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Students not Pharisees

Letter to the Editor | Thursday, April 16, 2009

This is in response to the “Slamming the door” letter (April 15) written by Mr. Donahue and his condemnation of the actions of our students in keeping with the teachings of our Church. I feel insulted that any person, especially an alumnus, would compare the students to the Pharisees. I also oppose his implication of praise on those who are in favor of letting the most pro-abortion president in our nation’s history speak (which is in direct defiance of the USCCB) as being humble worshipers of God.

Perhaps Mr. Donahue was speaking only to outside protesters, but as for the students, we do not deserve this condemnation for publically supporting the view of the Church through protest. Are the many bishops that have spoken out about this being self- righteous? Was John Paul II “proudly” condemning the culture of death in the West?

For anyone to say that promoting the clear and non-negotiable view of the Church as tarnishing the image of the University is offensive and ridiculous. Notre Dame is indeed a beautiful University and has been a great Catholic institution. Here it has a great opportunity to uphold the holy teachings of the Church. But to suggest that Notre Dame should allow Obama to speak here merely because of his civic position is not a legitimate position for Notre Dame. We should hold ourselves to the same authority the holy Catholic Church does, the revealed Word of God, and we should thus respect the guidance of the Church and humbly respect the bishops.

What offends me the most is Donahue’s suggestion that the Holy Mother would embrace her University honoring a man whose public policy has directly led to the increase in the murder of the innocent. It is that honor that we protest; we are not opposing dialogue, but opposing giving a pedestal to a man who fundamentally rejects our faith’s core values.

The Holy Mother, our God and this University offer reconciliation, but offering forgiveness to a penitent heart and publically honoring Obama with a degree and speaking platform are very different things. The USCCB holds itself to only the highest of authorities, and to suggest that they should bow to the influence of civil authorities is disrespectful. Donahue saying this move would be a continued “stiff-arm” to powerful civil authorities suggests that the bishops are conspiring and not upholding the holy teachings of the Church.

The bishops act with the apostolic authority that has passed down from the Apostles. Donahue addresses two problems: the staining of Notre Dame’s image, and the lowering numbers of faithful. He seems to claim that those in protest will only serve to worsen both issues.

Notre Dame stands for God over country, for the dignity of human life over the popularity and prestige of an elected civil official. If we ignore this, Notre Dame will leave a legacy of lost priorities. And to blame protest against the culture of death for the empty pews is unfounded, to say that enforcing doctrine is driving Catholics from worship.

The actions of Randall Terry may be unfortunate in how he fights for life, but to call the faithful students and bishops (who uphold the sanctity of life with dignity and respect) Pharisees is shameful. I do not wish to condemn Mr. Donahue or the president, only those views that tarnish the authority of the Church and the dignity of all human life and Notre Dame’s role in these issues.

Erik Bock


Stanford Hall

April 16