On the other hand, Notre Dame has long since fallen victim to the phenomenon of symbolism over substance. The university actively supports the gay and lesbian lifestyle, and recent polling data shows its student body supported Mr. Obama in the election by a majority and that abortion was not an issue for them. So the fact the Mr. Obama will soon appear in the midst of this fallen institution perhaps waxes more emblematic of cultural Catholicism in America, today.
And while the University's president, Reverend John Jenkins, has stated that the university does not support Mr. Obama's views, his profession that it's important to "engage in conversation" seems terribly weak. What conversation needs to be had? Abortion is murder. That's an absolute, and the good Reverend Jenkins knows this. All the conversation in the world will not change that fact any more than conversation will alter the course of the sun. How dreadfully insincere to position this as an act of reaching out to form or reform Mr. Obama's conscience.
Perhaps Notre Dame should pay all due respect to the President of the United States. In fact, given Obama's messianic allure, including to many Catholics, perhaps instead of using the introduction of, "Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States," Reverend Jenkins should open his scripture and proclaim from John's Gospel the words of Pontius Pilate, "Ecce Homo!" or "Behold the man!" With that, the affront to Christ's church in this sad situation would be complete.
Seen in Notre Dame's decision to engage Mr. Obama is the perpetuation of the philosophy that originated in Germany in the late 1700s and remains popular in academia. A triad of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis became an accepted way of coming to discover the relative truth in just about any philosophical debate. One would propose a thesis; another would propose an opposing view called the antithesis; and blending the two opposing views one would arrive at a synthesis, which very well could turn into another thesis, antithesis, synthesis...and so it goes.
The problem with that line of thinking rests in the fact that it completely falls apart when dealing with absolutes; yet man persists to varying degrees to pursue this method of understanding his world. So God, who is absolute, gets pitted against an array of antithesis which cannot ever be equal to the Almighty in the first place, and the synthesis which emerges always falls short of the truth. After centuries of this kind of flawed thinking, man now finds himself in a world of abject relativism.
"Quid est varitas? What is truth?"
Perhaps this question asked to Christ by Pilate is the question Notre Dame students, faculty, and administration should be asking themselves. For in the face of moral absolutes, opposing opinion brings only obtuse intellectualism.
If Reverend Jenkins truly wants to engage President Obama, would it not be more loving and pastoral to do be a doer of the word and deny Mr. Obama the honor attributed to the respected commencement duty and Honorary Law Degree the Reverend proposes to install upon The President, and instead take him into his office and minister to him?
"If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
Our Lady (Notre Dame) of the Americas...Pray for us.