ND and Obama: "Make It An Opportunity"

I had the good fortune to attend the Illinois Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Chicago yesterday, where Bishop Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin was the keynote speaker. His talk was folksy and outspoken, yet with a good amount of depth on natural law and the questions of life and the human person, none of which I have yet found covered in the press.

Toward the end of his talk, he made a few statements about the Notre Dame/Obama controversy. He made it very clear several times that if he were the president of Notre Dame, he would never have invited Obama in the first place. However, he said, since Obama will no doubt be coming, can Catholics make this an opportunity for the Church? Like Cyrus, the Persian king who nonetheless was used as an instrument by God to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, can Obama be a foe who, wittingly or unwittingly, does God's work? Can it be a moment of conversion for Obama himself?

Instead of merely protesting the invitation, can it be an opportunity to demonstrate the love and logic of the true, universal position on life championed by the Church? The controversy has gotten the Church's position on life on the front pages of the news... can the moment be seized to make this a teaching opportunity for the nation? The skeptical among us will certainly say that Obama isn't likely to change any time soon. Perhaps this is true. But, skeptical or not, can the thought process be shifted to making the Notre Dame commencement an opportunity for conversion for all who attend or watch the news coverage? Something to think about from Bishop Morlino.


  1. The prez sold his soul to PP. So, he may hate being responsible for the death of the unborn, but they don't vote and feminists do. So, he is beyond redemption because of his choice.

  2. While I have no delusions that Obama will change his mind because of this visit, to say "he is beyond redemption" is tantamount to denying faith in God. One might have said the same thing about Bernard Nathanson back in his days as an abortionist, and look how that turned out. I applaud Bishop Morlino's suggestions, and from the account it doesn't sound like he has only Obama in mind, but the many who will hear and read about this event. From the good bishop's lips to God's ears.

  3. During Obama's address, every Catholic should lie down dead on the ground.

  4. While I agree that it is highly unlikely we will see any "take backs" on the Obama invitation, I am forever attempting to keep my reaction to such things at the "just degree."

    In other words, if it were the law of the land was to incinerate Jews, and Obama agreed with this law, what would the measure of my response be?

    If we truly believe life begins at conception, do our preborn have any less dignity than a 35 year old Jew walking into the camp furnace?

    Should we be any less horrfied? Should the measure of our response differ at all?

  5. Anything is possible for God...but He has endowed us with free will. And He does not interfere with that gift...He demands that we use it and well.

    I remember when I was young that Christians in this country would send bibles to Jozef Stalin on his birthdays. Certainly hope sprung eternal from these good but naive folks.

    As for Dr. Nathanson, there is a vast difference between being an experienced abortionist with bloody hands and being a callow abstract thinker who must use a teleprompter to ask directions.

  6. "Engagement" is fine when appropriate, but this is neither the time, nor place. This person (Obama) is a demonstrated, active enemy of the Church and everything she stands for. What next? Invite an Iranian Mullah? No, no, no! Dis-invite him, NOW. And pray for Fr. Jenkins' salvation. The poor man has "issues" with his faith, obviously.

  7. Paul said...
    During Obama's address, every Catholic should lie down dead on the ground.

    This is a tactic taken from the playbook of liberals. Childish. Definitely don't recommend it.

    General principle: never imitate the tactics of your enemy. Instead, do the opposite. Learn virtue in the mirror of vice.

  8. Of all the universities in the united states that issue an invitation to the sitting president Obama chose the most visible (yet not orthodox) to accept. Am I the only one who feels that this move is a further attempt to undermine the authority of the Holy Father in the eyes of the American Public? He continues to use the weak but visible links of Catholic America to embarrass the devout faithful. Shame, shame on him. Fr. Jenkins, be not afraid to stand in humiliation of you momentary slip in pride and rescind the offer.

  9. I think ideally, the Obama appearance would be a change to dialogue about Catholic issues, to engage Obama on life issues, etc. Unfortunately, the forum is not all that conducive to dialogue. Obama is going to give a monologue saying whatever he wants-and it will be interesting to see what his speechwriters come up with for the occasion-and essentially, ND has already said its peace in inviting him.

    I think this is perhaps an opportunity for other Catholic colleges and universities to re-think where they stand in relation to the Church. ND is not the only example of a Catholic university making poor decisions when it comes to inviting speakers.

