How Catholic is Notre Dame?

How Catholic is Notre Dame? September 29, 2011

Fr. Joe Corpora was once a student at the legendary university, and now lives and works there.  He offers his perspective in the Observer, Notre Dame’s newspaper:

During my years away, I began to hear rumblings about the Catholic nature of Notre Dame. The controversy surrounding the commencement visit of the President of the United States in 2008 made this question the talk of the nation. Some of my brother priests found it necessary to write articles and letters questioning the Catholic character of Notre Dame.

For 19 of the 26 years that I was away, I served the Church as a pastor. Both in Oregon and in Arizona I was repeatedly struck time and time again by the love, respect, admiration and affection that the people of God have for Notre Dame. Notre Dame is dearly loved by millions and millions of Catholics, not just in the United States, but the world over. And they love it because it is Catholic.

In July of 2009, I was assigned to live and work here at Notre Dame. Through living in Dillon, celebrating the Eucharist in many hall chapels and being around students, I have found Notre Dame to be as Catholic as it ever was. To me this spirit is found everywhere — in our Sunday night masses, in our students, in the staff and in the literally hundreds of programs that are part of Notre Dame life. I find that Notre Dame is still deeply committed to serving the Church, perhaps more now than even when I was a student here.

On Sept. 11, 2011, the Office of the President and the Office of Campus Ministry organized an outdoor Mass in remembrance of the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11. The Mass was beautiful beyond words. As a priest I sat in the front rows facing the altar, so I had no idea how many students were at the Mass until communion. When I walked into the congregation to bring communion, there were students everywhere. There were students for as far as I could see. As I walked back to the altar after communion, there were students kneeling on the grass in prayer. I won’t forget this image.

And then there was a candlelight procession from the Hesburgh Library to the Grotto. I was deeply moved by the prayerfulness of the students as they walked silently in procession. And I thought to myself … what’s all this nonsense about how Catholic is Notre Dame? An event like this Mass reveals the deep faith that is part of Notre Dame. It is at the heart of Notre Dame.

Some might say that this Mass does not show that Notre Dame is very Catholic. But I would argue that indeed it does. Our theology shows itself best in our instincts, and so does our life of prayer and faith. I am repeatedly inspired by the deep faith at Notre Dame.

One day last week I received an email from the President of Dillon Hall where I am privileged to live. The email was announcing an upcoming dance. Part of the email read, “Tickets will be on sale in the 24 hour lounge tonight after Mass.” I wonder how many other universities and colleges have residence hall presidents sending emails saying, “tickets will be on sale after Mass.” It’s just how Notre Dame is.

Notre Dame is Catholic, very Catholic. I am very grateful to be working and living at Notre Dame. It is the very Catholic place that it has always been. It strives today, as it always has, to serve the Church. I love Notre Dame.

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Full disclosure: two members of my wife’s family — her father and her brother — are both “Domers,” and her brother now teaches there.

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53 responses to “How Catholic is Notre Dame?”

  1. And to add to RomCath, why did it take down the crucifix from the wall when Obama was allowed to speak?

    I don’t have any personal knowledge on how Catholic is Notre Dame. Perhaps the Obama thing was a slip up, but someone there needs to think things through before putting the University’s reputation on the line.

    [Manny…I think you’re confusing Notre Dame with Georgetown. Dcn. G.]

  2. The National Right to Life Committee called on the University of Notre Dame to rescind its invitation to President Obama to speak at the university’s May commencement.

    In a letter sent to Notre Dame’s president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, the pro-life group called President Obama the “Abortion president,” and that the school’s invite “is a betrayal of the University’s mission and an affront to all who believe in the sanctity and dignity of human life.”

    Ralph McInerny, a Notre Dame philosophy professor since 1955: “By inviting Barack Obama to be the 2009 commencement speaker, Notre Dame has forfeited its right to call itself a Catholic University…. (T)his is a deliberate thumbing of the collective nose at the Roman Catholic Church to which Notre Dame purports to be faithful. “

  3. Forgot to add that ND Alumni are trying to replace the current president due to his leadership is furthering the secularization of the school.

    Notre Dame: A Timeline of Dissent from the Catholic Teaching

    Pope Benedict XVI, himself a former university professor, made his position clear when he spoke to Catholic educators in Washington, D.C., on April 17, 2008:

    “Teachers and administrators, whether in universities or schools, have the duty and privilege to ensure that students receive instruction in Catholic doctrine and practice. This requires that public witness to the way of Christ, as found in the Gospel and upheld by the Church’s magisterium, shapes all aspects of an institution’s life, both inside and outside the classroom.”

    The local bishop even states there is tense relationship between ND and the local dioceses.

    Most Rev. John M. D’Arcy is the bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., in which the University of Notre Dame is located.

