Thursday, March 29, 2012
Hitchcock alleged that the Wanderer had abandoned its pro-life position because it had accused President Bush of abandoning **his** pro-life position. As Grover Norquist pointed out years ago, in Washington, you get only your first priority. The Wanderer's first priority in the moral order is Humanae Vitae, which teaches that not only abortion, but contraception and sterilization are grave and objective evils. We criticized President Bush for embracing the invasion and occupation of Iraq, rather than pro-life principles, as his first priority -- because he never got around to the second one (assuming that the life issues, and not tax cuts, were indeed his second priority).
Good Catholics can disagree about the Iraq War, and we did. But good Catholics cannot abandon the pro-life cause, and we did not. We criticized President Bush for shoving it to the back burner, a strategic decision which is clear to even the most ardent Bush supporter. That his decisions on the war led to the stunning defeats of 2006 and 2008, to the election of Obama and the adoption of ObamaCare, is now clear in hindsight. But even had his policies (which we opposed) led to peace and prosperity, all along shoving the life issues off the table, we would still condemn them for the crass opportunism they manifested, and for the cynical manipulation of the pro-life, pro-family movements that they represented -- because Bush 43 would never have been elected without the ardent support of those movements.
The point of the Rubble column entitled "Three Broken Legs" is simply this: Pro-lifers were betrayed during the Bush years and we should not allow ourselves ever again to ally ourselves with the Republican Party (or any party, for that matter: observe the disaster that has befallen the bishops for allying themselves with the Democrat Party for 100 years!).
Put not your faith in princes!
Thursday, March 15, 2012
March 14, 2012
I would like to begin by once again sending my condolences to the Johnson family on the death of Mrs. Loetta Johnson.
I also feel obliged to answer questions from my parishioners, as well as from the public, about the incident on February 25th.
Here are the facts: On Saturday February 25th I showed up to officiate at a funeral Mass for Mrs. Loetta Johnson. The arrangements for the Mass were also not my own. I wish to clarify that Ms. Barbara Johnson (the woman who has since complained to the press), has never been a parishioner of mine. In fact I had never met her or her family until that morning.
The funeral celebration was to commence at 10:30 a.m. From 9:30 to 10:20, I was assigned to hear confessions for the parish and anyone in the funeral party who would have chosen to receive the sacrament.
A few minutes before the Mass began, Ms. Johnson came into the sacristy with another woman whom she announced as her “lover”. Her revelation was completely unsolicited. As I attempted to follow Ms. Johnson, her lover stood in our narrow sacristy physically blocking my pathway to the door. I politely asked her to move and she refused.
I understand and agree it is the policy of the Archdiocese to assume good faith when a Catholic presents himself for communion; like most priests I am not at all eager to withhold communion. But the ideal cannot always be achieved in life.
In the past ten days, many Catholics have referenced canon 915 in regard to this specific circumstance. There are other reasons for denying communion which neither meet the threshold of canon 915 or have any explicit connection to the discipline stated in that canon.
If a Quaker, a Lutheran or a Buddhist, desiring communion had introduced himself as such, before Mass, a priest would be obligated to withhold communion. If someone had shown up in my sacristy drunk, or high on drugs, no communion would have been possible either. If a Catholic, divorced and remarried (without an annulment) would make that known in my sacristy, they too according to Catholic doctrine, would be impeded from receiving communion. This has nothing to do with canon 915. Ms. Johnson’s circumstances are precisely one of those relations which impede her access to communion according to Catholic teaching. Ms. Johnson was a guest in our parish, not the arbitrer of how sacraments are dispensed in the Catholic Church.
During the two eulogies (nearly 25 minutes long), I quietly slipped for some minutes into the sacristy lavatory to recover from the migraine that was coming on. I never walked out on Mrs. Loetta Johnson’s funeral and the liturgy was carried out with the same reverence and care that I celebrate every Mass. I finished the Mass and accompanied the body of the deceased in formal procession to the hearse, which was headed to the cemetery. I am subject to occasional severe migraines, and because the pain at that point was becoming disabling, I communicated to our funeral director that I was incapacitated and he arranged one of my brother priests to be present at the cemetery to preside over the rite of burial.
Furthermore as the testimony of the priest that was at the cemetery conveys, he was present when the Johnson family arrived, and in fact mentioned that being called to cover the burial rite is quite normal, as many priests for reasons much less significant than mine (rush hour traffic for example) do not make the voyage to the cemetery. He routinely covers for them. This change in plans, was also invisible to the rest of the entourage. Regrets and information about my incapacitating migraine were duly conveyed to the Johnson family.
