Bookmark and Share
My Photo


    Opinions expressed on the Insight Scoop weblog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Ignatius Press. Links on this weblog to articles do not necessarily imply agreement by the author or by Ignatius Press with the contents of the articles. Links are provided to foster discussion of important issues. Readers should make their own evaluations of the contents of such articles.


« Joseph Ratzinger: "The Mystery of the Annunciation is the Mystery of Grace" | Main | Ron Howard and Tom Hanks on faith, Christianity »

Wednesday, March 25, 2009



Perhaps the young woman who survived the botched partial-birth abortion should hand out the honorary degree to President Obortion. Her presence would speak louder than those disingenuous arguments to justify Obama's presence at a Catholic university.

Dan Deeny

Carl, Thank you for this article on poor Fr. Reese S.J.. He is bringing back the problem of jesuitical thinking, a mode of thought characterized by "dissembling and equivocating in a manner once associated with Jesuits." (Concise Oxford Dictionary)
Discussing with Jesuits is a tough problem, Carl. But you did a good job. Now, maybe the bishops can do a few things.

Ed Peters

Good stuff, Carl.


Most of those I know have regarded ND as a mere near secular university that had strayed from its original solid roots. Compared to other secular universities it is highly regarded but never as a "bulwark" of true Catholic Faith. It's why universities like the University of Stuebenville and such have risen up in the last generation or two. www.worshipJesus.US

Bob Schiavoni

These are sad times. One can expect the secularist hordes, lead by the likes of Obama, to attack the Church but this fifth column is of grave concern on a salvific, moral, theological and social level. I do believe that Father Jenkins' decision has crossed over from the prudential aspects of his job into disobedience, if not worse, of Church teachings. And his disobedience begets yet more as evidenced in the musings of Father Reese. And, even more sadly, it begets more disobedience by many young students not just at ND but in other Catholic colleges.

Jim Schneider

A clear distinction should be made between the commencement speech and the honorary degree. I see neither how asking Obama to give the commencement speech honors his flawed views, nor how it gives him a platform which seems to condone those views, even if I grant that he is well known for being pro-abortion rights. His selection does not necessarily stem from a diminished appreciation of the significance of abortion. Rather it might highlight the significance of abortion by making this selection a national issue. Notre Dame has effectively said, "Here is our choice; now let's talk about it." That discussion, the one we are having now, will only lead people, especially Catholics, closer to the truth.

The University's first obligation is to its students. It must provide them the highest quality, Catholic education possible to give them the tools to be leaders in this world, a world whose views are antagonistic to theirs. The commencement speaker honors the graduates, not vice versa. If the students are unprepared to deal with Obama at graduation, I fear they never will be. Obama may not end up furthering Notre Dame's clearly catholic mission, but he will not hinder it, either.

It is a false dichotomy to say: either Notre Dame is looking for prestige or pursuing its Catholic mission. Perhaps ND is honoring its students by having the leader of the free world speak at their graduation. They are important enough to gain his respect and honor. Obama is type of person Notre Dame is preparing its students to work with and against. He is what we battle. For the class of 2009, that battle has already started. Each student at Notre Dame is now forced to decide how much weight to give this fundamental issue.

If Notre Dame has a direct duty to those outside its campus, its choice has only clarified the Catholic position by highlighting the Church's staunch opposition to abortion. Notre Dame obviously disagrees with you on the best way of ending abortion is. Perhaps Notre Dame believes that working with the President is the best way to get concessions from him that will save lives. Refusing to listen to his message is sure only to make him refuse to listen to ours.

The end is clear: ending abortion by making it illegal. How we make it illegal is far from clear. Were it otherwise, we would not be having this debate. The bishops' opinion is of course to be given great weight, but it is not dispositive. Catholics can in good conscience differ on how to make abortion as illegal as possible.

That said, he should receive no honorary degree from any Catholic institution (even though ND always honors its speakers in that way). I can see no way of justifying this additional act which is calculated expressly to honor him for legal views so flawed on this fundamental issue.

Carl E. Olson

Obama is type of person Notre Dame is preparing its students to work with and against. He is what we battle.

So ND should, therefore, honor him and praise him and make him a focal point of the graduation ceremony? That's a hard one to make sense of...

Jim Schneider

Your comment assumes that having him speak is honoring him. Rather, I argue that he by virtue of his office is a honor to the graduates. Last year's speaker, Cardinal McCarrick, was hardly the focal point of the ceremony. If Obama is the focal point, it will be because of the controversy.


