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Gingrich is not Obama

Sean Mullen | Monday, September 20, 2010

In response to Ryan William’s article (“Where’s the protest?” Sept. 16), I would like to clarify the motives of many of the 2009 Commencement protesters who will likely be absent for Newt Gingrich’s visit Monday.

Ryan is baffled that since Gingrich differs from the Catholic Church on issues such as the death penalty, he is not met with the same kind of protest that president Obama was met with during the 2009 Commencement. To be clear, abortion and the death penalty carry considerably different weight morally. As the Catechism states, abortion “is gravely contrary to the moral law,” (CCC2271), while the Church “does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor,” (CCC2267). Unlike abortion, the death penalty is not an intrinsic evil. It can be justified in certain scenarios of self defense or the common good.

Furthermore, when the numbers are examined nearly 50,000,000 abortions have taken place in the US since 1973, while fewer than 1,200 people have been executed. Certainly abortion is the far more important issue morally as well as politically seeing that every Republican and Democratic presidential candidate since 1992 has been on the same page in support for capital punishment.

Obama was protested in 2009 because he was unabashedly in favor of the most egregious moral evil of our time. He was unapologetically pro-abortion supporting things like partial-birth abortion, overturning the Mexico City Policy, and recently introducing a health care plan with government funding for abortion. Obama’s visit might have been acceptable if the abortion issue was simply ignored. But remember, Obama not only mentioned abortion in his Commencement address, he spent nearly five minutes justifying his pro-choice view on the Catholic platform that Notre Dame gave to him.

The abortion issue aside, Obama’s visit was protested because it was done in defiance of the authority of our local Bishop D’Arcy. As a Catholic university we must respect the authority of the Vatican as well as our local archdiocese. When D’Arcy made an official statement condemning the invitation of Obama, it became a closed issue. I am unaware of an official statement by Bishop Rhoades condemning Gingrich’s visit on Monday.

If Ryan can find me 83 bishops and three-fourths of Notre Dame’s alumni base to oppose Gingrich’s visit, I would probably change my mind.

Sean Mullen


Keough Hall

Sep. 16