I have thanked the funeral director and the priest at the burial site, for their assistance that day. Mrs. Loetta Johnson was properly buried with every witness and ceremony a Catholic funeral can offer. I did not and would not refuse to accompany Barbara Johnson and her mother to the cemetery because she is gay or lives with a woman. I did not in any way seek to dishonor her memory, and my homily at the funeral should have made that quite evident to all in the pews, including the Johnson family.
I would like to extend again to Ms. Johnson and her family, my sincerest condolences on her mother’s death. I would never intentionally want or seek to embarrass anyone publicly or increase anyone’s emotional distress during such a difficult time. I did not seek or contrive these circumstances.
But I am going to defend my conduct in these instances, because what happened I believe contains a warning to the church. Such circumstances can and will be repeated multiple times over if the local church does not make clear to all Catholics that openly confessing sin is something one does to a priest in the confessional, not minutes before the Mass in which the Holy Eucharist is given.
I am confident that my own view, that I did the only thing a faithful Catholic priest could do in such an awkward situation, quietly, with no intention to hurt or embarrass, will be upheld.
Otherwise any priest could-and many will-face the cruelest crisis of conscience that can be imposed. It seems to me, the lack of clarity on this most basic issue puts at risk other priests who wish to serve the Catholic Church in Washington D.C.
As to the latest allegations, I feel obliged to alleviate unnecessary suffering for the faithful at St. John Neumann and others who are following the case.
I wish to state that in conversation with Bishop Barry Knestout on the morning of March 13, he made it very clear that the whole of the case regarding the allegations of “intimidation” are circumscribed to two conversations; one with the funeral director and the other with a parish staff member present at the funeral. These conversations took place on March 7th and 8th, one day before the archdiocese’s latest decision to withdraw faculties (not suspend, since Cardinal Wuerl is not my bishop) on the 9th of March. I am fully aware of both meetings. And indeed contrary to the statement read on Sunday March 11th during all Masses at St. John Neumann, both instances have everything to do with the Eucharistic incident. There is no hidden other sin or “intimidation” allegations that they are working on, outside of these two meetings. The meetings in question, occurred in our effort to document from people at the funeral Mass in written form a few facts about the nature of the incident. We have collected more than a few testimonies and affidavits, testifying to what really took place during the funeral liturgy.
My personal conversation with both parties in question were in my view civil, professional and in no way hostile. I respect both individuals in question and really do not know the nature of their grievance.
On March 13, I asked Bishop Knestout about detail on this matter but he stated that he was not at liberty to discuss the matter. I would only add for the record, that the letter removing me from pastoral work in the Archdiocese of Washington, was already signed and sealed and on the table when I met with Bishop Knestout on March 9, even before he asked me the first question about the alleged clash.
In the days to come I look forward to addressing any confusion about the above conversations if the Archdiocese or the persons involved wish to talk about it publicly or privately.
I am grateful for all the good wishes and prayers I have received. And sincerely, having lost my own mother not long ago, I again extend my condolences to the Johnson family. I finally wish for the good of the Universal Church, the archdiocese, my parish and the peace of friends and strangers around the world, that the archdiocese would cease resolving what they call internal personnel matters of which they cannot speak, through the public media.
I remain my bishop’s and my Church’s, and above all Christ Jesus’ obedient servant,
Very truly yours,
Father Marcel Guarnizo
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Fr. Taylor's action follows one taken earlier this year by Fr. John Lankeit pastor of the Cathedral parish in Phoenix. His approach was a little different. He ended altar girls immediately and established a sacristan group for the girls. Their are other priests around the country, even in liberal dioceses, who quietly continue to use altar boys only. Hopefully, this is a growing trend that will expand because of the very publicity meant to force altar girls on unwilling priests.
I wrote an article on the Arlington fuss for the Autumn issue of the Les Femmes newsletter entitled Back to the Future: Revisiting Girl Altar Boys. I invite you to stop by and read it. And if you have a pastor who maintains the time-honored tradition of using only boys as servers, tell him thank-you. You can be sure others are complaining.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Veteran's Day Address to Notre Dame ROTC Tri-Military Veteran’s Day Ceremony
Prof. Emeritus Charles E. Rice, Notre Dame Law School, University of Notre Dame
Nov. 11, 2010
This commemoration used to be called Armistice Day, in observance of the end of World War One. That was supposed to be “the war to end all wars.” It didn’t work out that way, as your presence here in uniform confirms.
You are volunteers. One price you pay for that decision is misunderstanding by others as to who you are and what you are doing. In an environment of “political correctness,” especially on college campuses, we can understand how sincere but misinformed critics disparage your choice and the military vocation as contrary to the Christian tradition. But those critics are wrong. Let’s try to set the record straight.
