Friday, April 3, 2009

Bad Notre Dame!

From the Times-Picayune:

New Orleans Archbishop Alfred Hughes on Thursday joined a growing chorus of Catholic bishops deploring the University of Notre Dame's decision to award President Barack Obama an honorary degree at graduation exercises next month.

"He feels as though this is not just an issue for Notre Dame. This is an issue on which Catholics everywhere are expressing disappointment. It clearly goes against Catholic policy against honoring pro-choice politicians. He's just making the point that Catholics should be standing up for life everywhere," Comiskey said.

Archbishop Hughes, you who learned how to be a bishop under the infamous Cardinal Bernard Law in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boston, who is now hiding in his basilica in Rome to escape possible prosecution for covering up child abuse by priests under his authority, you who had to travel to Boston to testify concerning the abuse that took place while you were a bishop there, what moral authority do you posses to chide the leadership at Notre Dame for conferring an honorary degree on President Obama?

Your spokesman said that you stand up for life everywhere. What about the Roman Catholic Church's policy to forbid the use of condoms by members of the flock to protect themselves and others from serious STDs like HIV? How is that standing up for life? It's no less than a policy to insure sickness and death. In Africa, where AIDS is rampant, where your church denies married couples in which one party is HIV positive, the right to use condoms to protect the other party, how do you twist this counsel to represent standing up for life, when, as a result, many will sicken and die because of it?

I'm sorry, Archbishop Hughes, but the moral ground crumbles beneath you. Why in heaven's name would anyone look to you and your brother bishops in the RCC for moral guidance? Spare me the hypocrisy of your criticism of the leadership at Notre Dame University. Physician, heal thyself.

On campus, however, where the invitation increasingly dominates other issues, more than 600 letters to the independent student newspaper, "The Observer," are about evenly split for and against the invitation, editor Jenn Metz said.

She noted a sharp difference in sentiment between alumni, 70 percent of whom oppose the invitation, and students, 73 percent of whom favor it.

It seems that Notre Dame students are getting smarter.

UPDATE: At OCICBW, MadPriest published an exchange between Paul Pease, AKA TheraP, and Fr. Michael F. Patella, O.S.B., S.S.D., an associate professor of New Testament at the School of Theology Seminary and the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, who writes the “Seers’ Corner” for The Bible Today, published by Liturgical Press.

Paul writes:

Now to the query: If someone is convinced that using a condom will prevent the infection of his partner, that is his intention and the fact that his partner (wife, we suppose) will not get pregnant is a secondary effect.

It seems to me that the Principle of a Double Effect, which we covered thoroughly in Moral Theology, would allow condom use when the first (intended) effect is prophylaxis, while the second and unintended effect is non-conception.

If this reasoning still represents the teaching of the Magisterium, please let me know; if not, please tell me what has replaced the thinking behind legitimately removing an ectopic fetus from a place where it will endanger the life of the mother.

Fr. Patella answered:

Dear Mr. Pease,

The principle of double-effect is still very much part of Catholic moral theology and is still held by the Magisterium, and the cases you give here are perfect examples of it. I hope this information is helpful.

(Emphasis mine)

My question: Why haven't the pope and the majority of RC cardinals and bishops thought the question through in a rational manner and come up with the same logical and compassionate answer as Paul and Fr. Patella?


  1. It really frustrates me how so many in all the churches have these slick moral certainties. They should spend one day in my house with all the complex stories from school my teenage girls bring home, as well as all the waifs and strays they bring home, to have every single one of their certainties shattered.

    The crying shame is that unless the churches learn from the people, the people will continue to turn away, and yet there is SO much we have to say that is truly relevant!
    And yet, almost every time the "professionals" open their mouths I just want to cry.

    Sorry about the rant, I've spent 2 evenings with distressed teenagers and in talks with an equally distressed Mum and all this slick political stuff from the churches is driving me to despair.

  2. Standing up for life everywhere doesn't seem to mean standing up for the spirits that were killed by abuse by priests either.

  3. The RCC and its strictures against the use of comdoms infuriate me, and every time I hear or read of this kind of hypocrisy, the wrath rises in me and nearly chokes me.

    Erika, rant away. The old men are far removed from the reality of the lives of ordinary folks.

    MA, yes. What about the killed spirits of those who were abused? What about those who took their own lives as a result of the abuse?

  4. This sort of thing will make it clearer to the young and to folk in the "middle ground" what a bunch of dinosaurs - hypocritical dinosaurs, in fact - the RC hierarchy is.

  5. I try very hard not to be a bitter ex-Roman Catholic, but this sort of thing sends me over the edge.

  6. I truly despair that any in the Roman Catholic church will be able to resist the assault of the "pro-life" gang who really only care about outlawing safe abortion. I'm an old ob/gyn who can see both sides of the issue of pregnancy termination; could fill a book with heart-rending examples of choices made in difficult circumstances. I am appalled that 99% of Notre Dame students don't support President Obama's appearance. After all, supporting choice allows the Romans to push the doctrine of personhood-at-fertilization on all of society, and, from my perspective, they are winning.So, why do they need laws to eliminate carnage against blastocysts?"Educate" the faithful, and eliminate the risk of early pregnancy termination. Then they can explain to me why 30% of the women I care for suffer spontaneous miscarriage before the end of the first trimester. G-d's abortions?

    And to think that I once(long ago) thought that my Anglo-Catholic proclivities might eventually lead me to Rome(vomit).

  7. I am appalled that 99% of Notre Dame students don't support President Obama's appearance.

    John, they're getting there. The RCC is going to lose many of their young people.

    I hope that Notre Dame does not withdraw the invitation. Imagine asking the president of the United States not to come!

    There's no turning back for me, surely.

  8. There is no turning back for me either, Mimi. I jmped the RC ship nearly 27 years ago and it was the best decision I ever made. I discovered a much deeper relationship to God and to all creation in TEC.

  9. Whiteycat, I don't give up hope. I have many good friends in the RCC, and I'd hope that it could be a better place for them before very long.

  10. Separation of Church and State is the answer to all this. But it seems that the Roman churchs is heading in the opposite direction.

    To me, the example of Poland was important in realising the potential conflicts between the two - but I was amazed to see that the Poles themselves didn't understand it.

    No sooner had the Walls crumbled and the Soviets were gone and the walled communities within their electric fences been abandoned by their former occupiers, than Roman church institutions moved in the deserted villas and barracks...

    Shocked me.

  11. They're having a massive "case of the vapors" about this at EWTN. ;-X

    How dare Notre Dame University treat President Obama like he was . . . the President of the United States, instead of the hell-bound "Pro-Abortion" heretic he is, huh?

  12. Göran, separation of church and state is in our Bill of Rights, but it seems not to be always operational at the present time.

    JCF, let them scream. Why don't they all emigrate to the Vatican?


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