I'm shocked by the naivete of some posters here. Being asked to speak at ANY engagement is a gesture of honor. Simply explain it away with "Oh well, he's the president, innit he?" if you want, but that doesn't justify entertaining the words of a crypto-communist abortion-fanatic like the Magnificent O at a nominally Catholic educational institution. Not only is he un-worthy of a podium anywhere, but he currently lacks of no channel through which to communicate his ideas: the man has every sycophant in media, entertainment, and government fawning over his every utterance.

Whatever. Notre Dame University is now just more dead-wood to be cut away from the Church, and probably has been for a long time. Like many other large nominally-Catholic universities, it is ruled by cowards and parasites, and I don't believe that anybody within the Church heirarchy has the will to take on cleaning it up. Maybe we can endow another more worthy university with the name of Our Lady in the distant future. In the meantime, I hope no Church wealth is going towards supporting it.

Jim Schneider

I'll assume in 'Telemachus's" post that the ad hominem attacks are there for the same reason it states its conclusions as arguments: a dearth of persuasive arguments.
That Notre Dame chooses to be Catholic differently than how ultra-trads would prefer does not make Notre Dame any less Catholic. Universities exist, as far as I can tell, for the exchange of ideas. Why fear that exchange? Until we reach the Truth, the free flow of ideas brings us us closer to the truth. Perhaps the University of Notre Dame should apologize for that pursuit, since it's results might be uncomfortable for some or all of us.

Markus Goebel

Thanks much Carl - the needed response!

What a nightmare some Jesuits and Jesuit Universities become to the Catholic church, and what an embarrassment, first of all to themselves.

Poor St. Ignatius - as the Ad maiorem Dei gloriam cannot be recognized any longer, could you please intervene to get some of your outspoken and foolish brethren seeking to promote earthly agendas back on track? Much appreciated.

God bless the Jesuits that know and life a truly Jesuit life!

Carl E. Olson

Universities exist, as far as I can tell, for the exchange of ideas.

And exactly what "ideas" are being "exchanged" in having Pres. Obama come give a commencement speech and receive an honorary degree?

Until we reach the Truth, the free flow of ideas brings us us closer to the truth.

Again, what "free flow of ideas" are we talking about? In what way, specifically, does the Church need to be brought closer to the truth when it comes to her teachings about life, human dignity, and abortion? What does Obama have to offer? Frankly, I've yet to hear or read ONE thing by the man about ANY topic that is of interest, never mind of intellectual, political, or spiritual heft. His speeches are beyond vapid; he seems incapable to talking or thinking without a safety net. I'm open to being shown otherwise, but his track record hasn't been good so far.

There seems to be an unfounded assumption that there will, in fact, be an "exchange," as though the President will seriously consider the Church's teachings on abortion and the reasons for them. Yet that would have to assume at least two things: that someone will actually have the guts to share those teachings with him, and that he would even entertain those ideas. Call me cynical, but both are very long shots. Regardless, your line of thought about the nature of a Catholic university is addressed well, I think, in the quotes I gave above from John Paul II.

Perhaps the University of Notre Dame should apologize for that pursuit, since it's results might be uncomfortable for some or all of us.

Well, that simply smacks of rank condescension and arrogance. Sad.

Mary H.

The more I read, the angrier I become.
The country has already seen all of the ability & knowledge that Obama brings to the national table. And in the 60 days he's been in office, his action agenda AGAINST life has been stunning. Where did we see - even once - a concession on Obama's part in favor of life? He has had "Catholic" advisors (isn't Caveny from Notre Dame?). He's included "Catholics" in his Cabinet. What progress was made in their engagement of the man?

Mr. Schneider's idea of an "exchange of ideas" is ludicrous, given that a commencement speech is pretty much 1-way communication, unless you count applause as a response. One doesn't have to be an "ultra-trad" to recognize that Obama is playing Catholics for his own purposes.

Jim Schneider

And exactly what "ideas" are being "exchanged" in having Pres. Obama come give a commencement speech and receive an honorary degree?

The whole point of my original post was to distinguish between the speech and the degree, the former being OK, the latter not.

Obama's invitation to ND creates a relationship between the university and Obama that Notre Dame can utilize to speak the Church's clear message on abortion and other issues. Instead of shunning him as the modern Hitler, Notre Dame might think working with him is the best way to effect positive change, and that the commencement speech establishes a relationship with a president who has at least outwardly expressed desire to work with the Church.

