Many people have asked…who is the bishop in South Bend, Indiana and what does he have to say about the Notre Dame commencement controversy?
He is John D’Arcy, Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, and he expressed his concern today.
On Friday, March 21, Father John Jenkins, CSC, phoned to
inform me that President Obama had accepted his invitation to speak to
the graduating class at Notre Dame and receive an honorary degree. We
spoke shortly before the announcement was made public at the White
House press briefing.
It was the first time that I had been informed that Notre Dame had issued this invitation.
That’s not doing any courtesy to Bishop D’Arcy, and in fact put him in a distinct bind.
President Obama has recently reaffirmed, and has now
placed in public policy, his long-stated unwillingness to hold human
life as sacred. While claiming to separate politics from science, he
has in fact separated science from ethics and has brought the American
government, for the first time in history, into supporting direct
destruction of innocent human life.
This will be the 25th Notre Dame graduation during my time as
bishop. After much prayer, I have decided not to attend the graduation.
I wish no disrespect to our president, I pray for him and wish him
well. I have always revered the Office of the Presidency. But a bishop
must teach the Catholic faith “in season and out of season,” and he
teaches not only by his words — but by his actions.
My decision is not an attack on anyone, but is in defense of the truth about human life.
Good for Bishop D’Arcy for the bold clarity.
I have in mind also the statement of the U.S. Catholic
Bishops in 2004. “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions
should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral
principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which
would suggest support for their actions.” Indeed, the measure of any
Catholic institution is not only what it stands for, but also what it
will not stand for.
And the people are craving this defense of it.
I have spoken with Professor Mary Ann Glendon, who is to
receive the Laetare Medal. I have known her for many years and hold her
in high esteem. We are both teachers, but in different ways. I have
encouraged her to accept this award and take the opportunity such an
award gives her to teach.
Prof. Glendon’s presence at this ceremony will be a special grace.
Even as I continue to ponder in prayer these events,
which many have found shocking, so must Notre Dame. Indeed, as a
Catholic University, Notre Dame must ask itself, if by this decision it
has chosen prestige over truth.
Tomorrow, we celebrate as Catholics the moment when our Lord and
Savior, Jesus Christ, became a child in the womb of his most holy
mother. Let us ask Our Lady to intercede for the university named in
her honor, that it may recommit itself to the primacy of truth over
The good shepherd shows the way.