Life, sweetness... and hope?

Thanks to commenter E. Paul Kelly for pointing this out: Fr. Robert Imbelli's "unconventional" take on President Obama's speech at Notre Dame, as published and contextualized online by Sandro Magister.

I would like to call attention to three elements of the Presidents address that have been less commented upon. First, he did not merely say that, through the witness of socially concerned Christians, he became a member of a church. More remarkably, he said: through their witness he was brought to Christ. Coming to Christ, of course, entails moral consequences; but it moves beyond morality to relationship and ongoing conversion.Second, is it in light of this coming to Christ that President Obama could speak, in almost Augustinian fashion, of original sin? I do not remember the concept of original sin issuing from the mouth of a previous American President certainly not with the force and conviction that Obama exhibited. He spoke of our selfishness, our pride, our stubbornness, our acquisitiveness, our insecurities, our egos. These afflict us all and darken our understanding and diminish our love.Finally, President Obama appealed to the law that binds people of all faith and no faith together It is, of course, the Golden Rule the call to treat one another as we wish to be treated. The call to love. The call to serve. And, though he did not use the term, it is what the Catholic tradition would affirm as the natural law inscribed in human hearts by their Creator.Thus, though on one level the President appeared primarily focused on respectful dialogue and fair-minded words; on a deeper level he seemed to be in search of binding principles that were, perhaps, at variance with his own stated positions. Indeed, these principles, if given full scope, might even lead the President (not without personal cost) to reconsider some of the practices he currently endorses.

Fr. Imbelli also pays close attention to the Laetare remarks by Judge Noonan. Go here to read the whole thing (in English!). There's also a collection of links to the relevant transcripts and commentaries at the bottom of that page, just in case you haven't had enough.

Mollie Wilson O’​Reilly is editor-at-large and columnist at Commonweal.

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