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Move to oust Notre Dame's president

While the chief goal of the more strident opponents of Obama's scheduled appearance at Notre Dame's commencement has been to get the president dis-invited, a new effort is being organized to fire university president Father John Jenkins, CSC. The campaign has a website,, and the initiative will be unveiled tomorrow (Thursday). The goal is to organize alums and donors until Jenkins is replaced by someone"who will uphold fundamental Catholic moral principles."The groups has the usual disclaimers--that they are only doing what conscience requires, that they bear no ill will toward Jenkins or Obama, and that there is nothing political in their effort. And they are smart enough to know what really matters: They explain thatdonors can boycott Notre Dame's General Fund but can give to two university-related pro-life funds that will apparently keep the donors eligible for football tickets. Whew!Dan Gilgoff at US News breaks this story here. He reports that the effort is being led by a coalition of seven university alumni and financial backers, mostly based in Michigan. "When the Obama invitation happened, some of us said we have to draw a line in the sand,"David DiFranco, a Notre Dame alum who is helping lead the campaign, tells Gilgoff.It is telling, I think, that DiFranco also says that conservative Catholics were alreadyalarmed "by what they saw as the school's liberal drift, including a school-sanctioned production of the Vagina Monologues and what he says is a shortage of orthodox professors in the theology department." So it seems to be about more than Obama. And that rings true.Will it work? They'd have to raise a lot of un-donations, and while outrage is deep in some quarters, it may not be broad. And will alums want to punish the whole university to get Jenkins' head on a platter? I know nothing of the dynamics of Notre Dame's administration, but I would think this kind of hardball would only stiffen the resolve of Jenkins and theBoard of Trustees. But that's just a guess.Read the rest of Dan's story...

About the Author

David Gibson is a national reporter for Religion News Service and author of The Coming Catholic Church (HarperOne) and The Rule of Benedict (HarperOne). He blogs at dotCommonweal.



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Huh. Pretty much every college coach in America is the subject of a website called FireInsertCoach' Notre Dame's former football coach Ty Willingham was fired when the boosters got organized online and revolted. Sounds like the same kind of thing. If it works - that would be interesting.Otoh, the guy at Harvard got the axe because the faculty revolted. But you'd think it's a board of governors, or trustees, or some such, that employs the prez. Sounds like university presidents have a lot of constituencies!

I also don't know what would constitute a large enouygh sum to be of significance. As Gilgodd reports, "According the university's 2008 annual report, 47 percent of undergraduate alumni made donations tallying $119 million and parents of alumni gave another $34 million." While I think the whole affair distended, I do think this effort is an honest effort to quantify the outrage. If they get some significant chunk of un-donors and donations withheld--$10 million? $20 million?--then they will show that the decision to invite Obama truly upset a lot of people. (That won't prove it wrong, to me.) But if they don't get a large sum, then it will show that the anger was not terribly deep, and perhaps not broad.Online petitions like Randall Terry's are pretty meaningless as they are subject to all manner of "variables," shall we say, and the fact that anyone who doesn't like Obama can sign on.

I believe the problem is much deeper than that which David Gibson or Jim Pauwels comments might suggest. It is that there is this screaming, screeching group of people who want Catholic universities and colleges to be photo copies of Franciscan University in Stubenville, and Christendom---narrow-minded, utilizing brain-washing tactics and cultic. Forget about the fact that Americans live in a pluralist society and must/and do deal with people from every walk of life and belief. Americans need to be able to dialogue with people and find common ground---not circle the wagons around---in the Council of Trent "a mighty fortress" attitude.Only the Catholic point of view is valid and only the Catholic Church possesses the total truth of God (in its little box of theology). Knowing any other point of view, hearing anyone else speaking---absolutely not! The disrespectful comments against the President of the United States---in spite of what the Bishops say about how 'they admire the President' is nothing short of political and racially biased. And bishops can deny this until the cows come home---but the official Catholic Church never supported anti-slavery issues in the late eighteenth/nineteeth centuries nor the equal rights movement in the late 1950's-60's.God forbid that graduating students from Catholic universities and colleges are not one-track thinkers like our American bishops. And as far as these folks who want to replace Fr. Jenkins are concerned---I hope that enough people who agree with a Catholic university being 'Catholic---universal' not restrictive, will make their voices heard.

Blessed are those from whom you expect nothing: you shall not be disappointed.Faults are thick where love is thin. English proverb.And to Fr. Jenkins: "God will see you through when you believe youre through." Abp Gabriel Zubeir Waco of Khartoum.

A number of people on Vox Nova, and here on dotCommonweal, have said they have no objection to Obama giving the commencement address, but only to Notre Dame giving Obama an honorary degree. These folks aren't making that distinction. If we take them at their word, they aren't simply trying to keep Obama from speaking or pressure Fr. Jenkins into reconsidering. They just want him gone!It is not clear to me what "actions and pronouncements" of Fr. Jenkins "run contrary to the fundamental moral principles of our Catholic faith." As we have discussed elsewhere, procuring an abortion or participating in an abortion is contrary to the fundamental moral principles of the Catholic faith. But it is not at all clear that inviting someone who is pro-choice to speak, or even giving him an honorary degree, is contrary to the fundamental moral principles of the Catholic faith. I don't believe the Magisterium has spoken, or the pope has made any infallible pronouncements, about commencement speakers.Will there be an alternative site for those of us who would donate money to show support for Notre Dame?

I think, if this movement were succssful, it would be nothing less than a tragedy. It would certainly be a great argument for never voting for a catholic president, because he would only be a puppet of Rome. It is a perfect example of tunnel vision because, as has been pointed out, there probably have been very few presidents, if any, that are in total agreement with the catholic church. It is another blatant attack against academic freedom, and the ability to live in a secular pluralistic society that has a separation of church and state. I feel it is very difficult to legislate morality. I believe as strongly as anyone that abortion is wrong, but as long as the government is not forcing any one to have an abortion, this is a personal moral choice. It is the duty of church to teach its members to make proper moral choices, and they should not dumping this job on the government. If all the churches were successful in teaching their members that abortion was wrong, Roe vs Wade would be a mute point. What good can be accomplished by firing the presedent of Notre Dame, except to prove that the power of money governs the academic freedom in catholic colleges. I am sorry that I can't think of his name, but I can totally sympathize with the gentleman, who feels like a stranger in his own church. We are certainly rushing back to pomp and circumstances, and the Baltimore Catechism.