When “soldiers” asked John the Baptist, “And we—what are we to do?,” John did not tell them to find another line of work. “[H]e said to them, ‘Plunder no one, accuse no one falsely, and [perhaps most important] be content with your pay.” St. Paul did not demand that newly converted Christians who were soldiers must leave that profession. Instead he said, “Let every man remain in the calling in which he was called….[I]n the state in which he was called, let every man remain with God.” In the early Church, Christian pacifists drew support from Tertullian, Origen, Lactantius, and other theologians, but they reflected neither the dominant Christian view nor the teaching of the Church.
Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J., dealt with this issue: “What was the attitude of the early Church toward the bearing of arms? More truly citizens of the earthly fatherland than has sometimes been thought, Christians similarly did not hesitate to become soldiers, charged with their country’s defense and perhaps extension. Accordingly, we find numbers of them in the Roman armies at a time when military service was obligatory only for the sons of veterans or in the infrequent cases of extraordinary levies. The fact that Emperor Galerius on the threshold of the fourth century had to ‘purge’ the armed forces because they had too many Christians is the best proof that, from the end of the second century to the beginning of the fourth, ‘conscientious objection’ was not felt by the majority.”
One reason for the rejection of military service by some early Christians was not an intrinsic objection to military service as such, but rather the potential of that service to require immoral conduct and idolatry. An example from the third century illustrates the duty of the Christian citizen both to participate in the common defense and to recognize that his ultimate loyalty is to God rather than to the State. The Theban Legion, composed entirely of Egyptian Christians and stationed at Thebes in Egypt, was ordered by the Emperor Maximian to march to Gaul to suppress a rebellion. Under the command of Mauritius (Maurice), the Legion marched through the Alps into Gaul. Maximian then ordered, in 287, that the whole army must offer sacrifice to the pagan gods and must take an oath to assist in the extermination of Christians in Gaul. The members of the Theban Legion unanimously refused. Their number is commonly placed at 6,600, although that number has been disputed. In reaction to the Legion’s refusal, Maximian ordered the legion to be decimated, with every tenth man selected to be killed. A second decimation followed, but the survivors remained resolute. Following the lead of Maurice and their other officers, they sent Maximian a reply which capsulizes the vocation and duty of the Christian soldier:
Maximian proceeded to execute every member of the Legion, none of whom offered any resistance. The massacre occurred at Agaunum, now St. Maurice-en-Valais, Switzerland.
So don’t let anyone, on this campus or elsewhere, tell you that your commitment to military service is somehow inconsistent with the Christian tradition. That commitment might be unpopular with one group or another from time to time. But it is a noble calling fully in accord with, and indeed dictated by, the Christian tradition.
It is not enough, however, for you to rest on the assurance that you are doing the right thing. You have to know why it is so and you have to be prepared to educate your critics on the realities of the duty to defend the common good. So let’s review some basic principles.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms the traditional Christian view that “governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-defense, once all peace efforts have failed.” Citizens are obliged to support a just war. “Public authorities, in this case, have the right and duty to impose on citizens the obligations necessary for national defense.”
Such defense must satisfy “just war” analysis. The requirements for jus ad bellum, justice in going to war, are proper authority, just cause and right intention. The Catechism lists further details: “[T]he damage inflicted by the aggressor… must be lasting, grave and certain;” war must be a last resort, with “all other means impractical or ineffective,” “there must be serious prospects of success;” and “the use of arms must not produce evils… graver than the evil to be eliminated.” “The evaluation of these conditions,” however, “belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.” Citizens, including members of the military, are obliged, in effect, to give a benefit of the doubt to the decisions of those in lawful authority.
Jus in bello, justice in fighting a war, requires proportionality and discrimination (non-combatant immunity from intentional attack). The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms that: “Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.” Pursuant to the principle of the double effect, however, it can be morally justified to attack a military target of sufficient importance even though the attacker knows, but does not intend, that innocent civilians will be killed in the attack. The key is the intent. No one ever has the moral right to intentionally kill the innocent. But the good act of attacking the legitimate target can be justified even though it has the unintended evil effect of killing the innocent, provided that the good effect of the attack is not obtained by means of the evil effect and provided there is sufficient reason for permitting the unintended evil effect.
The Uniform Code of Military Justice, the very restrictive Rules of Engagement and other binding military policies effectively protect noncombatants and otherwise conform to the requirements of jus in bello. Some military personnel violate the law but their record is far better than that of corporate executives and members of Congress. And the armed services are diligent, sometimes even to the point of excess, in prosecuting putative offenses.
The Second Vatican Council affirmed that, “All those who enter military service in loyalty to their country should look upon themselves as the custodians of the security and freedom of their fellow countrymen; and when they carry out their duty properly, they are contributing to the maintenance of peace.”
