Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Catholic Democrats' Statement on Ambassador Glendon's Refusal of the Laetare Medal: an LD gloss

Fr. Zuhlsdorf has already glossed the statement, and his gloss ought to be read (though I really wish he would stop calling ND "NS" for Notre Shame. Fr. Zuhlsdorf is one of the best-informed and most thoughtful voices in the blogosphere. Such gimmicks are out of character with, and indeed tend to make it difficult for interlocutors to see and appreciate, the thoughtful tenor and substance of his commentary, generally.). In my gloss, I have tried to keep the duplication of substantive points to a bear minimum.

As usual, emphases in Gold, comments in [LD BLUE]


Catholic Democrats Deplores
Ambassador Glendon's Undiplomatic Withdrawal from Notre Dame Commencement

Decision Not in Step with Majority of Catholics
Who Support the President's Social Justice Policies
Boston, MA - Catholic Democrats is expressing its disappointment in the decision by Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon to withdraw her acceptance of the prestigious Laetare Medal from the University of Notre Dame. Ambassador Glendon sent a letter to Fr. John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, saying that she had reconsidered her acceptance because of the university's decision to honor the President of the United States. Not true. What the ambassador said was: Last month, when you called to tell me that the commencement speech was to be given by President Obama, I mentioned to you that I would have to rewrite my speech. Over the ensuing weeks, the task that once seemed so delightful has been complicated by a number of factors. [a Commencement exercise] is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision.]

Ambassador Glendon, a professor at Harvard Law School and a listed advisor to the Right wing Catholic League, said that she could not accept the award because she did not want to engage with the university on the "very serious problems raised by Notre Dame's decision ... to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church's position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice." [V.s. The ambassador did not say she does not want to engage with the university. She said graduation day is not the right moment for engagement, whether with the POTUS, the ND authorities or the issues raised by the whole sad affair.]

"It is unfortunate that Professor Glendon would repeat the Republican talking points to justify her decision," said Dr. Patrick Whelan, president of Catholic Democrats. [This is positiviely serpentine: notice that Whelan does not quite, does not exaclty say, "Prof. Glendon repeats the Republican talking points, etc." That would have been a lie. It would have been a lie because Ambassador Glendon did not, in fact, repeat the Republican talking points. I would almost, almost prefer a bald lie to this creeping, crawling cravenness.] "Like many conservative critics, she conveniently sidesteps any acknowledgement of President Obama's pledge to reduce the number of abortions. Ambassador Glendon's statement knowingly ignores the President's leadership in moving the nation past the deep wounds of racial prejudice and advancing a spectrum of social and economic justice issues at the heart of our faith - including a new focus on strategies to reduce abortion." [Unlike ND, Ambassador Glendon did not need to justify her decision to decline the award. The Ambassador needed only to explain her decision. Since her reasons for declining had nothing to do with the above, there was simply no reason for her to touch on them, i.e. the President's protestations of support for reducing the number of abortions (and here let me say that such proestations are technically meaningless - it might be meaningful to support specific programs, on the grounds that they will lead to a reduction in the number of abortions; it might be meaningful to pledge support for any measure that promises to reduce the number of abortions - the emptiest nonsense), his supposed leadership in leading the nation past the deep wounds of racial prejudice (here it is worthwhile to mention that the President's election has done much for the country in this regard - though that he was elected is rather more a measure of the progress we have made as a nation, than a vehicle for it), and his advancement of a spectrum of social and economic issues at the heart of our faith (let me do two things: first, let me deny the first premise; then, let me deny the second. The president has not advanced anything. He inherited a series of crises. More importantly, those issues are not at the heart of our faith.).]

President Obama is the first president to run for office on a platform that promotes strategies to reduce the number of abortions in our country. [That is a lie. Suppose it were true: would we be able to trust the practical judgment of a man who would reduce the number of abortions by making every imaginable abortion procedure available at little or no cost to as many women as possible at home and abroad?] Last week, Cardinal Rigali, chair of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) praised the re-introduction of the "Pregnant Women's Support Act" saying that it "offers an authentic common ground, an approach that people can embrace regardless of their position on other issues."

Catholic Democrats has launched an online statement of support for the University of Notre Dame and its president, as well as in defense of Catholic education. The statement has been signed by thousands of Catholics from across the country. Catholic Democrats believes that the national debate on this controversy epitomizes the divisiveness in our Church and in the public square and is calling on all Catholics to engage in respectful dialogue on all the moral issues of our time.

"While we are disappointed in Ambassador Glendon's decision, we know that the majority of Catholics in the United States support the President because they feel he represents Catholic values across the spectrum of moral issues," said Steve Krueger, national director of Catholic Democrats. "The Catholic Right is caught in a web of the political Right and is out of step with Church teaching on matters of political culture. Even the Pope has honored political figures who are not in agreement with Church teaching such as President Sarkozy of France. [This is absolutely disgusting: I was one of those, who brought the Sarkozy example to the fore in trying to mount an early defense of ND's decision. The "Sarkozy Defense" if I may, depends entirely on recognizing that, just as the Pope was not honoring Sarkozy qua Sarkozy, that he was rather honoring Sarkozy qua French Chief of State, i.e. honoring the office in the officeholder, so ND was not honoring the man, Barack Obama, but only the President of the United States. Notre Dame's own statements have made it abundantly clear that their intention was to honor Barack Obama's person, rather than merely to honor the current holder of the office of President of the United States. N.B., I think many people have missed this distinction, which may be rather more subtle than I perceive it to be. The disgusting thing is that the authors of this statement deliberately turn the matter on its head: Ambassador Glendon declines in response to ND's decision to honor the POTUS, while the Pope honors Sarkozy.] Their actions and rhetoric are exacting an undisclosed cost on the Church and society that does not serve the best interest of either."



Clayton said...

Once again, well done.

The future of honest debate on issues depends on a return to a basic principle -- honesty -- which seems to be in short supply in much of today's rhetoric.

I don't know how the trend can be reversed short of a change in behavior... which implies a certain kind of moral formation as the foundation for an intellectual formation. The transformation of culture, it seems to me, has to begin with the heart, or else all of the appeals to the head are going to be falling on rocky ground.

Lazy Disciple said...

Thanks for the support, Clayton.

I very much appreciate your engagement in these pages. Would that there were more like you.