FORT WAYNE, Ind. (CNS) — Bishop John M. D’Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend said he was not opposed to “peaceful” demonstrations against the University of Notre Dame’s invitation to President Barack Obama to speak at this year’s commencement.
The ongoing debate over next month’s University of Notre Dame commencement appearance by President Barack Obama took a new turn today when Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Chicago accused the Chicago Tribune of anti-Catholic bias in the opinion pieces it has run in recent weeks on the controversy. In a letter to the editor published today, he also cited a Tribune article that he said “features Catholics who have acted against Catholic Church teaching on in-vitro fertilization.”
The three opinion articles he cited included an April 3 Tribune editorial saying Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George was “deeply out of line” for his comments on the controversy, a March 31 column by Notre Dame alumnus Don Wycliff urging the university not to cave to pressure from opponents of Obama’s appearance, and an April 3 article by Obama campaign co-chairman William M. Daley, which Bishop Paprocki characterized as part of the Tribune’s effort “to enlist dissenting Catholics to be the mouthpiece of the newspaper’s attacks against the church’s teaching authority.”
“I don’t recall the Chicago Tribune ever running such stories and editorials against any other church or religion, let alone with such frequency or invective, so I can only conclude that the know-nothing views of the Chicago Tribune have not changed,” he wrote, referring to the anti-Catholicism of the Know-Nothing movement — and of the Tribune — in the mid-19th century.
This was news to us, though perhaps you’ve already seen it: Bishop John M. D’Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., issued a new statement late last week calling on Catholics not to attend planned demonstrations when President Obama speaks at Notre Dame next month because they can be “unseemly and unhelpful.”
He also said he had a “positive meeting” with the president of the university, “and I expect further dialogue will continue.”
TUESDAY UPDATE: Anti-abortion activist Randall Terry, who has opened an office in South Bend to protest the Obama speech (as noted in our story), responded to Bishop D’Arcy this morning in an opinion column published in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver was in Washington on March 17 where he was the principal guest at the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion in Public Life. The event was one of an occasional series the center holds in which they examine where religion and the political life come together. This one focused on the political obligations of Catholics and how Catholics’ convictions are played out in the public square.
Archbishop Chaput is the author of “Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life” (2008), and he has written and spoken widely on Catholics and political activity. The guests included members of the secular and religious press including Catholic News Service. CNS reporter Pat Zapor covered the wide-ranging presentation and discussion.
The Pew Center now has made the transcript of the event avalable on their Web site. While you are on their site, check out the U.S. religious landscape survey that Pew began in 2008. There are also many other excellent resources on the participation of religious Americans in the public square.
THIRD UPDATE: OSV has it on its blog.
It’s coming Tuesday morning, says this post on the Our Sunday Visitor blog site. (Both Notre Dame and Our Sunday Visitor are in Bishop D’Arcy’s Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind.)
UPDATE: We’ve just learned the statement now will not come until Wednesday.
SECOND UPDATE: Now (Tues., 11:45 a.m. EDT) we’re hearing it could be today after all.
Happy Monday to officials at the University of Notre Dame!
The organized opposition to the university’s announcement last Friday that President Barack Obama would speak and receive an honorary degree at commencement May 17 is filling the voice mail message boxes of all the school’s top officials and shows no sign of abating. The American Papist blog reports that the messages boxes of the university’s president, vice president, provost, assistant provost and public relations director were all full and refusing to take any more messages by the end of the day Friday.
The National Review Online organized a symposium today on the topic: “A moral exemplar? Should the University of Notre Dame honor our most anti-life president?” and got contributions from George Weigel, Jesuit Father James Schall and others. Catholic newspapers, including the National Catholic Register and National Catholic Reporter, are contributing to the debate as well. Comments were still coming in today on our blog as well.
Notre Dame has not yet issued an official response to the protest, but Holy Cross Father John Jenkins, the university president, talked about it with a reporter from The Observer student newspaper yesterday.
As Notre Dame’s press release notes, Obama will be the sixth U.S. president to address a graduating class there.
UPDATE: It didn’t take long for someone to question the Notre Dame invitation to Obama. The National Catholic Register headlined its blog item on the move “Notre Dame Honors Obama” and quoted from the U.S. bishops’ document which says that “Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.”
