Thursday, August 13, 2009

Notre Dame Redux

The Summer 2009 issue of Notre Dame Magazine has four articles in it regarding the 2009 Commencement. None of them is pro-life.
The first article was written by Richard Conklin who at one time was Father Hesburgh’s chief PR/ Apologist, but is now retired. (He is the Spin Doctor Emeritus). Notre Dame must be really concerned to bring him out of retirement to deal – in part – with this situation. What he has written is mostly a rehash of previous arguments made by the University. However, he is good at throwing in little phrases which, almost subliminally, are meant to denigrate the opposition and elevate his position on the issue. Hence the Cardinal Newman Society is characterized as “. . . a self appointed guardian of orthodoxy in Catholic higher education.” On the other hand, he identifies The Tablet from which he quotes favorably as “The respected English Catholic publication.”
Mr. Conklin completes his article with this quote from Father Hesburgh, “Well, if you have a disagreement with someone, you may as well have him over to your place.” Obviously Notre Dame has no disagreement with President Obama. However, it does have one with pro-life people. We are waiting for our invitation and if it comes, whatever happens can’t be any worse than the handcuffing and prosecution that took place in May.
The second article is disingenuous in the extreme. It is written by R. Bruce Dold who is the editorial page editor of the Chicago Tribune. His perspective for his essay is that of a proud father of a 2009 Notre Dame graduate. What he neglects to tell us is that the Chicago Tribune in an editorial written by him during the 2008 campaign endorsed Barrack Obama for the presidency. As a matter of fact, Mr. Dold, without denial from him, has been classified as a pro-abortion Catholic by Tom Roesser. Mr. Dold’s article deserves absolutely no consideration for obvious reasons.
The last two articles are written by Kerry Temple and John Nagy who are the editor and associate editor, respectively, of Notre Dame Magazine. Suffice it to say that they know which side their bread is buttered on. Their articles are basically worthless except that Temple, whose essay is titled Defining Moment, and is accompanied by a picture of President Obama shaking hands with Father Hesburgh, writes the following: “The occasion was historic. In his first spring in office, America’s first African-American president was at Notre Dame, and he paid tribute to the last living member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, CSC, the principal architect of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dr. George Tiller

“Late term abortion” is merely a term meant to obfuscate what exactly is being done. It is the killing of a human being. A late term viable baby has all the attributes of those babies who have just left the womb. Nevertheless these pre-born babies, who are on the doorstep of their independent existence, are killed by some abortionists. Babies who are as human as you and I and a lot more innocent. That is why even the Supreme Court in its ill-advised opinion of Roe v. Wade stated that a baby in the third stage of the pregnancy should not be killed except when the protection of the mother’s health requires it. Therein lies the loophole. The right to have an abortion in the last trimester of a pregnancy is not limited only to the preservation of the mother’s life but is extended to the open ended concept of protecting the mother’s health. For some of these doctors, in order to justify the killing of these viable babies, the mother’s health can mean any malady or perceived malady- no matter how outlandish.
Dr. George Tiller was one of these late term abortionists. He was no hero. He killed thousands of these babies and got rich doing so. He was killed by a mad man who also is not a hero.
Occasionally history has called upon the mentally deranged, doing an insane act, to wake up the rest of society regarding an intolerable situation. Thus it was with John Brown and slavery and so it is here with the killing of Dr. Tiller and the issue of late term abortions. What is disconcerting is that Dr. Tiller was allowed to kill these babies for a long time and we did nothing to stop him. Like most of the Germans after World War II, we cannot now honestly say that we know nothing about the killing that is going on. We know. The question remains. Do we pretend that we don’t know or that it is none of our business or do we listen to our conscience and the crying of these little babies and resolve to do something to end it? That is the dilemma that the German people faced under Hitler and that is the dilemma that we in the U.S. face now.
The fact that these abortions are done under color of law is no justification. Hitler and his cohorts acted under the color of law and so did the slave owners. But no more. The same fate should happen to the present law permitting late term abortions for virtually any reason. Preserving the life of the mother is one thing, killing a baby because the mother has a headache is quite another.
There are people- usually hard core fanatics- who agree that late term abortions are killing viable babies but are nevertheless in favor of killing these children because they want no limitations whatsoever on a woman’s ability to abort her child. They want abortions in this country to be unrestricted- even when the baby is late term and viable.
However, if you agree that these late term babies must be protected, then you must act. Contact your local Right to Life or other pro life organizations. Call your Congressman. Call your Senators. Do something. These babies are still dying and it’s time to stop it. It’s time to save a life.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Term Limits For Congressmen and Senators