I fully expected, the anti-Obama forces would next focus on Jenkins. It suits their take on those who oppose them. What can you expect when an organizations leader writes a commentary as rhetorically full of false statements as this:Excerpts from a commentary by Anthony J. Lauinger, vice president of the National Right to Life Committee, dated April 15, 2009 at, titled Commentary: God, Country, Notre Dame.

March 20, 2009the day the Fighting Irish quit fighting for what is right.March 20, 2009, was the day Notre Dame's (gave) top priority (to) our nation's leading destroyer of life: President Barack Obama Barack Obama has declared war on the unborn child, a scorched-earth, take-no-prisoners war in which he is aggressively, zealously, relentlessly attempting to wipe out three and a half decades of hard-fought pro-life gains while his policies simultaneously annihilate countless human beings at home and abroad.(Obama)has brought the American government, for the first time in history, into supporting direct destruction of innocent human life." Obama advances the Culture of Death. Notre Dame bestows its highest honors on the abortion industry's number one champion who, in 75 days, has done more grievous harm to the cause of life than Bill Clinton did in eight years. ( Obama is )undermining respect for the teaching authority of the bishops regarding the primacy of the pro-life issue, inoculating himself against the charge--the fact--that he is a radical pro-abortion extremist.(Obama).. is doing more to promote the destruction of innocent human lives than anyone else on the face of the earth.

In closing he provides Jenkins office phone number, the ND switch board and his e-mail address.All that Lauinger does is come across as a bitter, disappointed and angry Catholic. At last count 31 bishops have expressed their disapproval of the Obama invitation (and none worse than Fabian Bruskewitz of the Lincoln Diocese). There are 444 bishops in the USA, which means less than 7% have expressed their disapproval. At the same time The Cardinal Newmans Societys web-based petition, a notoriously poor indicator of opinion, has maxed out at around 250,000 which is much less than 1% of even the U.S. Catholic population. I can only hope that the 93% majority of USCCBishops recognize that such unwise and distraught voices cannot be permitted the privilege of defining the only terms of engagement either within the Church or within the democratically elected society of which Catholics represent only a minority population.Heres my posted conclusion on keeping this issue in its proper perspective:

The message of Easter is that the resurrection saved all of us, Catholics and others alike. Somehow, the Spirit of that resurrection and Pentecost informs even the 40% of Catholics and the even higher per cent of non-Catholics who believe abortion is morally acceptable. Obama is one of them.President Obama, is not, as some radicals have uncharitably said, evil incarnate. He too lives under the sign of the cross. I think that is something Fr. Jenkins and the Notre Dame Board of Directors knew and understood in ways many Catholics cant or do not want to fathom.It is a perspective they and the rest of the Catholic community should accept and keep in mind as convocation approaches.

1. Obama should give the speech and get an honorary degree.2. Jenkins should remain President of the University.That said, I wish the majority of commentators on threads like these would actually deal with the issues as they are presented rather than making this about their own personal battles. Seriously, did someone bring up the Baltimore Catechism? The bottom line is that these people see abortion as such a horrific thing...and Obama's extremist support of it so troubling...that they think Our Lady's University should not be honoring him...and a minority go farther in claiming that someone who insists on honoring such a person should be removed. Both are perfectly reasonable positions to take and they should be respected even if we disagree. The issue is NOT one of academic freedom...the argument is not that someone who holds Obama's views should be barred from speaking or teaching. They are just making the point that someone could hold a view that is so abhorrent that it precludes them from being honored at a Roman Catholic university...and that Obama's view on protection of vulnerable prenatal life is just such a view.Their mistake ultimately is a lack of charity and/or understanding...either they don't understand how complex the abortion issue is and how a good-hearted and intellectually serious person could come to Obama's conclusion...or they don't want to understand. If they gave him the benefit of the doubt, I believe that they could go forward with supporting his being so honored. However, it seems equally clear that most here are unwilling to give these individuals a charitable and understanding ear as well. Rather than really attempt to understand how someone could hold these positions reasonably, we see tribalism and stone throwing along the old fault lines. Can we please get past this and deal with the actual issues and positions with charity and understanding?

Charles Camosy;You give these mini-eruption people too much credit for their motivations.They are just sore losers who want to act out. 'We will punish you'...Just like the 'tea party' people today and Gov. Perry of Texas who suggests that 'Texas could leave the Union' ... [imagine a Gov. who discounts the Civil War?] They have no second act.. or the intellectual strength to form one...Ist team players=Palin, Joe the plumber, Rush, Terry..etcThe 33 US bishops who supported this mini-eruption will live to regret their participation..

Ed, respectfully, it is views like yours (on both sides of this debate) that make sure we will never come together as a Church. You put your politics ahead of finding common ground...ahead of even taking a charitable attitude. I've known and worked personally with a lot of people who have these points of view...and I know that you are wrong in your judgments. These people genuinely believe that abortion is great injustice of our time and, for social justice reasons...for Mathew 25 reasons...want to reform our culture in this regard. Disagree intellectually if you must, but please show charity for your Christian brothers and sisters and attempt to see it from their point of view...and at least get the issues at stake correct. Can't Christians put charity ahead of political games and tribalism? Is that too much to ask?

Charles, there are certainly well-intentioned people who hold these views, but that doesn't make those views either correct (though they may be) or productive or charitable. Lots of bishops and others have written ridiculously nasty letters and signed them "Love in Christ." Moreover, there are clearly a lot of people, especially the ring leaders of these movements, who have other motives. Is denouncing a wrong itself a wrong thing? How do you find "common ground" with people who call you a baby-killer or a Nazi or demand your job? It is certainly not too much to ask Christians to put charity ahead of political games and tribalism. But I think you are posing the question to the wrong Christians.

David there are two issues in your post. One is what in fact these people are doing. I hope you'll agree it is difficult to speak about them in a monolithic way...but if one were going to I cannot imagine characterizing them in the way that you do. A tiny, tiny minority call anyone baby killers, Nazis, or are threatening your job.But, two, even if they WERE doing and saying such things (and knowing many of them, I know that the majority are not) isn't it our job to be charitable and do try to see the real reason they hold the views they do? And that real reason is something we have in common: its Mathew 25. We both share in common the desire to protect the vulnerable from the powerful. Rather than connecting their views to the Baltimore Catechism or Joe the Plumber why not connect them to things we share....and take steps to building charity and understanding...rather than sowing the seeds to discord?

