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Written Word > Articles & Commentaries > March 2009 > Obama and Notre Dame
Current rating: 4.6 (11 ratings)
suzie quatro
So is he supposed to push the catholic agenda on the public? Is he not - in his public life - a servant of the people? Even if he was against abortion - as a public official - what is his role? Is it to stand behind laws that serve catholicism only? Then doesn't he need to be outlawing divorce?

Is he supposed to take the issue of abortion which includes so much else in it; such as the economy, the state of the family, the role of self righteous and judgmental Christians in our public square and the needs of non catholics - and just go for broke to change the law whether the majority of Americans are behind him or not?

Christ did not come to topple the Romans or the Pharisees. He did not set out to change laws but to change hearts. Changing hearts is not done by forcing change. It is done through love.

We have a deeply divided country right now between radical fundamentalists with some definite elements of good and some very real absurd claims and what appear to be secularists. I am not seeing Christ very clearly in this picture especially because the people who are chanting His Holy Name; ie. Bush, Robertson, Palin, and many other Republicans - seem to not understand why He came but instead seem similar to the Pharisees in that they would not know Him should He be in their midst. And instead are only interested in bashing Obama, being self righteous despite their own continual public sins - that somehow do not get the attention they should - and trying to hold on to their fans by demonizing people who are gay or women who may choose incorrectly to abort.

Of course, as a servant of Christ I want to see abortion eradicated. But I do not want to see choice eradicated. Each of use must say yes to Christ in response to His call. Each one of us. To take that choice from us seems not Christlike.

And while I understand the argument regarding Obama appearing at Notre Dame - and accept it - I cannot help but wonder that perhaps having Mr. Obama speak in a roundtable discussion with Notre Dame regarding abortion may help Obama. But the polarizing of Him now just continues to feed the absurdity of the radical right.

Help me Father Barron to understand better.
4/16/2009 12:26:23 PM
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The writer Suzi says she doesn't want to see choice eradicated. One wonders how that would play out in a country trying to end slavery... or in a country trying to wean its people from the evils of smoking. Or how about child abuse? I don't agree with parents who abuse their children -- but I wouldn't want a law that might infringe on their rights to do so.

The writer says that she doesn't see Christ very clearly in this picture -- and I am convinced that she doesn't see Christ.... at all. Because Christ is found in the Church and in defense of those who can't protect themselves. This person may relegate protection of infants or embryonic stem cells or protection for those on feeding tubes to the 'radical right.' She hasn't been listening to the voices of popes and bishops and middle of the road priests and deacons and nuns and laity who say that enough is enough. Our tax dollars ought not to be used to subsidize lifestyle decisions here or in Mexico or elsewhere.

I hope Father Barron doesn't feel the need to respond to Suzi who obviously polarizes with her views in the same way she claims that those who are against abortion are absurdly on the right.

May God grant President Obama a St. Paul-like conversion so that he can become the truly great leader that he is poised to become. That is one of the things to be prayed for. As well as for an end to abortion.
4/17/2009 10:42:26 PM
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suzie quatro
Enough is enough, tom. We do not disagree that abortion is wrong. Thank you so much for your kindness. I do hope Fr Barron responds to me because you did not.

God bless.

Christians - the joy of tomorrow - Divine Mercy Sunday - is upon us. Let us seek out confession and exalt in the mercy of our Lord. Do not despair - ever - prayer, almsgiving and sacrifice work the miracles we require.

Christ love you all.
4/18/2009 4:22:46 PM
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Dominick A. Zarcone
When we are very personally committed to a particular position, whether it be political or religious, for example, it can become very difficult to listen reflectively when others speak or read critically when others write. When someone takes a contrary position it is challenging to not react emotionally. Recently, a colleague became offended when I expressed my disappointment that my Alma Mater, Notre Dame, invited President Obama to receive an honorary law degree and address the graduates on May 17. My colleague, a union officer and committed democrat, felt it was disgracefully disrespectful to both the office of president and to the man, Barack Obama. My co-worker just could not hear my point of view. For one who chooses to listen and critically reflect, however, Fr. Barron clearly expresses sound arguments against inviting President Obama to a Catholic University. This priest understands what a secular university is and what a catholic university is. Fr. Barron helps his readers understand that it is very possible for a university to be faithful to academic freedom and to be faithful to its catholic identity. But when a catholic university forgets that it comes out of the heart of the church and exists to serve the church's mission, it does indeed risk losing its identity. Unfortunately, in the recent past, the University of Notre Dame demonstrates a consistent refusal to situate free inquiry, open conversation, and the exchange of ideas within the framework provided by the beliefs and practices of the church; the same church called to proclaim the Lord Jesus Christ within whom all the riches of knowledge and wisdom are found.
Bravo, Fr. Barron, I resonate with your position and look forward to sharing your argument with my colleague. In the mean time, let us continue to remember Our Lady's University and our country's President in our prayers. Thank you for allowing me to express my opinion.
4/19/2009 5:36:49 PM
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suzie quatro
I agree with you Dominick. A Catholic University must remember its raison d'etre.