The universal pacifist refuses to take part in any and all wars: “Those who renounce violence,” said Vatican II, “and, in order to safeguard human rights, make use of those means of defense available to the weakest, bear witness to evangelical charity, provided they do so without harming the rights and obligations of other men and societies. They bear… witness to the… risks of recourse to violence.” However, a universal pacifism which denies the right of the state to use force in defense, is inconsistent with the teaching of the Church.
Granting the sincerity of universal pacifists, their claim to moral superiority is flawed. One can well “bear witness to evangelical charity” by renouncing force in defending himself. The universal pacifist, who denies that force can ever be used in defense of the common good, would refuse to defend not only himself but others. He would deny to his fellow citizens their right to have the state provide what the Catechism calls “legitimate defense by military force.”
Unlike the universal pacifist, the selective pacifist refuses to take part in a particular war he regards as unjust. The law of the United States allows exemptions from military service only for universal, and not for selective pacifists. The Catechism urges, but does not require, the state to make “equitable provision” for all conscientious objectors who “are nonetheless obliged to serve the human community in some other way.” It is difficult, however, to see how an exemption for selective objectors, who object not to war in general but only to a particular war, could be administered without inviting fraudulent evasion.
Whatever its legal status, selective pacifism is required by the teaching of the Church. We should all be selective pacifists, insisting, with prudence, that any war—or any other act of state,-- is subject to the higher standard of the natural law and the law of God. A strong presumption of validity attaches to the decisions and acts of those entrusted with the care of the common good. But that presumption is not conclusive. All wars are debatable, including the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Subject to the legitimate authority of Congress, the president has the duty to defend the nation. His decisions and those of Congress are entitled to a strong benefit of the doubt. But there are limits.
To participate in the defense of the nation and the common good is an honorable calling. Those who do so deserve appreciation and respect. So, please, do not permit anyone to try to lay a guilt trip on you for your commitment to your country’s military service. You should be proud of that freely given service. You have earned the appreciation and respect of the Notre Dame community, and especially of those who profess allegiance to the Christian tradition.
Yesterday was the 235th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. Permit me to quote a line from the Marine Corps Hymn which I rightly apply to you and to the Army, Navy and Air Force in honor of your service: “Here’s health to you and to our Corps, which we are proud to serve.”
Thank you. And God bless you.
1 Cor. 7:20-24.
John A. Hardon, S.J., The Catholic Catechism (1975), 346-347.
Butler’s Lives of the Saints (1963), vol. III, 619.
The Roman Theban Legion, http://bibleprobe.com/theban/html. St. Maurice of the Theban Legion,
HYPERLINK "http://www.suite101.com/content/st-maurice-of-the-theban-legion-a42501" http://www.suite101.com/content/st-maurice-of-the-theban-legion-a42501.
Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), no. 2308.
CCC, no. 2310.
CCC, no. 2309.
Gaudium et Spes, no. 79.
CCC, no. 2306.
CCC, no. 2309.
CCC, no. 2311.
Monday, February 1, 2010
[As the Congress prepared to go out on its annual August recess, Dr. Ron Paul met in his Capitol Hill office with Wanderer contributing editor Christopher Manion].
The Wanderer. Dr. Paul thank you for your hospitality today. Let's get right to the point. Today, as the Congress is about to go out of session for the August recess, healthcare is the number one agenda item. Where does that stand, especially from the point of view of those of us who consider the life issues as paramount in this legislation?
Representative Paul. I think it's going to be very bad. I've always assumed that the worst tactic the left could use is to make pro-life people pay for abortions. That gets their attention like nothing else will. And they're going to do it. They been doing it for years -- I used to fight all this foreign aid and this pretense that we send this foreign aid and that they say “Oh, yeah, no abortions,” and yet you know it goes to certain groups – these funds are fungible, and they end up going to abortions, and it's going to get a lot worse."
Even the Hyde Amendment isn't perfect, but this actually blatantly violates or removes the Hyde amendment. I think ultimately the only way you can prevent taxpayer funding for abortions is no funding for those organizations.”
The Wanderer. The GOP has been regarded as the pro-life party in these past few elections, and the party hasn't done very well. What do you think the prospects are for the GOP as a vehicle for conservative ideas in general, and especially for pro-lifers?
Rep. Paul. I don't think -- you know it's shifting, but over the years we never suffered from it. I mean Ronald Reagan you know took a pro-life position, but it is true that the Republican party, like in many other issues, would speak more strongly than their actions -- you know, they didn't do a whole lot once they were in office. I think for the Republicans to be successful, they should stick with it, but I have a position that's slightly different than the average Republican. Which is less confrontational, because I don't want to use the cloud of the federal government to settle this dispute. I want to do it constitutionally, so I don't want to write national laws, and I want to go back to the states, which means that I want to repeal Roe versus Wade and I want the state of Texas to be able to write these laws and to be left alone, and lo and behold, that is not nearly so antagonistic as having constitutional amendments and more mandates. Sometimes our right to life groups get upset with me because they write laws up here and they use the clout of the government to punish, and I don't think that's the proper way to do it. I think it's an act of violence, and I think all acts of violence, whether it's robbery and murder and manslaughter – all these things are meant to be local issues. And I think that's where they should stay.