Charles;I and my wife are very pro-life. We walked, we talked. we marched, we wrote, we housed pregnant girls, we successfully counseled women to bring the child to term. The so called leaders of many pro-lifers have alienated the culture by their failed approach, and have made no significant changes in 38 years; If my words are harsh it's because their approach has been not just been a failure; their approach has contributed to and fostered the pro abortion culture. Their focus on changing the Contitution is not only foolish it's a stall that will set back the true Catholic message. Repeating what is not working is sure failure. What would be an approach to reduce abortions and change hearts and minds? an approach that would be effective in this present culture?

I would like to remind the people who are so against Obamas invitation to give the commencement address and receive the honorary degree at Notre Dame of the shortness and/or selectiveness of their memories.The traditional argument for the Churchs teaching that there is never any justification for abortion is that direct killing of the innocent is always and everywhere a sin. During the Second World War, both the British and German air forces deliberately bombed cities with the intention of killing civilians. There was no pretense that these deaths were the consequence of the victims living close to military targets. The American use of atomic weapons against Hiroshima and Nagasaki also had the intention of killing civilians. Even if it were argued that the civilian populations contained war workers who were not innocent in the context of war, their deaths would not justify the killing of the children and fetuses in these populations. In any case, the prime purpose of bombing whole cities was not to kill workers but to break civilian morale to bring the war to an early close. To the best of my knowledge, neither the Catholic hierarchies in the countries concerned, nor the Pope, condemned these bombings. And no Catholic participating in them was excommunicated.The following was posted on this blogsite just a few days ago (April 9th) by LisaFullam: ( figures (from a survey commissioned by the Knights of Columbus and conducted by Marist Colleges Institute for Public Opinion last October) reveal that many Catholics do not assent to the churchs doctrinal teaching on abortion, with younger Catholics holding alarming views. Gregory A. Smith, research fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, comments that American Catholics do not see the abortion issue the same way the church does. He writes, One of the things you have to keep in mind about Catholics is that most arent opposed to abortion. And of those who are, most dont see it as a particularly important issue. Smith references a Pew Forum survey showing that fewer than one in four Catholics oppose abortion and do not see it as a politically important issue. In his presidential address, Cardinal George acknowledges these facts by referring to a divided world and a church that knows dissent from some of her teachings.Somehow the term hubris tends to come to the fore in cases such as the one under question.

Ed, part of the failure comes from the lack of unity and charity from people like you. (Admittedly, the problem is a two-way street.) If you got behind them (as far as you could) instead of labeling them...then changing the Constitution would actually be a possibility...we are one SC justice away from interpreting the Constitution in a way that is consistent with Catholic teaching. (Wait, you're pro-life and you don't want to see prenatal humans as having protection under the Constitution?) Of course, with some exceptions, these people don't take the broad pro-life approach that is necessary to be authentically and seamlessly Catholic...but you ruin your chance to influence them with your lack of charity and outright false statements.Let's build bridges. Let's find what we have in common. Let's be charitable.

Charles,I'm sorry but I do not think anyone commenting on this blog is speaking in a tone, bitterness or language which is in anyway comparable to the most radically orthodox among the anti-Obama crowd. If they are few in number, they are vociferous beyond their number; just as the Pope gets more play than other religious leaders; in the USA radicals like Terry and Gingrich get more play than moderates like Kaveny or Steinfels. To claim that Obama is doing more to promote the destruction of innocent human lives than anyone else on the face of the earth is just plain idiotic. I'm sure you know you can't talk to someone, let along find common ground when the other party is simply in a rage.What Fr. Jenkins has revealed is just how divisive and bitter the war on abortion within the American Catholic Church has become. Make no mistake, the abortion war in America is no longer just between those for and against abortion within the nation as a whole but between those Catholics who are adamant that all Catholics MUST be convinced that abortion is murder, is killing, or to quote Newt Gingrich is infanticide (interview at Fox news).If over 400 bishops haven't said anything what does it say about the quality or lack of quality of leadership in America's Catholic church. (I can't say our because I'm not American).What I can do is look south over the border and say, I'm deeply disgusted and disappointed by the whole affair. Obama is your president. He was duly elected by a clear majority of American citizens including a majority of Catholics. He does deserve respect especially from those who say they respect "life".

Let's build bridges - this move to oust the president of Notre Dame will not build bridges.Here is a more objective and principled approach from Charles Currie, SJ, who heads up the Jesuit University Association: highlghts:"I think that the bishops have the responsibility to protect the faith of their folks, and so I think this is the kind of thing that really has to be talked out in a conversation between bishops and university presidents. We have to raise the level of the dialogue beyond condemnations, said Jesuit Fr. Charles Currie in an April 13 phone interview. "A related point, Cardinal George said, and one over which he had been in private communication with Jenkins, was that no Catholic institution acts in isolation. In Catholic community, whatever anyone does affects everybody else. We can think of scandals, we can think of problems and therefore no decision can be totally unilateral by any institution that calls itself Catholic. Everyone is going to feel involved, either reinforced or betrayed in some fashion.From Currie again: "That is a conversation that I would like to see among Catholic university presidents and the nations bishops. A tension currently exists between Ex Corde Ecclesiae, an apostolic constitution regarding the nature of Catholic higher education, and a U.S. bishops statement on political life. He said Ex Corde challenges colleges and universities to engage in dialogue with the culture while the statement on political life seems to put some restrictions on that, especially regarding conferring honors on those whose political views are in defiance of church teachings. Some have questioned, in the current circumstance, whether someone like Obama, who is not Catholic, can be defiant of Catholic teaching.Currie described the statement on political life as a provisional statement. He said the bishops intended to revisit the issue, but that budget cuts resulted in the dissolution of the committee that was working on revisions. He would like to see the document revisited because multiple dimensions of the problem have not been explored.Trust, good communication and ongoing dialogue are among the key ideas contained in Ex Corde in describing the desired relationship between bishops and college presidents, Currie said. Universities recognize the responsibility of bishops, he said, and bishops are encouraged by Ex Corde to recognize the complexity of universities.