But, my point regarding the demonization of people remains. Obama did not invite himself and now he is being characterized as purposefully coming in to bring anti catholic sentiment to Notre Dame. Somehow he becomes the victim and not our own organizations. If we "messed up" by giving our bishops no oversight - then we have to figure out a way through our own internal hierarchy - of how to regulate our catholic institutions. If secularism has indeed invaded Notre Dame and so many other catholic schools - then that is our own fault and we should be working to bring the integrity back to those schools by and through obedience to the catholic hierarchy.

The issue, at least for me, comes down to how to transform hearts - including so many catholic ones. That comes through living the christian life authentically, I am not certain it comes from what I see in the public square - ridicule, hate, anger - and lots of that coming from Christians.
4/20/2009 8:17:05 AM
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Dominick A. Zarcone
Hi Suzie,
I apologize that it took me so long to get your point. I agree with you wholeheartedly about the need for transformation of Catholics into Christ likeness.
I could go on and on telling war stories about hateful catholics who stand for what is right but in a way that makes it all seem wrong. So, judgment begins in/at the house of the Lord...yep, right in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church is where the conversion, the transformation, the grace of repentance need to begin. May God bless us with severe mercy. Nice blogging, Suzie.
Dominick, the bus driver.
4/21/2009 7:04:40 PM
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suzie quatro
Thank you Dominick. I will be right there with you at the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and I hope to see so many others there.
4/23/2009 7:19:18 PM
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Matt B

The criticism regarding this event is primarily directed (though not 100%) towards Notre Dame, which should know better than to invite a pro-abortion President.

To address your very first thought in this, he is not expected to push the "Catholic agenda" (a term which disappoints me to hear coming from a fellow Catholic...) on the public because he should not be given a platform at a Catholic university to do so. The Bishops have made this abundantly clear.
5/2/2009 8:33:49 PM
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Mark Moen

Most of the opposition to Obama is not hateful, it is a legitimate straight forward look at his beliefs and the conflict they possess when having him speak in an official capacity to a private, Catholic University. It is not a matter of hate or demonizing, it is just a matter of right an wrong. The message is clear that his speaking there will legitimize his pro-murder stance. Sorry it is not a choice it is murder. There is no intellectual thought on the abortion issue when we speak in terms of choice. It is what it is a murder of innocent life.
5/4/2009 1:28:20 PM
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suzie quatro
Matt - Yes - the criticism may be directed at Notre Dame; however there is byproduct and that byproduct is continued venom against Obama - both personally and as President. Even you call him a "pro-abortion" President. . Those terms - pro abortion and pro life are so divisive right now and I dont think they are fair quite frankly. Pro lifers are somehow seen as holy and pro abortionists are murderers. Well - sorry - I do not see all pro lifers as holy because they embrace these words and I dont see all pro abortionists as murderers because they embrace these words. I see a bunch of confusion and it saddens me that my brothers and sisters in Christ are so lost. In fact, even the withholding of communion - and I know it is supported by canon law - seems ineffective right now. And I know Matt - abortion is killing. But, and I guess this goes to your comment about the "catholic agenda," politicizing our catholic beliefs in these times by hammering hard on law changing has brought out the worst in even our most loving catholics. I understand your disappointment when I use that term - yet, I cannot help but feel it is true. All of a sudden the only way we know how to operate is through politics. And if that is the case - then we do have an "agenda." IT is not an agenda to me when we are living our faith, producing programs to help, educating from the pulpit and in our catholic schools and universities. When we are witnessing to one another as brothers and sisters in Christ - in a family with ties thicker than blood - all under the direction of our loving Lord and Saviour Christ. This, then, my friend, is not an agenda but a "proclaiming of the good news."

