my friends is a very dangerous precedent.

What may have been a good option for Notre Dame is something that nobody has even come close to suggesting yet…prayer.
Sure, some of the protesters have gathered for prayer services for the unborn but they have served more as protests than as anything that would move people into transcendence. Has anyone even thought of asking President Obama to come and pray with them? It would do him good to hear their prayers and to ask for him to offer some of his own. It would place us together in a place where we all admit that we struggle to hear God’s voice but try our best anyway.

Let me be clear: Abortion is an abomination and I have always detested it. I remember having a long-winded argument with a news director in radio about the issue and grew increasing more frustrated at her lack of charity for my view and for her seemingly inane argument that “Women should have the right to abortion because if they don’t it’s the children in the end that end up getting hurt by a life in the system.”

So her argument was essentially “Let’s kill the babies so they don’t get hurt.”

Sigh. Arguments from the opposing side are just as tedious. Calling people baby-killers is a sure-fire way to get them to ignore you. It’s a threat essentially that says “If you kill your baby, bad things are going to happen to you.” While psychologically and spiritually that may be true, it still doesn’t mention anything about the baby nor the mother being valuable to our community. I don’t ever hear people screaming “I love you and your baby” from an abortion protest line. I almost never see mothers with their babies in their arms on those lines either. Perhaps they might have a lot of silent persuasion by their simple presence. Moreover, people who support women in unwanted or unexpected pregnancies often do this anonymously and even worse–the media almost never covers these stories–focusing on the less lucid protests that often end or even start with violence.

Tomorrow I plan to watch the Notre Dame commencement to listen to what the President has to say and to what Judge Noonan also says–but I also plan to pray. I pray for the safety of our President, for the students who are graduating, for Fr Jenkins and for cooler heads to prevail. Of course I also pray for those who die in abortion and for the women who feel they have only abortion as a recourse. Know that the church offers you refuge and that we will always support you and help you serve your child and keep you safe.

Perhaps if President Obama could see those kinds of prayers in action more often, we wouldn’t be spending our time arguing whether he should be on the podium tomorrow.

Glendon’s Failed “Hail Mary”

Amen, amen I say to Daniele Crittenden

Many conservatives — especially those at National Review Online’s “The Corner” — are praising Glendon for her “leadership.” This isn’t leadership but the opposite: it’s burying one’s head in the sand. Here we have yet another example of religious conservatives opting out of engagement with the larger political culture, even that within their own church.

Even if you view President Obama’s stance on abortion — which this is about — as wrong, or even appalling, wouldn’t you want to take this opportunity to address the president directly — or as the old saying goes, “Speak truth to power?”

Notre Dame has not, after all, invited the head of Planned Parenthood, or a doctor who performs abortions, or even a pro-abortion activist, which the language of Glendon’s letter suggests.

Rather it has invited the president. Of the United States. For whom many Catholics and non-Catholics alike voted. Glendon’s words suggest that Obama may be president but he is not HER President, or the Catholics’ president — a highly divisive and anti-democratic sentiment.

Glendon should have accepted the award graciously, and seized this rare chance to articulate her principles directly to Obama. As the university rightly points out: it is a “good thing” to advance your causes with political leaders.

And it’s exactly the point I’ve made all along. I have the greatest respect for Ms. Glendon and for her principles, I wish she’d just take the time to share them with a President and inspire graduates as they leave the biggest Catholic University in the country.

I get Glendon’s point that she believe the University’s invitation is a slap to the Bishops (I would argue that allowing him to speak is not, but perhaps the honorary degree may be), but it’s happening anyway. There are so many people who have dismissed the Catholic voice in our country and I fear that she’s just made it easier for them to do so.

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Podcast: Hayes Delivers ND Commencement Speech and More

On this week’s Busted Halo Cast

We answer a question about the Eucharist and Episcopalians.

And then I decided that if Mary Ann Glendon wasn’t going to speak, perhaps I’d take a crack at it, going one step beyond Fr Jim Martin’s article earlier this week.

The popup box will launch when you click the link here

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Breaking: Pinch-hitting for Glendon…

Short story is that no award will be given, a former winner to give the speech.

From ND’s PR plant

Judge John T. Noonan Jr., the 1984 recipient of the Laetare Medal, has accepted an invitation to deliver an address in the spirit of the award at Notre Dame’s 164th University Commencement Ceremony on May 17. His speech will be in lieu of awarding the medal this year.

“In thinking about who could bring a compelling voice, a passion for dialogue, great intellectual stature, and a deep commitment to Catholic values to the speaking role of the Laetare Medalist – especially in these unusual circumstances – it quickly became clear that an ideal choice is Judge Noonan,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., president of Notre Dame. “This commencement ceremony, more than anything else, is a celebration of our students and their families. Judge Noonan will join with President Obama and other speakers in that celebration, sending them from our campus and into the world with sound advice and affirmation.

