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BENEDICT XVI: NEWS, PAPAL TEXTS, PHOTOS AND COMMENTARY

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5/17/2009 11:10 PM
 
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The new element in the NOBAMA banner shows the protest mortarboard worn by some ND graduates today, which features a Cross and baby feet.


Sad to say, but the secular media persist in reporting on the Church as if they were reporting on political parties or big business. All the liberals who slam the Church at every opportunity for being too centralized expected it this time to step into and micromanage a local issue from a distance! Just imagine the howls about 'Vatican interference!' in the unlikely event that the Vatican had intervened in any way.

The MSM persist in the mistaken idea of the Vatican as headquarters for a multinational corporation called the Roman Catholic Church, when in fact, there are only a couple of thousand bureaucrats working there compared to the almost 1.2 billion Catholics around the globe!

None of them bother to understand the concept of the universal Church and the local churches, each of which has almost full autonomy in their own affairs, except in matters of doctrine, of universal Church practices that the Pope decrees, and the naming of bishops. [Journalists are expected to master, in theory at least, the fields which they report on, whether it is nuclear physics and nanotechnology, or basketball. How come religion reporters are not held to the same standard?]

There's a reason why each local church is named after the territory it covers and is not called Church of Rome, which is limited alone to the diocese that the Pope heads.

The Pope is not sidestepping the Notre Dame issue at all - it simply is not his call to make, and the locals have done their part.

The local bishop, Bishop D'Arcy, stated his position early on, and so did the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as 70 bishops in their individual capacity (about one third of all US bishops).

And all of these bishops point to a policy declaration by the USSCB in 1994 - that no local Church or bishop or lay advocate questioned at all, at the time - according to which no Catholic institution should honor any person or entity who is associated with policies and practices that directly violate the teachings of the Catholic Church.

It is as simple as that. To which the primary cause of all this tension - Notre Dame's current president, Fr. John Jenkins - responded with the unbelievably lame rationalization that the policy referred only to Catholics who violate Catholic teaching, not to non-Catholics, and Obama being non-Catholic, it does not apply to him!
Even a seven-year-old who had just discovered the use of reason would be embarrassed at Jenkins's disingenuousness!

Jenkins is, of course, ignoring the more fundamental issue of the duty of a registered Catholic institution in upholding Catholic doctrine. And that was most clearly spelled out by John Paul II in Ex Corde Ecclesiae, his 1990 Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities - which is not just a local decree as the 1994 USSCB policy is, but part of the universal Magisterium of the Church - which Notre Dame and other U.S. liberal institutions calling themselves 'Catholic' and registered as such, have been merrily ignoring all along.



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Church Politics:
Why the Pope is sidestepping Notre Dame

By AMY SULLIVAN

Sun May 17


At the rate things are going, Pope Benedict XVI may find his next trip to the U.S. dogged by airplanes overhead trailing banners with images of aborted fetuses. O.K., that's a bit of hyperbole.

But while several prominent conservative Catholics in this country are apoplectic over the University of Notre Dame's invitation of the pro-choice Barack Obama to give the school's commencement address on May 17, the Vatican has stayed completely silent on the matter.

The two very different reactions to the question of whether a Catholic institution should honor anyone who disagrees with the Church's teaching on abortion are just the latest examples of the strikingly divergent responses American Catholic leaders and the Vatican have had to the Obama Administration.

Three-quarters of Catholics either approve of or offer no opinion on Notre Dame's decision to invite Obama, and the same percentage of U.S. bishops have opted to stay out of the fight.

However, for a small but vocal group of conservative Catholics, the episode has become an opportunity to draw lines between those who are genuinely Catholic and those whom they accuse of being Catholic in name only - even the head of the country's premier Catholic university.

"It is clear that Notre Dame didn't understand what it means to be Catholic when they issued this invitation," said Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

The conservative Cardinal Newman Society organized a petition calling for Notre Dame president Father John Jenkins to dis-invite the President. Professional protesters such as Alan Keyes and Randall Terry have descended on the South Bend campus, pushing blood-covered baby dolls in Spongebob strollers and getting themselves arrested.

And Cardinal James Francis Stafford, one of the highest-ranking Americans at the Vatican, has declared Obama an unfit honoree because his statements on abortion reflect "an agenda and vision that are aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic." [Excuse me, Cardinal Stafford made these remarks about Obama when he was still a candidate, long before Notre Dame made its infamous decision. Sullivan probably meant Archbishop Raymond Burke, who is head of the Apostolic Segnatura (the Vatican 'Supreme Court' for canon law), and has declared himself against teh Notre Dame action and for the USCCB position. I really protest journalists who presume to inform the public and don't bother to inform themselves correctly first.]

