Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Some More Thoughts on the ND Debacle

Note to Readers: this started as a response to an observation in one of the com-boxes, and grew into something more. - LD

UPDATE: I have fine-tuned this post. Changes in Blue - LD

I have been monitoring developments in the ND debacle pretty closely, and have seen nothing in the way of new argument. All I have seen is repetition of the old argument, peppered with greater or lesser doses of outrage and vitriol.

I have been especially disappointed with the many bishops' letters and statements.

Pastors afraid to discipline the pro-abort politicians in their own dioceses who blithely present themselves for Communion on Sunday and then vote to fund infanticide at home and abroad the next day, have complained to and fulminated against a priest who is not under any of their jurisdictions; what is worse, they carry their criticism of his actions right into the realm of condemnation - a realm into which the bishop under whose jurisdiction ND falls quite carefully and tactfully refused to enter.

There is also an appalling inconsistency in the condemnations, themselves.

Suppose Fr. Jenkins' decision is really worthy of the worst of the condemnation it has received, and that ND's standing to claim the title, "Catholic" in a meaningful sense has really been impeached; then Bishop D’Arcy is a coward – or worse – a hypocrite for encouraging Ambassador Glendon to do what he will not, i.e. attend the Commencement, and to accept an award that must be tainted with ND’s treachery.

Suppose Fr. Jenkins' decision is really worthy of the worst of the condemnation it has received, and that ND's standing to claim the title, "Catholic University" in a meaningful sense has really been impeached; how, then, can the Cardinal President of the USCCB coherently claim that the invitation ought to stand, simply because to dis-invite the president would be "bad manners"? If things really are as bad as those on the other side of this debate say, then we are engaged in an all-out war for the soul of Our Lady’s University; if so great and terrible a battle really is joined, then we really have moved beyond questions of etiquette and protocol.

So much for the arguments, such as they are, or at least seem to me.

There is a much more serious consideration, one that really is a matter of life and death

More to this: in behaving so ungraciously toward the President of the United States, they have burned bridges that needed to be there in order for the bishops to engage the President effectively in the REAL fights that there will be over conscience clauses and institutional exemptions.

Our ability to prevent the gratuitous destruction of real human lives at home has been seriously reduced – our ability to influence policy at the highest levels is effectively destroyed, and as a result, more people are going to die.

That is just what there will be at home.

A priest or a bishop gets arrested in China, Vietnam or North Korea? Which of the bishops will have the president's ear?

The rights of the Church in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, the Caucasus, or South Asia need to be pressed? Who shall press the President to press them? Would the bishops then - now, as it were - rely on the president's upright sense of justice and native appreciation of the sanctity of life?

I could continue, but I will break off for now.



William Wren said...

Hey, come visit, leave a comment, make a friend...

Lazy Disciple said...

Dear Mr. Wren,

Thanks for visiting. Which of yours is most active?


Greta said...

In case you haven't noticed during the campaign and since coming to office, the guy Obama has said "up yours" to the Catholic Church every chance he gets. I do not think that anyone should expect him to change since accomodating little things like life is not part of his agenda.

You might want to read the article by Gerson in the Washington Post about his actions toward catholics at this point and the numbers of those waking up that he is truly saying "UP YOURS" to them.
He says, "So far, Obama has done little to justify this faith. His initial actions on life issues -- funding overseas abortion providers, removing restrictions from federally funded medical experimentation on human embryos, revisiting conscience protections for pro-life health-care professionals -- have ranged from conventional to radical. And this may be one reason Obama's support among Catholics has eroded. According to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of Americans who disapprove of Obama's job performance increased by nine points from February to March. Among Catholics as a whole, his disapproval rating jumped 14 points. And among white, non-Hispanic Catholics, the figure doubled -- from 20 percent to 41 percent.

Catholics are having second thoughts, but it could get much worse. If the president and Congress are not careful on several issues, these concerns could open a major rift between the Catholic Church and the Democratic Party.

First, Obama has raised deep concerns among Catholic leaders by signaling that he will overturn Bush's executive order protecting health workers from firing and discrimination if they refuse to perform actions they consider morally objectionable. The administration claims the order was overbroad and unnecessary. But Catholic hospitals believe these protections are essential because of pressure by states and private medical associations for Catholic health-care providers to perform or refer for abortions. Catholic leaders want the president to be helpful, not neutral or hostile, in the protection of conscience.

Second, Catholic leaders fear that the Hyde Amendment -- which bans the use of Medicaid funds for abortion except in the rarest of cases -- could easily be reversed by the pro-choice congressional majority.

Third, health-care reform will raise the largest debate -- whether abortion should be a covered service. As a candidate, Obama said his health proposal would include "reproductive health services." Planned Parenthood argues that "full reproductive health" must be covered. But any proposed federal entitlement to abortion-on-demand would be unprecedented, push Catholic leaders toward revolt and possibly doom health-care reform entirely.

Americans disagree strongly about the proper legal status of abortion. But for decades there has been a rough consensus that no one should be compelled to participate in abortions or have their federal tax dollars used for abortion. These three changes would shatter that consensus, making the destruction of life an essential part of the medical and legal order while stigmatizing and marginalizing all who object. This would be an outrage and a scandal -- a troubling reinterpretation of religious liberty, which is not merely the freedom to believe but the freedom to bring religiously informed moral beliefs to professional and political life.

Obama's Catholic supporters would feel betrayed and discredited -- and rightly so. The Catholic hierarchy and Catholic health professionals would feel assaulted by the president -- and they would be correct. And President Obama would not need to worry about future invitations from Notre Dame."