[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Notre Dame and President Obama

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Notre Dame and President Obama

(Reader Warning: This blog post contains FOX News content that may be offensive to some sensitive individuals, particular those who suffer from BDS, FDS or other related conditions)

Check out this very interesting debate between Father Jonathan Morris of Notre Dame University and Notre Dame graduate Phil Donahue (yes, that Phil Donahue) on the controversy surrounding the Catholic institution's invitation of President Obama to speak at their commencement ceremony in May, as well as award him an honorary law degree.

What's my take on this? Abortion is one of those issues that I draw a firm line on. The Catholic Church feels the same way. Anyone who supports abortion - whether passively or aggressively - is in direct conflict with one of the Church's main tenants. That's where Father Morris and others draw the line with Obama on, and they have some valid points from a religious and secular point of view. Phil Donahue, the reformist, never answered the abortion question directly. After all, if he did he would be exposed as being in firm opposition to the Catholic Church even as he expresses a desire to bring the Catholic Church to the 21st Century by becoming, well, less Catholic.

What about capital punishment, you may ask? Good question. After all, Notre Dame has invited past presidents who have been in favor of capital punishment without nearly as much controversy. Is there a double standard? Perhaps. Isn't this also in direct conflict with the Catholic Church's teachings? Yes, and maybe. As the previous link shows, the Catholic Church does open the door for capital punishment in cases of "extreme gravity". Of course, most pro-death penalty folks don't place their line in the same place the Church does. I also believe the Catholic Church understands (even if it's not explicitly stated) that a moral equivalence should not always be applied between the killing of an innocent human in the womb and the killing of a violent murderer. Whether that's a double standard or not is up to the individual to decide, but nevertheless it's an important distinction to make.

In the end, Notre Dame has put themselves in a tough situation to squeeze out of without backlash from all sides. I respect the view of Father Morris and others, while recognizing that the university is attempting to apply a consistent pattern of inviting sitting presidents to their commencement ceremonies, despite those presidents' views which haven't always jived with Catholic teaching.


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