Mary Ann Glendon declines Latare Medal from Notre Dame


The circus continues at Notre Dame–hat tips to Deacon Greg, Rocco, Amy Welborn and First Things who all got the early word on this.

Former Vatican Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon has declined receiving the Laetare Medal from Notre Dame in light of the hoopla surrounding President Obama’s commencement speech. A snippet alongside some commentary from yours truly.

A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.

Finally, with recent news reports that other Catholic schools are similarly choosing to disregard the bishops’ guidelines, I am concerned that Notre Dame’s example could have an unfortunate ripple effect.

OK two things here:

If you think it’s not the right venue than let’s get the right one and have her come and let her voice the church’s cause so that the President and everyone else for that matter will hear it.

Secondly, I disagree that it’s not the right venue. After 4 years, graduation is not merely about celebrating an achievement of making it through the tough grind but it’s also about inspiring students to stand up for justice, for their moral principles, for engaging the world’s problems. They are heading into a world where many of them will be doing exactly that. Commencement speeches should have in their tone a sense of “as you leave here…keep this in mind. Don’t forget about the unborn, the poor, the world beyond not just this school but this country.”

I think that it a shame that Ms. Glendon will not be gracing the students at Notre Dame with her remarks. I do wonder if there is some way to salvage this. The groundswell has started and it seems to me that at this point Notre Dame is facing a public relations disaster. I would offer the following solution:

Give the Laetare medal to New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Archbishop of Santa Fe Michael Sheehan who just ended the death penalty in their state. The topic we can ask them to address is: How can we dialogue together, despite our disagreements in order to influence each other to create change.

Because that’s what everyone is missing here.

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Fr. Jenkins trip to DC to visit Obama?


Yesterday some reports spun around the net regarding Notre Dame’s President Fr. Jenkins taking a trip to Washington, DC on the Notre Dame Charter.

OK, as an aside I find it hysterical that Notre Dame has their own plane.

Many sources assumed that Fr. Jenkins was there to meet with President Obama.

American Papist reports that this is not the case, or at least not the initial purpose of his visit to our nation’s capitol.

Now an informed source tells me that Fr. Jenkins is in town for a multi-day seminar/symposium for high level Notre Dame donors, which has been planned for some time now and involves several speakers and events. Because the activities are private, they were not “advertised” to the wider public.

Of course, just because Fr. Jenkins has good reason to be in DC besides meeting with Obama, doesn’t mean he might not have attempted to meet with him while he was in town. I’m trying to track down that possibility next.

Indeed a good journalistic point. Even if he does meet with him, so what? What does that mean? Is he recinding the offer? Giving him dos and don’ts for the speech? Providing him with the secret recipe for making the perfect Notre Dame shamrock waffle? Hoping to make Bo the new Notre Dame mascot? (Fighting Portugese Water Dogs doesn’t really roll off the tongue though!) Or is the first step in Notre Dame’s attempt to take over the world?

Maybe he’s also got ideas on who that Vatican Ambassador should be?

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Instead of Obama bashing maybe we should give publicity to this blog


The great story of Baby Faith

My name is Myah. I’m 23 years old and a single mom to a very special little girl.

When I was 19 weeks pregnant, I was told that my baby had no brain. This condition is known as “anencephaly.” I was told that my baby was only alive because she was attached to me, but that she couldn’t survive on her own. The doctor said that I could continue the pregnancy safely, but that my baby would die shortly after being born. Or I could choose to terminate the pregnancy then, which would mean being induced at 20 weeks and letting my baby die without ever seeing or holding her (I don’t even want to know what they do with babies in this case). Well, to some people this would be a difficult decision, but it wasn’t for me. I knew there was nothing to gain by terminating the pregnancy and I already loved my daughter more than anyone else in the world. Even if she was unconscious like the doctors said and lived for only a few seconds or minutes –even if she was stillborn –it was worth it to me. And so we began our journey…

Today, as I type this, Faith is 20 days old. Apart from a sterile dressing on her head that needs to be changed once a day, Faith lives a completely normal life. She isn’t suffering or sickly, like you would expect. With no tubes and no machines supporting her life, she continues to thrive. She seems to function at the same level as any “normal” baby. In fact, she may be a little more advanced for her age. How many babies smile before they are born, start cooeing at one day old, and can sit up by 5 days old?

