Saturday, April 4, 2009

Scranton Bishops Join Protest of Notre Dame Scandal



Scranton Bishop Joseph F. Martino and Auxiliary Bishop John M. Dougherty have joined with more than a dozen other bishops and thousands of people throughout the nation who are publicly protesting Notre Dame University’s decision to honor President Barack Obama at the school’s commencement.

In a letter to Notre Dame’s president, Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, Bishop Martino and Bishop Dougherty cite the extensive anti-life positions taken by President Obama and describe the Catholic school’s decision to host him as the commencement speaker and bestow an honorary degree on him as a “scandal to the Church.”

They also cite the 2004 statement by the United States Bishops, which says: “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

All those who seek a "culture of life" can express their opposition to Notre Dame’s decision through on online petition sponsored by the Cardinal Newman Society. The petition can be found on a new website dedicated to the scandal: http://www.notredamescandal.com


Below is the letter to Father Jenkins:

April 1, 2009


Reverend John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
President

University of Notre Dame

400 Main Building

Notre Dame, Indiana 46556


Dear Father Jenkins,


The numerous, repeated and extensive anti-life positions taken by President Obama merit his recognition as an unequalled, prominent proponent of the culture of death in our nation. Given her Catholic identity, the University of Notre Dame’s receiving the President as the 2009 commencement speaker and her bestowing on him an honorary doctorate are truly shameful, a scandal to the Church and a major blow to hundreds of thousands who have sacrificed to bring forth a culture of life in our midst.


As a Diocesan Bishop and his Auxiliary we cannot overstress our disapproval of these actions by the University.


Through its President, His Eminence Cardinal George, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops acted swiftly and consistently to engage President Obama on human life issues. Your reported comment that “I think if he is going to reconsider his views, I think Notre Dame is the best possible place to begin that process” demeans, we believe, the intelligent urgency exercised by the nation’s bishops in this matter.


Moreover, your argument that honoring President Obama by granting a degree to him “is not intended to condone or endorse his position on specific issues regarding life” is no more than a blatant rejection of United States Bishops’ assessment of what Catholic institutions do when they so act. Their 2004 statement is absolutely clear. “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”


"Bishops have a particular responsibility to promote Catholic universities, and especially to promote and assist in the preservation and strengthening of their Catholic identity, including the protection of their Catholic identity in relation to civil authorities.” (Ex Corde Ecclesiae, no. 28) We are convinced that Notre Dame will one day very much regret rebuffing not only her own Bishop D’Arcy but also the USCCB’s efforts to fulfill their responsibilities in her regard.


Praying this conviction will prove untrue and that Notre Dame will immediately and resoundingly proclaim her Catholic identity in word and act, we are,


Sincerely yours in Our Lord,


Most Reverend Joseph F. Martino, D.D., Hist. E.D.

Bishop of Scranton


Most Reverend John M. Dougherty, D.D., V.G.

Auxiliary Bishop of Scranton



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