Bishop Blair Responds to Notre Dame Controversy
Bishop of Toledo Leonard P. Blair responds to Notre Dame's decision to honor President Obama:
RESPONSE OF BISHOP BLAIR TO CONCERNS RAISED ABOUT NOTRE DAME UNIVERSITY’S INVITATION TO PRESIDENT OBAMA TO DELIVER THE 2009 COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS AND RECEIVE AN HONORARY DOCTORATE(emphasis added)
To concerned Catholics who have asked what I think about this matter, I would offer the following two paragraphs from one of my recent Catholic Chronicle articles as background before giving my response:
“There are many who argue that the call to holiness—including fundamental questions of justice based on right and wrong—has little or nothing to do with a Catholic’s daily life in the world. We should just mind our own business, they argue, and keep our beliefs on these matters to ourselves behind the closed doors of private devotion, personal virtue, and religious exercises. Yet when scoffers look back over two thousand years to discredit the Christian Faith, isn’t it precisely the historical failures of Christians both to denounce and renounce public injustices and evils in society that bolster the false claim that Christianity is either a failure or a fraud?”
“The Second Vatican Council clearly taught that holiness, as a call to the ‘perfection of love,’ is meant to foster ‘a more human manner of life…in earthly society.’ The pursuit of holiness involves not only ‘the evangelization and sanctification’ of human beings individually, but also a ‘transformation and perfecting of the temporal order through the spirit of the Gospel’ (cf. Apostolicam Actuositatem, no. 2).”
When it comes to “fundamental questions of justice based on right and wrong,” and “the transformation and perfecting of the temporal order through the spirit of the Gospel,” there is no more urgent moral task than the protection of innocent human life from conception until natural death.
In an effort to end the murder of unborn children by abortion, the United States Bishops have called for more effective dialogue and engagement with all public officials. This remains our priority at every level. However, it is not appropriate for Catholic institutions to give awards, honors or platforms to those who promote an abortion agenda. Doing so suggests that Catholics are not really serious about what the Church teaches regarding grave and immoral offenses against the life of the unborn.
President Obama is our elected President, and we should give him all the honor and respect due to his office. We should also pray for him, especially for a change of mind and heart on his part, away from abortion to protection of unborn human life. An invitation to speak and an honorary doctorate from a Catholic University go beyond the bounds of respect, and can only be a source of dismay.