The Wanderer. A lot of people get rankled when I mention that you've delivered 4000 babies (he chuckles) because they don't want to confront the reality of a baby in your arms.
Rep. Paul. Yeah, that’s right.
The Wanderer. You are a champion of the Constitution with regard to the pro-life issue and with regard to the wars abroad. What is going to happen to the Constitution with all the new influx of American responsibility and troops into Afghanistan now, and in the Middle East in general?
Rep. Paul. Well, I would probably phrased the question in a slightly different way -- you say, "what is going to happen to our Constitution," and I might say, “what has happened to the Constitution?" Because, you know, I don't think we have a whole lot left of our Constitution. It gets worse all the time, whether it's in the executive branch, or the judicial branch, or the legislative branch. And we go to war without declarations, and we print money without authority to print money -- you know, in the Federal Reserve system -- and it all goes on and on. So I think it's going to continue. So often I make the point that we got into this financial and political mess and foreign-policy mess because we don't obey the Constitution. Maybe we could get out of it if we decided to follow the Constitution. I'm not hopeful that in the next year or two that were going to have any majority vote in the Congress changing the course that we've taken. But I am very optimistic about the number of young people who are really really interested in what we've been talking about and coming to our rallies. Our campus meetings that we’re having and our rallies have been very well attended, and they're very interested in the Constitution.
And that's what it takes. You know, Keynsianism in economics came in vogue in the 1930s. And that is a philosophic issue that is pervasive in the Republican and Democrat parties-- it is both. So a philosophic revolution has to affect both parties. Whether it has to do with gun issues or right to life issues or economic issues, to be successful you really have to have a philosophic change.
And that's why I'm encouraged. The young people are willing to look at these issues because they know they're getting dumped on, they know they're getting a bad deal. They're getting wars to finance, wars to fight, and these bills to pay. So I look at this as much as an opportunity as a danger that we have today.
The Wanderer. Dr. Paul, the Fed [the Federal Reserve Bank] has always been a mysterious institution. In the last six months, they’ve lent two trillion dollars to people whose names they won’t reveal. Isn’t that our money” I notice that your “Audit the Fed” Bill now has a majority of congressman sponsoring it. But it's clearly going to get resistance from the Senate and from the White House. Why is the Fed so important for our readers to understand?
Rep. Paul. Well, because of the assumption made, especially with your readership, who are people who have moral principles. The basic moral principle in dealing with the Fed is that it should be illegal to counterfeit money. People understand counterfeit, and the Bible says something about honest weights and measures, it's been around a long time that you're not supposed to cheat people. And when you're just printing money out of thin air, you're diluting the value of the dollar that we hold and there's no restraint on the printing press.
If an individual did it, they’d go to prison for counterfeiting. Here, we've created -- we've allowed it to be created by Congress -- a secret private organization that is not monitored and has no significant oversight, and they’re a government unto itself. They print money, and not only have they done this for years, but just recently with the financial crisis, they been able to bail out their buddies. You know, there are a lot of people who have gotten loans, and guarantees, they've allowed to get involved in loans to governments, and loans to other central banks, and in a way they're doing something that should only be done by treaty. They're actually having agreements with other governments. Here we are, having the Federal Reserve get involved and treaties, and they're doing it without the authority of the Constitution. The Constitution has not given any authority for a central bank, and we have been instructed to use only gold and silver as legal tender, so there's a lot of reasons why we should oppose the Fed, and it's also the reason that I’m writing a book that's coming out, it’s called End The Fed.
The Wanderer. Pope Benedict and America’s founders seem to agree that do have a society that enjoys liberty, morality is indispensable in the people. Can you restore liberty to this country without restoring morality?
Rep. Paul. No, there's no way. I think even the abortion issue is more of a moral issue than a legislative issue. I've admired Mary Cunningham Agee, she's very, very strong on pro-life, but she doesn't deal in politics. She deals in taking care of young women.
The Wanderer. When I was the pro-life faculty advisor at Boston University 20 years ago, she was very helpful in a very practical way to our efforts.