The people who are trying to unseat the president of Notre Dame are within their rights. Let them try. If they are shown to be a small minority with loud voices and a limited following, they will fail miserably and the effort will recoil on them. The problem is that this sort of activity that rapidly is coming to define Catholicism -- ugly intramural battles, a polarized episcopate, alienation of giant numbers of the faithful, and ultimately paralysis.

I'll have to say this and then hit the sack because I clearly still haven't adjusted to New York time. :)John, why would we compare ourselves to the extremes on the other side? Let's stop comparing ourselves to the other side altogether...and just BE CHARITABLE. Let's give our opponents the benefit of the doubt. Let's try to find common ground so as to build a conversation. We share the same is an absolute scandal that we prefer tribalism and political loyalty over our faith tradition. Yes, surely you know the media covers those who are the most radical and disturbing...and, frankly, who put the pro-lifers in the worst light possible. Again, I know many of these people, the vast majority of those who don't want Obama to be honored are reasonable, well-meaning people. They aren't even necessarily 'anti-Obama' in the broad sense. They just don't think someone with his horrific abortion views should be honored at Notre Dame. One can respect Obama in the way you rightly point out without honoring him, right?Bill, of course the 'other side' isn't doing a good job building bridges either. What does that have to do with my points here? We should take the initiative, right? These are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

You missed the point of my link. The issue is - what does it mean to be a Catholic university that also exists in a pluralistic society and cultures? We have two documents that do not have compatible directives ....and one of these documents is "provisional". Would rather see the USCCB and catholic university presidents address this question/issue and the principles around it than to continue to see fringe groups go over the top.

"Their focus on changing the Constitution is not only foolish its a stall that will set back the true Catholic message."With all due respect, the Catholic message is that EVERY Human Life is Sacred from the beginning because EVERY Human Life is a Gift from God. This Catholic message is consistent with the "unalienable Right to Life" of every member of the Human Race.The issue of abortion is not about politics, it is about the unalienable Right to Life from the beginning.

Uh, are keeping me up. :)You are also making the mistake of seeing this as an academic issue or an issue about engagement of the culture. It is neither. It is merely an issue about whether or not Obama's horrific views on abortion disqualify him from being honorable at an authentically Roman Catholic university. Surely, there are some views that are so horrific that, even if one had enlightened views on other topics, that view alone would disqualify you. The question is: does Obama's view of abortion climb to that level? I say no. Some say yes...and I respect them and think their point of view has merit. I would want to try to persuade them of my point of view. The rhetoric on this thread makes no attempt to do just dismisses and demonizes.

"Catholic message is that EVERY Human Life is Sacred from the beginning because EVERY Human Life is a Gift from God. This Catholic message is consistent with the unalienable Right to Life of every member of the Human Race."Nancy: I'll direct you back to my posting of 8:58. The Catholic Church has been far from consistent in LIVING OUT this message.

Charles Camosy,Why do you keep saying Obama's "horrific views" on abortion? The right to life exists after birth, sir! And our Bishops do not deal with this. In their mind the only life that is sacred is the life of the unborn. What about the people already alive? What about their jobs that were being lost? What about their homes that are being foreclosed? Is living out on the street with their families (who ARE alive and whose lives are JUST AS SACRED as that of any unborn), is this your idea of stressing the importance of life? No stage of life is more important than another, Mr. Camosy----NO STAGE! But all that some of our Bishops are good for---is yammering about Abortion. I for one, am sick and tired of listening to them. I was sick and tired of their threats before the elections upon those who voted for Obama---I was disgusted about how some of these Bishops threatened to withhold Communion from candidates from the Democratic party (which was nothing but a Fascist ploy to sway an American election---and this is not below these dudes' dignity to do that either) and now these Bishops and their flunkies are still keeping up their ridiculous rhetoric. Let these bishops come down personally and minister to those people without jobs, without homes, without insurance, without a hope for the future---let these 30 Bishops get out of their ivory towers and see what real life is about. Perhaps their insufferable moralizing would cease with a strong dose of reality! Obama, to his credit, has a positive plan to help people. And I know from my work among minorities, that for every 3 abortions that there are, two of them are from minorities---not from whites. Obama saw this, and knew this while working in Illinois----at least give him the credit for knowing what he is talking about. That is more than I can say for the Catholic Bishops----most of whom never counseled a woman who was planning an abortion/or who has alrady had one. Catholic hierarchy don't speak to women---but they are always making laws for them. And again, please stop disrespecting the President with your terms "horrific"----the vast majority of American people voted for him. Students at Notre Dame voted for him. And they should have the right to have the commencement speaker that they wish to speak to them. As far as some of these Bishops---the 30 of them---that have condemned Fr. Jenkins----well, I wouldn't invite any of them to even speak at a Graduation Ceremony for a Dog Obedience School.

But, Little Bear, based on Roman Catholic teaching, Obama DOES have a horrific position on abortion...just as our previous President had a horrific position on other kinds of violence (war, death penalty, etc.). Do any of these positions rise to the level of something where it would prohibit one who held them from being honored at Notre Dame? No, I don't think so. (At least not as Bush and Obama hold them.) But I could understand and have charity for someone who disagreed with me about this.Your post is full of venom. No attempt to understand an opposing view. How do you make the broad, sweeping statements you make about the Bishops? Let's start with the new archbishop of New York...the guy is 'conservative' right? Only good for yammering about abortion. Except that he's also head of Catholic Relief Services! Doh! Please, let's try to find common ground here and move these debates forward rather than sulking in our own personal and tribal hostilities.

