Yet another point of view. The emphases were, as far as I can determine, in the original. Is this not a lamentable throwback to the Middle Ages? The very cheek. Read on…:
“March 31, 2009
Reverend John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
President University of Notre Dame
400 Main Building
Notre Dame, IN 46556
Dear President Jenkins:
I wish to express in my own name and on behalf of the Catholic community of this Diocese, my dismay and outrage at your decision to invite the current President of the United States to address the 2009 graduates of the University of Notre Dame and to receive an honorary degree. This decision of your flies in the face of the expressed directive of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in the year 2004, that Catholic institutions not so honor those who profess opposition to the Church’s doctrine on abortion and embryonic stem cell research. I would ask that you rescind this unfortunate decision and so avoid dishonoring the practicing Catholics of the United States, including those of this Diocese. Failing that, please have the decency to change the name of the University to something like, “The Fighting Irish College” or “Northwestern Indiana Humanist University.”
Though promotion of the obscene is not foreign to you, I would point out that it is truly obscene for you to take such decisions as you have done in a university named for our Blessed Lady, whom the Second Vatican Council called the Mother of the Church.
I sign myself
Very truly yours,
The Most Reverend Thomas G. Doran, D.D., J.C.D.
Bishop of Rockford”
The Bishop, of course, is merely a Bishop, and not a scholar; not the head of a multi-billion dollar endowed university with an international reputation and a large campus with over 500 faculty members, many of whom aren’t Catholics, but all of whom are, themselves, scholars, and, by definition intelligent, acute, and discerning men and women. As is the case with their President, they understand everything necessary to understand about invitations to Commencement Speakers. It is germane to their profession, on a par with the arrangement of the furniture in the Faculty lounge and the choice of wines and brandy at the annual awards dinners. These are not things Bishops are expected to know, and would not understand.
Thus, the Bishop cannot possibly know the many subtleties, nuances, shades and penumbras of meaning and the depth of intelligence required just to begin to get one’s mind around them all with regard to this question of the President of these Untied States coming to address the graduates of the pre-eminent Catholic University in the, well, in the whole universe. The awe factor alone is daunting to consider. Let us leave aside the momentary and passing concern of the lives of beings about whom no one can come to an agreement as to whether or not they have a right to it…life, that is.
Let the Bishop count his collections, toll his beads, confirm his confirmandi, visit the sick and bury the dead…those he can find…those that haven’t been thrown out with the rest of the medical waste. The real work, the sherry drinking, the exacting task of understanding nuance and being tolerant of all of the diversities one comes across in the course of a university president’s day is being done, and done well by the Reverend President and all of the other intelligent and well educated Catholic Presidents of Universities we have, by God’s grace, been privileged to be privileged with.
I particularly find the Bishop’s last sentence, an obvious reference to the performance of the Vagina Monologues at NDU last year, to be egregious and ill tempered. It is typical of a bishop, I might add, and to be expected of a man who sees things like this only in black and white.
I suppose one might offer a prayer…not that one is supposed to pray if one chooses not to think that prayer is required, or encouraged, or to be believed in…one may, merely as an observation that prayer is, sometimes, uttered…I say one may offer a prayer that there are not many more such Bishops as this. Thank, umm, God…or Influences, or…umm…