Aristotle did not consider democracy to be the best form of government because he believed that the people would eventually start voting for what was in their own best interest to the detriment of the country. This is one of the reasons that our Founding Fathers chose a Democratic Republic form of government instead of a straight democracy. To help eliminate corruption, among other things, our Founding Fathers also thought that it would be best if the members of the House and Senate had a primary occupation other than their political office- serving in Congress was to be a part time job.
Our present state of affairs in Washington, DC has proven both Aristotle and our Founding Fathers to be correct. We are fast becoming a country of entitlements, earmarks and corruption. Many citizens want government handouts. All politicians want to be reelected. Most politicians pour as much federal money into their district or state as they can and in return, the people keep reelecting these incumbents not because they are good for the country as a whole, but rather because they take care of their electorate through wasteful or unwise entitlements and earmarks. It is not unheard of for these Congressmen and Senators to garner billions of dollars of federal pork money for their constituents. Senator Byrd (D, WVa) and former Senator Stevens (R, Alaska) are two examples of how this system works- but there are, of course, many, many more.
Anyone who has ever taken a basic political science class knows that the supposed watchdog and informant regarding any D.C. shenanigans is the media. This is one of the reasons that freedom of the press is so important. However the mainstream U.S. media has, for the most part, abdicated its responsibility and has climbed into bed with the liberal politicians. Consequently, even when a liberal is wrong, he is right. It is just the opposite for conservatives. No conservative wrong escapes the front page and, even when right, conservatives must be wrong.
How can we rectify this situation when we have a “me first” electorate, a “me first” candidate and a biased media. “Term Limits.” Term limits rids us of all politicians- local or otherwise. It especially gives us a method of making sure that those politicians in other states and congressional districts who are elected and reelected for all the wrong reasons do not have a life estate. It is a way of purging an entire system rather than a single district or state.
The primary objection to term limits is that we would be throwing out the good with the bad. But honestly, can anyone name a politician that we cannot do without? Even if there are some good ones lost due to term limits, they are the collateral damage that unfortunately cannot be avoided.
Twelve years is enough- two senate terms or six congressional terms. It is usually about that time that a politician is getting comfortable enough to be susceptible to all the temptations and corruptive forces in D.C.
Term limits may not be palatable to some, but presently the situation is so bad in D.C. that we must have a way to cleanse the system rapidly and term limits provides us with a simple and effective method of doing so.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Notre Dame’s 2009 Commencement

Anybody who watched the Notre Dame graduation on Sunday (May 17th) had to come away with the impression that President Obama was the winner. He is good- really good. He is smooth, charismatic and was a man among boys when he gave his Commencement speech. He relinquished nothing- he didn’t have to-and received thunderous applause when he in essence said that he had his pro-abortion position and the pro-life people had their position and let’s just get together and discuss it. It is as if the killing of the unborn is the moral equivalent of trying to save their lives.
On the supposed other side was Father Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, who was beside himself fawning over the President. When it comes to the pro-life issue, Father Jenkins is an empty cassock. He blithely and figuratively thumbed his nose at the pro-life people and agreed with Mr. Obama that discussion was the way to go- as if Notre Dame has gone anywhere and done anything to advance the pro-life cause. If you have not done anything, it is easy to denigrate those in the trenches who have been fighting the good fight to protect the unborn for the past 36+ years. “Whatsoever you do to the least of my people . . .” What have you done for the unborn Notre Dame? How many lives of preborn children did you save by honoring President Obama who not only favors abortion but also favors partial birth abortion. How many lives of the preborn did you endanger by giving validation to Mr. Obama and implying that pro-life people are all extremists and not to be listened to. Notre Dame, I ask again how many preborn lives did you save on Sunday?
John T. Noonan was worthless. To enumerate a list of “wrongs” and not include abortion among them just about says it all for Mr. Noonan. Although he did list the obligatory and politically correct “torture” as one of his wrongs and in return he did receive the expected applause. What a pathetic presentation.
There are those in the media who already classify Notre Dame not as a catholic university but as a secular university. Based on Notre Dame’s treatment of the pro-life movement and the pro-life people at the 2009 Commencement, it would appear those media people are correct. The president of Notre Dame is running the University as if it were a secular university. Pro-life people, in particular, need not apply.
I would be remiss if I did not say something about the ND Response people. These are primarily graduating seniors who are pro-life and who sacrificed their attendance at their 2009 graduation because they value principle over expediency. To their credit, they organized an agenda of events that pro-life people could go to in good conscience. Hurray for them.
I attended the 11:15 A.M. ND Response planned Mass on the south quad of the University and I was pleased to see 2,000 or so students, families, old and young present to join together to give witness to the pro-life cause. Here were the true protestors. Here were the true pro-life people. Here was the true spirit of Notre Dame. Thank you students for caring enough for the pre born to do what you did. For the rest of your life you will carry with you the knowledge that by your actions you did more to advance the pro-life cause and the protection of the pre born than anyone else at Notre Dame. YOU are ND.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins, CSC.