Rep. Paul. Well, she emphasizes doing something, caring for these girls and caring for the unborn. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't have laws against abortion, because it is killing, and we should do it directly under the Constitution. I became very much aware of the abortion issue in the 60s when I was studying OB/GYN. I tell the story in my little booklet on right to life that I walked into a room -- and the law was still pretty strong against abortion -- and I walked in where they were doing a hysterotomy, because the fetus was fairly large, a pound or two, and they deliver the baby, and it was still breathing and crying, and whimpering, and they put the baby in a bucket and put it in a room and pretended that they didn't hear anything. And I thought, “Wow! Isn’t this something,” but the law was against it. But they were defying the law. Society had changed -- we had the drug culture, the Vietnam culture, and the so-called desire for these abortions on demand, then the law changed. We didn't become immoral because the courts said it’s okay to do abortions, we did abortions, society endorsed abortions, so the courts were reflecting society. And I think that's an example of how you need to be a moral society. The Constitution is a great document, but the document is only dependent on the people, and dependent on the quality of the people … [even] if you have a good document, it won't change the morality of the people.
The Wanderer. Dr. Paul, I think you've been a great inspiration to millions of people. Thank you for talking to us today, and keep up your good work for the cause of liberty.
Monday, September 21, 2009
By Christopher Manion [from the Wanderer]
The more one pages through Charles Rice’s new book, “What Happened to Notre Dame,” the more Obama’s triumphal visit there last May emerges as a turning point, not only for the university, but for Catholic education and the American Catholic Church. No longer could the university pretend that the “Fighting Irish” would fight for the lives of the unborn. Instead, the event sent the message that Notre Dame had demoted abortion from the status of an intrinsic evil to just one of many increasingly obscure threads in the “seamless garment” that Obama’s favorite archbishop, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, conjured up long ago to diminish the relative importance – indeed, the horror -- of abortion in America, reducing it to a political issue that must be considered alongside many others.
Rice confronts that dialectic head-on, using the lens of Cardinal Ratzinger’s “Dictatorship of Relativism.” I wonder, do Notre Dame students read Orwell any more? Because the truth is right there in Animal Farm: in the seamless garment, “all issues are relative, but some issues are more relative than others.” Professor Rice drives the point home: “Could you possibly imagine Fr. Jenkins … honoring a public official who persistently expresses his approval of the Holocaust or legally enforced racial segregation, because of that official’s stand on the economy or health care?”
Come on, class, let’s not always see the same hands.
Relativism nonetheless has its supporters in the Church. While some eighty-three American bishops criticized Notre Dame’s decision to honor the most pro-abortion president in history, a couple of hundred were silent. Last month, one of their number, Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe, criticized his colleagues who were critical of Father Jenkins. According to the National Catholic Reporter, “Sheehan said the Catholic community risks isolating itself from the rest of the country and that refusing to talk to a politician or refusing communion because of a difference on a single issue was counterproductive.” Archbishop Sheehan, who said he had once worked under Cardinal Bernardin, called the bishops’ criticism of Notre Dame “hysterical.”
I am grateful to Archbishop Sheehan for candidly revealing that he thinks not theologically, but politically – taking politically in its post-modernist, relativist, and reductionist sense. Abortion is reduced to a pesky “single issue” -- oppose it forthrightly and you “risk isolating yourself”! The good archbishop pretends that those 83 bishops “refuse to talk” to pro-abortion politicians, a canard that sounds pretty “hysterical” in itself (He does not complain that pro-abort politicians might not have ears to hear). But if that’s what Abp. Sheehan is against, what is he for? The Reporter again: “He said his approach – whether dealing with civic officials or church members, relied heavily on collaboration, a technique he said he learned from the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago.”
Collaboration or Cooperation?
Rice recognizes that collaboration is a dangerous road. Regarding Obama’s support of cloning, and then killing, human embryos for stem-cell research, he writes, “the experiments performed by Nazi doctors on concentration camp prisoners were unimaginative and primitive by comparison. By conferring Notre Dame’s highest honors on the national leader who is setting the stage for such an atrocity, Notre Dame’s officers acted like ‘good Germans’ who were submissive to their Führer.”
In German, they called those folks “Kollaborateur” -- collaborators. How does Archbishop Sheehan counsel us to prevent his (apparently innocuous) collaboration from becoming cooperation? He does not say.
His positivism persists: Abp. Sheehan next claims that “the majority” of bishops agree with him. Perhaps that is true. He complains: “We’d be like the Amish, you know, kind of isolated from society, if we kept pulling back because of a single issue.”
Why the Amish, Your Excellency? Why not the English martyrs?
Darn those silly little “single issues”! But not all of them: near the end of his life, Cardinal Bernardin was very concerned about the precipitous decline of voluntary financial support for the Church from the laity. Could that explain why the USCCB has turned to the government, which has given their educational, charitable, and medical institutions tens of billions in taxpayer dollars? Didn’t Cardinal Bernardin ever warn Archbishop Sheehan that the issue of money might tempt the bishops not only to collaborate, but to cooperate, with abortionists? Was government money a “single issue” that the Church just couldn’t refuse?
