Debate over the University of Notre Dame's awarding of an honorary degree to President Obama in May continues in conservative Catholic reaction to the announcement that Obama will deliver a eulogy at Senator Edward Kenndy's funeral mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica in Boston.
Not that the debate ever quite stopped.
Archbishop John R. Quinn argues in the Aug. 31 issue of America magazine that had Notre Dame refused to award Obama an honorary degree, it would have done harm to the church's and its mission by fostering "false messages" about itself. He argues instead for "a policy cordiality:"
It proceeds from the conviction that the integrity of Catholic teaching can never be sacrificed. It reflects a deep desire to enshrine comity at the center of public discourse and relations with public officials. It is willing to speak the truth directly to earthly power.
Yet the Holy See shows great reluctance to publicly personalize disagreements with public officials on elements of church teaching. And the approach of the Holy See consistently favors engagement over confrontation. As Pope John Paul II put it, “The goal of the Church is to make of the adversary a brother.”
Grant Gallicho of dotCommonWeal writes:
While one might disagree with Bishop D’Arcy’s version of events, it’s tough to take much issue with the way in which he has voiced his displeasure. In other words, he’s never approached the unhinged shenanigans of some of the protesters at Notre Dame. (Speaking of, I never thought Randall Terry could jump the shark. Wow, was I wrong.)
Bishop Sheehan of Sante Fe in an interview with the National Catholic Recorder this week said:
I don’t feel so badly about Obama going [to Notre Dame] because he’s our president. I said we’ve gotten more done on the pro-life issue in New Mexico by talking to people that don’t agree with us on everything. We got Governor Richardson to sign off on the abolition of the death penalty for New Mexico, which he was in favor of. ... We need to be building bridges, not burning them.
Expect more of this debate.