Peter Steinfels, one of the Church's most respected journalists on Catholic concerns, has an excellent column in today's New York Times. Steinfels shows just how extreme and counter-productive the anti-Obama/anti-Notre Dame protesters are.
Bishop Robert Finn (R-MO) has even gone so far to equate the President and the Notre Dame community with Satan.
The extremists are attacking the University administration, faculty, graduation class and student body as enemies of the pro-life movement.
Selections from the article follow.
May 9, 2009
Roman Catholics’ War Over Abortion
By PETER STEINFELS
Discord is nothing new for Roman Catholicism. But the controversy surrounding the appearance of President Obama at the University of Notre Dame’s commencement on May 17 suggests that run-of-the mill discord among American Catholics is escalating into something closer to civil war.
Just watch that airplane circling over the famous Golden Dome of Notre Dame’s Main Building and the spire of the university’s Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The plane pulls a banner with a picture of an aborted fetus.
The group flying the banner is unhappy not just with the university but also, according to a spokesman quoted in The South Bend Tribune, with “the pro-life community at Notre Dame.”
“If they were doing a good job of reaching the campus,” he said, “it’s unlikely Obama would have been invited.”
Now listen to Bishop Robert W. Finn, bishop of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese in Missouri. “We are at war!” he told an anti-abortion convention on April 18. “We are engaged in a constant warfare with Satan.”
Although this war must never involve violence, he said, and Christians must love the human enemies who come under Satan’s power, “even without their fully realizing it,” he went on to say that the most dangerous enemies were not those openly attacking the church but “more subtle enemies.” These included Catholics who “attack the most fundamental tenets of the church’s teachings.”
Mark Noll is a leading historian of American Christianity, an evangelical and a strong opponent of abortion who joined Notre Dame’s faculty last year. In an interview this week, he said “temperate objections” to Mr. Obama’s appearance could stimulate useful thinking about the role of the church in politics and the nature of a Catholic university. Still, he said, “I am surprised at the visceral level of the opposition.”
An editorial in America, the weekly magazine published by the Jesuit order of Catholic priests, characterized much of the opposition in even stronger terms: “They thrive on slash-and-burn tactics,” the editors wrote, adding that “their tactics, and their attitudes, threaten the unity of the Catholic Church in the United States, the effectiveness of its mission and the credibility of its pro-life activities.”
Of course, the editors are now being accused of “slash-and-burn tactics” themselves, if not of falling under the power of Satan.
The student body and especially the graduating seniors appear overwhelmingly in favor of hearing him. Afterward, people may wonder what all the fuss was about.
In 2004, a few bishops seconded that demand during Senator John Kerry’s presidential campaign. The resulting furor and division among the bishops led them, at their June 2004 meeting, to hammer out a statement on “Catholics in Political Life.” It is this hastily composed statement, now being treated as highly authoritative, that is being waved at Notre Dame.
It includes the injunction that Catholic institutions “should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.” (It also includes a plea for “more effective dialogue and engagement with all public officials.”) Exactly what the bishops meant by “in defiance” is unclear, especially as it might apply to non-Catholics whose adherence to Catholic teaching can hardly be presumed.
But the wording of the statement was less important than the feeling behind it — a feeling that the anti-abortion cause was not being loyally supported by Catholics themselves.
In 2008, that sense of betrayal turned white hot, what with a majority of Catholic voters and even some Catholics well-known for anti-abortion views supporting Mr. Obama,
Increasingly, conservative Catholics appear to be making a specific form of anti-abortion politics, condemning the administration root and branch, a test of Catholic identity.
The problem, at least to the editors of America magazine, is that “it is not adherence to the church’s doctrine on the evil of abortion that counts for orthodoxy, but adherence to a particular political program and fierce opposition to any proposal short of that program.”
for the full article, go here: