Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Make that "Certain" Catholics!

There are today any number of news items and blog posts that all follow this line, from Alison Go's "The Paper Trail" at USNews.com:
Go writes:
    Barack Obama will give commencement speeches at the U.S. Naval Academy, Arizona State, and the University of Notre Dame this year. The Naval Academy has received the news with, and Arizona State actually moved its ceremony to accommodate the president.

    But when the president isn't sticking it to a certain Naval Academy graduate and Arizona senator, he's riling the Catholic community at Notre Dame. Critics say that Obama's honorary degree is an affront to the school's Catholic teachings, citing the president's stances on abortion, gay rights, and embryonic stem cell research. Groups like the Cardinal Newman Society and the Pro-Life Action League have encouraged all Catholics to flood the university with phone calls and to sign online petitions (which have tens of thousands of signatures already).

And so on. Read it all here.

In posting Go's item to Digg.com, I had to add this comment:
    I would prefer it had she said "extremist Catholics" or "wacky-doodle wild-eye right-wing Catholics," for clearly not ALL Catholics are dismayed by this possibility, but so it goes. Meanwhile, as a Catholic and an alum of another Catholic university, I plan to drop a note of support to the president of Notre Dame.
Whence comes this absurd notion that we must listen only and forever to those with whom we agree on every subject?

And where do we find such people?

And how do we grow in our own opinions, beliefs, faith, etc., if we fear to test their weight against those of others?

And what does it say about our opinions, beliefs, faith, etc., if we fear to test them?

What does it say about ourselves?

What does it say about our attitude toward higher education when thousands of noisy people insist that the University of Notre Dame invite to its commencement only people who will parrot the party line--as understood and espoused by the noisy thousands, for they are always certain of their rightness in any matter (just ask them)--and who offer nothing that might challenge their preconceptions or shake what must be their very wobbly "convictions"?

What does it say about our attitude toward America and American democracy that such people would insult the leader of the free world because he holds some opinions that are contrary to our own?

What does it say about the bottomless hypocrisy of right-wing fanatics that they will spew and froth about an invitation extended by Notre Dame to the President of the United States, ostensibly because he is pro-choice, when they were notably silent on the subject when another Catholic institution, Boston College, heard from then-Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice...who also is pro-choice? (See Andrew Sullivan's post, "The Double Standards Of Theocons," in today's Daily Dish.)

Well, it says there's a lot of two-facedness, a lot of silliness, a lot of headline grabbing (I know: I'm not helping), and not a whole lot of Christianity obvious in the anti-choice movement.

To his credit, the president of Notre Dame, Father John Jenkins, has yet to capitulate to the noisy, frothing ones. According to an item in The Observer Online:
    University President Fr. John Jenkins responded to criticism regarding the announcement of President Barack Obama as the 2009 Commencement speaker by clearly making a distinction between honoring the president and supporting his political views.

    Jenkins made it clear in an interview with The Observer Sunday the University does not "foresee circumstances" that would cause Notre Dame to rescind the president's invitation.

    "We have invited the president and he's honored us by accepting," he said.

The article further says:
    "We are not ignoring the critical issue of the protection of life. On the contrary, we invited him because we care so much about those issues, and we hope for this to be the basis of an engagement with him," Jenkins said.

    "You cannot change the world if you shun the people you want to persuade, and if you cannot persuade them show respect for them and listen to them," he said.

Quite a far cry from the wild-eyed crowd, whose red-faced response to contrary opinions seems always to damn, to decry, and to shun.

Especially if those opinions are held by a member of the Democratic Party. President of the United States or not.

I like Sullivan's conclusion to the nonsense:
    Seriously who do these people think they're persuading any more?

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