  4. In 2000, I was in England for four weeks: doing some post-doctoral work at Cambridge University; doing a “Jubilee Year Pilgrimage” to the Marian Shrine at our Lady of Walsingham; and catching some Shakespearean live productions on assignment of an American scholarly journal.

    For my ten days or so at Cambridge itself, I was the host of the priest/pastor of one of the largest of the “town-parishes.”

    One evening, as we both were winding down, the subject of Notre Dame came up in our conversation. I asked if he followed their football program but my host was not at all interested in American football because it is all but completely unknown in England. In his mind, however, Notre Dame was a shining example of what a Catholic University should be — particularly an American Catholic University. He made it very clear that no Catholic university on his side of the Atlantic could even attempt to measure up to both its academic rigor, its broad friendliness, its Roman Catholic culture as well as the great respect it had even among the more secular and snobbish academics my host dealt with regularly.

    Not being a ND alumnus myself, I could only politely nod agreement.

  5. Following up — for full disclosure purposes — none of my family were ever matriculated as NDU students although one grand-daughter did graduate from St. Mary’s — its “sister” college — and had a minor taken as courses from NDU.

  6. Did President Clinton ever speak at Notre Dame? I don’t know the answer to that, but if it’s “yes”, then why was that not the hot-button issue that the Obama address was?
    After all, Clinton was the one who rescinded the Mexico City policy two days after inaugeration. My point is that if people are trying to brand Obama as the “abortion president” and say that has caused Notre Dame’s Catholic credentials to be in question, there has been a lot of competition. The whole thing has been coming to a head for about 50 years, and there have been a bunch of politicians and more than one president who were complicit or outright enablers. If blame is what people want, there’s plenty to go around.

  7. Melody…

    Speaking at Notre Dame wasn’t the sole issue. It was Notre Dame inviting Obama to speak, and then giving him an honorary doctorate.

    Dcn. G.

  8. Isn’t truth at the heart of the faith? Many people participate in the life of the church and do so with sincerity and vigor. But do they do so with the truth?

    “It is you who say that I am a king. I was born for this, I came into the world for this, to bear witness to the truth; and all who are on the side of truth listen to my voice.”

    “Truth?” said Pilate. “What is that?”

  9. @ Deacon Den

    In regard to your ‘single issue’ snipe.

    Can you be a ‘Cafeteria Catholic’ by picking and choosing which moral issues are germain to your faith and still be a Catholic in communion with your faith?

    Can you chose to support issues that are politically in style (e.g. gay rights, pro-choice) and still be a true Catholic?

    Or… do you have to accept all the facets of the faith?

    The point is that you can’t wink/nod on the issue of abortion and be a true Catholic as it is counter to your faith.

    Notre Dame went out of its way to invite a pro-abortion politican for veneration at their commencement ceremony over the objections of Church leadership. And, compounded the error by zealously prosecuting peaceful pro-life demonstrators who objected.

  10. As someone who has attended conferences at Notre Dane I would say that I have found Notre Dame to be extremely Catholic. After all, students are always at the grotto, at the Basilica and the Catholic ethos permeates the Campus greatly. Priests live with students and have great influence over them as do their other dorm rectors.

    Inviting the President of the United States to speak to the graduates and having the President invoke Cardinal Bernadin in his remarks shows that we are part of a larger American conversation and that the President is willing to listen to us and have our voices heard. Would it be that detractors of the invitation would have Catholic schools villify the President and close any conversation with him? I actually think they would!

    Every sitting President should be invited to speak at any University despite his views on any subject. We can find disagreement with Catholic teaching in any of our recent commanders in chief. Creating a Catholic ghetto on college campuses makes them social misfits not global citizens.

  11. Mike, as has been pointed out, the issue was not him speaking (as boring as it is to listen to him), it was Notre Dame giving him an honorary degree. That was against the position of the bishops in some statement they issued years before.

  12. “in his remarks shows that we are part of a larger American conversation and that the President is willing to listen to us”

    Exactly what part of Catholic teaching is he willing to listen to us on? Gay rights? Same-sex marriage? Abortion? He has shown nothing but disdain for Catholicism.

  13. I saw all sorts of praise of Notre Dame’s “smells and bells” (like the High Church Episcopalians) and its “Catholic culture” in the article and comments here. But what good is any of that if its actions in who it gives honorary degrees to totally compromise huge areas of the Church’s moral teachings. ( This is not just my opinion. Read and listen to how people in general and the media took Notre Dame’s honoring the most anti-life president in American history and the president so promoting the Gay Agenda that the First Amendment on religious freedom is about to become a dead letter for Catholics and other traditional Christians like Evangelicals in the opinion of many bishops and experts who follow politics and religion).
    Too bad “Touchdown Jesus” is doing so much scoring for the secular world and its decaying morality. Too bad so many erroneously treat what Notre Dame does as somehow a parallel magisterium and all it does as the best example of what the Church believes and teaches.