In what way, specifically, does the Church need to be brought closer to the truth when it comes to her teachings about life, human dignity, and abortion?

I nowhere suggested the Church's position on these issues needs to be brought closer to the truth. However, the Church has no position on how to best achieve the end it teaches we need to pursue (She does have positions on how not to achieve it). How do we end abortion? How do we encourage respect for life? These are questions with no easy solution. We are free to discuss how to achieve those ends. Working with Obama may be more effective for the next four years than turning our backs on him and letting him run wild.

The free flow of ideas also includes the debate that the selection has created. Notre Dame has created a lively debate among Catholics about how to attack the abortion issue. It has also helped to inform the general public of the Church's position, because traditional Catholics have taken up the cause and made it a national issue.

John Paul II's thoughts are inapposite to mine but maybe I was not clear enough in my first post. I do not question the truth(es) that the Catholic Church has reached and neither does Notre Dame. Instead, I question whether you are right about how to end abortion and increase respect for human dignity. I think having Obama speak at Notre Dame will increase awareness about the Catholic Church's position. It will also establish a relationship with Obama that may prove useful in preventing him from destroying more life than he would otherwise. Perhaps you know Fr. Jenkins and Notre Dame better than I, but I think Notre Dame will use that relationship to achieve good.

Obama's not going to say anything of substance at commencement. I agree. Nor is he going to talk about abortion at all. He is a mediocre choice. However, I disagree that he is an evil choice, that somehow Notre Dame is dissenting from the Catholic Church by selecting him. It has chosen a different path to end abortion and work for justice. Whether it will work is up for debate. Whether it's Catholic should not be.

The charge of arrogance and condescension seems ironic to me. But perhaps I was unclear in my previous posts. If so, I apologize. Notre Dame's approach might turn out to be the one that helps end abortion, which would make some here uncomfortable since they would be wrong. And if working with people like Obama is effective, then we'd have to do it more often, which would probably be uncomfortable for us all.

Bruce Barker

Mr. Schneider, on one level I can agree. There are no evil ideas which ND or any university should not discuss, in order to determine their philosophical foundations and how cultures come to wrongly accept them. Abortion should be so discussed, along with racism, Nazism and other personal and social evils.

However, the expositors of those evil ideas should not be given a platform to represent them. This only furthers the notion that it is possible to compromise with evil. Even though the President will not speak about abortion, as St. Francis taught his disciples, the unspoken witness of one's life speaks louder than one's words. The witness of President Obama's life is that of one of the most dedicated political facilitators of abortion, an "abominable crime" in the words of the Second Vatican Council. In the words of one of Mr. Obama’s predecessors on a different battlefield, “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.” Yes, indeed Mr. Lincoln.

Luis Howard for the Howard Family


God bless you, Mr Olson. I have always thought that people like Reese, SJ, need to be knocked around as you have done when they spout foolish lib/lefty nonsense.

Keep up the good work.

Luis Howard for the Howard Family


Be honest, all of you: Obama is arrogant, stubborn and ruthless, not qualities which lend themselves to any serious dialog. He has shown these qualities abundantly, all the while smiling and looking Americans in the eye telling them that he will make everything alright. There is no question that he is playing Jenkins like a fiddle--he is very eager for the respectability that he can point to later while lying to us about his efforts to reduce abortion.

Manuel G. Daugherty Razetto

One can hardly imagine a more lucid retort than the one given by Carl Olson to the sophistic Fr. Reese s.j., but on this matter, the opinion of Fr James V. Schall s.j. is an interesting take about the N.D. president's invitation to Obama (with the ominous corollarium of a Honoris Causa doctorate promised to the new president).
Fr. Schall places himself above the issue though a bit light for a man of Academia speaking about Academia on a matter of great consequence.
Fr. Schall states " I could only laugh" while saying that Obama gets the perfect forum for his infamous projects. If, as Fr Schall announces, the president has supporters at the N.D. Faculty and many of them as well as eligible students voted for him we can easily deduce that the most reputable Catholic University in the US, being a "friendly genteel soil" for the man who has proven so quickly how anti-catholic he can be, we must then accept Notre Dame as a House of Incongruity. The product of an inveterate polarization of ideologies; sickness within our Church.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Ignatius Insight


Ignatius Press

Catholic World Report


Blogs & Sites We Like

June 2018

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
Blog powered by Typepad