It's the latest move in a "chess game" that's been being played in the United States for years, perhaps even decades. The title at stake: Catholic. What does it mean to be a Catholic? Who gets to call themselves Catholic? The game started back in 1968 with Humanae Vitae, and still goes on today. It comes down to the question of whether a Catholic can hijack Our Lord's words, "You have heard it said ..., but I say to you ...", when it comes to dissent from Church teachings.
Now, what can happen here? Notre Dame can change their mind. Bishop John D'Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend could forbid it to happen within his diocese. Archbishop Sambi could, in an unbelievable coincidence, happen to have his car break down in front of the Main Building, and ask to use the phone in Father Jenkins' office (whilst Father is still in there).
Would the President be offended if Notre Dame rescinded their invitation? Probably not. The White House, better than most others, understands that symbol trumps substance when it comes to images. If you don't believe me, ask yourself why there's no photo ops with the President and Rush Limbaugh? If the university wants to award the President an honorary degree, they can certainly do so in the Oval Office. Alumni can make their feelings known to the Notre Dame administration about that.
But what if a few other possibilities occurred when the President steps onto the campus in South Bend:
- What if Notre Dame asked him to participate in a discussion about life issues: abortion, capital punishment, stem cells, etc. If you feel strongly about this, Mr. President, convince us of your beliefs. Oh yeah, we're going to have a few of our "heavy hitters" on the panel with you who will be trying their best to change your mind. No audience in the room (they can watch via closed circuit; no making this into a circus). Can you imagine if Notre Dame got some of the "best & brightest" in the Pro-Life movement something that the abortion lobby would go ballistic at: an hour of the President's time?
- What if the President used the commencement speech at Notre Dame to announce to all of us that he has seen the error of his ways, and he is now unashamedly, unabashedly pro-life? He is cutting off all federal funding for abortions and embryonic stem cell research, both domestically and overseas.
Yeah, I can dream, can't I?