Friday, March 27, 2009

I confess, I don't really understand this. Per tradition, the University of Notre Dame has invited President Obama to speak at graduation. They also had Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush in their first years. But many affiliated with the university are upset that the Catholic school extended an invitation to a president who supports embryonic stem cell research and federal funding for international family planning organizations that perform abortions or even just provide education about abortions. One Bishop described the university's invitation to Obama as a "public act of disobedience." Another Bishop has declared he will not attend

What I don't really understand is the Catholic Church's single-minded focus on the abortion issue as the sole barometer for judging whether a public figure upholds values consistent with the Catholic Church or not. Is that really the only thing that matters to the Catholic Church? Adultery is a no-no in the 10 Commandments, so did any Bishops or alumni oppose Ronald Reagan's appearance at the university? I'm sure other presidents have committed sins or supported policies that the Catholic Church perceived as being against their values. But abortion seems to be the only issue that justifies refusing to attend a Presidential commencement address or considering the mere invitation to be an act of disobedience to the church.

It just doesn't make any sense to me.


Meryl said...

This is part of why I think organized religion is so weird. It seems to me that if you say you believe in something, you should believe in it. But people are so inconsistent about this--picking and choosing which tenants of their faith to practice, almost arbitrarily.

Growing up in a very Catholic area, I was amazed at how many of my Catholic friends were completely against abortion and refused to use the pill, but thought condoms were fine and had premarital sex like bunnies.

BellsforStacy said...

Couple things - the students are fine with it, and secularly I'm okay with it.

But from a religious perspective the Catholic church and really any church is right to disagree with President Obama and his views on abortion. And since Notre Dame is the premier Catholic University in this country, they should disagree as well.

Does this mean he shouldn't speak? No, it's a tradition and it's an honor to the students. But as it's a teaching institution that still presupposes to be Catholic, they should let their students know that they in now way support his stances on abortion / stem cells, what have you.

For exactly the reasons you list - people picking and choosing which tenants they believe - the church needed to say something about this. Increasingly their congregation - including their educational insititutions - stray. I'm surprised the Pope hasn't said something actually.

Patricia said...

I think Notre Dame attracts a particular type of very conservative Catholic as well. Quite a number of Catholic colleges are more liberal-minded, in my experience. The kids I knew growing up who wanted to go to Notre Dame were mostly children of right wing Republicans.

Language Lover said...

Um,'s "tenets", not "tenants". Tenants are people who rent from you.

Just living up to my name...

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