Charles,Yeah, yeah, the new Archbishop may be the Head of Catholic Charities----I know of a lot of Heads----never put in a day---actually WORKING with those who are served. The new Archbishop just got to New York----does he know what the needs of poor New Yorkers are?Does he know their names? Did he get down to see the places where these folks are served? Did he promise to come and spend, at least, some time there? No? As far as personal hostilities and tribal hostilities are concerned-----the REAL needs of people are not tribal----they are human needs, which most Arch/bishops never personally deal with. But they make all types of proclamations, condemnations, etc. I know of only a few Archbishops/bishops who really get themselves physically where the people (who need help, guidance, etc.) are at. And I know, personally, fewer yet, who will roll up their sleeves and actually do some work. We call these bishops "Pastoral". The others----are clanging gongs!And again----when has the good Archbishop (or any of them) spent time talking with women who have/ or are planning an abortion? They just don't! And since they don't raise children themselves, pay for care, education, housing-----it would be great if these bishops who make proclamations actually had REAL experience of what they are saying.And please remember, Charles, that President Obama is not just president of Catholics----he is president of All Americans---and he will probably be at the helm for 8 years. While he needs to learn how to understand Catholics, our Bishops will need to learn how to deal with him--without throwing out their condemnations. Debates, Charles? I would like to see any of our Bishops get into a real debate with Obama----better yet, real conversations---minus their condemnations.

Little Bear,With all due respect, your hostility and venom are blinding you from seeing your opponents fairly. Dolan has not only spent significant time working with the poor, he's done so overseas: he doesn't know, yet, individual New Yorkers or worked with the poor here...but if his history in St. Louis and Milwaukee is anything to go by...he will. This is his reputation...not only among conservatives, but liberals as well. Not bad for a supposed 'conservative' who you dismissed as merely 'yammering about abortion.'These bishops, as Karol Wojtya famously pointed out in Love and Responsibility, generally HAVE talked extensively to real people...and especially some of the most vulnerable and horrible times in their lives...including situations surrounding abortion. Their long experience in ministering to parishes--and especially in the confessional--gives them unbelievable insights and experience into these questions. While this doesn't make their positions correct, it does insulate them from the way you casually and uncharitably dismiss them.Again, why do you demonize? Why do you hate? Why not try to see the good in people--and especially our leadership? This is so important for building the community necessary for a Church that takes Matthew 25 seriously.

Charlie, I think some of the problem is language. I too am put off by the use of the word "horrific" for Obama's position. I think the virtue of Glendon's work is that she recognizes that abortion is a hard issue--morally, legally and politically. And that's why she gets to as many people as she does. So what I don't understand is why the use of "horrific" isn't demonizing and hateful? Here's the definition of horror, which in fact uses the word "hate." An object of extreme dislike: abhorrence, abomination, anathema, aversion, bte noire, bugbear, detestation, execration, hate. See love/hatred."I also don't think we can translate, unproblematically BSAC to ASAC. Before the sexual abuse crisis to after the sexual abuse crisis.What's the relationship of charism to virtue? Many people believe that the bishops are not to be trusted on matters of sexuality because they made such a grievous mistake on the sex abuse crisis. I think that is in the background of many people's suspicion of bishops' prudence (application of moral principles to concrete cases)--not merely lack of charity. People believe that they can't trust appearances. No one appeared more outwardly holy, more outwardly pious than the Legionnaires of Christ. No one bowed more deeply, no one loved the Blessed Mother more. And the whole thing, it increasingly appears, was corrupt. And John Paul II, the man who wrote Love and Responsibility, failed precisely to see what he needed to see and intervene where he needed to intervene. He was distracted by the appearances. What are we to make of that? Does it matter? Does it affect our view of his work as an ethicist? Hard questions I think.Charity can't be blind. Real charity supports prudence. And the love we need has to be wise as serpents as well as innocent as doves.

Well said; well written, Prof. Kaveny. Justice also can not be blind (I know, it is). Real justice includes every stage of life. Mr. Camosy has built a straw man.

No doubt, the unborn are as innocent as doves and deserving of our Love.

Thanks for your important thoughts, Cathy. I guess I need to be careful about using the word 'horrific.' I was using it in an attempt to capture the rationale of the people who don't want to see Obama honored at Notre Dame. Certainly, I think most of us would agree, there are stances which are so horrific that one could not take them and expect to have a place of honor at a Catholic University. I actually agree that Obama's stance is horrific...but, unlike these who don't want him to be so honored, my understanding of how someone could reasonably arrive at this position, and a having charitable view toward him personally, lead me to disagree with such persons. Does this make me demonizing or hateful?Of course this charity should be not be blind. If Obama had similarly horrific views or evidence in other directions I should not give him such charity. But the lack of charity I'm pointing out with regard to persons here is with regard to those who don't want Obama to speak. Rather than seeing the issues as complex enough to, with charity, understand why they might reasonably think as they do, we hear demonization and hatred. "They don't talk to real people, they are obsessed with one issue, they are trying to bring back pomp and circumstance and the Baltimore catechism, they are puppets of Rome, they hate academic freedom and want to turn Notre Dame into Stubenville," etc. The evidence is not there to support these assertions...and the only conclusion that I can draw from this is that persons who make such claims are being ruled by something other than a desire to charitably understand the positions of their fellow Roman Catholics...and in some cases their own leaders. This is a tragedy...and the lack of union prevents us from seamlessly attacking the problems affecting of all the least ones. They suffer and sometimes die because we prefer tribalism and politics to uniting in the cause of justice and charity. And the blame is on both sides.

Sorry, Mr. Camddy - again, I would draw your attention to the link I provided and the need for appropriate engagement by the correct people. I have not called anyone by a name - I do feel that their position or, at least, expression of that position is over the top given what I would consider a more reasoned, dispassionate approach using current documents and not focusing on personalities or even current events.

I think words have meanings. "horrific" is an unhelpful word--because in addition to being incendiary, it's not precise. Does it refer to the judgment about the status of the fetus? Does it refer to the act? To the agent's motivation? Does it discount for duress in evaluatiing the act.? I don't think Orthodox Jews are "horrific" for thinking personhood doesn't begin til birth. I don't think the many ethicists who grappled seriously with the question and came up with different answer than conception are "horrific". I don't think every pro-choice thinker is Peter Singer in disguise. I think they're wrongs--but not horrific. I think (and maybe we disagree here) that abortion is really a hard issue, precisely because the issues on both sides and the values on both sides are real. I think abortion, as an act, can be correctly described as both a refusal to provide bodily life support and as intentional killing. I think abortion, on the part of most women who use it, isn't done for convenience. I think it's often done out of duress. I'm sorry . . . as I look at the ND situation, or the Obama situation I don't see the "blame" being equally on both sides. I really don't see people who supported Obama saying that people who supported McCain were bad Catholics. I tend, at this point, to be skeptical of the lack of union arguments. In the end, they can usually be reduced to the argument that "If everyone thought as I did and did as I want them to do the world would be great." As Thomas Aquinas knew well, we are not going to get rid of disagreement about the remote application of the principles of practical reasoning, in part because we disagree about factual judgments--which include judgments about the character of other people --like the president.They also include predictions of the future, based on the past. People disagree about whether they think economic approaches to abortion are going to do any good. So I think don't there's going to be "seamless" attacks on problems--ever. On the ground here, we'll, here you go:

