by David Fortwengler
When I first heard about the controversy over President Obama speaking at the Notre Dame commencement, my inclination was to urge the President to cancel. I also thought it would be a good time to make it known that catholic hierarchy is no longer welcome at the White House. However, this is a president who has committed to meeting with anybody. Anybody. So, despite the objections of Vatican heavyweights like Ray Burke, President Obama is looking forward to speaking Sunday. As a service to the graduates, I hope he will use this opportunity to truthfully discuss the sometimes ugly intersection of American society and Catholicism.
The need of Catholic hierarchy to publicly identify its members who are in a state of mortal sin, is irrelevant to 75% of the country (non-catholics). When the church’s internal battles for moral authority embarrass elected politicians, I find it offensive. Bishops, the Vatican, and the Catholic Church have no moral authority over American society except what is granted them by catholics.
American politicians have always treated the church with deference and respect, and rightly so. Catholics represent 25% of the electorate and we all believe in peace, love, and understanding. Last year, EWTN reporter Raymond Arroyo asked President Bush, “When you look into Benedict XVI's eyes what do you see?” Bush replied, “God.” Now that was an extremely polite answer. Congress investigated steroids in baseball but can’t think of any pertinent questions to ask U.S. Bishops under oath. The threat of any criticism being labeled as an attack on the church or anti-catholic has muted our leaders. Please President Obama, Notre Dame grads deserve the truth.
What if President Obama said the following?
All Americans are proud of the rich history, growth, and contributions to society by American Catholicism. It is in that context that I want to mention the pain that America has experienced because some priests sexually molested children. Pope Benedict repeatedly talked about it last year on his U.S. visit, but I also want to mention how it has affected all society.
In America there is no dilemma, the sexual abuse of a child has always been immoral and illegal, regardless of where it happens. As a society, including our catholic citizens, we devote considerable resources to investigate, prosecute, incarcerate, and register sex offenders. We deal with child sex crimes at the courthouse, not a bishops house.
Many catholic people are ashamed because trusted clergy have betrayed their priestly obligations and duties by gravely immoral behavior. All people are disgusted that the highest officers and employees of the U.S Roman Catholic Church deliberately engaged in truly outrageous, malicious, and reprehensible conduct of a type and character often associated with criminal acts and beyond mere negligence, inattention, or indifference.
I know what is like to be embarrassed by a trusted spiritual adviser. Remember Rev. Wright? I can only imagine how bad you all feel.
Fun Fact Mary Ann Glendon, a former diplomat employed by the United States, is so offended she will not appear to accept the Laetare Medal. Ironically, the translation of the latin inscription is, “Truth is mighty, and it shall prevail.” “You can’t handle the truth!” Lt. Col. Nathan Jessup in “A Few Good Men”
Mary Ann Glendon, a former diplomat employed by the United States, is so offended she will not appear to accept the Laetare Medal. Ironically, the translation of the latin inscription is, “Truth is mighty, and it shall prevail.”
“You can’t handle the truth!” Lt. Col. Nathan Jessup in “A Few Good Men”