  10. The Church can make it an opportunity to show the country and the world that most of it stands with the Pope when it comes to protecting the unborn. Even if the university president acted imprudently, the students from many if not all Catholic, Christian and other universities will make a dramatic statement by demonstrating against Obama's presence. The fervor and conviction of the youth can make this event an opportunity indeed for those who defend the unborn and proclaim the faith of the Catholic Church by coming out in great numbers.

  11. I have spent quite a bit of time and energy thinking about this issue. And it was after chatting with my mother that I realised that we are fighting a Spiritual battle, more than a physical one. It is time for the devout to take their fight to a higher plane. Pray, fast and pray some more. Faith and action will do nothing if we forget to pray. I pray that the Bishop is correct.

  12. I agree with the bishop. We should figure out how to use this visit to God's advantage.

    There will be lots of cameras there. There will be news coverage. How do we use that to get the truth out?

    I would not suggest we lie down and play dead. Maybe the attendees remain standing an pray the rosary. We pray the Glorious Mysteries because we know in the end the Lord wins.

    What about those on campus but not at the graduation. Possibly at a different campus location we have Eucharistic adoration for the time Obama is on campus.

    What about the thousands that will be no where near the campus? Would there be something they could do to change the heart of the nation?

  13. This whole brouhaha to one side, we need a miracle, a big one to roll back the secularist tide in this country on many fronts. Here is the PERFECT setting.

    Rather than demonstrations, and petitions, etc, wouldn't it be more to the point to ask the Mother of God to defend her own university? Isn’t she the patroness? Isn’t she the Queen of Heaven AND earth?

    If we arose to the occasion and did ALL we could in the way of prayer and fasting and rosary processions and pilgrimages, begging the Mother of God to intervene on behalf of the university, the church and the country, she would do ALL she could, which is considerable.

    This is the kind of thing she asked for at Fatima, not that Catholics go into Lisbon and protest against the Communists with clever signs and demonstrations. No, prayer and sacrifice.

    When are we going to wake up? We are so secularized that most of the talk on the topic in the best Catholic blogs is about the number of signatures on the petitions, about red envelopes, and similar impotent claptrap.

    Think of a student led Rosary Procession on campus every evening until graduation; of Notre Dame grads and Catholics in rosary pilgrimages every Saturday morning to Marian shrines in all the major cities and towns of this nation, a protest that lifts its eyes to Heaven for relief.

    It would bring down Heavenly intervention, and at this point we need nothing less.

    A political victory, the withdrawal of the invitation due to an infinite number of signatures is simply too puny a victory to aim for at this point. We need the modern equivalent of the pillar and the cloud, pharoh and his army swamped, and we need it now.

    This is the PERFECT occasion to beg for it, together, “in every form of prayer and petition.”

  14. "For nothing shall be impossible with God." (Luke 1:38) However, "impossible" things seem to happen to people with humility (e.g., Mary the Virgin, her cousin, Elizabeth, Sarah, etc.)

  15. This is a great and public act of dissent on the part of Fr. Jenkins. All Catholic institutions have been instructed NOT to invite pro-abortion politicians and others who are firmly entrenched against Catholic teaching.

    This is an extremely divisive act.

    I was visiting a town yesterday where a parish split and one part became a 'catholic ecumenical' church sharing space with a protestant church (for it is too) and a priest led these people who want married priests and women priests and 'justice and peace' according to them and etc. An 'american catholic' church if you will. This act on the part of Fr. jenkins is an 'amchurch' act. Lets all be tolerant---even of evil.

  16. A number of Holy Cross priests plus the Provincial and one Bishop are on the Board of Governors. I am amazed that we have not heard from any of them.

    Catholic teaching cannot be manipulated for the agenda of anyone.
    It is what it is. You begin to tolerate; then you begin to tolerate the promulgation of evil ..it isn't a chritian virtue.

    I am still wondering about the Catholic Identity of the University. The large majority of students voted for Obama. I am wondering if they are really knowledgeable of Catholic teaching and the spirituality of our faith.

    It does give me pause.

    The other concern, government funding for the University . last year and the lucrative NBC contract. I think all of this is more about prestige.

    The University will not add stature to it by Obama's visit.

    This is no time for a "feeling" thing or "it's a cool thing".

    We are dealing with principles and core values.

    with all due respect to the good Bishop from Madison, I disagree.

    But again,civility must reign,but, at least the opposition must be heard and heard loudly either through the written word or TV and Internet.

    As a graduate of Notre Dame way back when it was merely of a shell of a complex; we were small and family like. There was a very deep faith that permeated the campus. You knew where you where; and you knew about your faith.