"Little Bear," in addition to veering away from the topic of Notre Dame and abortion, you're making a lot of presumptions about the new archbishop (and bishops in general) that don't bear scrutiny. "The new Archbishop just got to New York-does he know what the needs of poor New Yorkers are? Does he know their names? Did he get down to see the places where these folks are served?" Well, as you say, he did just get here. Until Sunday he was actively ministering in the Midwest. He seems better than most at learning and remembering names, in fact, and it seems more than uncharitable to assume that the needs of the poor are not a priority for him. "...Did he promise to come and spend, at least, some time there? No?" Actually, yes. I heard him make those promises during yesterday's Mass, in fact, as he greeted the various community and service representatives. He's done it elsewhere too. And I think we have every reason to expect he means it. How do you know he's never spent time talking to women who've had or considered having abortions? Actually, I'd be willing to bet he has. Please be more responsible.

No doubt, the unborn are as innocent as doves and deserving of our Love.Nancy,And yet, nobody can say for sure that they don't go to hell when they die. And if it was special and extraordinary for the Blessed Virgin to be preserved from the moment of conception from the "stain" of Original Sin, the unborn are in some way less-than-innocent, since they are still "stained."Also, the innocence of never having done anything -- never having a thought or performing an action -- is not something to be cooed over, if you give it any thought at all. This is not to say abortion is justified. It is just to say that elevating the status of the unborn to make them into something just short of angelic is sentimental and pretentious nonsense.

"Im sorry . . . as I look at the ND situation, or the Obama situation I dont see the blame being equally on both sides. I really dont see people who supported Obama saying that people who supported McCain were bad Catholics. "By way of example, I believe a poster here just accused American bishops of being involved in a conspiracy ("ploy") on behalf of one of the neo-PNF's to "sway an American election". Which I guess also implies Senator McCain is an agent of the NF or MS-FT, etc. By the absense of any reaction to that I guess that culturally that doesn't mean much to most, but where I am from that is the moral equivalent of a blood libel. (I am operating under the assumption that there is absolutely no evidence that these bishops or Senator McCain are members or agents of, or even remotely associated directly or indirectly, with either the FSN, MS-FT, or FN or any other PNF or neo-PNF derivative.)

DavidThe idea of inviting him for the speech while not giving the honorary degree is a great idea from my perspective. But there is a reason that ND would never do it. Can you imagine the Obama people accepting this? Absolutely not. I'd love to see ND make the offer though. It would at least show that they give a whit about the bishops' 2004 statement.Also, someday I would very much appreciate you giving the posters here a clear statement of what your actual view on the abortion issue is rather than just attacking those who support the Church's teaching. That would help others to undertand where you are coming from.

Correction: "...[A]bsense..." should read "...absence...".

"Neo-PNF or the NF or MS-FT." NFP? WTF? MAT?

I think horrific is the correct word to use in the context I was using it. What I was trying to do was to show how it would be reasonable to come to the conclusion that Obama's views on abortion would make it problematic for him to be honored at Notre Dame. My intention was not (nor I think should it have been) to properly name the source of the horror...which would have been too complex to do in such a post. My aims are limited...I want to show how the lack of charitable understanding on the part of many posters here leads them to characterize their opponents' position in such inaccurate and unhelpful ways. That being said, and I don't want to veer off course, I never used 'horrific' to describe Obama the person. And I don't equate a view that horrifies me with one that is unreasonable. I've said several times that abortion is a complex issue about which reasonable people can disagree...and I've even called out the other side for not realizing this. So I'm not sure why you would suggest I might think otherwise. It is their inability to see that abortion is a complex enough issue that Obama could hold the position he does and still be worthy of honor. This is perfectly consistent with his perfect pro-abortion-rights record being horrific.The blame situation is not about Obama/McCain (how did this get into the discussion?)...the blame I wish to lay down is a refusal to see the common ground because of a preference (on both sides) to judge other tribes and play political games. With respect, I believe we have far more in common that is commonly supposed...and much of the 'disagreement' here is not based on anything more than encamped tribalism. We all have a commitment to a Roman Catholic tradition which deconstructs these 'liberal' and 'conservative' frameworks which we've created for ourselves.Again, our preference to hide out in these camps rather than engage our fellow Christians with understanding and charity keeps us the putting the preference where it truly belongs: on the least among us.

Charlie: You keep pressing the point but it would be good if you'd show your math here. Or is your point simply that Randall Terry is sucking all the oxygen out of the protest room and the more level-headed objectors don't have an outlet for their arguments? What do you think is happening when some bishops strongly suggest (if not explicitly state) that, owing to this invitation, Notre Dame is no longer a Catholic institution?We have Bp. Bruskewitz calling ND "formerly Catholic," Bp. Nienstadt threatening not to support ND unless Jenkins rescinds the invitation, and Bp. Doran openly mocking Jenkins: "Though promotion of the obscene is not foreign to you...") and "failing that [rescinding the invitation], please have the decency to change the name of the university to something like, 'The Fighting Irish College' or 'Northwestern Indiana Humanist University.'" What do you call that?

Charlie, I guess we simply see the valence of words as different. I don't think you can understand the ND Obama situation apart from the Obama/Catholic issue in the election. Certainly, the press is beginning to evaluate the two together. The bottom line is that Catholics who supported McCain--Chaput, Deal Hudson, et al. claimed that Catholics who supported Obama don't actually have a commitment to the Catholic tradition. Stafford called Obama, right after the election, "aggressive and apocalyptic." (I think).I've been involved with Common Ground for ten years. You can't have a common ground discussion over whether one party is acting in good faith or not. The good faith has to be presupposed.

