Saturday, May 2, 2009

What is Notre Dame Teaching?

An essay appeared yesterday in First Things written by Lacey Dodd, a woman who faced an unplanned pregancy as a student there a decade ago. Here perspective on the Obama invitation to speak at Commencement is revealing. It begins:

"For many members of the Notre Dame Class of 2009, the uproar surrounding the university’s decision to honor Barack Obama with this year’s commencement address, and to bestow on him a doctorate of laws, has provoked strong feelings about what the ensuing conflict will mean for their graduation.

I know how they feel. Ten years ago, my heart was filled with similar conflicts as we came closer to the day of my own Notre Dame commencement and my commissioning as an officer in the United States Army. You see, I was three months pregnant."

Dodd goes on to describe how her boyfriend rejected his daughter:

"My boyfriend was a different story. He was also a Notre Dame senior. When I told him that he was to be a father, he tried to pressure me into having an abortion. Like so many women in similar circumstances, I found out the kind of man the father of my child was at precisely the moment I needed him most. “All that talk about abortion is just dining-room talk,” he said. “

'When it’s really you in the situation, it’s different. I will drive you to Chicago and pay for a good doctor.' I tried telling him this was not an option. He said he was pro-choice. I responded by informing him that my choice was life. And I learned, as so many pregnant women have before and since, that life is the one choice that pro-choicers won’t support.

All the cries of "reproductive freedom" from all the feminists in the world cannot change the fact that abortion makes it easy for men to cop out and is not a real choice for women. With the loving support of her parents (and no help from Mr. Deadbeat) she gave birth to her daughter and has raised her while pursuing a military career. Dodd ends by asking what having a pro-abortion president speak to the graduating class really communicates.

"Notre Dame is a special place, but it is not immune to the realities of modern life. There are students who face unplanned pregnancies, and—most tragically—women who think their only option is abortion. Statistics show that one out of every five women who have an abortion is a college student; many of these women cite the fear that they will not be able to complete their education as a primary reason. On campuses all across this country, abortion is the status quo. We need to change that with an unambiguous stand for life, and Notre Dame needs to be in the lead.

There have been many things written about the honors to be extended to President Obama. I’d like to ask this of Fr. John Jenkins, the Notre Dame president: Who draws support from your decision to honor President Obama—the young, pregnant Notre Dame woman sitting in that graduating class who wants desperately to keep her baby, or the Notre Dame man who believes that the Catholic teaching on the intrinsic evil of abortion is just dining-room talk?"

That is really the question, isn't it?


Grant said...

Is this a manifestation of the character versus personality debate? Who in this account has shown the moral character? The doors are opened for Obama with personality and chrisma. It is hard for my to gauge Obama's true character from a distance (New Zealand.) Certainly, we get plenty of the personality aspect on TV coverage here.

Craig, I wonder whether you would to speculate on what John Howard Yoder's response may have been in this situation at Notre Dame?

Craig Carter said...

Notre Dame is clearly tempted by status. Those Irish Catholics are still trying to be as good as the WASP establishment and this leads induces them to engage in lunkhead stunts like this.

Who has shown character? Mary Ann Glendon. What a woman. She is a heroine and a moral force.

Obama is scary in that he is so compartmentalized. Francis Cardinal George, head of the US Conf. of Catholic Bishops, recently met with him and noted afterward how Obama has mastered the knack of always appearing to agree with you. At one point, according to George, Obama said "we agree on this issue" (stem cell research) and George said "No, we don't. Abortion for Obama is a given. He talks moderate and implements extreme policies. So far it has worked for him, but I'll bet it does not work in the long term.

As for Yoder, he was nominally pro-life on abortion, but I don't know what he would say about this mess. Many Mennonites I have come to know have no stomach for the abortion fight at all and it mystifies me. They reject war, which has far more justification - at least sometimes - than abortion and look the other way with legalized private killing. It is not that they are for it; they just don't get too worked up about it. Why, I can't fathom. Unless they have the same status-acquisition issues as the Irish Catholics trying to fit into middle-class, liberal America.

Grant said...

It would appear that Obama is rather adept at doublespeak. Can the church call him to account without lapsing into moralism?

Further to Obama, you should research our previous Prime Minister, Helen Clark. She had a teflon existence in her nine years as PM despite display many characteristics we see in Obama. She has recently accepted a position as head of the UN Development Programme.

Calling UND to account is a different matter. Is their endorsement of Obama simply a desire for equality with the WASP establishment? Or are there other factors - sourcing funding, seeking independence from Rome, independence from US Conf. of Catholic Bishops, etc? It is worth considering that there may be many drivers or motives for this honouring of Obama hidden from public view.