This will be the 25th Notre Dame graduation during my time as bishop. After much prayer, I have decided not to attend the graduation. I wish no disrespect to our president, I pray for him and wish him well. I have always revered the Office of the Presidency. But a bishop must teach the Catholic faith "in season and out of season," and he teaches not only by his words — but by his actions.While I'm not sure that the bishop's absence will make much of a difference in th overall scheme of things, I respect his decision, and I suppose it's doubtful that he had the authority to do much more (bishops +1). What remains to be seen, and what will perhaps have a bigger impact, is what action the students of Notre Dame take, as noted by Emily at the Shrine of Holy Whapping.
This situation seems to be part of a much bigger problem that is spreading quite rapidly. For a long time now, Catholic politicians have been thumbing their noses at Church teachings, ignoring central tenants of our faith, and presenting a deaf ear to their bishops. Madame Pelosi's visit with the pope did not even change her heart. It's even worse when this sort of conduct is coming from a priest like Fr. Jenkins (the president of the University of Notre Dame).
There are probably several underlying problems at the root of this dilemma. For some, like many politicians, it is a lust for power and a vanity that convinces them they can do no wrong. Their Catholic status is just that - a status, enabling them to win votes. For many others (and perhaps partly for these politicians, as well), it may very well be a matter of poor catechesis, as my friend Ben, a theology graduate student, has pointed out to me. I'm no expert, but this could very well be the main source of the American Church's problems.
I've noticed an interesting link between religion and politics here. I think one of the main culprits for this situation is "progressivism." I don't know whether it is a root cause or a symptom. If you've been keeping abreast of political developments over the past several months, you'll note that many of the more moderate or progressive Republicans have been calling for an expanding of the tent, so to speak. They use such terms as "litmus test" and assert that core conservative tenants cannot be so strictly adhered to if the party is to survive.
Likewise, there are some "Catholics" who try to pull the same nonsense. Observe this interview with Phil Donahue regarding the Notre Dame scandal. There are many pro-choice Catholics, huh? Well, perhaps they shouldn't be Catholics, then. Religion and truth do not change to suit the needs of the masses. God does not change to assuage the consciences of those who want to have things both ways. This progressive ideaology of all-inclusiveness is flawed and base. Accepting practices that one believes to be evil and sinful is akin to supporting them.
Yes, as Catholics we value charity and consider it a virtue. But it seems these days that charity is being used as a shield by the unjust. Where is the charity for the unborn?
The Giver is a short novel that I suggest you read if you've not already, for I think it is one case of a disutopian society that is not too far off. The ideas of The Sameness and "releasing" those who are of no use to the community...they seem to me to be the ultimate progressive ideals.