Wednesday, May 27, 2009

First Things Editor weighs in on the Notre Dame scandal

Joseph Bottum, Editor of First Things Magazine has an excellent piece up on the recent scandal at Notre Dame. He looks at Catholicism, politics, and American Catholic education. It is a lengthy article and well worth reading it in it's entirety, so bookmark it and come back to it if you don't have time now.

First Things was founded by Fr. Richard John Neuhaus who passed away earlier this year.

He first recaps Obama's road to Notre Dame and Fr. Jenkin's misguided and disingenuous steps, before diving head-first into the political view and the pro-life culture within the Catholic Church.

Here is one snippet from, At the Gates of Notre Dame, by Joseph Bottum

Still, opposition to abortion is hard and real, the signpost at the intersection of Catholicism and American public life. And those who—by inclination, or politics, or class distinction—fail to grasp this fact will all eventually find themselves in the situation that Fr. Jenkins has now created for himself. Culturally out of touch, they rail that antagonism must derive from politics or the class envy of their lesser-educated social inferiors. But it doesn't. It derives from the sense of the faithful that abortion is important. It derives from the feeling of Catholics that, however far they themselves may have wandered, the Church ought to stand for something in public life—and that something is opposition to abortion.

"There is a political game going on here, and part of that is that you demonize the people who disagree with you, you question their integrity, you challenge their character, and you brand these people as moral poison," Fr. Kenneth Himes, chairman of the theology department at Boston College, told the Boston Globe about the controversy at Notre Dame. As James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal noted, this was the same Fr. Himes who in 2006 wrote the faculty letter objecting to an honorary degree for Condoleezza Rice—a letter that read, "On the levels of both moral principle and practical moral judgment, Secretary Rice's approach to international affairs is in fundamental conflict with Boston College's commitment to the values of the Catholic and Jesuit traditions and is inconsistent with the humanistic values that inspire the university's work."

The irony is palpable—it's only demonizing when other people do it—but Himes went on to tell the Globe, "Some people have simply reduced Catholicism to the abortion issue, and, consequently, they have simply launched a crusade to bar anything from Catholic institutions that smacks of any sort of open conversation." And in his odd way, he's right. The aspiring professionals who attend and staff elite Catholic universities tend to identify with other upwardly mobile young people, focused on career and lifestyle choices. But the vast majority of Catholics, to whom Catholic universities ultimately must answer, seek in Catholic culture the strength with which to confront the urgent concerns of ordinary life.

The First Things website has undergone a makeover. You might want to check it out.

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!