(Editor’s note: The Baby actually has a brain but is missing a rather large part of the forebrain–regardless this is amazing.)

Read more of this woman’s amazing journey here

An additional personal note: While I’m in favor of President Obama speaking at Notre Dame — mostly because I think having him come there might actually influence his position on abortion and might actually help Catholics begin to put their money where their mouth is on approaching a holistic solution to the problem — there’s something about my own experience that comes to the fore when I discuss abortion.

My mother was 41 when she had me in February 1970. Throughout the summer of Love 1969 when she first learned that she was pregnant with me, she was advised to abort. Her age being a major factor in the doctor’s decision. She flatly refused saying much like the mother of baby Faith that there was nothing to gain by aborting and that if I were to die that I would simply die naturally. This came after my mother had struggled to get pregnant for the first four years of her marriage until my sister was born and then tried again for the next 16 years unsuccessfully conceiving and living through 2 miscarriages. A nurse even said to her “How old are you? Well, you’ll be back for an abortion.” Needless to say, my mother was both insulted and angered by her comment and by the doctor’s recommendation.

They told my mother that my brain would be deformed, that at best, I’d be mentally handicapped and that even if she carried me to term, I’d probably not live. I’m not sure what science textbooks they were looking at but we know now that women in their 40s have babies all the time.

My gutsy mom, now 81, told me that for years she used to see that doctor all the time and she’d always tell him about me. She’d exclaim in her Irish passive aggressive way that “You see that kid over there? That’s the baby that you said would be brain damaged. That’s the baby that you wanted me to abort. By the way, he’s an honor student!” She would send him copies of my picture and my report cards for years. If the guy was still alive I’m sure he’d have a copy of Googling God by now. He’d probably get an entire box.

Now that’s faith and that’s witness. She lived her life in an authentic way and then did what she could to influence the doctor later on. She always did it with some kindness and was never angry when she spoke to him, but she still got her point across very effectively.

I don’t know if her words had much influence on her doctor, but I do know that one of his patients said he was kind to her during a difficult pregnancy and never once suggested an abortion. So I’d like to think that she had some effect. Even if she didn’t she certainly has had an effect on my family.

Thanks Mom, simply for having me–for ignoring the fact that you would be living uncomfortably and in a lot of uncertainty that could have brought you a lot of emotional pain. Thanks too for showing me how to live authentically and moreover, how to influence others in a very effective way.

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Obama’s Seder

Somehow this escaped me:

While the first seder at the White House is certainly something to behold not everybody was happy about it. From the Jewish Journal:

It turns out that while President Obama becoming the first U.S. president to host and attend a White House Seder was seen as a nice gesture by some of his supporters, others were miffed. Why? Because they weren’t invited and their delicate egos couldn’t bear the slight.

The Times reported:

“Apparently Jewish [residents] here and in neighboring states are now calling wondering why they have not been invited,“ one staffer wrote, asking to take the event off the public schedule. The White House, which kept the dinner on the schedule because it had been announced, would not say who had sought invitations.

First Lady Michelle Obama’s Jewish cousin, Rabbi Capers Funnye of Chicago, thought that though Seders are traditionally held in the spirit of inclusiveness, it might be a bit much to host all those seeking to celebrate at the White House.

“I would hope that there would be a sense of understanding that . . . also, Seder is about family,“ said Funnye, a convert to Judaism, who was not at the White House. “I think you would certainly have to limit it. . . . You want to be inclusive, but you also want to be prudent in being inclusive as well.“

What was he supposed to do? Have the seder at The Kennedy Center or something?

Obama and Notre Dame Insanity Continues


The lack of journalistic integrity in headlines at the Cardinal Newman Society is astounding. Their headline reads:

Notre Dame President refuses dialogue with students on Obama invitation.