How has Father Jenkins handled the pro-life v. pro-abortion Obama controversy he created for the 2009 Commencement?
To quote the knight in the Indiana Jones movie regarding the search for the Holy Grail, “He chose poorly.” Subsequently, in answer to the mounting criticism of his choice of President Obama as the 2009 Commencement speaker, his response was anything but wise and enlightened.
I know the ghost of Father Hesburgh still haunts the office of the Notre Dame president just like the ghost of John Wooden still haunts the basketball gym at UCLA, but unless Father Jenkins shakes himself free and becomes his own man, he’ll be just another minor footnote in the history of Notre Dame.
His reply to the U.S. Bishops regarding the invitation to President Obama was along the lines of, “It’s OK to invite him, he’s Protestant.” An argument that was transparent both for being overly simplistic as well as being pure sophistry.
Then Father Jenkins ran for refuge to the black student groups on campus. Any honest and thoughtful person knows that this situation is not a black/white problem. Shame on Father Jenkins for trying to play that card.
He also sought to use the proposed Laetare Medal nominee as some type of counter measure to Mr. Obama’s presence on the dais. To the everlasting glory of Mary Ann Glendon, she refused to be “used” in such a manner and not only declined the medal but in her refusal letter gave Father Jenkins and Notre Dame a, “what were you thinking” rebuke.
Father Jenkins’ most recent attempt to deal with the problem is his letter to the “Members of Notre Dame Graduating Class of 2009” which is merely a rehash of some of his prior talking points-part “us against them” and part “Notre Dame always knows better than those who disagree with it”. There was nothing humble nor instructional about it- at least not from the Catholic nor from the pro- life point of view. Hence it was an illustration of exactly what Notre Dame is being criticized for in this debacle- too little principle/too much equivocating.
Doesn’t anyone at Notre Dame know how to say “I was wrong.” What kind of advice is Father Jenkins being given? Does he just have yes men around him?
Instead of using this situation as an existential moment and a time for true and humble introspection, Father Jenkins and his cohort have marched on feebly in their usual close-minded manner when it comes to the pro-life issue. Notre Dame of course, knows better than those pro-life “mindless zealots”.
Because Notre Dame is a complex place, there still remains a fair amount of good to be harvested there but Father Jenkins, by his defiance in defending something that, for Catholics, is indefensable, has shown that at Notre Dame, the right thing to do is always whatever Notre Dame says it is. Thus, if that is Notre Dame’s guiding rule of conduct, then anything good about Notre Dame is in potential jeopardy.
To be honest, I have my doubts about Father Jenkins. It appears that he might very well be in over his head. I sincerely hope that God gives him the wisdom, the humility and the moral courage to be a true leader of a “Catholic” University- but frankly I’m not sure.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Notre Dame