“Since Judge Noonan is a previous winner of the Laetare Medal, we have decided, upon reflection, to not award the medal this year.”

Read more on Noonan here

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100 Days of Obama – And the Church still stands

From CNS – the Church claims President Obama’s first 100 days have not been as bad as they may have feared.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Vatican newspaper said President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office have not confirmed the Catholic Church’s worst fears about radical policy changes in ethical areas.

The comments came in a front-page article April 29 in L’Osservatore Romano, under the headline, “The 100 days that did not shake the world.” It said the new president has operated with more caution than predicted in most areas, including economics and international relations.

“On ethical questions, too — which from the time of the electoral campaign have been the subject of strong worries by the Catholic bishops — Obama does not seem to have confirmed the radical innovations that he had discussed,” it said.

It said the new draft guidelines for stem-cell research, for example, did not constitute the major change in policy that was foreseen a few months ago.

“(The guidelines) do not allow the creation of new embryos for research or therapeutic purposes, for cloning or for reproductive ends, and federal funds may be used only for experimentation with excess embryos,” it said.

Read the rest here

A hat tip to Deacon Greg and Rocco who also adds a bit more including this snippet that we all should read:

A certain surprise has otherwise come about in these days through a bill designed by the Democratic party: the Pregnant Women Support Act would move to limit the number of abortions in the United States through initiatives of aid for distressed women. It’s not a negation of the doctrine until now expressed by Obama on matters of the interruption of pregnancy, but the legislative project could represent a rebalancing in support of motherhood.

If it’s good enough for the Vatican paper…

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Fr James Martin, S.J. as Possible Replacement for Mary Ann Glendon?

Well, not really…but…

Fr James Martin, S.J. has created a masterpiece here with his open letter to Notre Dame’s President. He has his tongue planted firmly in his cheek..well..sorta.

Now that Mary Ann Glendon has announced that she would not accept Notre Dame’s prestigious Laetare Medal, because she was “dismayed” by the university’s awarding of an honorary degree to President Obama, the search is undoubtedly on for another recipient. Let me suggest one candidate you may have otherwise overlooked: me.

Now, I know many more notable and famous and accomplished and, well, deserving names may spring to mind. Names that would probably draw more of a crowd, names of people with a lifetime of service behind them, or names that would probably pose fewer problems in terms of Catholic orthodoxy. Say, Pope Benedict XVI. (Though draping a medal on top of his papal pectoral cross seems a little like overkill.) Or, say, Susan Boyle, that awesome YouTube singer, who is not only super-Catholic but would be a huge hit when she belted out the Notre Dame fight song. Or Mother Teresa, who everybody likes, though being dead might be a strike against her if a speech is expected.

Anyway, I think there are plenty of good reasons to offer me the now in-play Laetare Award. Let me list just a few.

1.) I don’t have one.
As it turns out, I’ve only received a few real “awards,” like one from Plymouth-Whitemarsh Senior High School, and a Christopher Award, which is really nice, and just last week an award with the longest name yet: “The Loyola Institute of Spirituality’s Hearts on Fire Writer’s Award in Spirituality,” and, let me tell you, that’s a lot of words to fit on a chunk of crystal: it must weigh five pounds. I could kill someone with that award. (But I won’t of course: I’m pro-life.) But the last time I checked I didn’t have a Laetare Award. I’ll bet it’s nice, too. Is it a real medal? With a ribbon? Cool. I could wear it over my vestments at Mass. In fact, I would be so happy to have that sitting on my shelf that…

Read the rest for more–hysterical.

Upcoming–my own Laetare Medal speech…putting the finishing touches on this one and will you tube it.

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Clarifying to Be Clear on Glendon

I also added this on Facebook. I wanted to make sure I was clear on what my opinion of Glendon’s decision is and am not accusing her of being a bad Catholic, an idiot, or someone who has no principles.

Glendon is of course standing up for Catholic principles with her silence but I think it would be a BETTER option to actually speak as opposed to not speak and that her decison not to speak is based more on what she’s comfortable doing politically than it has to do with making a statement of pro-life. Now that last part may indeed be conjecture on my part but I think that most people would really like to hear what she has to say–and to not say anything is a lot easier than to stand up there and disagree publicly with the leader of the free world in front of a whole lot of people.

I also wasn’t suggesting that HER stand had anything to do with “calling people names” but in the argument to restrict President Obama from speaking there has indeed been a lot of name calling. Fortunately Glendon has taken the high road here and that is something many of us can learn from.

Additionally, I’d like to say that we need to do both–talk loudly and work for a change in grassroots ways like working with young mothers, which I do on occasion. But for many it’s all about changing the law–which I’d like to do too…but even if we do, it merely changes the law from a federal to a state issue. An important step undoubtedly, but one that still needs us to counter what remains and to be used to doing that.

