Sunday, May 17, 2009

Notre Dame, Obama, and 'Outside Agitators' - a Blast From the Past

Notre Dame university plans to give an honorary law degree to President Barack Obama today. I'm quite sure that the university will receive acclaim and congratulations for being open-minded, or forward-looking, or something groovy like that.

And, getting a high-profile public figure on campus is a feather in the cap for Notre Dame university.

Too bad that, under the circumstances, it's violating Catholic teachings.

Still, it could be worse. Notre Dame could have shown how up-to-date it was, by re-naming its law school to honor Harry Blackmun, and its Women's Studies Department after Dorothy Sanger.

"Protesters to Greet Obama at Notre Dame"

AssociatedPress, YouTube (May 17, 2009)
video 1:04

The Associated Press's video carefully points out that most Notre Dame students are not protesting, and are concerned about graduating.

A phrase used by the AP reporter took me back more than 40 years. Saying "...demonstrators have descended on South Bend Indiana to speak out against Obama and also the university...." reminded me of the times, back in the sixties, when it was 'outside agitators' who were stirring up all that fuss about civil rights in the south. A FOXNews headline, "Pro-Life Activists Converge on Notre Dame to Protest Obama Speech," had the same sort-of-nostalgic feel.

In both cases, it's probably straight reporting. For most reporters, the civil rights movement of the sixties is part of history - not something they experienced personally.

As for "...students are generally in favor of Obama giving the graduation speech...," I'm not surprised. He's got great charisma, says things very nicely, he's a celebrity, and America has quite a few Catholics who are about as knowledgeable about their church's teachings as Nancy Pelosi.

A professor, Richard Garnett, wrote " 'My strong hope is that serious Catholics will not let this particular incident drive them away from Notre Dame, which remains very important in the life of the Church,' ... 'But, Notre Dame has allowed itself to get into a very unhealthy adversarial relationship with many bishops, and lay Catholics.

" 'The university is going to have to find ways to demonstrate its Catholic character, to reassure those who think that the invitation to President Obama revealed a lack of commitment to that character.'..." (FOXNews)

I think Professor Garnett misses a point. Notre Dame university has violated one of the teachings of the church by giving the abortion president a platform for airing his views. ("Notre Dame: Lots of Prestige, Lots of History, About as Catholic as Harry Blackmun" (May 3, 2009))

The professor may think it's a fine thing for a "Catholic" university to defy Church teaching, and then explain to the Church that it's wrong about what it teaches. Me, I think that discussion of opposing views should be carried out in detail, and honestly: in the classrooms, coffee shops, and faculty lounges.

Defying Catholic teaching by giving "awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions" ("Catholics in Political Life"
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (June, 2004)) is about as appropriate for an allegedly Catholic university, as would holding a slave auction to raise funds.

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.