No presidents need apply
It is clear that Notre Dame didn't understand what it means to be Catholic when they issued this invitation.
The invitation in question was From the University of Notre Dame to President Obama to give the commencement address tomorrow, May 17. The opinion of Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, must be understood to be then, that it is not in the interest of maintaining orthodoxy to allow American Students to hear the thoughts of an American President who does not vow to follow the Roman Catholic Church's proclamations regarding abortion. More simply, the graduates are to be considered as Roman Catholic first, and Americans second -- at best. What it means to be Catholic is to obey, to surrender. What it means is not to listen to unapproved opinions or tolerate the holders thereof simply because they represent our country and our laws.
The Cardinal Newman Society has prepared a petition calling for Notre Dame president Father John Jenkins to tell the President of the United States he, as a non-catholic, tainted with the sin of heterodox and heretical ideas, is not welcome -- and Time.com tells us that the streets of South Bend Indiana have been invaded by wild-eyed crusaders like as Alan Keyes and Randall Terry carrying blood covered dolls while Cardinal James Francis Stafford, one of the highest-ranking Americans at the Vatican, asserts that the President of the United States should not soil the sacred ground because of:
an agenda and vision that are aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic.
There is no information about whether the aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic Stafford managed to say that with a straight face.
It's difficult to know just what the official "agenda" of the Vatican might be as concerns the Obama Administration as a whole or in relation to his relaxing of restrictions on stem cell research and his lack of requisite intransigence on the subject of abortion and Time spends more time speculating on it than I will, but is the day over when a candidate for high office in the United States can assure us (and be believed,) that he is an American first and a Catholic second? Indeed, can the University of Notre Dame assure us that it has any commitment to Democracy as opposed to religious authority?
Of course, as Abdon Pallasch at the Chicago Sun-Times points out, such things are nearly standard procedure at the Catholic University. It's happened before, many times. Clearly, however, there is a persistent and durable movement of consequence amongst American Catholic leaders that seems to play well to those neo-Know-Nothings with anti-Catholic sentiments. This is a movement that reminds one far too much of the Church of earlier days and makes the ecumenical, tolerant sentiments of past Popes seem more like an interlude that's now over.
Of course, it's not only the small mindedness or religion in general that divides America. Arizona State University, refused to confer the customary honorary degree on commencement speaker Obama on Wednesday, explaining that his "body of work" was insufficient even though foreign dignitaries whose BOW's were of lesser bulk had been. I suspect the Arizona libertarian/anarchist movement amongst the University administration here, but if The Daily Show's roast of ASU students was close to the mark, a good number of their students lack the brains to get a job sweeping Sesame Street and therefore don't think Obama has the right stuff, even for a fake Arizona degree. Harvard will just have to do.
From all accounts, however, the president was received well by the students and I have a feeling he will be at Notre Dame as well. The American People, particularly the younger ones, aren't the ones trying to tear the country apart for fun and profit, it's the same, cranky, closed-minded, and anti-democratic institutions and leaders who have been with us since the beginning. Soon may they disappear so that we can start to respect ourselves and our country once more.
(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)