Friday, May 22, 2009

What profit a man

Watching the ND Commencement on television Sunday, my first thoughts were that Fr. Jenkins and President Obama were going to come off very well in most subsequent reviews. They were clearly a hit with the students, and they did very well in seizing their moment. That, of course, made it all the worse for Notre Dame, the pro-life movement, and the Catholic Church.

Jenkins sounded confident in his speech, but I wondered as I was listening in the beginning, as he kept talking about dialogue, reason and faith, truth in the abstract, dialogue again, and debate -- would he ever actually name the things we were meant to dialoguing about with the president? Jenkins kept going, and cited Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II on dialogue and debate. Finally, in a single sentence he named the issue: "President Obama has come to Notre Dame, though he knows well that we are fully supportive of Church teaching on the sanctity of human life, and we oppose his policies on abortion and embryonic stem cell research." That's good, and direct. But Fr. Jenkins then immediately went on to cite more Church teachings on dialogue, respect for differing views, and dialogue again -- and finally he started into the glowing portrait of President Obama that I was expecting. Indeed the whole talk was more or less as expected: a single sentence confirming that ND disagreed with Obama on life issues, with the bulk of the enthusiastic remarks celebrating both Notre Dame's own openness and Obama's great list of admirable qualities. Throughout his own talk and Obama's, Fr. Jenkins was pretty much beaming the whole time.

Obama's speech also celebrated the value of dialogue, and he named the issue of abortion. In characteristic fashion, however, he said a lot of nice-sounding words that have no relation to his actual actions or (apparently) beliefs. He made the customary gestures toward abortion being "a heart-wrenching decision" with "moral and spiritual dimensions," without ever engaging any of those. He talked about finding common ground and dialogue, but while his language suggested he thought abortion was at least regrettable, he neatly avoided mentioning that he has never once supported a single legal restriction or qualification on abortion rights through all nine months of pregnancy. He talked about respecting even irreconcilable differences and rights of conscience, but he supports taxpayer (so forced) funding of abortion and ESCR, and he is actually repealing Bush-era conscience protections for physicians.

The president said, "I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away." What is his argument for abortion, though? He didn't actually say. Ultimately, his best anecdote on being open-minded and fair-minded was that he once agreed to stop calling pro-lifers "right-wing ideologues." So generous! But in the meantime he, like Fr. Jenkins, agreed debate and dialogue were great things.

The net result of both talks was that both parties celebrated their openmindedness and tolerance, while neither engaged the actual issues. Listening to Fr. Jenkins, one would think that dialogue was a higher virtue in the Catholic Church than protecting innocent life. Listening to President Obama, one would think he was a reasonable moderate on abortion and other life issues, when in fact he's been remarkably extreme in his support of unlimited abortion rights. There's no doubt the president emerged triumphant from this visit, because most observers would think, again, that he sounded perfectly moderate -- and by all lights he had the endorsement of the nation's premier Catholic university in addressing these issues. One line from Fr. Jenkins was hardly enough to save Notre Dame's credibility here, no matter how sincerely he believed it.

Looking hard, there may be some good things to come out of this. The fact that the Catholic Church stands for life was prominently disseminated, and maybe in the course of the national debate some people have become more aware of what Obama actually stands for on life issues. ND Response's efforts certainly helped in that regard, and the networks did cover their prayer vigils (although not as much as the outside protesters). But I'm not so optimistic that the end result isn't just Notre Dame tarnishing its own image as a Catholic institution, hurting its relationship with the institutional Church, and providing the means for Obama to continue his outstanding tradition of getting credit for his pretty words while his actions are relentlessly the opposite.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

On campus this morning

Cool and calm on campus this morning, but with a bit of an edge in the air. It looked like ND Response was going to get a good turnout as people were streaming in hours early, though not yet collected on South Quad. I saw Bill Kirk driving around in his golf cart to check on arrangements.