But a quick perusal of their own stupid press release shows that this is hardly true.

The leaders of ND Response, a broad coalition of Notre Dame student groups founded to express the “deepest opposition” to the invitation to President Obama to speak at commencement, informed The Cardinal Newman Society that they wrote a letter to Father Jenkins confirming their interest in discussing concerns with him. The students expressed hesitancy at accepting the limited closed-door meeting which was at first suggested by Father Jenkins. They instead proposed to allow all student members of ND Response to attend.

Perhaps the headline should be:

Pro-lifers blow chance to influence University President because of their own arrogance. Although admittedly that’s a bit long–albeit more accurate.

It’s a simple algorithm. When people have disagreements they argue (in the best sense of that word) together about it. They do so with charity and civility.

The unborn are not being served by the arrogance of people who would rather host a side-show in which they can gang up on a University President, than to have an actual civil discussion of the issues.

Here’s the main story: If these people can’t even get a meeting with Notre Dame’s President because he views them as either extremists, or at minimum uncharitable and unable to have a half-way decent discussion, then what shot do they have in gaining the ear of the President of the United States or for that matter, with anyone who disagrees with them?

My second point on this:
Would they be making similar objections to a pro-choice republican? Patrick Reilly the proported head of the Cardinal Newman Society sheepishly admitted that George W. Bush also shouldn’t be invited to Notre Dame not that long ago–and then clammed up when he was invited to a lesser known Catholic institution as Joe Feuerhard pointed out in NCR:

In 2005 I pointed out to Reilly that should Bush be invited to speak at a Catholic campus, the Society would be compelled to outrage. “Bush, you see, supports embryonic stem cell research, though his policies limit it to existing stem cell lines,” I wrote. “That’s a position directly counter to church teaching.

“Similarly, despite his anti-abortion record, the president supports exceptions for abortion in cases of rape, incest or where the life of the mother is threatened. That alone should be enough to draw the wrath of the Virginia-based group … ’”

Responded Reilly: “Certainly if his position is opposed to the church on those issues (stem cell research and abortion exceptions),” he would be treated “just like anyone else.”

That, I concluded, was “more than a little hard to believe.”

Two years later, Bush was invited by his old friend and former adviser Jim Towey, president of St. Vincent College in Pennsylvania, to give the commencement address at the small Catholic school.

Not a peep from Reilly – a silence that says more about Reilly and company than all the “outrages” and “scandals” he manufactures and exploits.

Bottom line: Mudslinging is not a gospel value. Learn how to come to the table with love and charity and maybe then you have a chance to influence decisions.

Until then…you’re just another guy at the end of the bar.

The Anchoress on Obama and Fire Breathing Pro-lifers


A hat tip to Deacon Greg and Pajamas Media

For many pro-life Catholics, myself included, the thought of President Obama addressing the upcoming commencement exercises at Notre Dame just scalds.

It scalds, but as my email fills up with angry press releases from various pro-life groups and with appeals to sign anti-Obama petitions, I find all the fire-breathing just a bit scalding, as well.

I understand and support the duty of Catholic bishops to register strong disapproval of the president’s anti-life positions, and I further believe that teaching the truth is always imperative, but Catholic universities have never been intellectual ghettos, offering only narrow exposure to ideas. On the contrary, Catholic universities have been bastions of rigorous debate with the application of reason triumphant over trends, sentiments, or policies. Because I believe that, and because I believe in the rightness of the Catholic position on life and the ability of the Holy Spirit to use surprising people and circumstances to do God’s will, I keep thinking, “Why are the Catholics approaching all of this with outrage and apparent fear, instead of confidence in battle?”

The current administration has famously quipped “never let a good crisis go to waste.” Well, Catholics might take a page from the president’s book and see this situation as less a “crisis” than an opportunity.

Amen, Anchoress! That’s exactly what I’ve been saying–which you’ve said much more eloquently.

Read some more comments from her here

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CUA Law Commencement Speaker: Let Obama Speak


A hat tip to American Papist.