As I’ve repeatedly said on the blog–and Bishop Chaput says similar things–if we all really cared this wouldn’t be an issue because we’d spend every last moment working to end it. But most people don’t–some only yell at politicians to the point that they stop listening (which does us no good) and some only work in the grassroots.
Most, I might add–do nothing at all.

Gaurev, I think where we agree strongly is that we both think something needs to be done to end this terrible murder. How we go about that might look a bit different.

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Members of Communion and Liberation weigh in on Notre Dame and President Obama

Gaurav Shroff a seminarian from the Atlanta Archdiocese and I have been having a great conversation on Facebook and he smartly pointed me to this outstanding article from Communion and Liberation:

Two snippets I’ll highlight but it is a very moving article and you should read the whole thing here

The University of Notre Dame has been reprimanded by many for what seems to be a myopic decision to invite president Barack Obama—44th president and often staunchly opposed to the Church’s political positions—to give the commencement address at graduation and receive an honorary degree. The invitation has sparked outrage from many students and alumni, the former writing a petition protesting the president’s visit, and the latter withholding donations from the school. None of this, however, seems to me to be the fundamental problem, and I doubt whether these ancillary issues can be viewed correctly until the essential problem is addressed. This essential problem is that Christianity, to many people—including Christians—is nothing more than a moralistic, political ideology.

I haven’t mentioned much about Obama, because I think the issue his visit to Notre Dame has raised is ultimately: “What is Christianity? What about it is so worth defending?” This question remains unanswered unless we arrive to a true recognition of Christ, on the cross, giving us everything. In a sense, this is all that is asked of us. What upset me so much about the whole issue is how devoid of a recognition Christ’s presence the whole of popular reaction has been. If the essence of Christianity is power, as it is being portrayed both by the media and by those utterly outraged at the invitation, then I am not interested in being a Christian. I am interested in what made Zaccheus a protagonist; I am interested in the man who is able to call me down from the tree.

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Facebook comments on Mary Ann Glendon

We’ve been burning up the Facebook comments today. So I thought I’d share some thoughts on the reactions that folks had to my posts on Mary Ann Glendon:

Paul Snatchko at 11:29am April 27
You can see the sadness in her letter. It’s unfortunate that it came to this.
Mike Hayes at 11:38am April 27
True. But it’s a dumb decision I think
Paul Huesing at 11:41am April 27
Mary Ann Glendon is many things, but dumb she is not.
Gaurav Shroff at 1:13pm April 27
She rocks. Good for her! And dumb she is not. Nor is this decision dumb. And yes it is profoundly sad as well.
Jennifer D’Amico Frankenbach at 2:27pm April 27
Why is it dumb Mike? She’s standing up for her convictions which, as we all know, is not easy.
Philip Schweiger at 3:19pm April 27
Did the same folk who oppose Obama speaking at ND oppose Sec. Rice speaking at Boston College? Or is torture a lesser evil than abortion these days? I think this whole boycotting of speakers is deeply unhelpful. Makes the church look like just another political group, no more special or worth listening to than any other special interest.


Mike Hayes at 5:23pm April 27
If she really wanted to stand up for her convictions she’d challenge the President on his viewpoints and would tell the story of why she is so convicted. That would change the lives and probably the opinions of lots of people.

BTW–I didn’t say that Glendon was dumb–that’s putting words in my mouth at best and a lame attempt to paint me with a broad stroke at worst.

But her decision is downright awful. She takes herself out of the game here. Hundreds if not thousands of people have no idea who she is nor what she stands for. She had a captive audience waiting for her and it probably would have received a lot of press coverage. but she stood down because the view from the cheap seats is a lot more comfortable.
Mike Hayes at 5:25pm April 27
BTW–I am 100% against abortion. But I don’t think that anyone is ever going to change their opinion on the matter because we start calling people names, outsiding them from conversations or creating ghettos that silence debate.

Lastly, if we really cared, we wouldn’t care who was speaking anywhere. We’d all be too busy trying to help mothers choose an alternative.

Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and for keeping the comments as always, charitable.

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Notre Dame responds to Glendon rejection

With a big hat tip to American Papist

Statement by Father John Jenkins on the Laetare Medal

The following statement from Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., president of the University of Notre Dame, is in response to the decision by Mary Ann Glendon to decline acceptance of the University’s Laetare Medal:

“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.” (University of Notre Dame Office of News & Information)

Pssst…Archbishop Sheehan and Bill Richardson…show the world that Catholics can indeed work with Pro-choice politicians.

As the Papist rightly mentions, I would like to see the Preisdent engage Ms. Glendon in some kind of dialogue.

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