    According to this list the following US Presidents received honorary degrees from Notre Dame.

    Barack Obama – 2009
    Jimmy Carter – 1977
    George W. Bush – 2001
    George H.W. Bush – 1992
    John F. Kennedy – 1950
    Ronald Reagan – 1981
    Dwight Eisenhower – 1960
    Franklin Roosevelt – 1935

    The list is an interesting read, with other surprising names on the list such as Hank Aaron, Stephen Hawking, J. Edgar Hoover, Joseph Kennedy, Coretta Scott King, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Pierre Trudeau, and Kurt Waldheim, just to name a few.

  15. “Creating a Catholic ghetto on college campuses makes them social misfits not global citizens.”

    If standing up for your convictions and your Catholic faith makes you a social misfit, then so be it.

    Sure you can have a dialogue, but you don’t have to subvert your faith just to be ‘cool’.

    I am sure you also believe all the martyrs for the Catholic faith throughout history should have taken the easy path to avoid being societal ‘misfits’.

  16. I remember that incident about Obama’s speech at Georgetown shortly after his inauguration. Interestingly, the emblem that was covered was the IHS monogram with a cross, something like the Jesuit monogram. (Can’t tell you how old I was before I learned that IHS does not mean “I Have Suffered” but is the Latinized Greek first three letters of the name of Jesus.)

    It appears that the Obama staff requested a neutral background and then the story went viral that Obama Nixes “Jesus” at Georgetown, that Obama is Muslim, that Georgetown has compromised it’s Catholic identity.

    Seemed to me to be so overblown. But that’s how things are in our www. society today.

  17. Well, I guess this priest hasn’t met Michael Voris.

    However, it is good to see that on the grounds the local Mass Community is alive and well, and didn’t I see something a while back about a Latin Mass or a TLM community or something?

  18. “Creating a Catholic ghetto on college campuses makes them social misfits not global citizens.”


    The Church is supposed to be a sign of contradiction in the world. We are supposed to be a light that is NOT hidden under a bushel. People are supposed to see us, see our love for one another, see our joy in the midst of life’s sorrows and ask, “WHY?”

    Citizenship carries with it responsibilities. Global citizenship, in current parlance, carries with it the ‘progreesive’ leftist agenda. No authentic Catholic can be such a ‘good citizen’ in good conscience.

    We want those global citizens to renounce their citizenship and accept membership in God’s Family, acknowledging Him and obeying the statutes that He enjoins on us.

    As for the honorary doctorate, here is a great difference between ‘honorary’ and ‘perfunctory’.

    Honorary doctorates are awarded to those who have made a significant contribution to a given field through their life’s work that is recognized as at least the equivalent of the “earned doctorate”, such as mine.

    I cringe at the juxtaposition of “honorary” doctorates and “earned” doctorates, when in fact the recipents of the honorary doctorate have made much more substantial contributions than those of us with ‘earned’ doctorates.

    That said, Obama has no great lie’s work that qualified him either for a Nobel Peace Prize, or an honorary doctorate. He is a community organizer and career politician with no signature program or piece of legislation that has impacted the world for the better.

    Both awards were cheapened by the craven and fawning manner in which they were made. They are the perfunctory variety, given to advance the man’s agenda and perhaps curry favor that might redound to the organization’s benefit down the road.

    This is also what has happened all too often with the honorary doctorates.

    It’s a shame, because ND covered themselves in shame by so honoring a man who has done more to advance the butchering of babies than any single American President in history.

    In spite of this, he is recognized as a Peace Maker on the world stage, and a doctor, honoris causa, by what was once the premiere Roman Catholic University in America.

  19. I think that the priest, who wrote the article, would have a better feel for campus life than someone who reads about Notre Dame or visits once in a while.

    Most recent presidents have give commencement addresses at Notre Dame. I do not see how that means that the university endorses everything the president says or does. President Obama is not against everything the Church teaches.

  20. Fr. Corpora’s article reminded me of something that I read about some Notre Dame students. When a couple got engaged, their friends would have a mass celebrated for them in one of the couple’s dorms (same-sex ahem!).

    This is just an anecdote. I have not confirmed it, but it would not surprise me.

    And by the way, the Notre Dame Alma Mater (hymn to Our Lady) is sung by fans and team at the end of home football games. Often it can be seen and heard on national TV yet.

    Disclaimer: Sorry, folks, my father and uncles, brothers, and husband have all imbued me with a love for Notre Dame. My uncle, a diocesan priest, was good friend of Fr. Hesburgh. They were classmates at Catholic University. My family had a slow version of the Notre Dame fight song played at the end of my father’s funeral mass. He didn’t go to Notre Dame but I think he always felt he was a spiritual son. A while ago, I heard Ron Reagan, Jr. say that he thought his father believed he had really gone to Notre Dame.