Now the ceremony is being broadcast live on the cable news networks. Fox is doing a good job with its coverage. I'm disappointed but hardly surprised to see the wildly enthusiastic reception for the president from faculty and staff, as well as big smiles from Fr. Jenkins. Fox is reporting that Obama is going to speak "at length" on abortion based on a leaked copy of the speech. I hope, but without any real cause, that he won't insult our intelligence by pretending the controversy on abortion and embryonic stem cell research is all some minor policy disagreement he has with the Catholic Church. Well, not much else to do now but watch, and pray.

UPDATE: CNN is reporting Obama is going to use all the "social justice" codewords. Great. Well, as someone just said to me, he can't do worse than Cuomo on giving cover to pro-choice Catholics because he's not Catholic. Still, looks like there will be plenty for administrators to feel pleased over, and not a lot for pro-lifers to respect.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Center of the storm


This afternoon at the St. Mary's commencement ceremony (which was lovely, by the way) a huge military plane flew in low over the campus -- advance agents and materials for the president's visit tomorrow. Since getting into town yesterday, I've seen a lot of protesters on ND Avenue and Angela/Edison and heard a lot of people talking about the controversy. It looked like platforms for the NDResponse demonstration were being set up on South Quad tonight - I've read they're expecting thousands of people, which I hope is true. Hopefully this peaceful witness being shown by so many will make it harder for the media to misrepresent the objections to ND honoring Obama. (I have noticed that the South Bend tv stations have been mentioning Bishop D'Arcy and the bishops' statements more than some other outlets.)

One thing I forgot, for whatever reason, until today's commencement, was that the honorary degree recipients have glowing statements about their lives and achievements read aloud before the degrees are conferred. They don't publish the biographies in the Notre Dame commencement program like they do at some schools (like St. Mary's), so we don't know what the introductory statement on the president as he's presented for a doctor of laws, honoris causa, tomorrow will be, but we can be fairly certain it won't involve dialogue or nuance, both because of course that's not customary for these things, and because we've become pretty familiar with Fr. Jenkins's enthusiastic plaudits of the president over the past two months. So I fear we can expect a nice, unqualified hagiography, with smiles all around.

Some people don't think any of this matters. But walking around campus tonight, by the Grotto, in the Basilica, even in LaFortune, and feeling that whole special sense of place that Notre Dame always conveys, I felt again how keenly it does matter -- because Notre Dame matters to the Church in America. It's a special place, and betrayals of Catholic values like we expect to be seeing tomorrow only diminish it.

Dialogue

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

No news isn't good news

I haven't heard or seen anything at all regarding last Friday's Board meeting for Notre Dame, which I think is disappointing. Presumably if the trustees had decided to take action or make a public statement censuring Fr. Jenkins, they would have done so by now. As it is, graduation is a week from Sunday and it seems that, despite hundreds of thousands of signatures in opposition, public outcry, division (and not a little disillusionment) sown among the alumni, and public opposition from no less than one-third of the U.S. bishops, including Bishop D'Arcy, Fr. Jenkins hasn't been moved a whit.

The good news is that the student-led prayerful protest movement has organized and will be peacefully demonstrating during the commencement exercises. Bishop D'Arcy will be participating in this, and I know the organizers are hoping to have a huge turnout. I am keeping them in my prayers and hope to be able to participate somewhat, at least on Saturday.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Unapologetic

Father Jenkins has used a variety of talking points and defenses to counter criticisms of his decision on President Obama, including employing poor Biblical citations. I don't appreciate his attempts to spin those of us who are seriously concerned about his actions, but I feel worse for Notre Dame Club officers who are getting spun by him as well at the same time as these officers are hearing lots of criticism and concern themselves. According to a source who attended this weekend's Alumni Senate gathering at ND and heard Fr. Jenkins speak, he not only isn't backing down (as we know), he thinks alumni officers should be "on the front lines" defending the University's positions. Apparently he also made light of Bishop D'Arcy's Thursday letter chiding him for not consulting the bishop ahead of time and for propogating incorrect statements on the USCCB document; he said that he didn't consult the bishop, but then again he doesn't consult him on most decisions regarding the university.

