I addressed this issue of the President receiving an honorary degree nearly two months ago, in a piece entitled "Judica me, Deus..." But if you follow the action at American Papist or Creative Minority Report, you'll be up to speed. There are also the reports from the Associated Press, about both the event itself, as well as the protests surrounding it.
The President has asked us to be open-minded about the idea of killing the unborn. But as Chesterton once said, the purpose of an open mind is like that of an open mouth, which is to close it down on something solid.
The Most Reverend Bishop John M D'Arcy is the Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, and Notre Dame is within his realm. Bishop D'Arcy has led a candlelight vigil in protest of the university's honoring of the President. He has also refused to attend the event. His Excellency has the power to remove the designation of "Catholic" from the university. It sounds like a great idea, but it's also a two-edged sword. Some parts of university life are experiencing a resurgence of Catholicity. This includes not only increased popularity of the Traditional Latin Mass on campus, as well as Eucharistic devotions and Holy Hours, but the entire program at the School of Architecture, which has been the vanguard for the revival of a trend toward "churches that look like churches" across America. All this could be at risk if Notre Dame were merely "a university in the Catholic tradition." Such would be a disingenuous branding strategy, really. But it might appeal to enough people, who like the romance of the school's tradition, without the inconvenience of that which inspired it in the first place. That could close the door to any opportunity to reconcile.
People could also withhold their contributions. While I don't have all the numbers yet (I've been overloading the Research Department lately, and they're threatening to start a riot at this point), the drop in contributions, and unfulfilled pledges, is already starting to pinch the Fighting Irish. But I wonder, will the campus ministry's Holy Hour be a victim of the budget cut?
After all, we're dealing with people who haven't been completely honest with themselves, remember?
[THE MORNING AFTER: Somebody down in Research just did the math. Click here. Archbishop Chaput of Denver always manages to say a great deal with few words. This occasion is no exception. Click here.]
Still, there is a silver lining behind this cloud. The folks who have run Notre Dame
The other bright spot, at least for me, was on my way home tonight. I stopped to pick up groceries. For the first time in months, among the numerous magazines for sale at the checkout line, not one had an image on the cover, of either the President or the First Lady.
As one who would believe in HOPE, if only in the theological sense, I have to wonder if there is a message there.