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The Culture of Death: Notre Dame Joins With the Secularists

Posted by revkharma on May 4, 2009

*** Please note some updated information at the end of this post***

President Obama has received an invitation from the University of Notre Dame to address the graduating class of 2009. This is a meeting of superlatives. Notre Dame is perhaps the most storied Catholic college in the United States. Barack Hussein Obama is perhaps the most pro abortion person to have served as President in history. This has the potential to be an epic meeting, with the possibility of the President being confronted by opponents of  his policies of expediency. Instead, the University has decided not only to ask him to speak, but will present  him with an honorary degree.

This award is despite the policy issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2004 :


The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions

The initial reaction from the faithful in  the Catholic community has been negative. The Bishop of South Bend has decided not to attend the ceremony this year.

Shortly after the public reaction to the announced honorary degree, there was another announcement of another award.  The University was going to award the Laetare medal to Mary Ann Glendon.  Ms. Glendon is a past US ambassador to the Vatican. The medal is awarded annually to an American Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.

In an ironic twist, the medal is inscribed with the following:  Magna est veritas et praevalebit” (Truth is mighty and will prevail) Ms. Glendon, after much thought, announced that she was declining the award. In her letter to the University President, Father Jenkins, she cited the 2004 policy from the USCCB. She explained that she believed she was going to be used as a prop of sorts, to balance the negative will generated by the Honorary degree being presented to President Obama. Two “talking points” which the University was putting out particularly caused her concern:

Then I learned that “talking points” issued by Notre Dame in response to widespread criticism of its decision included two statements implying that my acceptance speech would somehow balance the event:

• “President Obama won’t be doing all the talking. Mary Ann Glendon, the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, will be speaking as the recipient of the Laetare Medal.”

• “We think having the president come to Notre Dame, see our graduates, meet our leaders, and hear a talk from Mary Ann Glendon is a good thing for the president and for the causes we care about.”

( Her complete letter has been posted here)

Many have criticized her decision, and on many different fronts.  On a website called  The New  ( Motto:  building a conservativitism that can win again) Danielle Crittendon has published two essays regarding Ms. Glendon’s decision. In each she seems to miss the mark, I think intentionally. She essentially says she sees no difference between the awarding of a degree to President Obama and the commencement addresses given by past US presidents. The issue she skirts here is the difference in the vehemence with which Mr. Obama has supported abortion rights.  She also tosses in the canard of death penalty or the Iraq war, wondering why  President GW Bush drew no such protest. If Ms. Crittendon were to do a small amount of research she could find that for a Roman Catholic, the issue of abortion has always been of particular and immediate moral concern. While there is a debate within The Church over the death penalty, and over ‘just war theory’ there is no debate about the stand of the Church regarding abortion, which has been deemed a particular moral evil. 

It seems to me that this is the general method used in recent times when such life issues are brought to the forefront of discussion. Those who are opposed to the ” Culture of Death” will be sidelined at almost any cost.  Another recent example of this is the issue of stem cell research and the continuing deception presented about the medical progress being made. While it is apparent to those who are doing the research that there seems much promise using adult stem cells, the media continue to cover only the distant potential of embryonic cells. Recently the issue was highlighted in a discussion with actor Michael J. Fox, on the Oprah program. Recall that Mr. Fox used himself as a prop in a campaign commercial for Claire Mccaskill in the 2006 election cycle. He claimed, as do many others, that only with the funding of Embryonic Stem Cell research was there hope for people who, as he does, suffer from Parkinson’s disease.  Mr.  Fox and Oprah discussed the issue with Oprah’s favorite physician, Dr Oz.  The good doctor flatly told them both that embryonic cell research was at a dead end, as the high potential for causing cancer made their use dangerous. He then proceeded to describe the breathtaking advances being made with Adult Stem Cells. visibly uncomfortable, Oprah and Fox continued their discussion ignoring what the physician had told them. The official transcript posted of the program describes medical advances but dances around the Adult Stem Cell issue, without ever mentioning the actual words. 

The University of Notre Dame has cast its lot with the prevailing leaders in the country, seeking connections and secular power.  They sought to use the prestige of a truly faithful Catholic woman to cast a fog over their actions.  When she stood up and refused, the media  moved to make her the issue, instead of the direct challenge to official policy of the Church which the University claims to represent in the United States.  

In this time, when life is becoming increasingly devalued, anyone who stands up to support life must be quieted as quickly as possible. As long as official policy is to support the destruction of life, anyone who stands against that must be  delegitimized so their voice does not become inconvenient.

In an attempt to cover their egregious presentation of an honorary degree to President Obama, the University has ended up drawing more attention to itself in the worst possible way.   After she declined the award, the University has announced there will be no recipient this year. As they try to spin and deflect the issue,the University and its president will have a year to read and meditate on the inscription on the medal, which Mary Ann Glendon deserves, and which she so rightly declined: “Magna est veritas et praevalebit“. 

*** Update 5-5-09***

Students at The University of Notre Dame have provided an alternative program of events on campus for those who wish to dissent from the official events. See this site for information. It is wonderful to see a contrasting view presented carefully and respectfully. I note in particular the instructions regarding signs:

Concerning Signs and Graphic Images:

Any person willing to respectfully and constructively demonstrate their disapproval of the University’s decision to honor President Obama at commencement is welcomed to stand alongside students at this rally. Neither graphic images nor negatively-worded signs will be permitted on Notre Dame’s campus. ND Response reserves the right to have individuals who do not follow student requests escorted from campus by security personnel.

 As any media present will attempt to portray the alternative program in the worst possible light, the organizers should  get extra points for being smart in advance.  Anyone who attends this event and is willing, I would appreciate your comments and descriptions. I’ll run them here if I get any.

Keep the Faith

The Rev


2 Responses to “The Culture of Death: Notre Dame Joins With the Secularists”

  1. Interested reader said

    Hey…thought you should know that I couldn’t get your link to work. I had to google search ND response to find the information. Also, you might want to check with some ND students to see what they think about all this. I have had some email conversations with one student and was suprised by the response.

    • revkharma said

      Thanks, the broken link has been repaired. I would welcome any comments, pro or con from any involved in the matter from the University. Please feel free to send the post around, and encourage comments
      Thanks for reading!

      The Rev.

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