from National Review Online: reactions to the ND Obama decision
FR. GEORGE W. RUTLER
This is a highly cynical act, contemptuous of the Church’s prophetic voice in civil society and wagering that there will be no retribution. If a midwestern school seeks attention by granting Mr. Obama an honorary doctorate in law, the next logical step would be to grant Judas Iscariot posthumously an honorary doctorate in business administration.
— Fr. George W. Rutler is a Catholic priest in New York.
Bernie Madoff has declined an honorary doctorate in economics from the University of Notre Dame, but all is not lost. Barack Hussein Obama, enabler in chief of abortion, has agreed to speak at the 2009 commencement and to receive an honorary doctorate of law. That abortion and its advocacy violate a primary precept of natural law reinforced by the Catholic Church’s explicit doctrine is a mere bagatelle. Wackos of all kinds will kick up a fuss, of course, but their protest will go unnoticed in South Bend. The pell-mell pursuit of warm and fuzzy Catholicism will continue. How better to defend the faith than to celebrate a man who advocates polishing off babies even after they are born? The newly created Herod Award will be added to the university’s recognition of the chief magistrate. Administrators are hugging themselves with delight at this massive publicity coup. The national championship in football has eluded Notre Dame for many years, but when the president dribbles onto the stage at the great event, the hall will erupt in ecstatic applause; the president, Father Jenkins, will wring his hand; and a final nail will be driven into the coffin of a once-great Catholic university. No one will note nor long remember what Barack Obama says on the occasion. Who listens to commencement addresses? But the Lady atop the golden dome, recalling the flight into Egypt, will exhibit one of her many titles: She who weeps.
— Ralph McInerny, professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, is author of the Father Dowling mystery series.
Notre Dame’s decision to make President Obama its 2009 commencement speaker is a very bad thing. It’s bad for Notre Dame, bad for Catholic moral witness in America, and bad for the bishops who are trying to mount a defense against the Obama administration’s assault on the conscience rights of Catholic health-care professionals.
The invitation to deliver a commencement address, especially when coupled with the award of an honorary degree, is not a neutral act. It’s an act by which a Catholic institution of higher learning says, “This is a life worth emulating according to our understanding of the true, the good, and the beautiful.” It is frankly beyond my imagining how Notre Dame can say that of a president who has put the United States back into the business of funding abortion abroad; a president who made a mockery of the very idea of moral argument in his speech announcing federal funding for embryo-destructive stem cell research; a president whose administration and its congressional allies are snatching tuition vouchers out of the hands of desperately poor Washington, D.C., children who just as desperately want to attend Catholic schools.
As to Lenin’s question, “What, then, is to be done?,” one does not risk a charge of cynicism by suggesting that the most effective advocates for Notre Dame’s recovering its senses will be alumni and other donors capable of withdrawing or withholding contributions in the range of seven, eight, or nine figures. That is the sad state to which things have descended under the Golden Dome: moral argument seems to be unavailing with the leaders of an institution dedicated to developing the arts of moral reason.
— George Weigel holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
James V. SchalL, S.J.
When a university invites anyone to its campus to present a commencement address, it honors the person chosen. Likewise, the invitation itself indicates what the inviting institution thinks of itself, of what it, as an institution, considers to be worthy of honor. Some people would not be invited; others would not accept. Those invited do not accept every invitation. When they do accept, they indicate that it is worth their while to give the said address and receive the said honor. Clearly, some things are incompatible with honor, others are incompatible with truth, the purpose of a university. Aristotle says that the highest reward of the politician is honor, something more coveted than power or wealth. Honor is something the politician seeks, even covets. The academic, for his part, longs for recognition. He wants his often obscure work to be “appreciated.” The polity has its own rewards, its own honors. The accepting of the honor to the president evidently meets his purposes. The awarding it seems to meet the purposes of the university. Some say that it is a perfect fit. Others suspect that both parties, in accepting and giving such honors, manage to demean each other in what each is, in truth, expected to stand for.
—Rev. James V. Schall, S.J., is a professor of government at Georgetown University.