Obama was elected by a majority. I do not know whether a majority of this country is for or against abortion but it seems that the majority is for it. If that is so - as a political figure - he does not deserve to be labeled the "murder president" because his duty is to carry out the will of the people. As for his beliefs personally, I even see this in my CCD classes when kids tell me about other kids whose catholic parents still perpetuate the belief that having a baby will "ruin your life" - or they are too embarrassed at admitting their teenaged son or daughter or even college aged kids (are sexually active. Perhaps Notre Dame should know better than to invite Obama - and our bishops did make a mess of things by "deregulating" - but I reiterate that this is the time for our catholic apologetics to educate - educate the public square - stop letting Fundamentalism be our model - and spread policy that helps people understand our faith. We dont need the politicians doing that. In fact, why would we want them - they are beholden in ways we want no part of - spread it ourselves and then let Christ convert hearts.

Should Obama be "given a platform" by our catholic universities? yes - but we should share the platform. Educate. Educate. He is a pragmatist publicly. And he is open to communication so let him talk about abortion but let's counter him with the living Christ through our apologetics, scientist, physicians, pope, and lay out our rationale reasonable case. Let's wake people up back to natural law in their hearts and the love of Christ and see how silly all his talk sounds - and then the world can see - not that Obama is horrible - but that their own hearts are mired in confusion. Do it with love - stop with the Obama cannot come into this room because he is a murderer type thinking. Stop alienating Christians. Especially Christians. Pull them in.

Take a look at this article - - it asked catholic readers how to make the pro life movement more effective and you will (maybe) be surprised. This article gives me hope again that we can change hearts and end abortion for real AND in the process unite our brothers and sisters so that the Body of Christ becomes unified and a reality in our culture of death right now.
5/6/2009 7:31:46 AM
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Mark Moen

If people call Obama the murder president then it is because of his beliefs and he is in the public square so he is subject to the First Amendment rights. As for me his views are plain and they are pro-murder pure and simple and he has held no regret to that position. As for his promoting a majority view because he was elected by a majority comes with a lack of understanding about what our Republican form of government establishes regarding the law.

We are not a pure democracy of majority rules, we are a Constitutional Republic in which a minimum standard of laws exist to protect the minority. The presidents position is not to impose the will of the majority it is simply to be the chief official of the executive branch of government which his authority bascially ends with presiding over the execution of government and not presiding over the people.

With regard to his responsibilities, he should be promoting those inalienable rights endowed by the Creator first of which is life. I find it intellectually lazy of the citizens of this nation to sever the Declaration of Independence from the Constitution as the Declaration is the basis for the founding of this nation. Thus in order to secure such rights and establish a federal government, the intended purpose of that governing body was to ensure these common basic rights for all the citizens and that goes for the pre-born.

Lastly, I agree Obama should have never been invited to Notre Dame thus raising this controversy. But as one Father Corapi states God allows evil for the greater good. To me this invitation has raised some interesting issues regarding the players in this event. As for Obama himself he shows a true lack of humility for not doing a service to all involved by stepping down from this invitation. Although I do find much of a lack of humility in this man. He is the executive of the government which is to ensure the laws are kept by the governing officials and this man leaves a trail of controversy every where he goes. He has been asked to provide the legitimacy of his birth as a natural citizen of this nation and has of yet not done so. I am asked to follow the laws as are you and we are held to such standards and this man who is charge of these laws is not complying with them. The Founders placed these restrictions on the elected as a protection to us and he has had ample time to satisfy this requirement and thus legitimize himself as president. If people are empassioned about this very man you seem to think is being demonized then let us see him lead this nation first by submitting to the very law he has sworn to uphold and again let us see him show some humility and thus saving Notre Dame and the Catholic Church as institutions. I believe he will not, not only on the basis of humility but he himself loathes all that is Christian and this is a chance for him to tarnish and damage these very institutions.

If you cannot see the very wisdom in the Church leaders for renouncing this activity then I will pray for you. It has gotten so that the Ambassodor Alan Keyes has stood up for the protection of the rights of the pre-born and he has spent time in jail. It is very easy to codify this activity but it is hard to take the stand for justice, not for what is deemed the majority opinion. Let us hope your rights are not violated by the majority opinion. It would be terrible if rape was de-criminalized or reproduction was limited to those who are deemed worthy based on goverment approval to keep the wrong people from furhtering the population.
5/13/2009 11:14:38 AM
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Mike McLaren
"I do not want to see choice eradicated"...I find it interesting that those who cling so tenaciously to that word "choice", either intentionaly or out of ignorance never acknowledge the human person that is being deprived of their "choice".