Mark Shields, the political columnist who will be addressing graduates as commencement speaker at Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law next month, disagrees.

Shield’s syndicated column, published after the University announced him as speaker, goes against the stated opinions of O’Connell and several members of the board of trustees, including chairman Bishop William E. Lori.

“As a proud graduate of Notre Dame and, frankly, as an admirer of Father Jenkins, I am not a disinterested bystander in this controversy,” writes Shields. “My university likes to think of itself, not immodestly, as the place where the Catholic Church does its thinking. But the current rhubarb is already conspicuous for generating — mostly off the campus — more heat than light.”

“The reality is that Roe v. Wade is not going to be overthrown,” he continued.

American Papist noted sarcastically after quoting this: “Yes, defeatism is generally a feature of enlightened discourse.” And I must say that the line made me chuckle (in a good way–funny is funny). However, I think he misses the point.

If the likelihood of Roe v. Wade is in fact that at least in the near future our likelihood is that the law won’t be overthrown shouldn’t we at least concentrate just as much on trying to serve the needs of pregnant teens who seek abortion as we do on trying to influence politicians to change the law? As one who is pro-life, I think that this is what Bishop Chaput was driving at when he said and I paraphrase: “we don’t really care.”

If we really cared the law wouldn’t stop us from creating a solution that stops abortion. The law would make it harder for us to completely stop it altogether to be sure, but showing people great victories in changing the lives of these mothers, caring for them and their children and honoring the unborn as full persons who deserve not merely our PROTECTION but also our CARE. I’ve been to a few events at Malta House in Connecticut and was quite moved by the stories of the young women who they serve. They do this DESPITE the law and uphold our Catholic values greatly. They also hope that the law will one day change, but if it doesn’t they’re not going to close up shop. The Sisters of Life in New York do similar good works.

Why aren’t these stories being told? What if we all told just one small story of how we saved a life and supported it for years beyond that first year each day? We know those stories are out there.

Or would we rather just complain about a speech by the President?

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Archbishop Quinn on Notre Dame and President Obama


This is very clear-headed thinking in America Magazine

These questions are not negligible. Cardinal James Gibbons, when he received the “Red Hat,” in a memorable sermon at the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere, strongly praised the tremendous benefit that came to the church in our country because of the separation of church and state. During our more than two hundred years of history, the American bishops have until very recently steadfastly held to the position of making judgments about policy but never judgments about persons in the political arena. One reason for this position was that the episcopate recognized that the greater good of the mission of the church would be served in this way.

Taking account of what serves the greater good of the mission of the church is not opportunism. It is what Catholic tradition calls prudence. The saints have used various words for this cardinal virtue: discretion, discernment, practical wisdom. The great teacher of discernment, St. Ignatius Loyola, points out in this context the serious evil of the temptation of the good. Not everything that seems good is in fact good. Weighing, discernment and discretion are necessary even in things that seem on the face of it to be good. There is always the twin issue of the objective itself and the means of achieving it. One may be good, the other not.

The bigger question though which Bishop Quinn addressed in the first few paragraphs of the article is a doozy: How do unborn get served in the end by either withdrawing the invitation or by allowing President Obama to speak? Which ends up serving their needs best? I agree with Bishop Quinn on this point:

But it does not improve the likelihood of making progress on this and other issues of common concern if we adopt the clenched fist approach. The president has given ample evidence that he is a man of good will, of keen intelligence, desirous of listening and capable of weighing seriously other views. The Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops, citing Augustine, points out that “ Certain situations cannot be resolved with asperity or hardness” and goes on to say “(B)ecause his daily pastoral concerns give the Bishop greater scope for personal decision-making, his scope for error is also greater, however good his intentions: this thought should encourage him to remain open to dialog with others, always ready to learn, to seek and accept the advice of others.”

There’s a lot of good thoughts in the early part of the article as well which you should read by going here

Hat tip to Susan Franesconi who pointed this article to me on Facebook where there’s a good conversation going on that was started by Jeremy Langford.

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