Now granted, there are alumni who have no problem with the Obama invitation and honorary degree (a few even approved of his response to the bishop, unfortunately). But there are quite a few who are very upset, and they didn't sign on (in being involved in their local clubs) to defend a position that they completely disagree with and that seems to directly contradict Church teaching.

Again, what is the Board of Trustees going to do here?

Compounding the embarrassment

Breaking: Mary Ann Glendon, in a public letter to Father Jenkins, has declined to receive the Laetare Medal this year. In her letter, posted at First Things where she is on their editorial board I believe, she says she was originally honored to receive the award, but then realized she would have to change her speech once President Obama was announced. Finally, she decided that she couldn't accept for several reasons: first, granting him an honorary law degree was (as Bishop D'Arcy pointedly noted on Thursday) in violation of USCCB directives and Catholic teaching (and I would add, cheapens the value of her own much-deserved honorary law degree). Second, she realized she was being used by Fr. Jenkins (in his "talking points") to be the university's counter to President Obama, and apparently as the primary means of "engaging" the President on life issues -- at commencement exercises that shouldn't be focused on those issues in the first place. I commend Professor Glendon for taking this stand -- but feel continued embarrassment for the university -- *our* university -- that would honor a pro-abortion, pro-embryo-destructive-research leader over one of our nation's foremost Catholic legal scholars.

I understand that the Board of Trustees is going to meet this coming Friday. I would encourage people to write (politely, of course) to members of the Board to express their opinions. I know some of them are already upset by Fr. Jenkins's course of action here, but the question is, what will they do about it? Is this issue something the university is prepared to suffer loss of its good Catholic character and division of its alumni over?

ETA: David Freddoso (an alum) at NRO reports that Fr. Jenkins's reply to this is that he's disappointed but intends to find "another deserving recipient." Says Freddoso, rather snarkily: "Joe Biden, perhaps?" Perfect.

More in reply to Fr. Jenkins, though: Really? No reply *at all* to the reasoning given by Professor Glendon? Doesn't she merit more respect than such a curt "move on" statement in response?

This is getting out of hand.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Poor excuses

I am hearing from a few relatively high-placed sources that Father Jenkins is continuing to change/extend his justifications to donors for conferring the honorary degree on President Obama. While he consistently states that the University is pro-life, and does not and will not support the President's positions (and actions, one should add) on abortion and embryonic stem cell research, among other things, Fr. Jenkins does not think the honorary degree controverts Notre Dame's mission. In fact, he is now employing biblical analogies to affirmatively justify the degree -- he is citing 1 Peter 2:17 to say that while we honor God above all, we must also "honor the king" since we live in this world.

I'm pretty sure this passage does not apply at all in this situation, and I'm hardly the biblical scholar Fr. Jenkins should be. Honoring the king (even in spite of persecution, which is the context St. Peter was writing in) means that "for the Lord's sake" we "accept the authority of every human institution," accept Caesar's authority to rule, and do not revolt against him -- it does not, by any reading, mean fĂȘting him, especially if he is not using his authority wisely. In Values in a Time of Upheaval, Pope Benedict reads this passage in concert with Romans 13 ("There is no authority except from God") to discuss how Christians should relate to the state. (Hint: it doesn't involve honoring those who support use of the law to kill the innocent.)

The task of the state is . . . [to] ensure peace at home and abroad. As I have said, this may sound somewhat banal, and yet it articulates an essential moral demand: peace at home and abroad is possible only when the fundamental legal rights of the individual and of society are guaranteed.