    I have my doubts about the true education of the student body now in the faith.


  17. Since it's fair to say that pride will keep the university from backing down on its decision, Notre Dame could at least be the first to make good on Bishop Morlino's very sound adivse. They could use this controversy, and the president's visit, as an opportunity to encourage students to serve in a home for unwed mothers; or proudly announce a chair in the Law School for an expert of the legal defense of life . . . anything to give some proof to Fr. Jenkin's statements that Notre Dame is trying to engage and influence the President's thinking on these issue. Unfortunately, I think we're unlikely to see much of that from the University - which gives the lie to their statements. So, we must instead see it from the wonderful students, professors and alumni who remain adamantly pro-life. Protests are good - but even better would be to use this situation to propose the positive, joyful possibility of choosing life!

  18. While I agree that we should pray for a miracle, I don't think anyone should expect one. For those that are saying Our Mother should defend herself - Notre Dame is an institution named in her honor, yes, but its Catholic identity has become questionable. Just because you name something after Mary, or Christ, or any of the saints, doesn't mean that thing is entitled or deserving in their or God's eyes of His divine protection or intervention.
    If you have serious expectations that anything miraculous is going to happen, perhaps you should curb them. I'm not by any means saying that God can't do anything, but that He most likely won't. This is the result and dilemma of free-will. As much as many of us wish God would set Mr. Obama and his Catholic supporters like Fr. Jenkins in their place, it's not His way.

  19. Blue Shoe,

    You write:

    "While I agree that we should pray for a miracle, I don't think anyone should expect one."

    Well, we should have every confidence in asking for a miracle here, because we really do need one, not just for the withdrawl of the invitation, but for the thorough-going reform of Catholic higher education and of our national politics, for that matter. But if, we will not ask, if we will not believe... "He could do nothing there because of their lack of faith."

    A dramatic divine intervention on that day in May, at that place, could well have a dramatic effect on our culture and politics.

    You write: "For those that are saying Our Mother should defend herself - Notre Dame is an institution named in her honor, yes, but its Catholic identity has become questionable."

    Look, Our Lady is PATRONESSS of the University of Notre Dame. What is the point of having a patroness if we are not going to ask her-with confidence-to act when action is needed? Especially when we are precisely asking her most reasonably to restore the Catholic identity of the university. This is very in line with her Son's interests.

    You write "Just because you name something after Mary, or Christ, or any of the saints, doesn't mean that thing is entitled or deserving in their or God's eyes of His divine protection or intervention."

    It isn't at all a question of being deserving of divine intervention, but of being desperately in need of it.

    "If you have serious expectations that anything miraculous is going to happen, perhaps you should curb them."

    With this kind of attitude I wouldn't expect anything whatever to happen. "Increase our faith," said the apostles. "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief" With such prayers we might come to the needed level of faith, but expressions of disbelief will get us nowhere.

    "As much as many of us wish God would set Mr. Obama and his Catholic supporters like Fr. Jenkins in their place, it's not His way."

    Well, it is emphatically his way to rescue his people, a fact that we will celebrate shortly at the Easter Vigil.

    Here, to take once example, is a much abbreviated version of Psalm 18:

    "The cords of death encompassed me... In my distress I called upon the Lord...From His temple he heard my voice, and my cry to Him reached His ears... He bowed the heavens and came down...He reached from on high, he took me, he drew me out of many waters."

    We need this. We aren't asking for pyrotechnics for the sake of our amusement, we need the deliverance that only God can supply, and which Our Lady can obtain for us, if we will but ask with faith.

  20. I agree that we should do as our Mother has asked us to do. Pray, fast and do penance. We should be doing these things. In addition the pro-life groups on ND campus have an opportunity to line the university roadways with white crosses, signs on how the destruction of life offends God, and denies justice and liberty to all Americans. President Obama stated that the destruction of embryos is "sound science", that he ended the debate on the Mexico Policy and that he does not want rigid ideology to be the basis of policy. This is indeed a spiritual war!

  21. Blue Shoe,

    You've expressed all the doubts and ways of thinking most of us have entertained, yet doesn't God ask us to unabashedly and shamelessly ask for what we need? I am reeling from this Notre Dame debacle, intermittently despondent and losing sleep, yet I have fervent hope that Jesus and His mother are listening. Jesus, Son of the Living God, deliver us from Evil. Amen.


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