Bravo Bishop D’Arcy
One prelate who takes his job more seriously than money or politics is my hometown bishop, John M. D’Arcy. After Rice’s book went to press, D’Arcy penned “A pastoral reflection on the controversy at Notre Dame” for America magazine – perhaps placing it in that liberal journal to make sure that folks at Notre Dame would see it. Bishop D’Arcy gets right to the point: “Does a Catholic university have the responsibility to give witness to the Catholic faith and to the consequences of that faith by its actions and decisions—especially by a decision to confer its highest honor? If not, what is the meaning of a life of faith?”
Bishop D’Arcy finds much to applaud in the students of Notre Dame: “I attended the Baccalaureate Mass the day before graduation, for the 25th time, speaking after Holy Communion, as I always do. Then I led an evening Rosary at the Grotto with students, adults and a number of professors. We then went to a chapel [the largest, in Dillon Hall] on campus. It was packed for a whole night of prayer and Eucharistic adoration.” (By the way, Fr. Richard McBrien, Notre Dame’s notorious critic of popes past and present, recently wrote that because today’s Catholics “are so literate or even well-educated … there is little or no need for [such] extraneous Eucharistic devotions.”) About Fr. McBrien’s colleagues in the Theology Department, Bishop D’Arcy makes a stunning, possibly promising observation: “It is notable that a vast majority has been willing to seek and accept the mandatum from the local bishop [D’Arcy],” he writes.
For Bishop D’Arcy, l’affaire Notre Dame is not yet over. “I firmly believe that the board of trustees must take up its responsibility afresh, with appropriate study and prayer. They also must understand the seriousness of the present moment,” he writes. It is up to board to address “the situation that so sundered the church last spring.” Well, since Land O’Lakes, that board has been pretty proud of its independence from the hierarchy. No matter -- Bp. D’Arcy makes his role clear: “The bishop must be concerned that Catholic institutions do not succumb to the secular culture, making decisions that appear to many, including ordinary Catholics, as a surrender to a culture opposed to the truth about life and love.”
Bishop D’Arcy then puts three questions to the board of Notre Dame: “(1) Do you consider it a responsibility in your public statements, in your life as a university and in your actions, including your public awards, to give witness to the Catholic faith in all its fullness? (2) What is your relationship to the church and, specifically, to the local bishop and his pastoral authority as defined by the Second Vatican Council? (3) Finally, a more fundamental question: Where will the great Catholic universities search for a guiding light in the years ahead? Will it be the Land O’Lakes Statement or Ex Corde Ecclesiae?”
In his introduction to Rice’s book, Professor Alfred Freddoso observes that Notre Dame invited Obama thinking it “could reap the great public relations benefits of a presidential visit, once it survived what it undoubtedly expected to be a short-lived protest by the local bishop.” Clearly Notre Dame got it wrong. Those questions are not going away: Bishop D’Arcy is waiting for answers.
[Charles Rice's book is pubished by Saint Augustine's Press
[a review of Charles E. Rice's new book from St. Augustine's Press]
By Christopher Manion for the Wanderer
A few weeks into Notre Dame’s Fall semester of 1949, a sleeping freshman was jostled awake by a couple of upperclassmen.
“Hey, fella,” they shouted, “hey, we just wanna know -- how did you get into Notre Dame if you’re not Catholic?”
That awakened the sleeper in a heartbeat. “Whaddya mean, ‘not Catholic,’” he retorted. “Of course I’m Catholic!”
“Then why don’t you go to Mass!” they sternly replied.
That freshman became one of our family’s best friends – and one of Notre Dame’s most passionate alumni. All his life, he attributed his profound faith and his ardent love of Holy Mother Church and our Blessed Mother to Notre Dame. For him, and for generations of the Fighting Irish, Notre Dame was the exemplar of the Catholic Faith.
But times have changed.
“What happened to Notre Dame?” I have heard that question countless times since I graduated forty years ago. A ready answer does not come easily to mind. After all, Knute Rockne, Notre Dame’s legendary football coach, used to tell my father (who started teaching there in 1919), “You should never spit on a man’s head if you’re standing on his shoulders.” And countless thousands of Notre Dame alumni undoubtedly owe their academic, their professional, and even their spiritual formation to Notre Dame. How can they criticize Notre Dame if they are “standing on its shoulders”?
Everything good about Notre Dame comes from God. For a century and more, the Holy Catholic Church and the salvation of souls was Notre Dame’s sole reason for being. By the 1960s, however, Notre Dame had grown weary of “standing on the shoulders” of the Church. Like a wayward spouse, it longed for independence, to be of the world as well as in it. Finally, with Land O’Lakes in 1967, Notre Dame filed for divorce. “For the sake of the children” (its students and alumni) and money (their financial support), it continued to project a public façade of harmony between the Church and its own secular relativism. But Notre Dame was simply trying to serve two masters, keeping up its Catholic appearances while sinking ever deeper into the mire of worldly infidelity. Last May, the flimsy façade finally came crashing down.