Fair point, Grant. (Eeek, I always got points off in the math class for not showing my work!)For starters, let me say that I find Randall Terry and his kind supremely unhelpful and believe that they are part of the reason that the pro-life movement finds itself so marginalized into our culture. I can't speak to the motivations of the bishops you name...or if what they were doing could be characterized as merely rhetorical flourish...but I've already said that one problem with the side that doesn't want Obama to come is that they don't sufficiently understand the complexity of the abortion issue and how this might lead one to think Obama is worthy of honor. Now, onto showing my work. Let's start with John Allen's point about the lack of charity on both sides: here are two very rational and well-argued points of view which claim that Obama should not be honored. Funny, Baltimore Catechism isn't mentioned at all:,0,... of these people, in my view, are mistaken. However, virtually no one commenting here actually addresses their point of view. Perhaps that is because it is not 'out there'...but I think it is more likely the case that people prefer to throw stones from encamped positions rather than engage difficult arguments which force one to accept the rationality of the other side.

Suppose President Jenkins of Notre Dame were to announce publicly his conversion to the Republican Party. I suspect that many of those now hounding him would call off their dogs.

Charlie, I just don't see. On the one hand, you discount the insults of the bishops (serious, disrespectful insults) as possibly mere rhetorical flourish. Do you think that's how Father Jenkins ought to hear it? How would you hear these words, directed against you? You discount Randall Terry--who has moved on to campus. And after all that discounting, you blame both sides equally. Can you find me any bishop, any Catholic leader who has attacked the attackers of ND in the language of the bishops. Where has Father Jenkins, or any spokesperson of the university, responded at all in kind? Where is there the progressive/liberal equivalent of the Cardinal Newman Society? Even if you add up blog posts/comments, compare the tone on American papist and Amy Welborn to the tone here.

-Early on in this thread, my old friend, Andy Savarese, one of the most charitable people I've ever known, expressed his view that the action against Fr. Jenkins was wrong. I share that judgement!-I think Rita's commen that, if this opposition is done by a few extremists, it will backfire against them, is to the point.However, and certainly in the church as well as elsewhere, big money can talk very big.-There's an awful lot here on "charity." I reference once more Fr. Kavangh's article stating that we are in danger as a Cathlic community of becoming known for how we hate each other instead of how we love each other.Much of that talk has been generated around so called life issues.Yesterday the Holy Father greeted my beloved Governor to thank him for our repeal of the death penalty; The Governor was sponsor of embryonic stem cell research and domestic partnership legislation, but that didn't matter on the occasion.Before we complain across lines on charity, I think we need to cast out the beams in our own eyes rather than the speck in otherts.-That's vital because we should not tolerate intolerance. I would posit that in our de facto divided, but not schismatic comunity, , folks like Mr. Terry and the Crdinal Newman society and a handful of Bishops are intolerant.-I don't know why Archbiushop Dolan got mangled or mingled in this thread -he's just getting started in New York so I cannot join with either detractors or adulators of him -we'll be able to discuss his actions soon enough.-Lastly, a plea from this poor poster: could we not use the (to my mind meaningless) phrase ."with all due respect" here.I'd hope respect is the least we can expect from everyone who writes here.

I didn't dismiss the comments of the bishops Grant mentioned...I said I didn't know what they were (obviously I don't have a context for one and two-word quotes)...and then I specifically went on to say (for perhaps a third or fourth time) that the people the other side don't get the complexity of the issue either. If these bishops really said things as you interpret them then they would fit this description.But are you really trying to identify Randall Terry with people like George Weigel and Helen Alvar? These are the people to which we should be responding if we want to critique the actual position of serious people who think Obama shouldn't be honored at Notre Dame.Sure there are out of touch people on both sides. And if a few bishops said the things Grant quoted in a non-rhetorical way, they are being just as dismissive and uncharitable as Richard McBrien who apparently said that those unhappy with the invitation are simply Republicans upset that Obama won the election, and they want to pick a fight. The 'sides' that I'm setting up here as both being guilty of lack of charitable understanding don't involve Jenkins or the University (again, where did this come from?). Rather, I'm setting up people who have commented on this thread that this is about the Baltimore Catechism and academic freedom and others on the other side like the Randal Terrys of the world.

Bob, are you suggesting that (even a majority of) the posts critiquing those who object to Obama's being honored have been respectful? It is far from obvious that this is the least we can expect.Here is another plea from another poster: Let's stay on topic in this thread.

Bob, Respect for the Sanctity of every Human Life requires that we not tolerate the destruction of innocent Human Life.

Did I somehow miss that the doctrine of original sin had been repealed?

"NFP? WTF? MAT?"David G.: Sorry for all the acronyms, it does seem silly the way you put it, but I presumed since Little Bear was accusing unnamed American bishops and a sitting United States Senator of either being Fascists or colluding with Fascists to achieve some unspecified end, he would be familiar with the relevant acronyms. Obviously, in retrospect, not everyone is familiar with the terms.

Barbara (and Nancy, too),As I said above, no Catholic can say with assurance that the "innocent" unborn killed in the womb don't go straight to hell. The Church says we can only hope or trust that they are saved. A better argument against abortion, it seems to me, would be that, given Original Sin, it is wrong to deprive anyone of the possibility of baptism. What, exactly, does "innocent" mean when applied to a first-trimester fetus?

I don't think Weigel states the facts accurately --about what the Mexico City Policy will do, for example. I find Helen Alvare's statements extremely difficult to engage with. I don't think, for example, the idea that any theologian could accept the idea that Catholicism is a "brand" identity.

I have a nephew who graduated from UND and is a serious practicing Catholic. His comment on all of this: these people need to get a LIFE!Amen, Scott.

I do think that Mr. Camosy doth protest too much and too long and that indeed most critiques by those here of those opposed to the honoring of the president were "respectful" critiques.I think Prof. Kaveny has patiently dealt with the issue in terms of the political/religious interplay.For myself, since we talk about things like charity and common ground a lot -as in this post - I'd like to reference the NPLC site and its providing a number of speeches on the 25th anniversary of that organization and especialy in reference (topically this year) to St. Paul.The reaction of Mrs. Steinfels, I think, was particularly germane in recalling the early spirit of Msgr. Phil Murnion and associates and I think her reflection was quite apropos of what that might mean in the mess we now have, including this topic, and approaching it with a view towards charity and common ground.Finally, I will repeat once more that I don't think we should tolerate intolerance and I think that's very much on the topic of this thread.