Our constitutional and federal statutory law -- as actively supported by the President -- does not respect the fundamental legal right to life of the unborn. We can respect the office of the president -- be polite, offer prayers -- without at all being able to justify celebrating or honoring the officeholder who doesn't understand that most fundamental obligation of the state. I just finished reading Archbishop Chaput's Render Unto Caesar the other day, and he is very much on point in this question of what the Bible really teaches us our responsibilities are as Christians living in this world:

What belongs to Caesar, and what belongs to God? To Caesar we owe respect and prayers for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:2); respect for the law; obedience to proper authority; and service to the common good. It's a rather modest list. And note that respect is not subservience, or silence, or inaction, or excuse making, or acquiescence to grave evil in the public life we all share.

I'm pretty sure St. Peter never meant for us to affirmatively and freely grant honors to leaders who advocate, vote for and enact laws that destroy innocent human life. Because before that "Honor the king" directive comes the more important one: "Fear God."

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ironically, ASU apologizes . . .

... for not doing enough to properly honor President Obama during his commencement speech at Arizona State. In fact, after they said that they were not conferring an honorary degree because, they said, the president did not yet have a body of work sufficient to merit it, they heard howls of outrage from people who thought this was an insult and completely inappropriate. It now turns out that ASU's policy is simply to not give honorary degrees to sitting politicians (hey, that would solve some of our problems right there), but they already backpedaled hard to show the proper amount of deference to Obama. Their president assures that Arizona State "will honor President Obama in every way" (!) and they even created a "Barack Obama Scholars" scholarship program in his honor. ASU has no institutional or moral reason to oppose the president's policies, of course, while ND does. The contrast between the two schools and who has been outraged by each is (or should be) instructive, however.

I'm sure others have suggested this, but can't ASU and ND just switch? They can give the honorary degree, and we can decline to confer one. Then all the right people should be happy.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Getting the (canon) law wrong

Canon lawyer Ed Peters is harsh in his reply to Fr. Jenkins's interpretation of the USCCB statement "Catholics in Political Life." Fr. Jenkins said, in a letter to the ND Board of Trustees, that he consulted with canon lawyers who confirmed his reading that the bishops' statement only applied to Catholics who acted against Catholic teaching. On the face of it, this might sound plausible, but a moment's thought (which one hopes the Board of Trustees would give it) reveals it is ludicrous. As Peters says:

Is the man serious?

Does Jenkins really think that Catholic bishops would countenance a Catholic institution honoring a philanthropic murderer, or a free-speech crusading pornographer, or a right-to-privacy pimp, provided merely that the awardee was not a Catholic? Really, that's too bizarre for words.

Fr. Jenkins also says that conferring the honorary degree does not connote support for the President's positions on life issues. "In every statement I have made about the invitation of President Obama and in every statement I will make, I express our disagreement with him on issues surrounding the protection of life, such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research," he said. "If we repeatedly and clearly state that we do not support the President on these issues, we cannot be understood to 'suggest support'."

If one needs to clarify repeatedly and in every instance that conferring the degree does not "suggest support," doesn't that indicate that yes, the degree itself does suggest support? Otherwise there wouldn't be a need to be constantly clarifying. And how prominent are ND's disavowals of support of the President likely to be in the public eye, and how long are they likely to last in the public perception? Answers: Not that prominent, and not that long. I hope the Board doesn't buy into this.

Retrenchment

Over the past two weeks, the University has only been digging in with its defense of inviting the president and giving him an honorary degree. 32 bishops around the country have spoken up to condemn the decision to honor the President in contravention of Catholic principles and the 2004 USCCB statement. But I've heard the dismissal from University backers that that's only a small fraction of the total number of US bishops, so it's insignificant. I've also been told by a University spokesman directly that they are bothered by the "lack of consistency" in the bishops opposing ND's decision but not speaking out against Obama at the Al Smith dinner in New York last year. My points would be: first, the importance of any number of bishops speaking out in this context is that they, as authors of the USCCB statement, certainly have some authority in clarifying what it meant. (Fr. Jenkins has claimed it was ambiguous and intended only to apply to Catholic pro-choice politicians, but the bishops are rebutting that interpretation.) Second, whether or not there was opposition to the Al Smith dinner last year, it doesn't speak to whether the bishops are right in this instance with regard to Notre Dame. As a response to my question about whether ND was affected by Bishop D'Arcy's statement and declining to attend commencement, this administration official's reply was disappointing.