Hey, Wake Up!
The timing of even the most inevitable earthquake is hard to predict. But for years, Notre Dame has been poised athwart a widening chasm that makes the San Andreas Fault look like the Rock of Gibraltar. Charles E. Rice, Professor of Constitutional Law at Notre Dame since 1968, has long been a defensor fide there. His column in the campus newspaper regularly pierces the fog of faculty doubters like the siren of a Catholic Rescue Squad, racing to resuscitate victims who have been run over by hit-and-run heterodoxy. His numerous books, his Wanderer columns, and his speeches and legislative testimony have made key contributions to the intellectual and legal defense of the Culture of Life in the United States. When “Old Notre Dame” collapsed for good with Barack Obama’s commencement appearance last spring, Dr. Rice went to work. With his new book, What Happened To Notre Dame, he once more rides to the rescue.
In the introduction, Notre Dame philosophy professor Fred Feddoso succinctly explains Obama’s visit: “Both sides had much to gain. President Obama could cloak himself in the mantle of Our Lady’s university as part of an ongoing campaign to solidify his standing among those many Catholic voters for whom life issues are not very important, or at least not overriding. The university, on the other hand, could reap the great public relations benefits of a presidential visit, once it survived what it undoubtedly expected to be a short-lived protest by the local bishop, John D’Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, and a few hardcore pro-life activists.”
Ever since, both Obama and Notre Dame have struggled to stay on message: “No big deal -- just a natural meeting of a great university and a great leader. Turn the page.”
Well, not just yet. Professor Freddoso limns Notre Dame’s transition from Catholic orthodoxy to national prominence, a course that Rice examines in detail. Freddoso’s ruminations conclude that “Notre Dame is a wonderful place in many ways. [But] What it is not is a Catholic university, i.e., an institution of higher learning where the Catholic faith pervades and enriches, and is itself enriched by, the intellectual life on campus.” Freddoso concludes with the arresting description of Notre Dame as “a public school in a Catholic neighborhood.” The kids are Catholic, but the education -- what is taught in the classroom -- “has little or nothing to do with Catholicism.”
In celebrating Obama last May, University President Father John Jenkins was giddy with exultation. All that was missing was a tattoo across his forehead, proclaiming, “Fighting Irish Welcome O’Bama.” Rice zeroes in on the telling moment, early in Obama’s address, when a voice from the cheap seats shouted, “abortion is murder!” Immediately the students answered with a roar, shouting Obama’s campaign slogan (“Yes we can!”) and their favorite football cheer (“We are N. D. !!”).
How could it be that the kids from the “Catholic Neighborhood” were cheering the premier advocate of abortion in the western world? Perhaps the students were not just cheering Obama. They were cheering Father Jenkins, who had defeated their arch-rivals. And who were the bad guys? Not Michigan State or Southern Cal, but the Church, the orthodox faithful, the old alumni, and, ultimately, the Magisterium.
Notre Dame As A Lesson For Everyone
Always the master teacher, Rice examines the Obama appearance with precision. He then moves to a deeper consideration of the principles that inform Catholic education, and compares them with the conflicting assumptions and key events that have made Notre Dame “a small Purdue with a Golden Dome” that eventually collapsed into the arms of modernity with a longing for money, prestige, and worldly “success.” Over the years, Notre Dame has built a very expensive house of cards designed to serve two masters – the modern secular world of the intellectual, political, and cultural elite, on the one hand, and traditional Catholic faithful and alumni, on the other. With Obama’s appearance, those cards came tumbling down. One by one, Rice lays them face up on the table.
In one example, Rice addresses Notre Dame’s desire to be a “research university,” which brings in millions in grants, but gives the back of the hand to undergraduate education. Almost anticipating this criticism, Notre Dame broadcast an infomercial during its season opener in September touting its role “as a premier research university [that] works to pursue a cure for .. rare diseases often overlooked by mainstream science.” The irony? Right under its nose, there is a very widespread disease, all the more dangerous because it is so rarely detected – a loss of faith, a dalliance with the culture of death, a celebration of modernity, and an abandonment of the university’s responsibility to provide a Catholic education.
Rice’s book is not a polemic but a roadmap. “In its historical acceptance of its full Catholic character, including the teaching authority of the Church, Notre Dame had it all. And then walked away from it,” he concludes. The remedy? Return – not to the past, but to the timeless truths that the “Fighting Irish” used to cheer and fight and die for – the truths of the Faith, our firm defense against the dictatorship of relativism.
Christopher Manion won the Father Hesburgh Prize in 1968.