  21. “President Obama is not against everything the Church teaches.”

    What is his stand on gay rights, same sex marriage, abortion?

    What exactly does he agree with?

  22. Re Richard #17

    I found your list fascinating. There are a lot of similarities here.

    –Ronald Reagan: i didn’t have much respect for this retread of a movie star before he ran for president and I was amazed when he was elected. While many will attribute the fall of the Berlin Wall to his talents; I have to wonder how much Margaret Thatcher and John Paul II really had to do with it.

    –Jimmy Carter; likely the most religious president the United States has ever seen (no other president ever continued to teach Sunday School at a small Baptist church while in the White House) but one who the electorate simply did not trust.

    –George W. Bush: The only president who ever tried to balance a dangerous religious/political speech at viciously anti-Catholic Bob Jones University with a simlar speech at Notre Dame.

    –Stephen Hawking: without-a-doubt, the most brilliant of that list but also the only professed agnostic on it.

    –Joseph Kennedy: the best voice of Nazi Germany America and Western Europe ever saw. (That was why Roosevelt fired him as ambassador to England).

    –Kurt Waldheim: whose Nazi past came back to bite him in the rear politically.

    –Herbert Hoover: a blatantly homosexual who fought traitors even when there were none.

    –and John Kennedy: who was hardly a saint himself but whose deficiencies we ignored because we all loved him

    Seems to me President Obama fit in quite well.

  23. Thank you so much for this beautiful article on the catholicity of Notre Dame. I find it very unfortunate that some have tried to define for the rest of us what constitutes a “good” or “legitimate” Catholic university. In my opinion, they try to impose their narrow and legalistic views on the rest of us…views which often seem to be so tied to their own political beliefs as well. Wjhat’s more, it’s hard to have an intelligent and rational conversation with people who are convinced they are in the right and defending “truth” and their self-determined “non-negotiables.” Of course, you could say the same about having converstations with fundamentalist believers of any faith.

  24. Deacon Mike,
    As for “truth” and “non-negotiables”, I quote from The Gospel of Life (JPII), paragraph 62:

    “The Church’s Canonical discipline, from the earliest centuries, has inflicted penal sanctions on those guilty of abortion. This practice, with more or less severe penalties, has been confirmed in various periods of history. The 1917 Code of Canon Law punished abortion with excommunication. The revised canonical legislation continues this tradition when it decrees that ‘a person who actually procures an abortion incurs automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication.’ The excommunication affects all those who commit this crime with knowledge of the penalty attached, and thus includes those accomplices without whose help the crime would not have been committed. By this reiterated sanction, the Church makes clear that abortion is a most serious and dangerous crime, thereby encouraging those who commit it to seek without delay the path to conversion. In the Church the purpose of the penalty of excommunication is to make an individual fully aware of the gravity of a certain sin and then to foster genuine conversion and repentance.”

    I agree that this is narrow and legalistic. To accept truth one needs to acknowledge that there is untruth. If some things are good, it means that some things are evil. This is a narrowing of what is acceptable. The legal sanctions, as stated above, are meant to help the person to conversion of heart.

    To honor a man who accepts and promotes an evil is wrong. It is a scandal because it suggests that abortion is not the grave crime that it is. The honor bestowed is therefore an untruth–a lie–because it is not honorable. It is especially horrible because the people who did it ARE Catholic.

  25. I suppose your opinion of ND’s catholicity depends a great deal on how you define catholic. Mere “smells and bells” along with other external piety don’t define being Catholic to me. I could find those in the Anglican church if I wanted merely that.

    My experience between 72 and 76 was a place full of external piety and there was a lot of seeking to do the heroic. The problem was then that few on campus really knew and practiced their faith on any more than that external or heroic (with some really strange and limited definitions of heroic) piety and practice. With a few notable exceptions, most that I encountered on campus during that time were cultural Christians seeking to make their mark on the world in ways that would be nearly indistinguishable from atheistic communists, including a number of ordained clergy. Modernist heresies denying the sovereign power of God and that He has worked and continues to work physical miracles (as opposed to only “spiritual” miracles) along with declaring “independence” from Rome’s oversight in the name of being a more “effective” university (see Land O Lakes declaration in 1968) appeared to this observer to be the norm on campus.

    To me, being a Catholic means acceptance of the teaching authority established by Jesus Christ and showing that acceptance by submitting to the Pope and his local bishop. If that acceptance and obedience is not there, then neither is the protection given in promise to the church – that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

  26. “I find it very unfortunate that some have tried to define for the rest of us what constitutes a “good” or “legitimate” Catholic university.”