I've also talked to a few high-level donors who are receiving the same standard responses as everyone else. Extending invitations to new presidents is "customary"; they aren't honoring Obama's pro-choice or anti-Catholic positions; they're disappointed by Bishop D'Arcy's response but it won't affect their decision; and of course they understand concerns from the alumni but they want this to be an "opportunity for dialogue," and who knows? Maybe the President will be changed by the encounter. Finally, they are being told, Laetare Medal honoree Mary Ann Glendon may well take the opportunity for her speech to directly challenge the President's positions on life issues. I don't think the alumni are too reassured by this, but rather continue to be distressed. (I've also talked to "regular" alumni who, like me, aren't any kind of high level donors but just love the school, and are so upset by the University's decision and seeming lack of response to alumni concerns, that it's coloring their whole perception of the school.)

The latest news ought to be as publicly embarrassing as three dozen bishops censuring the school: Arizona State, which is also having the President speak at its commencement, is not conferring an honorary degree, because, according to its spokesman, "It's our practice to recognize an individual for his body of work, somebody who's been in their position for a long time. His body of work is yet to come." Ouch. Well, it's yet to come except in the key bits of policy he's managed to find time for in the first few months, like taxpayer funding of international abortion advocacy groups, federal funding for newly destructive embryonic stem cell research, appointment of pro-choice Catholics to key positions, and so forth.

ND's spokesman officer seems as bland in his response to this as to the story overall:

University spokesman Dennis Brown said it's customary at Notre Dame to confer a degree on every guest speaker. The university tries to select speakers who have made significant contributions to society or can give a compelling message.

Those statements don't follow, and I wonder if Brown made them in sequence. It's clearly possible, as ASU demonstrates, to invite a speaker to come without conferring an honorary degree. And whether or not it's "customary" to give the degree, perhaps there should have been an examination of the particular circumstances in this case to see whether it was appropriate this time. More Brown:

"Every university has its own traditions and has its own missions. I don't think it's at all fair to gauge one against the other. Everybody's different."

Yes, and Notre Dame's supposed to be different in a meaningful way. That's what I always thought, anyway.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More fallout

The Obama invitation and honorary degree has attracted more widespread attention and criticism than I would have expected since the White House broke the news on Friday, but while I wish the criticism weren't necessary in the first place (if Obama weren't invited), it's certainly warranted now. The way the university has handled it (no press release until the White House said anything, no featured stories on the ND homepage, not even a courtesy call to the bishop until just before the news broke) has something to do with it. Most of their actions suggest they knew it would be an objectionable choice not in line with Church teaching and specific guidelines. In other words, I think the decision can't be attributed to cluelessness as to how alumni and the wider American Catholic community would respond. The administration knew, they attempted to downplay it, and while they are trying to make an affirmative case for why the honors are valid, they're really on the defensive now as people are severely disappointed and upset by the whole affair. Then again, maybe they knew but didn't expect the scope of the blowback?

As many people thought, Bishop D'Arcy has responded by stating that he will not attend Commencement. The statement was not harsh, but was extremely pointed: "[A]s a Catholic University, Notre Dame must ask itself, if by this decision it has chosen prestige over truth." Given that this president has "separated science from ethics and has brought the American government, for the first time in history, into supporting direct destruction of innocent human life," the decision by ND to confer an honorary degree can't be reconciled with the Catholic mission of the university. The bishop has asked for prayers for the university to recommit itself to the "primacy of truth." I'm glad he has taken a strong stand and hope it has an impact on the administration.

