Dexter Rogers

Dexter Rogers

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

D’Arcy: Boycotting the Notre Dame Commencement is the wrong choice

President Barack Obama recently accepted an invitation to speak to this years Notre Dame graduating class. President Obama’s acceptance has caused controversy because of his pro-choice stance and support of stem-cell research. Many conservative Catholics think extending an invite to President Obama was a mistake. Some even want the Notre Dame administration to withdraw their invitation.

Anthony J. Lauinger, the Vice-President of the National Right to Life organization had this to say, "Notre Dame's invitation to the most pro-abortion president in U.S. history is a betrayal of the University's mission and an affront to all who believe in the sanctity and dignity of human life."

Lauinger, a father of seven Notre Dame Alumni and one current student continued, "We call upon Father Jenkins to rescind the invitation and stand up for the millions of unborn children who face death under Obama Administration policies."

John M. D'Arcy, the Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, recently made it clear he will not attend the ceremonies. In a recent letter D’Arcy outlined his reasoning for skipping the ceremonies. “This will be the 25th Notre Dame graduation during my time as bishop. After much prayer, I have decided not to attend the graduation. I wish no disrespect to our President. I pray for him and wish him well. I have always revered the Office of the Presidency. But a bishop must teach the Catholic faith ‘in season and out of season,’ and he teaches not only by his words — but by his actions.”

If memory serves me correctly didn’t George W. Bush speak at Notre Dame in 2001? Isn’t he an advocate of capital punishment? Why didn’t conservative Catholics boycott former President Bush for his stance? I think conservatives are mad they lost the White House and they are just trying to pick a fight.

Get over it conservatives.

Bottom line, Obama voted in as President and his status and his authority should be respected. Obama was voted into office because of his ability to lead. His stance on stem-cell research and abortion shouldn’t cause this much controversy. Besides, President Obama cannot be all things for all people.

Here’s a sports analogy. Jim Brown is regarded by experts and his peers as the greatest football player in NFL history. The Hall of Fame running back had the speed of a wide out, the strength of a lineman, and the intelligence of a surgeon on the field. During his nine-year career he never missed a game. In 1963 he played the entire season while nursing a broken toe and wrist. In 1964 his Cleveland Brows team won the NFL Championship. Brown was voted Rookie of the year when he entered the league in 1957 and retired from the game at age 29 as the league in MVP.

Seemed like Brown had it all but he didn’t.

Brown wasn’t a great blocker. He was perceived as arrogant, unapproachable, and militant. As great as Brown was couldn’t be all things to everybody.

Here’s my point. No one has everything. Obama was voted in by the American people on an “as is” basis President Obama cannot be everything for everyone. He can’t be a Muslim, Christian, Catholic, or Buddhist simultaneously to cater to all religions. He can’t be a Democrat, Republican, Independent, and Libertarian to appease everyone in politics.

Personally I’d love to see President Obama be more assertive regarding race. He shuns racial situations like roaches avoid light. Based on his complexion and platform he has an opportunity to really move this country forward. Instead he opts for silence when dialogue is needed.

But it’s President Obama’s choice to be who he is while simultaneously functioning as President.

I’ve consistently stated until there’s an honest and constructive dialogue regarding the various differences that abound controversies like this will continue to surface.

If America is truly a melting-pot we’d understand as individuals we have differences yet as human beings we are the same. President Obama speaking at Notre Dame shouldn’t be an issue. But to a segment of the Notre Dame faithful and conservative Catholics it is. This unfortunate situation is a reflection of how divided we still are as a country. President Obama’s presence should exemplify the strides we’ve made but instead it reminds us how much work that still needs to be done.

I think it’s disrespectful to seriously consider withdrawing the invitation to the President and for the likes of D’Arcy to boycott over this matter. But at the end of the day, it’s his choice even though I think it’s the wrong one.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dexter, this is a very insightful piece. My feeling is that it is time to truly separate church and state, not just "pretend" that is happening! The bickering goes on. Notre Dame knew President Obama's position because it is well known ... so why did they invite him! There are Catholic Democrats, too! D'Arcy may be doing even more damage to the Catholic church ... like they need that, right? Carol