Bob,Given that you refer to people who didn't comment on this thread (Steinfels?), consider your diverging remarks as "on" its topic (I hardly even know what to say in response to you because you don't address any of the relevant points), and simply ignore the fanatically disrespectful and intolerant contributions to this thread, could one conclude that you haven't actually read the thread? Is there some other conclusion I should be drawing?

I'd like to thank Charles Camosy for sharing his nuanced and well reasoned views. I can't help but wonder at the evident compulsion to conflate his views with the most "horrific" attacks on Notre Dame and Jenkins so as to discredit them. (If we can't use "horrific" for abortion, at least we should be able to use it for the most stident prolifers. I've long believed that many prochoice Catholics find prolifers much more disturbing than abortion.)I agree that there is no equivalence between the vitriol of the anti-Jenkins/anti-Obama forces, but no vitriol from the other team? Give me a break! If absence of critique is any measure, prochoice sensibilities are more welcome at dotCommonweal than prolife sensibilities by a country mile.

MAT: After using the acronyms NF, PNF, neo-PNF, MS-FT, FSN, FN, you wrote,

I presumed since Little Bear was accusing unnamed American bishops and a sitting United States Senator of either being Fascists or colluding with Fascists to achieve some unspecified end, he would be familiar with the relevant acronyms. Obviously, in retrospect, not everyone is familiar with the terms.

Im not familiar with the terms. Id guess Im not alone. Please tell us what each of the acronyms refers to. Thank you.

GP,FN generally means Feliz Navidad. PNF can mean either proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation or Partito Nazionale Fascista (National Fascist Party). Consequently, neo-PNF probably means neo-proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation. MS-FT would appear to be either Microsoft or multiple sclerosis - Financial Times. I get the feeling the topic is extreme right-wing politics and/or something to do with the media, so although FSN and FN could be any number of things, here they can only mean Fox Sports Network and Fox News. LSMFT means Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco, although it hasn't been used in this thread. MAT can mean either Multifocal Atrial Tachycardia or Man About Town. MEGO means My Eyes Glaze Over.TTFN (which is to say, "ta ta for now")DCN


Gene Palumbo: At the risk of posting another comment which is clearly not adding anything meaningful to the discussion, I would refer you to David N's post. He's got it about right.Sincerely,Man About Town

Charlie: If you don't see why the Common Ground Initiative is germane to this discussion, I'm not sure what to tell you. Seems to me it is the embodiment of everything you're calling for in this debate. I welcome Bob's intervention on that point. It's a bit rich for you to accuse him of not reading this thread when you haven't done the due diligence on the several letters to Jenkins publicly released by bishops--and by publicly released I mean leaked to the Cardinal Newman Society.

Grant: I'm being truthful when I said I have no idea what to do with his posts...and his original post, with all due respect, was the one that was that was really a litany of non sequiturs. With regard to common ground, as far as I can tell (and I admit being confused), he read enough to see that the issue of common ground had been raised and then directed us to some other place/idea/website/proper-name/acronym, without telling us how to to get there, why we should go, or what it had to do with the discussion at hand. I love common ground stuff (obviously) but I'm raising the point in a specific of which, I am forced to conclude (for the reasons mentioned above) Bob is unaware. Though I'm open to being corrected about this.Grant, am I right in feeling you are being combative with me? If so, why? Also, I'm not sure why MY due diligence is required with regard to quotes YOU put into a thread. Shouldn't it be the responsibility of the poster to provide the context in support of the argument they want to make? Surely you aren't suggesting that I should have tracked down these letters (which I guess I remember glancing at over the past few weeks) and make your argument for you...rather than claiming that I don't know in what context your one and two-word quotes were made?

Grant - are you feeling a little like a high school dean of discipline with dear Mr. Camosy. Mr. Camosy - you need to realize that YOU need to do due diligence; not Mr. Gallicho. You take him at his word; no documentatin is necessary nor will he draw a map for you. Had the same frustration in an earlier post around the NY state window legislastion.

Charles, my last at this: for someone so concerned about charity, you're quite good at attacking (and continuing on and on to defend your point of view.)If you can't find the National Pastoral Life Center website, I wonder how much you know about common groundand the initiative there.The topic of Obama at Notre dame was mentioned in Ms. Steinfels talk as one of the messes we are in.But you can read it there if it's not too hard for you.As to my "non-sequiturs"., I thought the thread was about continuing efforsts to get Fr. Jenkins because of the Obama invite.I thought the points I made at the begining were clear and that the subsequent notions of talking about charity and common ground by those who support opposition to Fr. Jenkinswas much related to an recent column by Fr. Kavangh in America noting the abortion controversies are putting us in danger of beinga Church known more for how we hate each other.Charity indeed!

One time after the Common Ground lecture Msgr. Murnion spent like a half hour trying to talk me into being a liberal. He was very kind about it.

Charlie: I don't think it's too much to expect a little Googling from participants. You said you didn't have the full context of the bishops' letters I quoted, suggesting you wanted to read them before making a judgment. Fair enough. They are readily available on any number of sites--such as that of the Cardinal Newman Society (which I mentioned). And if you're going to declare someone off-topic, at least put some effort into finding out what the guy is writing about. The Common Ground Initiative is a major project. Again, Google is our friend. This is a blog, not an academic journal. And Bill D.: I reckon you want some kind of response from me regarding your displeasure with my responses to you on the SOL thread. Twice now you've dug at me for coming off as a high-school dean. So be it. I lost patience with you when you claimed that "this group of editors" was sounding like "corrupt bishops" and suggested we were incapable of responding to your assertions. I doubt I have to tell you how that came off.

Mr. Camosy: I do not know how to do the fancy html coding people do to make it a hotlink, but here is the URL for the National Pastoral Life Center:

"I think abortion as an act can be correctly described as both a refusal to provide bodily support and as intentional killing."The Womb is not a man-made machine. The Womb was created by God to protect and nourish Human Life during the most delicate stage of developement.The invitation has been extended and accepted. President Obama will be speaking at Notre Dame. Father John is a good and Holy Priest who is capable of defending the Catholic Church's positions on the Sanctity of Human Life from the beginning and the Sanctity of Marriage and the Family. Let us pray that he "Be Not Afraid". Only Good can come from that.

For you, David, and all who do not know of Holy Innocence-

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