The alumni association, though, isn't handling it that well yet, judging by its statement yesterday. Thomas Peters posted this letter sent out to ND Club presidents yesterday. A key point:

Here are a few University observations about the selection of the President as the Commencement speaker: The University does not support President Obama’s positions on specific issues regarding the protection of human life, including abortion and embryonic stem cell research. Notre Dame’s positions on these issues are firm and unwavering. The invitation to the President to be the Commencement speaker shouldn’t be taken as condoning or endorsing his positions that contradict the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Rather, the University has invited the President to campus for what he’s done for racial equality, and for his stands on poverty, health care, immigration, education, infectious disease, and seeking peace. These are causes dear to the heart of Notre Dame, and he has elevated these causes and made them his own.

I fully concede that my reaction to the claims of the second paragraph are mostly political (i.e., how exactly is the push for socialized medicine a praiseworthy thing? How is eliminating voucher programs for disadvantaged minorities a great thing for racial equality and education?) Regardless, however, the fact is that human life issues trump all of these in importance, according to the Church (and one would hope, according to the conscience of most citizens). Active support and furtherance of a legal regime that's resulted in forty million innocent deaths in America alone since Roe v. Wade -- itself a legal abomination that Obama the law prof supports and would codify into law -- has to trump, and does trump, a stand on immigration in any moral calculus. (Unless, for instance, the existing immigration policy was the legalized mass slaughter of immigrants.) Very notably, the Alumni Association letter doesn't say anything about the USCCB policy that was specifically intended to address moral equivalence between (or inversion of priority of) life issues and abortion, on the one hand, and "justice" issues like immigration and education on the other. Any "University observations" that miss this key point are severely flawed. (The Alumni Association letter also makes more points about dialogue and discussion being the point of the invitation.)

I still think that if the University can't back away from having Obama as Commencement speaker, they should at the very least not confer an honorary law degree on him. But I hope they do more than that. If Fr. Jenkins thinks people should be satisfied on Commencement day with a generic, "We have our differences on life issues, but we have *so much* in common on these other points and we're honored and thrilled to have you here," he is sorely mistaken. I am waiting to see what the next steps will be.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Scandalous invitation

The news broke late Friday that President Obama will be Notre Dame's commencement speaker this year. That the nation's preeminent Catholic university would invite the most pro-abortion president we've ever had to give such a prominent address and receive an honorary law degree is astonishing and unjustifiable.

After a weekend with little to no comment from the university -- they must realize how objectionable this whole affair is -- Fr. Jenkins commented yesterday in an interview with the Observer. My take: I'm still as upset as I was on Friday when I heard about it, and a lot of other people are too. I bet Bishop D'Arcy won't even attend the ceremony.

In its 2004 statement "Catholics in Political Life," the USCCB advised, "The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions." This should be a no-brainer, but the frequency with which Catholic institutions host such speakers means it needed to be said. Unfortunately, Fr. Jenkins seems to be ignoring the clear meaning and context of this directive in favor of hair-splitting interpretations: The president's honorary degree, he said, "does not, it is not intended to condone or endorse his position on specific issues regarding life. That's not what we're honoring."

So how is he going to make that clear? As the USCCB statement implied, it's hard to separate public honors and accolades of a person from censure of his positions. That's assuming censure even occurs, which I doubt it would here. Fr. Jenkins can tell the alumni and students in the student newspaper that of course we disagree with the President on life issues, but is it likely he's going to say even that much on stage? - much less give any sort of harsh rebuke to the President for causing taxpayers to fund international abortions or destruction of human embryos? Of course not. (You can already tell from Jenkins's comments that he is looking forward to honoring Obama as a "powerful and eloquent" speaker who is "an inspiring leader." Um, sure.)