It's also unfortunate that so many people almost immediately attempt to frame this discussion in political terms. This is not a political issue, it is not just one more box I check to firm up my conservative credentials. This is a human rights issue, the right of all humans to live their God intended life, a life that cannot be denied, even by hiding behind the cynical euphemism "choice".
5/17/2009 5:00:06 PM
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Father's demonstration about the status of the right to life in morality is right on. Without the right to life, all other rights fall into oblivion. Life then becomes not part of our very God-given nature, but exists at the permission of the state. Why epople do not see this is the mystery of modern times.
5/20/2009 6:44:45 PM
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David Viyazhante
We live in the world but we are not of the world.The principles of life in the world is that which is decided by the powerful.Catholic institutions beware of infiltration to be undermined from within.
5/21/2009 12:55:48 PM
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Patrick M. Trimboli
I am a life long praciting Catholic and a health care professional for more than 30 years. In my position as an RN, I was also a member of the sexual offense team. Many victims of rape and incest were treated at my place of employment. Besides the exam and legal aspects of such an offense, came the counseling. I, or nobody else on our staff, ever once mentioned, suggested, or recommended an abortion to a victm should that victim become pregnant from the crime. I have never assisted nor would I in an abortion procedure. But I do think there are far too many people who call themselves pro life when they are really just anti-abortion. And this includes my fellow Catholics as well as anyone else. Being pro life should not, but often does mean, just being pro birth, then "pro life" ends on the delivery table. I cannot and will not buy into that approach. Because I consider health care, nutrition, fuel assistance for the elderly and poor, adequate care for our veterans, etc. pro life issues too, and make this agruement to those who don't seem to go beyond the delivery room with their " pro life" stand, somehow in discussions regarding this, I quite often end up in their eyes as being pro choice across the board on demand, or as they like to say pro abortion. I do not consider anybody pro abortion and do not consider pro choice as the same as pro abortion.
I wish, as a helath care professional, the Catholic Church would be as vocal, and involved with the same ferver in the health care reform debate. Oh sure, they say they are for health care for everyone, and address this issue now and then in weekly articles, etc, but where is the organization and drive for this reform that the church has always had on the abortion issue ? Why can they not support President Obama publicly on this issue with the same ferver they oppose him on the abortion issue ? This is what I'm waiting for before I can seriously take the church's commitment to their so called traditional social stands. I don't see that happening soon if at all, and I fear over the issue of abortion, the Catholic Church is becoming more of a spin off organization from the right wing of the republican party.
By the way, I've never voted a straight ticket in my life and have voted many times for candidates who are opposed to abortion. Luckily, those candidates also support the other social stands which used to be so important to the Catholic Church, but have now become less or secondary issues in the church due to the dominance of the abortion issue.
I fully supported President Obama's invitation and appearance at Notre Dame's graduation in May, and I applaud the conviction and courage of Father Jenkins to stand up for his decision and defend it so eloquently. I see the president as an intelligent man of great concern for the American people and the country. I wish him well, and support his positions on health care and most other issues. And I'm proud that Notre Dame gave him the honarary degree. I do not want to see the University of Notre Dame become a Bob Jones University or Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, and I do not want to see my country turn into a theocracy.
Father Barron would be a good person to pick up the torch for the president's health care initiative. How about it Father ?
9/11/2009 11:40:33 PM
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Dr. William R. Luckey

I am sure that readers of this blog are familiar with the recent episode relating to the supposed Catholic University of Notre Dame inviting President Obama, the most pro-abortion president in history, to be the commencement speaker and receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

There are a number of things to be said about all of this. For example, the argument was made that we have to hear the other side of the story. Can anybody really say that any Notre Dame students have not heard the various arguments both for and against abortion in at least one course in their academic career? If so, Notre Dame is really running a kindergarten under false pretenses. Even I got both sides of the arguments at the Catholic university I attended, and abortion was not even legal yet. Secondly, the academic freedom argument says that in a university setting, professors have the right to express various aspects of a subject, or else academic discourse will be hampered. There are a number of problems with this argument, but the one that is relevant here is that academic freedom applies to classroom instruction, not to public speeches, especially by politicians, which, by their very nature, are open to discussion in the public forum; in fact open to public dis*****tion, which is exactly what the protesters were doing at the University.