This isn't the first time Obama has received decidedly mixed reviews from Catholics. A few months ago, he issued an Executive Order lifting restrictions on federal funding for stem-cell research. The move was immediately denounced by the USCCB as "morally wrong," and even moderate Catholics complained about the way the decision was handled.

But the Vatican had a different reaction. L'Osservatore Romano, the official newspaper published under the authority of the Vatican's Secretariat of State, ran an article in late April essentially urging the bishops to chill out.

[It is very unfortunate that the OR has chosen to take sides instead of reporting objectively, the inference being that since it is 'the Pope's newspaper', the Pope must necessarily approve of everything printed in it. A fallacious conclusion, since the Vatican also respects freedom of the press, even in its own newspaper. To conclude that the Pope necessarily agrees with all the incipient Obama-mania among OR editors and writers means he also agreed with, say, Mons. Fisichella's ill-advised, hasty and imcomprehensible editorial commentary on the Brazilian girl who aborted, or with Lucetta Scaraffia's questioning of the concept of brain death adapted by the Church as the criteria for determining when a person is dead, or an enthusiastic review of Beatles music, to name just a few examples!

On the other hand, given the now open liberal bias of the OR editors, one would have to conclude that it was the Pope who asked the OR to give full play to President Bush's relations with the Vatican after his visit to the US last year.]


Under the headline "The 100 Days that Did Not Shake the World," the paper gave Obama a tentative thumbs-up for his policy changes concerning the economy and international relations.

"On ethical questions, too - which from the time of the electoral campaign have been the subject of strong worries by the Catholic bishops - Obama does not seem to have confirmed the radical innovations that he had discussed," said the article, which noted that Obama's stem-cell guidelines were "less permissive" than expected.

So is this a schism? Have Cardinal George and the other conservative U.S. bishops gone rogue? Or is the Pope letting them play bad cop while he makes nice with the popular new American President? [All unnecessary questions if Ms. Sullivan had just bothered to read up on the organizational and administrative structure of the Church from the time of St. Peter!]

The Vatican has a tradition of remaining largely above the fray while allowing - sometimes even encouraging - local bishops to be more aggressive in challenging political leaders. [It is not just a tradition - it is inherent in the structure of the Church!]

In Italy, for instance, both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have given communion to pro-choice politicians while letting Italian church leaders take the role of lecturing those Catholics on their dissent from church teaching.

And this is particularly true of the Vatican's relationships with foreign leaders, whom the Pope views as fellow heads of state. Some observers have interpreted Cardinal George's Oval Office meeting with Obama on St. Patrick's Day to talk about abortion as an emissary visit, speculating that the cardinal was sent by Benedict.

But if the Vatican merely wanted to avoid public unpleasantness in its dealing with the U.S. President, it could do that by essentially ignoring the new Administration. Instead, it has displayed a surprising optimism, bordering on enthusiasm, for Obama's presidency.

Breaking with protocol that usually prevents the Pope from addressing heads of state before they take office, Benedict sent a congratulatory telegram to Obama the day after the November election.
[No such breaking of protocol! It was precisely in keeping with protocol, and as matter of elementary courtesy, that the Pope as head of state sends a congratulatory message to the newly elected President.]

The Pope noted the "historic" nature of the victory [How could he not, for the first black President of the USA???? All the more reason why a congratulatory message was indicated!] and said he would pray that God would "sustain you and the beloved American people in your efforts to build a world of peace, solidarity and justice." [He is the Pope - of course, he prays for everything good for anyone he addresses! You'd think he never told George W. Bush he prays for him and the American people.]The two spoke directly less than a week later [Obama called the Pope to thank him for his congratulatory message], and the Pope sent yet another telegram on Jan. 20 when Obama was inaugurated (Of course, by protocol! The liberals are so anxious to show these grace notes as their 'proof' that Obama must be on the side of the angels if even the Pope is gracious to him - the Pope is gracious to everyone, by his nature and by his function!]

When reporters at Catholic News Service, the official news agency of the USCCB, talked to Vatican officials just prior to the Inauguration, they found the Holy See mostly focused on economic issues and Middle East politics.

"Asked about pro-life issues, on which Obama and the Catholic Church have clear differences, Vatican officials took a wait-and-see attitude," the news agency reported.

The starkly different responses of some U.S. bishops and the Vatican could just be a matter of pure politics. As Obama's European tour last month showed, the Pope would hardly be the only head of state eager to start off on the right footing with the new Administration.

