March 30, 2009
I came across a web site today in which George W. Bush was referred to as a modern-day Pontius Pilate. It was not intended as a compliment. The site was an elaborate comparison of Pilate’s administration in first-century Judaea and Bush’s administration in 20th century Texas, with the emphasis on the 152 persons who were executed while Bush was governor. The Catholic Church is opposed to the death penalty – as it was opposed to the war in Iraq – but George Bush was invited nonetheless to address the students at Notre Dame University.
Although I voted for Barack Obama, I disagree with his policies on abortion. I have to wonder, however, if those who don’t think Obama should speak at the university also expect Notre Dame to exclude from the discussions going on in its classes and seminars – exclude from the content of any essay, term paper, dissertation – references to the work of any person – scientist, author, dramatist, theologian, philosopher, political figure – whose views differed with those of the church.
Does anyone seriously believe that because Notre Dame invited Obama to speak, the university doesn’t subscribe to the church’s teaching on abortion, or that a single one of those graduates will change his moral views because he hears a speech by the president of the United States?
As for the honorary degree to be conferred on Obama, if the whole man is to be recognized anywhere in our society, one would hope it would be recognized at an institution of higher learning. It’s true, as some have said, that Notre Dame must remain constantly aware of what it is to be a Catholic university, but it also must remain aware of what it is to be a university.