It is this latter situation which lends itself to an economic analysis. Giving the President of Notre Dame some credit, it probably was the board of trustees which invited president Obama to the campus, never thinking that that decision would be the source of such controversy. By and large, Catholic universities run by religious orders have given up control of their institutions by putting mostly laypersons on the board, most of whom are there because of the large amounts of money they can contribute and get their friends to contribute. But this means that, assuming the invitation to President Obama was not Father Jenkins’ idea, Father Jenkins is faced with the following dilemma: waffle in justifying the invitation, which he personally opposes and was outvoted on, or resign. He obviously did not quit, so he had to waffle; he had to try to fit the invitation of the radically pro-abortion Obama into the clearly stated principles of the University. This could only be done by using the above stated arguments.

There are then two economic sides to this situation. President pinnochi-obama said the he wants to cut down on the number of abortions, and in that he agrees with Notre Dame. But does he? It is simple supply-demand and price. Obama is in favor of funding abortion, both here and abroad. Giving government money to abortion clinics allows them to charge less for abortion. If the price goes down, the demand goes up. Therefore the policies of Obama will actually increase abortions. The fact that the remaining crowd at Notre Dame were wildly enthusiastic of his speech tells me that either the so-called Catholic Notre Dame is not doing its job of teaching in accord with the Catholic faith AND natural law, and/or the people there were stupid. In either case, it leads me back to the kindergarten analogy I mentioned above.

Next, there is the old expression, that there is no such thing as bad publicity. We are in economic hard times. The Notre Dame website recognizes this, but says it will not freeze pay, let people go or freeze spending. Nevertheless, the possibility that prospective numbers of applicants will decline might be worrisome to the administration. Now, what Catholic institution was the subject of lengthy discussions, articles and coverage in the media recently? Only one—Notre Dame University. It got more free publicity in the past few weeks than even its football team can get for it. And who will be attracted to Notre Dame as a result of this free publicity?--pro-abortion, pro-Obama fans, both Catholic and non-Catholic. Considering the audience at graduation, both the graduates and their guests, this is not surprising. On the other hand, my employer, Christendom College, had Father Pavone and Dr. Jude Dougherty, both famous orthodox Catholics and foes of abortion. My undergraduate alma mater, St. John’s University in New York, run by the Vincentian Fathers, had Immaculee Ilibagiza, a Catholic Rwandan Genocide Survivor, who has been on EWTN. Neither Christendom nor St. John’s got any free, big national publicity from these speakers and degree recipients, even though they got some in certain circles. But, if you wanted a real Catholic education based on who got honorary degrees, which would you pick: Notre Dame? Or would you pick Christendom and St. John’s? All those who believe that Notre Dame is the pre-eminent Catholic University in the United States, need to think this out again. So Notre Dame waters down its commitment to our Faith, yet cries all the way to the bank. The rest of us must earn our money the old-fashioned way—we earn it--by pleasing God.
9/13/2009 5:44:19 PM
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joan sheridan
I think Bishop's D'Arcy's article in "America" magazie explained that the Notre Dame controversy had nothing to do with President Obama and everything to do with the president of notre dame
9/25/2009 2:10:58 PM
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Chris from Maryland
Patrick T would be a good person to pick up the torch for the The Gabriel Project and Project Rachel. How about it Patrick ?
9/29/2009 1:31:37 AM
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Suzie quatro

You have nothing to fear for you will never see "choice" eradicated because we all have a God-given freedom to sin and if you want to take contraceptive pills or have an abortion, you are free to do so. Not even God will stop you.

The Catholic Church is there only as the voice of God reminding us what is good and what is evil in the eyes of God and if we choose to go against her teachings we choose to go against God because he is the one who will judge our actions.

Nevertheless, what Obama is doing, is taking that freedom away from the Catholic Church by imposing a law and forcing Catholics to commit murder against their will and against their conscience. NOW, that is an act of VIOLENCE. Should anyone anyone be forced by law to steal, to murder, to rape??? I don't think so.

I hope you will see it more clearly. If Obama wants to pay for abortions, he can do it but it should be OPTIONAL for those who consider it a CRIME.

God bless you and bring you to the fullness of the Truth, and away from your personal opinions that could lead you to eternal condemnation.

3/14/2012 8:04:54 AM
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Titus Taube, MD
During Christ's 40 days in the desert he had a dialouge with the devil. But I don't recall Him offering his adversary an honorary degree!
3/26/2012 5:02:31 PM
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