In an interesting editorial from the staff of the NZ Catholic, New Zealand’s national Catholic newspaper, readers get a taste of the country’s perspective on Pope Benedict XVI’s meeting last month with U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives.
Remember that Pelosi, a pro-choice Catholic, fueled quite the controversy when she told Tom Brokaw on “Meet the Press” that for centuries the church had not been able to agree on when life begins.
Referring to the unique no-photos policy of the pope-Pelosi meeting, the editorial said the reason for the “snub” was obvious. That was the pope’s way of saying, “I know what you said.”
VATICAN CITY — Following up on Paul Haring’s post below and the comments in response, it was in fact striking to compare the Vatican’s very different treatment this past week of two political leaders who support legal abortion: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
If the Vatican statements reflect the content of their papal audiences, Pelosi received a sharply worded lesson on the pro-life responsibilities of legislators. Brown (who last year helped defeat legislation that would have cut the upper time-limit of abortion from 24 to 22 weeks of life) explored in “cordial conversations” with the pontiff practically every other issue under the sun: the economic crisis, the Middle East, global poverty, the environment, etc.
As Wally Watson suggests in his comment to Paul’s post, one key was the fact that Pelosi is Catholic; Brown is not. That said, Italy is full of Catholic legislators who support legal abortion but have escaped a dressing-down by the pope — in fact, some of them have received Communion at papal Masses.
The real reason Pelosi got such a cool reception at the Vatican was that she challenged the church’s teaching publicly during last year’s election campaign, and even suggested that church leaders could not agree on when human life begins. Several U.S. bishops rushed to correct her and invited her to review her thinking.
Unlike many U.S. Catholic debates, this one registered at the Vatican. So when Pelosi came seeking a papal audience, Vatican officials felt the issue was being laid at its doorstep. Thus the strongly worded statement, which not only gave strong backing to U.S. bishops, but highlighted a position that’s been refined and underlined by the Vatican in recent years: that on issues like abortion, Catholic legislators cannot check their faith at the door.
Few people — except editors at our client publications — know that Catholic News Service has a fairly robust columns package. You may even have read some of our columnists in your local Catholic newspaper and not known where they came from.
With the change in administrations here in Washington, several of the columnists have been writing about the need for Catholics to remind President Obama that they don’t agree with his position on abortion.
For instance, one columnist, Tony Magliano, who writes on social justice issues, reported on this year’s March for Life in Washington but also recalled how Obama noted the anniversary:
On Jan. 22, President Barack Obama issued a very disheartening pro-abortion statement which read in part that government “should not intrude on our most private family matters.”
However, government does intervene in private family matters when it detects child abuse. Yet, it illogically and immorally refuses to protect unborn children against the most brutal form of child abuse: abortion.
Adding insult to injury, on Jan. 23 Obama reversed the ban on federal funds to organizations that promote abortion in developing countries. Now millions of tax dollars will be available to groups like the International Planned Parenthood Federation to help them perform their deadly deeds.
But worst of all, Obama has made it clear that he hopes to sign the Freedom of Choice Act. If it becomes law, FOCA would overturn virtually every federal and state limitation on abortion.
He went on to say that participating in the U.S. bishops’ current postcard campaign to oppose FOCA would be a good place for Catholics to start.
Another of our columnists, Stephen Kent, also devotes his column this week to abortion and the new administration:
It is more important than ever that the case for the culture of life be based on the firm belief in the dignity of the human person.
Politicians can count. Postelection polls said 54 percent of the Catholic electorate voted for Obama.
“Many Catholics voted for Obama despite his position on abortion, and they have an obligation to say ‘this is not why I voted for you,’ said Richard Doerflinger of the bishops’ pro-life office. One way to tell him is through a postcard.
Kent too points to the postcard campaign as a way to remind politicians that the first priority of Catholic teaching is the dignity of the human person.
Magliano also wrote a column for early December saying that many of the president-elect’s positions “reflect Catholic social doctrine and deserve our support.” But he also called Obama’s abortion position “very troubling” and urged readers to let him know their opposition to the Freedom of Choice Act. He concluded:
Now is the best time to help President-elect Obama understand the moral concerns of America’s Catholic community!