    I find it unfortunate or more like appalling that a “Deacon” would claim that abortion is negotiable for Catholics or that there is no such thing as “truth”. Sad.

  27. Two of my degrees are from ND, and I was a CSC seminarian there, so I feel some strong ties to the school. It makes me sad that people would try to measure its Catholicity by outward signs of piety like visits to the grotto (a devotional site that even in my day seemed dated). In the past, it was the faith-driven commitment of the ND faculty, more than any other factor, that made Catholicism such a pervasive presence in the life of the campus. Catholicism at Notre Dame was a source of not only spiritual but intellectual fervor. On football Saturdays, for example, I recall crowds of out-of-town visitors joining ND students to pack the lecture hall where Fr. John Dunne taught Christian existentialism. They wanted to see what all the excitement was about. I know the university still employs outstanding Catholic scholars, but I understand their influence has diminished considerably in recent years, not just among students but among administrators as well. To the extent that is true, I fear ND may be succumbing to the same kind of secularization that has afflicted Georgetown (or, for that matter, Harvard).

  28. The anti- Obama people might feel better if they knew the ND degree/award is not hanging in the Oval Office. It’s in a Presential document dump in West Virginia, .. Now give it a rest,

  29. I enjoy listening to the homilies at the Sunday Masses from the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at ND. One is on Catholic TV and another can be downloaded from iTunes U. The music is wonderful as well. Lucky young people to be able to study there.

  30. “The anti- Obama people might feel better if they knew the ND degree/award is not hanging in the Oval Office. It’s in a Presential document dump in West Virginia, .. Now give it a rest,”

    And somewhere I hear Jesus’ admonishment to avoid casting our pearls before swine, for they will only trample them underfoot…

  31. Elaine…

    Amen. The mass at the Sacred Heart basilica is wonderful — and a model, I think, for how the Novus Ordo can be done exceptionally well.

    For a while in New York City, it ran at 8 am on Sunday on the Halllmark Channel. Sometimes I’d sit there with the remote, clicking between the Notre Dame mass and the one on EWTN. The difference was striking. It was like watching two different religions.

    Dcn. G.

  32. It is clear from this thread that for many personal politics > Catholicism.

    When the two beliefs marry up, then they get a warm fuzzy feeling but if the political issue is at odds with their faith then the reject the religion.

    You are either in 100% or you are not a Catholic. You can’t pick and chose what you want to believe in the faith.

    I think a lot of this comes from the fact that most Catholics these days never received a traditional Catholic education in parochial school. They rely instead on internet and tv personality cults to provide them with religiosity. A football game with a tinge of religion fills them with pride. Yet, scratch the surface and there is no substance. They will support what ever is socially popular when it comes to mores.

    Just my 2 cents.

  33. Notre Dame may still be a “Catholic” university but many will not take the school seriously till Father Jenkins resigns. Even then, it would take a truly holy man as the new president to begin to revise the image of Notre Dame in the mind of many Catholics today. The new president may indeed be out there but no one, never mind another member of the Holy Cross Fathers, leaps to mind.

    Some people worry about the school’s cursing football coach. But his problem is small potatoes in light of Father Jenkins’ gross negligence in awarding a doctorate to a “pro-choice” president.

    Nothing short of shipping Father Jenkins to the missions somewhere in the Antarctica will serve as adequate penance. Unless, of course, the U.S. sends another spaceship to the Moon.

  34. I have read a book by Thomas O’Meara, a priest and professor of theology at Notre Dame: “The Theology of Ministry”. To put it politely, the teaching of this person is Protestant. In this book he denies many of the core teachings of our Catholic faith: including the ordained ministry and especially the apostolic succession of the Bishops. I was shocked to read this “stuff” from a professor at Notre Dame.

    I have no idea if this professor is typical or the lone exception at that university.

  35. A few years ago, much to my surprise, I watched a mass from the Sacred Heart Cathedral on the Hallmark channel. Fr. Hesburgh gave a homily on the Holy Spirit. (Perhaps, it was Trinity Sunday.) He told a story about a student who was upset about a major test and how he advised him to pray to the Holy Spirit even during the test. It was very warm and showed the rapport he had with students. (I wish I could remember more of the homily.)

    I do remember an interview with Fr. Hesburgh. He talked about how much protest there was on campus when the administration decided to go co-ed. (There were placards saying “Better dead than coed.”) Then, about 20 years later, a man came up to him and said: “I was one of the ones who protested going coed at Notre Dame. I changed my mind. My daughter is now a Freshman.”

  36. re:37 Antonius

    “. . . especially the apostolic succession of the Bishops.”