Even if Catholics could delude themselves, a la Doug Kmiec, before the election that Obama was somehow, despite all evidence to the contrary, really pro-life in practice, there is no way they could think so now. The President has gone out of his way, during a time of economic distress, to allow taxpayer funding for embryonic stem cell research and abortions. He routinely selects pro-choice Catholics (Biden, Daschle, Sebelius) for key positions, including ones that will affect health care in America. And regardless of whether it's likely to end up on his desk, he has said he will sign the Freedom of Choice Act to eliminate all legislative restrictions on abortion. This is morally and ethically wrong, especially to Catholics. Fr. Jenkins doesn't pretend otherwise (I don't doubt he adheres to Catholic teaching on life issues; of course he does); he just thinks hosting Obama will allow us to have a dialogue and engagement with Obama on these issues.

I think this is unlikely, to say the least. I think, instead, the media and public at large will miss any nuanced "dialoguing" that happens on campus in connection with the event, leaving the main narrative perception of the commencement events to be that Notre Dame hosted Obama, and so abortion just must not be that big of issue for the American church today. (Everyone today remembers Mario Cuomo's "personally opposed" debacle in the 80s happened at Notre Dame. Was there "dialogue" on campus at the time? Who knows?) It gives cover to the Pelosis and Bidens of the world who promulgate ludicrous misreadings of Church teaching and continue publically supporting abortion and other moral wrongs in America. It undermines the moral standing and Catholic character of Notre Dame. It's a huge disappointment for anyone who loves the university and cares about its character. For shame, Fr. Jenkins.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Change to believe in?

Among President Obama's first official acts scheduled perhaps as soon as today, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, will be ones destructive of human life. He will sign an executive order overturning the Mexico City policy, which was implemented by President Reagan to stop federal funding of international abortions. President Clinton overturned it his first few days in office, but President Bush had reinstated it. Now, American taxpayer dollars will once again be used to fund abortions and abortion advocacy abroad. Anyone who values the rights of the unborn has to feel grieved that we have changed from a president who understands what the culture of life is all about -- who knows that protecting the lives of the innocent and voiceless includes protecting the lives of the unborn -- to one who, far from recognizing the sanctity of human life, by his own account would work actively to entrench and expand abortion rights.

Relatedly, President Obama is also planning to reverse Bush's executive order banning federal (taxpayer) funds for embryonic stem cell research, which involves the creation and destruction of human embryos. Nevermind that such research is immoral, ineffective and unnecessary (adult stem cell research is far more promising and already effective, with no moral issues), as I've written about many times before, or that (for instance) in this economic climate federal money might better be spent elsewhere.

Finally, and again, Obama told Planned Parenthood last year that the first thing he'd do as president would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which supposedly would codify Roe, but would actually go far beyond that to wipe out all abortion laws in the country: parental notification laws, waiting periods, counseling laws, bans on partial-birth abortion, and so forth (all laws "interfering" with the right to abortion). It would allow taxpayer money to directly fund abortions through Medicaid by eliminating the Hyde Amendment. And it could threaten the right of conscience for Catholic hospitals and pro-life physicians not to perform abortions. In short, it's pretty much the most radical pro-abortion legislation we could have, and with a Democratic majority and a committed president, it's going to take tremendous effort on the part of Catholics and other pro-life supporters to fight it.

It's a terrible shame that, even in a year in which the bishops spoke out more than ever about the Church's clear teaching on abortion, around 54% of Catholic voters picked likely the most pro-abortion president we've ever had. Please pray for the marchers in the annual March for Life in Washington today, for the defeat of FOCA, and for the conversion of this president to recognize the value of unborn human life.


You can follow events from today's march at Blogs 4 Life or EWTN. (I just saw the Notre Dame right-to-life club go by in the crowd. Go Irish!) For media coverage of the march, which is usually quite lacking, keep an eye on Get Religion. Looks like the Post has an article for tomorrow planned, though nothing ran today. I should hope in this year the march gets more attention -- if nothing else, the arrival of the new administration, as the Post seems to have noted, provides a good hook.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Another bad feeling about this

After the field goal kicker finds his mojo, the quarterback loses it . . . and we start turning the ball over and piling up penalties again on the road.

Oh, Irish, you're killing me.