Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, March 24, 2009
The March 23 article (“Jenkins: Obama ‘honored’ University by accepting”) containing Fr. Jenkins’ response to criticisms of the University’s invitation to President Obama expresses two fundamental errors. First, Fr. Jenkins contends that honoring the president does not give the impression of support for his radically anti-life policies. Instead it recognizes “his very real and significant accomplishments.” Fr. Jenkins may be right in the strictest sense that relatively few individuals will receive the impression that Notre Dame condones the legalization of and recourse to abortion. But he is simply lying to himself if he does not think the general public will hear Notre Dame saying “It’s alright on the whole to actively and coercively promote the taking of unborn life so long as one makes up for it with commitment to other political positions favored by the University administration.”
The direct taking of innocent human life and the prudential fashioning of economic, foreign aid or entitlement policy are incommensurable, yet the University’s honoring of President Obama says the exact opposite. And when it comes to the other accomplishments that are the real reason for the honor, I may have missed a part of Obama’s as-yet-short presidential career. So far his largest initiative (economic stimulus) has yet to be proven successful, while most of the currently evaluable “accomplishments” can be summed up with his press-dodging Friday announcements of more taxpayer funding for abortion or ESCR and a list of radically pro-abortion cabinet nominees, including an HHS nominee well-known for shielding her abortionist crony from prosecution. The main piece of his legislative record to garner attention during the presidential campaign was his refusal to allow medical care to infants that had been born despite best efforts to kill them. That’s quite an accomplishment to hang one’s hat on.
As for Fr. Jenkins’ second confusion, he seems to be under the impression that he has invited President Obama into a dialogue about issues of Catholic concern. My own experience could be unrepresentative, but the last few Commencement speeches through which I sat were monologues about issues important to the speaker, and Fr. Jenkins has yet to book the distinguished respondent who will be educating President Obama about how gravely mistaken he is on human life. Perhaps one of the hundreds of accomplished public servants and intellectuals who has managed to promote human dignity and equality without shamelessly kowtowing to the abortion lobby will manage to make the cut for that less distinguished invitation.