    My friend. Be VERY CAREFUL how far you push that button. There are a surprising number of non-Catholic bishops who have documented episcopal pedigrees all the way back to points never in dispute by our own Roman Catholic experts in this field. I am a personal friend with one and I know how this works.

    YES, I will agree. Their episcopal consecration was never approved by the Vatican but — you know what — those folks really do not care. Their personal faith is strong, their small churches flourish and everything is right with the world.

    I hope you also realize that there has been a lot of “cross-breeding” here. The real Gordian Knot to unravel is whether, in previous centuries, some of those non-Catholic but “pedigreed” bishops came back and consecrated some bishops within Anglican or Lutheran traditions — the Reformation Churches. Thus making your whole argument moot.

  37. Fiergenholt,

    There is one further wrinkle to the question of the “pedigreed” non-Catholic bishops, and that is the question of intent. This was, of course, a major, perhaps deciding, issue when Leo XIII determined that Anglican orders were not valid. All the bishops who broke communion with Rome at the time of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I were presumably validly ordained to the episcopacy. But during the time of Elizabeth and later, the theology of Holy Orders, and specifically the episcopacy within the Anglican church became so deficient that although the word “bishop” was used, those ordaining bishops did not intend to do what the Catholic Church intends to do when it ordains bishops.

    Same here, the question will be whether, since the break with Rome in any pedigree, all ordinations were done with the intent to do what the Church understands and intends in episcopal ordinations.

  38. That said, I’m not sure why you think this has anything to do with a ND professor’s heterodoxy on the episcopacy.

  39. Holly in Nebraska and ROm Cath,
    My complaint about the political claim of “non-negotiables” and other like comments has to do with how narrowly it is applied. Bascially, it condemns Democrats and gives a past tio Republicans. I would be all for condemning President Obama on abortion if it weren’t such a narrow and simplistic focus and aligned so neatly with the politics of Conservative Republicans (which, by the way, Jesus was not!) I think many Pro-Life politicians are recepients of “cheap grace”. They condemn abortion and gay marriage (OK, I go along with that), yet it it really no big sacrifice for them on a personal level to do so if they are not pregnant women or homosexual. As a matter of fact, if they want to be supported in the Republican Party, they really have no choice. (Democrats who are automatically pro-choice are just as bad.) However, when faced with issues which may indeed cost them personally, such as in the raising of taxes or staking positions separate from their Party, everything is suddenly “negotiable”. For instance, here in CA, Pro-Life Republicans absolutely refuse to raise revenues and then go on to propose budgets which cut programs designed to help the poorest among us…including child care, adult care, health care, education. It seems to me that these decisions make it far more likely a woman, now left out on her own, will choose to have an abortion. Yet they smugly still consider themselves Pro-Life. Of course, we won’t even mention the Pro-Life politicians who support the war, the death penalty, etc.

  40. Deacon Mike,

    I understand your concerns since I was a Democrat until the passage of Roe v. Wade, perhaps because I was politically weaned on the South Side of Chicago. Since then I have held my nose and voted Republican, provided their candidate is pro-life, and, sadly, I will continue to do so because abortion and euthanasia are final. Death is the result. And voting Republican is something I can stomach rather than do anything to countenance abortion or euthanasia. I don’t even countenance the death penalty any more to be consistent although I never had strong feelings about it either way until confronted by a “progressive” on the issue. I know, that’s big of me. How in the name of God the Bidens and Pelosis can vote the way they do and go to Holy Communion boggles what’s left of my my mind. But then, sins of the intellect were never my problem, thank God. My struggles were always with meatier things.

  41. Maybe Catholic institutions of higher learning should just get out of the business of handing out honorary degrees. That way there wouldn’t be a big furor over whether a person morally deserves to be honored on a Catholic campus. Or maybe giving honorary degrees on Catholic campuses should be very, very rare and not something done every year, and given only to those whose fame is based on building up the Catholic Church and are examples of living the Catholic Faith in its fullness.
    I say this because everything I have read about giving honorary degrees is that they are merely given to get publicity for the school and to stimulate donations.

  42. Deacon Mike. you say that Catholics who are pro life and pro family and thus against the Democratic Party of pro abortion and pro special rights for gays and gay marriage give a pass to Republicans. You seem to believe that the support comes only because they are not pregnant or gay and thus pay no personal price.

    Then you make this statement “condemning President Obama on abortion if it weren’t such a narrow and simplistic focus and aligned so neatly with the politics of Conservative Republicans (which, by the way, Jesus was not!)”

    Why do you suppose the Catholics in large numbers left the Democratic Party and why the religious conservatives in other faiths left the Democratic Party? Because they are all simplistic and narrow minded? Why do you think religious folks got so involved and why did the pro life movement start? Why do Popes and the USCCB all come out on abortion and for the family as defined as starting with marriage between one man and one woman? It seems in your view that all of this is simplistic view. Your solution demands that Catholic also consider the Democratic policy of higher taxes and bigger government. If that is not placed in at least equal importance to the 54 million killed by abortion and the ongoing attack on the family, you are obviously only a single issue Catholic and narrow minded and that your views are only based on political considerations.

