In recent days, the controversy of the honorary degree to be given out to President Obama at University of Notre Dame has put the spotlight on a pretense of superiority the pro-choice ivory tower elitists impose on pro-life Catholic. The decision has put the graduating students in the middle of the mess and that is unfortunate.
Let me begin by stating that I am not Catholic. I was raised in the Presbyterian church. And I am a pro-choice Republican woman. I am a proud member of the Baby Boomer generation and this how I see the whole thing.
There is an article in the Chicago Tribune written by columnist John Kass, one of my favorite newspaper writers, that goes to the heart of the controversy. I strive to maintain a common sense approach to big issues and Kass is such a voice of reason. The problem is not that the President was invited to speak at a commencement address at this Catholic university, it is in the awarding of an honorary law degree to a politician who is commonly thought to be the most pro-abortion President ever to be elected.
From what I have read on the subject, the university has hosted six sitting Presidents as commencement speakers while in office. What university would not think it a coup to have the President of the United States at graduation? The problem arises here due to the fact this is a private university with a very rich religious history and remains to present day as such. In 2004, as more and more discontent among the voters in our country rose and protested politicians who proclaim to be good, practicing Catholics yet run on the platform of the Democratic party which is pro-choice. The U.S. Catholic bishops issued a statement that "Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles and that such persons should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions." That from the Kass article. So, the honorary degree is not within the tenet put forth in the official statement.
The slobbering media are portraying the students protesting the gesture as right wing nuts, overcome with some sort of religious fanaticism instead of young people trying to uphold the beliefs of their chosen religion. These are regular, ordinary college kids who have worked hard to graduate from this good school and now speak up about a contradiction between the world of academia and their religion.
What isn't being highlighted is the story of Mary Ann Glendon. She is a law professor at Harvard and former ambassador to the Vatican. She was invited to accept the award of the Laetare Medal. This is described as the most prestigious honor awarded to American Catholics. This was to give cover to the poor decision to award the President his honorary award. Glendon, age 70, is a woman of true personal character and she declined the award. She wrote an open letter to Notre Dame's President Rev. John Jenkins. In this letter she articulated that she had no problem with the President speaking at the ceremony. She has a problem with the decision to honor him with the degree as such a strong advocate of abortion rights. Ms. Glendon quietly and respectfully lived her faith.
As Kass points out, "Notre Dame scrambled to find someone else to accept the Laetare Medal, but there were no takers." The media continues to ignore Ms. Glendon's action. They have chosen to go the route of trashing the students exercising their first amendment right of free speech as they protest the decision.
The people in Chicago and in the state of Illinois remember as State Senator Obama, he voted in favor of a law that allowed a born alive fetus from a failed abortion to be allowed to die without any life saving measures taken. It is infanticide, simply put. Obama was in the minority in believing this to be acceptable yet caved to his far left supporters.
It is interesting to note that while addressing the graduation ceremony at Arizona State University earlier this week, the President was not awarded an honorary degree. The administration said that as such a newly elected President, Obama has not achieved the distinction.