Presidents from both parties have come to [give the commencement address] at Notre Dame ... we're delighted that President Obama is continuing that tradition.-Father John Jenkins
The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.
University of Notre Dame
400 Main Building
Notre Dame, Indiana 46556
Dear Father Jenkins,
Humbly placed among Notre Dame's many famous religious monuments and statues stands one of the University's smallest and often unnoticed stone images. Recently erected by the Knights of Columbus and nestled in a little nook next to Sacred Heart Church, this tiny statue of Our Lady holding a baby and bearing the caption "In Memory of the Innocent Victims of Abortion" is easy to miss amidst the grandiose Gothic architecture. And yet, ironically, with your invitation of Barack Obama, the most pro-abortion president this nation has ever known to give the keynote address to Our Lady's 2009 graduates, this unassuming shrine has become the center of attention, or, as Simeon would say, "a sign of contradiction" (Luke 2:35).
Speaking of contradiction, your invocation invitation to our new commander-in-chief (not to mention the honorary ND degree you bequeath him) clearly seems to contradict the U.S. Bishops' 2004 "Catholics in Political Life" statement, which reads, "Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions." After all, Barack is not just a little bit pro-choice, but his revoking of the "Mexico City Policy," coupled with his approval of massive funding for embryonic stem cell research and his big push for Illinois (his home state and mine!) to pass FOCA HB2354 in a mere two months, suggests a whole Culture of Choice—or Culture of Death, as that prolific Polish prophet, John Paul II, used to say. Of course, using phrases like "Culture of Death" is not exactly a great way to start a dialogue with pro-choice Democrats ("You know how feisty those future saints are!" you kid Obama's front men, assuring them the president will have smooth sailing once at Notre Dame) and by shoving such dogmas under the rug, you claim to have devised a better way for the University to show its Catholicity than the bishops themselves. "We are not ignoring the critical issue of the protection of life!" you exclaim. "On the contrary, we invited him because we care about these issues, and we hope ... for this to be the basis of an engagement with him."
Go Irish!Tom O'Toole (Class of '81)