    I have a question. Why is it when a pro abortion republican tries to come on the scene, they are clearly shown the door by the same pro life Catholics and other pro life Christian groups? If it was all about politics and supporting republicans, we could look the other way. It is about the children being killed in the womb Deacon.

    But when did raising taxes on one person to give to the government to build ever larger government programs become a Catholic teaching position. Yes, we are called to help the poor, but I missed where Jesus advocated higher taxes for the government to make it become the solution, especially when that government was against any involvement of faith. Please quote me the scripture calling for higher taxes. I missed that one. Please quote me the scripture on big government programs with all the wonder of paying women to have children out of wedlock and frowning on teaching abstinence.

    And on your last ditty.. Of course, we won’t even mention the Pro-Life politicians who support the war, the death penalty, etc.

    Please name a democratic candidate for president who has come out against any form of capital punishment death penalty. I guess i missed that one. And of course you can support the death penalty as a Catholic if you believe that the person remains a danger to others such as prison guards and other prisoners, let alone if they get turned lose on society again. There is not infalliable teaching that we must be against the death penalty, while there is on abortion and on marriage is between one man and one woman and that only men can be priests. As to war, again, there is no infallible statement on what Catholics must believe and we can debate that as well. And again, if you are talking about WWII, Korea, Vietnam, or the current war on terror, all had massive votes for them by the democratic party and some were started and run by Democrats so it is not even a party issue, just like the death penalty. If both parties and candidates are for the same thing, it is no longer an issue to be of concern.

    Please come back with something of intelligence on why anyone should be a Catholic and vote Democrat.

  43. It is interesting that Notre Dame chose to bestows honors on those who are anti-Catholic in their moral views yet does nothing to honor those that truly live Catholic lifestyles. Ever notice, that people like Mother Teresa never received any accolades from Notre Dame or scholarship in her name? Yet a guy who supports gay marriage, infanticide, war, torture, etc gets an honorary degree?

  44. Greta,

    I find it difficult to reply to your post because I don’t think it honestly addresses what I’m saying. It appears that you believe it is not possible to be both Catholic and Democrat; I would disagree. Your comments about “big government” and “paying women to have children out of wedlock” are the sorts of things I would expect to find on a Republican website. These are certainly not Catholic positions. Jesus was not, as I said before, a Conservative Republican…nor was He a Liberal Democrat.

    However, as you ask me to look to scripture, I will say this. When looking to the final judgement in Matthew 25, Jesus basically condemns those who did not help the poor and disenfranchised among us: For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ Try as I might, I don’t see Jesus saying anything in there about Gay Marriage or being Pro-Family. If I were a Catholic politician who was voting to eliminate programs that helped the poor, I might be concerned when reading this.

    I would like to address more directly two of your comments. As I indicated in my earlier post, I don’t believe someone is “pro-family” simply because they are against gay marriage. I find many pro-family politicians voting against programs designed to help families…voting to eliminate programs that provide day care, adult education programs, health care for the poor, etc. It’s very easy to say to someone who is homosexual they can’t get married; it’s far harder for politicians to make the difficult and expensive calls that might be necessary to help keep families whole and together in this difficult economy.
    As far as positions Democrats hold that Catholics could support: Compassionate Immigration Reform such as the Dream Act, Universal Health Care, Social Security, Head Start, to name just a few, and in California they support the programs I mentioned earlier that “Pro-Life” Republicans here have voted to eliminate because they are too expensive: Child Care, Adult Day Care (for people who care for their parents but need to work), Job Training Programs for the unemployed and underemployed, Programs that allowed the elderly to stay in their homes and not have to go to assisted living facilities. The list goes on.

    Democrats have many faults, with their Pro-Choice position being by far the worst. They should be condemned for this. But I believe that to allow Pro-Life and Pro-Family politicians a pass to be a mistake. In many ways, they are just as bad.

    I believe we are always wrong when we associate our religious beliefs and our Catholic faith with one political party or the other.

  45. Deacon Mike, Who said that we should not support the poor? Where does it say that?

    In your scripture quote, I did not see Jesus advocating that the Romans increase taxes and form larger government so they could decide who should get what funds with ever larger government agencies and programs. Did I miss his call to big Roman or even Jewis government run programs with ever higher taxes? In fact, one might view the removal of money from someon who has earned it by force to give to another far from Catholic teaching. It is called stealing. What the government did for a long time which may have benefit is to provide a tax write off for donations to charities which kept the government from growing larger and boosted charitable donations. I would call that closer to Catholic teaching. What Jesus was talking about was for an individual or even a family or group to look deep within themselves and to find ways to reach out and help the poor in every way possible.

