28 April 2009

The Voco Clock: for the most discriminating of gentlemen--or the most dandyish of filberts

Declining Notre Dame: A Letter from Mary Ann Glendon

Update: Notre Dame University has decided not to award the Laetare Medal this year.

Harvard law professor and Catholic Mary Ann Glendon writes an open letter to the president of Notre Dame University:
April 27, 2009
The Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
University of Notre Dame

Dear Father Jenkins,
When you informed me in December 2008 that I had been selected to receive Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, I was profoundly moved. I treasure the memory of receiving an honorary degree from Notre Dame in 1996, and I have always felt honored that the commencement speech I gave that year was included in the anthology of Notre Dame’s most memorable commencement speeches. So I immediately began working on an acceptance speech that I hoped would be worthy of the occasion, of the honor of the medal, and of your students and faculty.

Last month, when you called to tell me that the commencement speech was to be given by President Obama, I mentioned to you that I would have to rewrite my speech. Over the ensuing weeks, the task that once seemed so delightful has been complicated by a number of factors.

First, as a longtime consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award the president an honorary degree. This, as you must know, was in disregard of the U.S. bishops’ express request of 2004 that Catholic institutions “should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles” and that such persons “should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” That request, which in no way seeks to control or interfere with an institution’s freedom to invite and engage in serious debate with whomever it wishes, seems to me so reasonable that I am at a loss to understand why a Catholic university should disrespect it.

Then I learned that “talking points” issued by Notre Dame in response to widespread criticism of its decision included two statements implying that my acceptance speech would somehow balance the event:

• “President Obama won’t be doing all the talking. Mary Ann Glendon, the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, will be speaking as the recipient of the Laetare Medal.”

• “We think having the president come to Notre Dame, see our graduates, meet our leaders, and hear a talk from Mary Ann Glendon is a good thing for the president and for the causes we care about.”

A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.

Finally, with recent news reports that other Catholic schools are similarly choosing to disregard the bishops’ guidelines, I am concerned that Notre Dame’s example could have an unfortunate ripple effect.

It is with great sadness, therefore, that I have concluded that I cannot accept the Laetare Medal or participate in the May 17 graduation ceremony.

In order to avoid the inevitable speculation about the reasons for my decision, I will release this letter to the press, but I do not plan to make any further comment on the matter at this time.

Yours Very Truly,
Mary Ann Glendon

23 April 2009

So Far...

Update: Let's just fire Fr. Jenkins and be done with it.


Update: Nearly fifty bishops have publicly voiced criticism of Fr. Jenkins's decision to honor Obama at Notre Dame, the latest being Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde. Archbishop Wuerl of D.C. has also said he disagrees with the invitation, but does not think at this point the invitation should be rescinded.


The petition to Fr. Jenkins in favor of honoring President Obama at Notre Dame University has approximately 34,000 signatures.

The petition to Fr Jenkins against inviting the President has 333,000 signatures.

Bishop John D'Arcy has more strong words for Fr. Jenkins. The university president has publicly interpreted the USCCB statement from Catholics in Political Life (forbidding honors to leaders who consistently contradict the moral teachings of the Church) to apply only to Catholics and not to non-Catholics; therefore, the prohibition is inapplicable to President Obama, as he is not a Catholic. To prove his earnestness, Fr. Jenkins said he had asked for the opinion of canon lawyers and bishops of other dioceses, who confirmed his interpretation. Bishop D'Arcy responded in a letter:
...I reminded Father Jenkins that he indicated that he consulted presidents of other Catholic universities, and at least indirectly, consulted other bishops, since he asked those presidents to share with him those judgments of their own bishops. However, he chose not to consult his own bishop who, as I made clear, is the teacher and lawgiver in his own diocese. I reminded Father Jenkins that I was not informed of the invitation until after it was accepted by the president. I mentioned again that it is at the heart of the diocesan bishop’s pastoral responsibility to teach as revealed in sacred Scripture and the tradition.
As I have said in a recent interview and which I have said to Father Jenkins, it would be one thing to bring the president here for a discussion on healthcare or immigration, and no person of goodwill could rightly oppose this. We have here, however, the granting of an honorary degree of law to someone whose activities both as president and previously, have been altogether supportive of laws against the dignity of the human person yet to be born.
I consider it now settled — that the USCCB document, “Catholics in Public Life,” does indeed apply in this matter.
The failure to consult the local bishop who, whatever his unworthiness, is the teacher and lawgiver in the diocese, is a serious mistake. Proper consultation could have prevented an action, which has caused such painful division between Notre Dame and many bishops — and a large number of the faithful.

That division must be addressed through prayer and action, and I pledge to work with Father Jenkins and all at Notre Dame to heal the terrible breach, which has taken place between Notre Dame and the church. It cannot be allowed to continue.
I ask all to pray that this healing will take place in a way that is substantial and true, and not illusory. Notre Dame and Father Jenkins must do their part if this healing is to take place. I will do my part.

Sincerely yours in our Lord,
Most Reverend
John M. D’Arcy

20 April 2009

A.N. Wilson, British literary critic and (less-than-reverant) biographer of, inter alia, Hilaire Belloc, discusses his return to the faith:
My own return to faith has surprised no one more than myself. Why did I return to it? Partially, perhaps it is no more than the confidence I have gained with age.

Rather than being cowed by them, I relish the notion that, by asserting a belief in the risen Christ, I am defying all the liberal clever-clogs on the block: cutting-edge novelists such as Martin Amis; foul-mouthed, self-satisfied TV presenters such as Jonathan Ross and Jo Brand; and the smug, tieless architects of so much television output.

But there is more to it than that. My belief has come about in large measure because of the lives and examples of people I have known - not the famous, not saints, but friends and relations who have lived, and faced death, in the light of the Resurrection story, or in the quiet acceptance that they have a future after they die.
You can read the rest here.

(On a tangent, read this amusing account of a hoax played on Mr. Wilson allegedly by his literary nemesis, resulting in a certain amount of embarrassment for both.)

19 April 2009

Let us see...

Notre Dame University, in its determination to have President Obama as its commencement speaker, also expects him to wear the traditional doctoral gown when accepting his honorary doctor of laws. The gown bears a cross and a snippet from the Salve Regina. This would not be an issue, except that just last week President Obama had asked Georgetown University to cover up all signs and symbols of Christ on the stage where he gave his speech. Georgetown complied.

Notre Dame, however, has made it clear it expects the President to don the traditional robe when he receives the degree. The question is: if he didn't want symbols of Christ in the background while he gave his speech, how will he deal with a symbol of Christ worn on his own self?

My guess is that he will wear the gown without fuss, because the symbol and prayer are part of the university's coat of arms. And he is undoubtedly aware of the controversy his invitation to Notre Dame has caused; it would be foolish beyond measure if he were to refuse to wear the gown, or ask that its coat of arms be covered up.

(via William Dempsey)

14 April 2009

Pour mes amis en France...

Une messe votive du Roi Saint Louis

pour l'anniversaire de sa naissance

sera célébré :

le samedi 25 avril 2009 à 18h00

en l'église Saint Germain l'Auxerrois ,

Paroisse des Rois de France


en l'honneur du 35 ème anniversaire

de Monseigneur le Prince Louis , Duc d'Anjou ,

Chef de la Maison de Bourbon

13 April 2009

Wishing All a Blessed Easter

Piero della Francesca, Resurrection, c. 1463, Fresco