Obama at Notre Dame
Re “Catholicism and politics,” editorial, April 1
The Times makes a poor case against well-founded Catholic criticism of Notre Dame's decision to invite President Obama to speak at graduation.
A commencement speaker should embody the ideals and mission of the university. By reversing stem cell research and abortion-related policies, the president put himself in direct contradiction with important church teachings and is therefore not an appropriate choice.
No one is advocating the stifling of ideas. I encourage the university to promote debate by inviting Obama and others to the campus to speak at a separate time.
The Times rightly defends Columbia University's decision to invite Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak on campus in 2007. Would you have defended Ahmadinejad as a choice for commencement speaker?
The Times' editorial board presumes competency to determine what is an unwelcome intrusion of religion into academic life at one of the nation's leading Catholic universities. To the contrary, Notre Dame's decision to honor the most pro-abortion U.S. president in history -- note this is not an opportunity for dialogue but an honors ceremony -- is a betrayal of one of the most basic principles of Christianity and of civilization: respect for the dignity of human life.
Yes, Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, sent cordial congratulations to Obama upon his election. The cardinal also has urged Catholics to write, call and e-mail Notre Dame to protest the honor to Obama. You failed to mention that.
The Catholic bishops and Catholic faithful have every right to insist that Catholic institutions not betray their Catholic values.
Patrick J. Reilly
The writer is president of the Cardinal Newman Society.
Re “Is Obama a bad choice for Notre Dame?,” Opinion, March 28
Thank you, Tim Rutten, for exposing the conservative Cardinal Newman Society for generating much of the flack surrounding Notre Dame's invitation to Obama. The society may have a large megaphone, but it is a small group, hardly representing the views of the majority of Catholics.
We have to encourage dialogue to resolve our differences, not stifle it, as the Cardinal Newman Society proposes. Sadly, I worry that these cries over the president's views on stem cell research and abortion are a red herring, to give cover to political differences over such issues as the Iraq war, taxes and the stimulus package -- or, even more sadly, what the protesters really don't like about Obama but are unwilling to acknowledge. Yes, there are bigots in the Catholic Church.
Interestingly, in 2001, Notre Dame did invite and host a commencement speaker who sanctioned torture of human beings without regard to human rights: President George W. Bush.
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