In addition, Obama is broadly popular among American Catholics, 67% of whom gave him a positive approval rating in a recent Pew poll. At a time when the U.S. Catholic Church is losing members - a separate Pew study found that for every American who joins the Catholic Church, four others leave - Benedict may not be willing to test the costs of opposing Obama. {Does Sullivan really think that the Pope thinks he may lose more Catholics in the US if he opposes Obama on legitimate grounds???? What a mistaken opinion she has of the role of the Pope! And obviously, she ha never heard or read of Cardinal Ratzinger's ideas about a 'creative minority' that stands for the Church's age-old teachings ratrer than an inflated membership consisting mostly of dissenters and weak-kneed believers!]

Of course, the Notre Dame kerfuffle has political roots as well. The protesters aren't accusing the university of violating church teaching but rather of violating a 2004 policy that the USCCB approved in the midst of vigorous debate over John Kerry's presidential candidacy.

The statement, titled "Catholics in Political Life," was speedily drafted in response to questions about whether Kerry should be denied communion because of his pro-choice positions. Catholic institutions, it read, "should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles."

When the bishops approved the statement, it wasn't clear whether it would carry much weight after the election, much less whether it applied to the case of a non-Catholic like Obama.

Among those most eager to drive a wedge between the President and rank-and-file Catholics are Catholic Republicans, who worry about losing more voters to the Democratic Party.

Newt Gingrich wasn't yet a Catholic when the 2004 statement was debated and approved. But the new convert was the first to speak out against Notre Dame's commencement speaker. On March 24, the Republican former House Speaker weighed in on his Twitter account, which appears to have limits on capital letters: "It is sad to see notre dame invite president obama to give the commencement address since his policies are so anti catholic values."

There's nothing like the zeal of a convert, but Gingrich may find it's awkward to try to be more Catholic than the Pope.

[He's not trying to be more Catholic than the Pope. He's expressing himself on a local issue that does not require the Pope to step in at all because the locals are doing pretty well, thank you,

They may not have prevented Notre Dame from conferring an honorary degree on Obama [who was one of eight persons granted honorary degrees at the same ceremony, it turns out!], but the episode sure caused many US Catholics to declare themselves clearly. As one Notre Dame student protester put it, "It has made me a better Catholic, because now I know what it means to stand up for what the Church teaches".]






It turns out Damian Thompson blogged on the Sullivan piece for Time:


Time Magazine on the Pope,
Obama and Notre Dame:
A shabby piece of journalism


May 17, 2009



This is how Time Magazine chooses to begin its coverage of Barack Obama's humiliating PR problem at Notre Dame. "At the rate things are going, Pope Benedict XVI may find his next trip to the U.S. dogged by airplanes overhead trailing banners with images of aborted fetuses."

This grotesque purple flourish serves as the introduction to a thoroughly biased article by Amy Sullivan which dismisses the unprecedented Catholic opposition to Obama's commencement address as the work of, wouldn't you just know it, "a small but vocal group of conservative Catholics".

"Small but vocal group" is the the media's code for a protest that offends them. You rarely see small but vocal groups of liberals described thus.

Then there's this gem: "Among those most eager to drive a wedge between the President and rank-and-file Catholics are Catholic Republicans."

Amy Sullivan isn't above a bit of wedge-driving herself, by the way. She implies that the Vatican is chilled about Notre Dame's decision, unlike Cardinals George, DiNardo, Stafford and Archbishop Dolan. No, it isn't.

The Pope, for perfectly good reasons, is leaving the protests to the local Church rather than turn Fr John Jenkins's disastrous invitation into an international diplomatic incident.

But does anyone seriously doubt what Joseph Ratzinger thinks about the decision by a Catholic university to honour as a moral exemplar a man who has campaigned for partial-birth abortion?

Take a look at the screen grab above from Time's website. Note the ad for a charity at the top: "... because the only thing more vulnerable than a newborn, is a newborn born early". I can think of babies who are even more vulnerable in Obama's America, can't you?

As for Time Magazine, Creative Minority Report has worked out the score: "But you have to understand the reason. There are people who are saying mean things about Obama. Time Magazine has to protect their cover boy. Especially since Time is probably hoping for a bailout".

[Nahhh.. that's a secondary motivation. Time and its editors and writers are liberal, which means they oppose many of the core teachings of Catholicism - that's the root of the bigotry, and the absolute unwillingness to learn about the structure of the Church, at the very least (which can be summed in a single senetence), before pontificating on it. Then, there's the Obama-mania factor.]

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/6/2009 6:07 AM]
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