    As you quote Jesus saying “For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.” Please note he did not say “I was hungry and you voted to steal money from one and give it to the government so a large inefficient centralized government program stripped of any connection with God could hand it out with massive restrictions and regulations picking who wins and who loses.”

    The so called war on poverty of LBJ put the federal government into doing things that many now see created generations of individuals who continued to make the wrong choices. We poured billions into these programs, and poverty is if anything worse now than 1965 and families are certainly far worse off in the poor. By providing funding, it allowed so called men to walk away from responbilities and go around to multiple women creating multiple lives with the government writing checks. When welfare reform was passed after the republicans took the house in 1994 and Clinton signed it announcing the era of big government is over, it actually helped many because it included incentives to put people to work rather than hand them a check as had been going on for 30 years.

    These big government progressive socialst programs do not work. I would bet Deacon that I give more to charity in a year than you do in a lifetime and so do many other Republicans. We are tired of being labeled in a negative way as Catholics if we are not in favor of programs like you named. We believe there is a better way to help people and believe that encouraging donations to privately run programs like Catholic Charities and others produce far better results. The Democrats protested because some included teaching faith as part of the programs. I suppose you agree that teaching faith while helping someone is very bad for them as well. What you did get right is when you said “the list goes on.” Democrats are good at taxing and spending but never want to examine the end results of what they are doing to the culture, to the economy, to jobs, and to individual people. We are in a crisis now that demands that we cut some of these massive programs or we will end up like many countries in Europe. The top 5% now pay 60% of the total income tax revenue of the government and the bottom 50%pay less than 3% and some say it is not fair. 46% pay zero income tax and take far more benefits from the government in programs. If we take more, we starve the growth of companies and jobs.

    Deacon Mike, there is a limit to how much money the federal government can suck out of the top 50% to give to the bottom 50% by force before the money starts to leave the country and we tip over into a massive worldwide depression that will be far worse than anything experienced in the 1930’s. The nanny state does not work because it starts with an evil and that is taking from one to give to another by force which is stealing. There is something that is perverse when almost 50% pay no taxes and yet have the full power to vote themselves more benefits.

    And Deacon Mike, you say “Try as I might, I don’t see Jesus saying anything in there about Gay Marriage” well you might want to hear what the Pope had to say on the subject and I think I am right that he is Vicar of Christ..Pope Benedict XVI

    “As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable. Among these the following emerge clearly today:

    – protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death;

    – recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family – as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage – and its defence from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;

    – the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.

    These principles are not truths of faith, even though they receive further light and confirmation from faith; they are inscribed in human nature itself and therefore they are common to all humanity. ”

    I guess he is just a right wing Republican and the sorts of things I would expect to find on a Republican website. Not his use of the term Non Negotiable. Not sure how you can support these two non negotiable issues for Catholics and use as your basis that the pro abortion pro special rights for gays Democratic Party is OK because they support big government programs to solve everything while fighting to keep God out of the public square. Talk about the total lack of proportionality.

  46. Oh and on more thing Deacon…

    Your close after singing the Democratic Party theme song for the entire post was

    “I believe we are always wrong when we associate our religious beliefs and our Catholic faith with one political party or the other.”

    Does anyone here think Deacon Mike is not a Democrat to the core? I admit to being a Republican as long as they are pro life an pro family. I also believe they are right on small government. I also as a Catholic believe we are called not to give just the excess we do not need, but the quarter as Jesus talked about with the woman who gave what she needed to keep to eat. We are not called to vote for higher taxes and big government programs as Catholics. We are told that it is non negotiable that we must refuse to support pro abortion and pro special rights for gays in marriage without propotional reasons and finding them for the 54 million dead babies is very hard to do. It is hard for history to find anything proportional to 6 million dead Jews and saying that the Nazi’s were for higher taxes to give money to the germans who met certain criteria does not seem to make it…

  47. Brother Deacon Mike:

    Your Gospel verse meditation of the day comes from Matthew 5:11-12.

    “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

    Your witness is solid.

  48. I’m the formerly Protestant father of four Notre Dame graduates who was so impressed that I joined the Catholic church and was confirmed in the Log Chapel. Our names are on a placque in the Log Chapel and even our grandchildren were baptised there. I could go on about our family scholarship fund etc — but you get the picture. Then came not just a graduation speech by abortion president Obama but the decision to give him an “honorary degree”, presumably for his great work in promoting abortion (where else has he excelled ?) Until we replace Father Jenkins for these decisions, and since he won’t apologize, it’s hard to consider Notre Dame as catholic as it always used to be. Where is Father Ted ?? Bob Armstrong

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