Sunday, March 29, 2009

Guilt by INVITATION not just association

Imagine the furor and outrage if a Catholic college such as Ave Maria University, Christendom College, Thomas Aquinas College or Franciscan University of Steubenville invited Bishop Richard Williamson to be Commencement Speaker at Graduation. Could not the chancellor of the college claim that the mere invitation should not be construed as any endorsement or even toleration of the anti-Semitic remarks previously made by the speaker in question? And who would believe it? It would never happen, of course. None of these Catholic colleges would dream of extending the HONOR and PRIVILEGE of being Commencement Speaker to someone who publicly espoused ideas contrary to church teachings on faith and morals. The same press and media and liberal intellgensia who would repudiate any Catholic college for inviting Bishop Williamson, ironically see no problem with the University of Notre Dame inviting U.S. President Barak Obama to be Commencement Speaker. While not espousing any anti-Semitic theories, President Obama has consistently denied the right of the unborn to be defended from unjust death via abortion. His support for Roe v. Wade alone makes him ineligible as an appropriate Commencement Speaker for any Catholic college, but his recent Presidential decisions and appointments compound the problem and make the moral matter even more grave. All the pro-life legislation enacted since Roe is being undone bit by bit thanks to the Obama administration. The President seeks to deny doctors and nurses their constititional and moral right to refuse to participate in any unethical procedure, be it sterilization, euthanasia or abortion.

Yes, the President of the United States deserves respect for his office. Hence, were the President to visit any Catholic College, he should be welcomed with the same respect and dignity of any head of state or any civil leader (governor, senator, congressman, etc.).  Showing HOSPITALITY is not the same however as INVITING someone to speak and the distinct HONOR of being Commencement Speaker de facto confers an implicit approval of the speaker's position on any and all issues. Being courteous and hospitable to a visiting government official is merely showing honor to the office. Inviting the person to SPEAK cloaks them with a form of endorsement. While not an imprimatur, nevertheless, giving the podium to someone and giving them the privilege of addressing graduates and their families is more than just good manners. It is a PUBLIC SIGN of CREDIBILITY for the speaker.

President Obama did not HAVE to be invited to be Commencement Speaker. He SHOULD NOT have been invited at all because of his overt pro-abortion position and his recent policies and appointments which further jeapordize the lives of all the unborn. He is the legitimate head of state for the USA and were he to visit anyone, anywhere in this country, he should be given all the honor and respect due his office. His pro-abortion policies however make him ineligible to be the invited speaker for graduation at any Catholic school, college or university. No honorary degrees or awards should be extended. Yet, every courtesy, respect and honor for the Commander in Chief and Head of State is owed to him in justice, as was to each and every one of his predecessors.

Since Notre Dame would never invite Bishop Williamson as Commencement speaker because of his anti-Semitic remarks, then neither should President Obama be invited to the same venue because of his pro-abortion position, policies and appointments. Yes, there can and should be civil discourse that allows debate and discussion among those who disagree but it should be in the proper CONTEXT at all times. When the Angelic Doctor and his contemporaries held the great disputations, they were never afraid or hesitant to engage in a full, healthy, vigorous and intelligent debate. Heretical ideas need to be exposed for their irrationality so the wisdom of the Magisterium can be seen and appreciated. A graduation commencement, however, is not the time nor the place for such 'discussions.' Being asked to be Commencement Speaker is more than an honor, it is an awesome RESPONSIBILITY. The audience is more than the graduates but they are a significant factor.

If the President wanted to debate with Professor Ralph McInerny of the Philosophy Department, I myself would go and listen (even though I would be cheering and rooting for our nation's premier expert on Saint Thomas Aquinas). I would boycott, however, the graduation ceremonies since a pro-abortion politician, even though President of the United States, has been invited to be Commencement Speaker. The right to address the graduation class of 2009 is not a political right, it is moral obligation for those who adhere to the Natural Moral Law. Abortion violates the NML as egregiously as did slavery, segregation, apartheid and anti-Semitism. Supporting legalized abortion is as immoral as supporting legalized racism. Both are morally and ethically WRONG. Both have been civilly legal and illegal at different times in different places.

When Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi met with Pope Benedict, he granted her an audience because of her political office as ranking member of the House of Representatives. She did not, however, get any medal, award or even photo-op due to her open and consistent support for abortion. She was not allowed to make any speeches on Vatican property but she was allowed to visit as is the entire public on the planet.

The University of Notre Dame is violating ex corde ecclesiae by inviting President Obama to be Commencement Speaker insofar as it gives respectability to his pro-abortion ideas and policies by giving him a public platform on school property. The person who addresses the graduating class should be someone whose ideology coincides with the mission of the university. IF Notre Dame wants to be CATHOLIC then it must teach and defend Catholic doctrines and morals to her students. It was not the President who asked if he could speak, rather, it was the university who sought the President, knowing his positions and policies which conflict and contradict church teaching on many life issues.

Catholic laity and clergy alike can and must always be well-mannered, respectful and courteous even with our most intense opponents and enemies. That does not mean we give them access on our property to indoctrinate our youth with their propoganda. We can and must refute the illogical and irrational arguments that underpin the immoral and unethical policies, doctrines and ideologies which threaten innocent human life, marriage and the family. Notre Dame and other colleges and universities which claim to be "Catholic" must be so in FACT and not just in their foundation, history or heritage. Imagine if John Hopkins University invited as Commencement Speaker a proponent of good old fashioned 'blood-letting' just because he or she was also a visiting head of state. Or if Harvard Law School invited someone who promoted "trial by ordeal" for the same reason, PUBLICITY. It would not happen.

Alumni of Notre Dame should not donate one cent or dollar until this matter is resolved by "un-inviting" President Obama as Commencement Speaker for the Graduating Class of 2009.

Just as it is wrong and dangerous to take a Scripture quote out of CONTEXT, so, too, it is wrong to take the symbolic value of Commencement Speaker out of context. It is not a venue for dialogue or discussion. It is a gesture of respect but also one of ENDORSEMENT since the speaker is speaking on school property, on school time, and to school students. It has the umbrella of tacit approval at least and official endorsement at worst. This is why celebrities per se should not be invited merely because of their popularity. Comics, actors, politicians, et al. may bring publicity but the crux of the issue is WHAT they are saying rather than WHO is saying it. When I graduated from Gannon University in 1983, we had John Cardinal Krol as Commencement Speaker. Some of my classmates complained since they wanted someone like Bruce Springstein or Barbara Walters due to their fame. Well, had we been a school of music or journalism, then you could possibly make a case for each one respectively. Yet, my alma mater was a CATHOLIC college which sought to teach a real and classical liberal arts education as envisioned by the masters of yester-year.

On another note, not related to this whatsoever, PLEASE in the charity of your prayers, remember the departed soul of my paternal Uncle Frank Trigilio, who died today in Erie after a lengthy illness. 

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