The Catholic tradition at Notre Dame has been eroding since the 1960’s. At one time it was truly Catholic and had a distinct family atmosphere, but now it is not the same. What happened?
First of all, there are few Holy Cross priests teaching there any more. A significant number of Holy Cross priests with PhD’s have not been hired by Notre Dame or have not been granted tenure or have chosen to go elsewhere – usually the University of Portland which is also run by the Holy Cross Fathers. The absence of the influence of the Holy Cross Fathers has had an impact on the very core of Notre Dame’s Catholic and Family tradition. Whether by design, or by circumstances or by fewer numbers or by a combination of all of the above the priestly presence at Notre Dame is no longer what it once was.
Secondly, Notre Dame has changed philosophically. No longer content with being a/the leading Catholic University in the Country, Father Hesburgh chose to have Notre Dame break free from what he considered to be the bonds of ecclesiastical authority. Hence the oft quoted statement from the Land O’ Lakes Conference which was hosted by Father Hesburgh in 1967 at Notre Dame’s property in Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin: “the Catholic University must have true autonomy and academic freedom in the face of authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical, external to the academic community itself.”
Subsequently Notre Dame consciously took a step away from its Catholic roots and has been doing so ever since. The vision I am sure was that Notre Dame would, hopefully, take its place among the elite Universities – not just the Catholic Universities. Not necessarily an ignoble image but as time wore on it would appear that this vision would be nurtured at the expense of Notre Dame’s Catholicity.
One need not go any further than Notre Dame’s treatment of the pro-life movement to confirm Notre Dame’s transition away from its Catholic heritage. As chronicled by previous entries on this blog Notre Dame has at best been ambivalent towards the pro-life position and at worst a willing avenue for the pro-life enemies to state and foster their positions – unopposed.
Thirdly, Notre Dame is now permeated with professors and staff who have no idea – and possibly don’t care – what the true Notre Dame spirit and tradition is. These people come from other universities and have contributed to the concept that Notre Dame is and should be perceived as any other university. Given the fact that the faculty is just barely 50% Catholic, we can understand why the Catholic values are eroding.
Finally, Notre Dame is now more politically correct than it is Catholic. The majority of students who care are more concerned with politically correct issues- such as homosexuality or the vagina monologues- than they are with Catholic issues. If their politically correct issues coincide with Catholic thought – all the better, and if their politically correct issues conflict with Catholic values, then the Catholic values must be cast aside for being oppressive, out of touch and for countless other reasons. Better to be politically correct than to be Catholic. It’s modern, it’s easier; and it brings ready acceptance. Thus because being pro-life is not politically correct, it is easy to cast it aside as being irrelevant to “my graduation.” The politically correct police will leave you alone because they don’t really care.
I have no doubt that Father Jenkins and President Obama will each receive a standing ovation at the commencement on May 17th. This will be from students and faculty from a different Notre Dame – not the one that once was and the one some of us once knew.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Now it’s official. The Notre Dame Faculty Senate has voted- with only one courageous member voting “no” – to support Fr. Jenkins’ invitation to President Obama to be the 2009 Commencement Speaker and to receive an honorary degree. Apparently, at least 53 Notre Dame professors also signed a statement from the Indiana chapter of the American Association of University Professors giving similar support to Father Jenkins.
These professors may believe that they struck a blow for academic freedom, but in reality they merely struck a blow against Notre Dame’s Catholicity.
When Father Jenkins was first named president of Notre Dame he issued an invitation to Notre Dame’s students, faculty, alumni and friends to write him with an answer to the following (paraphrased) question. Can an educational institution be Catholic and a University at the same time? Well Father Jenkins and the faculty have now answered that question with a resounding “NO”. Academic freedom must win out over Catholicity.
Does it not give Father Jenkins pause, that those supporting his position are primarily pro- abortion or anti-Catholic or part of the secular movement or have no appreciation of what the real issue is in play here; and that those in opposition are merely just Catholics? Isn’t it ironic that the University that prides itself in being the leading American Catholic University is at odds on this issue, with so many “Catholic” leaders and faithful and instead, is in lock step with many of the Catholic Church’s enemies?
Academic freedom is not the issue here. Discussion is one thing; honoring an anti-life, pro- abortion politician is quite another. By issuing the invitation to such a politician, Notre Dame brought this controversy on itself. Notre Dame has not as yet given a good reason why it issued the invitation except that it gives Notre Dame “bragging rights” and approval from the secular society. However, when Notre Dame chose to issue said invitation and award, it is at that point that Notre Dame chose not to be Catholic but to merely be just another university. For if Notre Dame wants to be considered Catholic, then it must stand for more than merely being a university. Notre Dame would then have a responsibility to teach- not only its students but those external to the university (including other universities) – what exactly is the truth of its position.
To be Catholic Notre Dame must stand unfalteringly for Catholic principles and values – not just call itself Catholic. To be Catholic, Notre Dame must make it clear within the certain knowledge of everyone concerned that Catholic principles and values come first – especially above worldly recognition. To be Catholic, Notre Dame must teach other universities the truth that certain issues are not debatable: such as abortion and slavery to name a few.