The Church swirls in controversy eternally, as it should, being a sign of contradiction in the world, and even within the faithful arguments rage and, if possible, the opportunity for a great teaching moment should never be wasted.
One controversy—that over the awarding of the honorary doctorate to our president by Notre Dame, a teaching moment indeed—continues with no sign of abating and this article from Chiesa examines it.
“ROME, May 26, 2009 – The degree "honoris causa" given last week to President Barack Obama by the Catholic university of Notre Dame, in South Bend, Indiana, has produced a new spasm of protests.
“But it has also offered occasions for more tranquil reflection and action.
“The most drastic in their protests have been the standard-bearers of neoconservative Catholic thought: Michael Novak, George Weigel, Deal Hudson.
“Their protest has mainly been directed against the Vatican and "L'Osservatore Romano," accused of excessive indulgence toward Obama, despite his bioethical positions contrary to the Church's doctrine.
“Deal Hudson, on the site "Insidecatholic.com," of which he is the founder, called for the head of Giovanni Maria Vian, director of the newspaper of the Holy See, and urged his readers to demand his removal by writing to the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
“On "National Review Online," George Weigel said that although "L'Osservatore Romano" does not automatically express the positions of the Holy See in every line, its statements on the matter nevertheless demonstrated the presence in the Vatican of a strong pro-Obama current, in addition to a "sorry ignorance of recent American history" and of the attack brought by the new president against the Church's teaching on life.
“Michael Novak, in a commentary in the Italian newspaper "Liberal," also accused "L'Osservatore Romano" of not understanding the American reality, with the result that "it has sided with the pro-abortion forces and against the marginalized minority of faithful practicing Catholics." It is as if the popes who defined abortion as an "intrinsic evil" had spoken in vain: "We asked Rome for bread, and 'L'Osservatore Romano' has given us stones."
“Neither Hudson, nor Weigel, nor Novak demonstrated any credence in Obama's offer of dialogue – in his speech on May 17 at the University of Notre Dame – with the defenders of unborn life. In their judgment, the new president stands firm on his pro-abortion positions. The "pro-life" forces, and they alone, are asked to compromise. Such that, in the end, what he calls dialogue "is only a request for unconditional surrender."
“There are also some bishops – among the more than seventy who before May 17 had criticized the decision of the Catholic university of Notre Dame to honor the "pro-abortion" president – who have reacted negatively to the offer of dialogue issued by Obama in his speech at the award ceremony.
“The leadership of the United States bishops' conference, however, has identified positive elements in Obama's speech, while maintaining strong reservations on some of the president's decisions.
“In an official note released on May 22, the president of the conference, Cardinal Francis E. George, archbishop of Chicago, thanked the president for the things he said about conscientious objection on the part of medical workers who are against abortion. He added that no one should be forced to subsidize abortion with their tax dollars. He asked the president to put into practice what he has promised, and confirmed that the bishops' conference looks forward to "working with the Administration and other policy makers" to reduce the number of abortions as much as possible.
“But on the same day, the secretary general of the bishops' conference, Monsignor David Malloy, again criticized the executive order with which, on March 9, Obama removed the ban on destroying embryos for research purposes: a decision in which "both science and ethics have been ignored."