You might have heard about some mention of some event that happened yesterday at Notre Dame. I know it has hardly been covered at all, but I thought I would weight in anyway.
After the small talk about the graduating class and going into the threat of “climate change.”
Unfortunately, finding that common ground — recognizing that our fates are tied up, as Dr. King said, in a “single garment of destiny” — is not easy. Part of the problem, of course, lies in the imperfections of man — our selfishness, our pride, our stubbornness, our acquisitiveness, our insecurities, our egos; all the cruelties large and small that those of us in the Christian tradition understand to be rooted in original sin. We too often seek advantage over others. We cling to outworn prejudice and fear those who are unfamiliar. Too many of us view life only through the lens of immediate self-interest and crass materialism; in which the world is necessarily a zero-sum game. The strong too often dominate the weak, and too many of those with wealth and with power find all manner of justification for their own privilege in the face of poverty and injustice. And so, for all our technology and scientific advances, we see around the globe violence and want and strife that would seem sadly familiar to those in ancient times.
Well there is certainly some truth in what he says here. Though he is quite supportive of the strong dominating the weak when it comes to abortion.
Nowhere do these questions come up more powerfully than on the issue of abortion.
As I considered the controversy surrounding my visit here, I was reminded of an encounter I had during my Senate campaign, one that I describe in a book I wrote called The Audacity of Hope. A few days after I won the Democratic nomination, I received an email from a doctor who told me that while he voted for me in the primary, he had a serious concern that might prevent him from voting for me in the general election. He described himself as a Christian who was strongly pro-life, but that’s not what was preventing him from voting for me.
What bothered the doctor was an entry that my campaign staff had posted on my website – an entry that said I would fight “right-wing ideologues who want to take away a woman’s right to choose.” The doctor said that he had assumed I was a reasonable person, but that if I truly believed that every pro-life individual was simply an ideologue who wanted to inflict suffering on women, then I was not very reasonable. He wrote, “I do not ask at this point that you oppose abortion, only that you speak about this issue in fair-minded words.”
After I read the doctor’s letter, I wrote back to him and thanked him. I didn’t change my position, but I did tell my staff to change the words on my website. And I said a prayer that night that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had extended to me. Because when we do that — when we open our hearts and our minds to those who may not think like we do or believe what we do — that’s when we discover at least the possibility of common ground.
The fact that he thought this was significant gives a good look into his thoughts. He actually considers only toning down the rhetoric as significant. He thought this was an important example to give. Why? He has created an administration staffed with people who believe exactly this – that anybody who opposes abortion is a “right-wing ideologue.” His homeland security issued a report that was suppose to be kept from the public that categorized pro-lifers as a threat. So sanitizing his website achieves exactly nothing. The people associated with him believe this including of course the person who wrote the sentence in the first place. The problem is not with the piece of rhetoric that slipped though, but the overwhelming number of people in his administration that believes exactly this.
The whole email exchange also strikes me as odd. A pro-lifer was willing to vote for Obama knowing his position, but yet was upset by a sentence on his web site. What the Hell? So his support of killing children in the womb was not the problem, but a sentence was?
That’s when we begin to say, “Maybe we won’t agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this is a heart-wrenching decision for any woman to make, with both moral and spiritual dimensions.
Yes we have heard him use this before. How can it be heart-wrenching if according to him it is a perfectly find option. During the campaign he said this was
“above his paygrade”, yet his actions show he sees abortion as a right and not immoral. What he says is just totally empty and it pretends to take abortion seriously and to admit something to pro-lifers without him meaning any of it.
So let’s work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term. Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women.”
As pro-lifers often ask “why reduce it if there is nothing wrong with it?” We will just have to wait to see if he is serious about the conscience clause that his administration has been working to strike. Personally I don’t believe a word of what he says here. Especially when he uses the “equality of women” argument as if women can only be equal if they can’t abort their children.
Understand – I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away. No matter how much we may want to fudge it – indeed, while we know that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory – the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable. Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction. But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature.
Agreed to some extent. There is no real common ground between those who would murder the innocent and those who would prevent it. The debate certainly should be done without caricature and personal attacks. But again considering his nominees and some of the outrageous things they have said in regard to the pro-life movement I guess he is only personally against “caricature”
At the time, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin was the Archbishop of Chicago. For those of you too young to have known him, he was a kind and good and wise man. A saintly man. I can still remember him speaking at one of the first organizing meetings I attended on the South Side. He stood as both a lighthouse and a crossroads – unafraid to speak his mind on moral issues ranging from poverty, AIDS, and abortion to the death penalty and nuclear war. And yet, he was congenial and gentle in his persuasion, always trying to bring people together; always trying to find common ground. Just before he died, a reporter asked Cardinal Bernardin about this approach to his ministry. And he said, “You can’t really get on with preaching the Gospel until you’ve touched minds and hearts.”
HIs reference to Cardinal Bernadin is full of irony considering the Notre Dame scandal. In 1996 the Cardinal turned down an invitation to speak at the Democratic convention because of the party’s pro-abortion stand. Rather contrasts Fr. Jenkins in this regard. The Cardinal saw speaking at the Democratic Convention was not creating common ground, but giving scandal.
One thing this whole scandalous situation reveals was the divide among Catholics. We could almost cue Sen. Edward’s two Americas speech. The “progressive” Catholic commentators and periodicals were solidly in favor of Obama’s invite. This only gives me more proof that they only give lip service to being pro-life. They are willing to sacrifice the unborn just as long as the government programs they like are created. The fact that they can’t understand the scandal that was given shows how little they value the life of those slaughtered with government permissions. When President Obama recently pushed for taxpayer funding of abortion in Washington D.C. I saw this pass without comment in the progressive periodicals. Every day gives more proof that this is an administration that will increase not reduce abortion and yet the usual suspects go on as if nothing is wrong.
We will just have to wait until next year for who Notre Dame decides is an appropriate commencement speaker. Please no politicians of any stripe. There are plenty of great Catholics living their faith that would be far better for this.
Well remember Fr. Jenkins is all about dialogue.