Tom Hoopes is Vice President of College Relations and writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. He has written for the Register for more than 20 years and was its executive editor for 10. His writing has appeared in First Things’ First Thoughts, National Review Online, Crisis, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside Catholic and Columbia. He has served as press secretary for the Chairman of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee. He and his wife, April, were editorial co-directors of Faith & Family magazine for 5 years. They have nine children.
Sunday was a frustrating day for pro-lifers. As Father John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame, and Barack Obama, president of the United States, spoke, pro-lifers felt the urge to argue with what was being said. But there was no opportunity to argue.
Said Father Jenkins: “We honor all people of goodwill who have come to this discussion respectfully and out of deeply held conviction.”
What discussion? This is a commencement address and the conferral of an honorary doctorate. It’s Notre Dame proposing a model to its students. There’s no discussion!
“When we face differences with fellow citizens … do we condemn those who differ with us for not seeing the truth that we see?”
Answer: No. Nor do we honor them for calling destructive lies “truth.”
Said Father Jenkins: “Differences must be acknowledged, and, in some cases, cherished. But too often differences lead to pride in self and contempt for others, until two sides — taking opposing views of the same difference — demonize each other. Whether the difference is political, religious, racial or national — trust falls, anger rises, and cooperation ends … even for the sake of causes all sides care about.”
Well, I don’t think the bishops mean to demonize him. They just acknowledge what he’s doing: directing money from taxpayers’ paychecks to the killing of human beings.
“Most of the debate has centered on Notre Dame’s decision to invite and honor the president. Less attention has been focused on the president’s decision to accept.
“President Obama has come to Notre Dame, though he knows well that we are fully supportive of Church teaching on the sanctity of human life, and we oppose his policies on abortion and embryonic stem-cell research. Others might have avoided this venue for that reason. But President Obama is not someone who stops talking to those who differ with him.”
Would any politician really have avoided it? Wouldn’t any politician jump at the chance to get honors and a law degree from his natural opponents?
Doesn’t he just want to mitigate the problem of Catholic opposition? Doesn’t he just want Catholic votes?
The questions would continue with Obama’s words.
Obama: “A few days after I won the Democratic nomination, I received an e-mail from a doctor who told me that while he voted for me in the Illinois 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 was not what was preventing him potentially 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.’ …. He wrote, ‘I do not ask at this point that you oppose abortion, only that you speak about this issue in fair-minded words.’ Fair-minded words.
“After I read the doctor’s letter, I wrote back to him, and I thanked him. And I didn’t change my underlying position, but I did tell my staff to change the words on my website.
Answer: Exactly. You changed the words on your website to get votes. Isn’t that all you’re doing now?
“So let us work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions; let’s reduce unintended pregnancies.”
Do you mean: “Let’s restore Nancy Pelosi’s contraception money to the stimulus package”?
And aren’t most pregnancies “unintended”? Isn’t it the point that children should be welcomed unconditionally, not categorized as “intended” or not?
“Let’s make adoption more available.”
Isn’t it available already? Do you mean: “Allow more people to adopt”?
Or do you mean you’ll help Catholic Charities in Boston to get an exemption from having to adopt to homosexual couples? That decision closed Catholic adoptions, making adoption less available.
“Let’s provide care and support for women who do carry their children to term.”
Then why, when a senator, did you vote against extending SCHIP to cover prenatal care?
And if it’s children that they are “carrying to term,” when they don’t “carry to term” can we say they “kill their children in the womb”?
“Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion and draft a sensible conscience clause …”
What’s wrong with the conscience clause we already have? Are you caricaturing the Church’s position by saying it’s not sensible?
“… and make sure that all of our health-care policies are grounded not only in sound science, but also in clear ethics, as well as respect for the equality of women.”
Was there something unsound about the science in Bush’s policies? It’s clear embryology: An embryo is a human being with his own set of DNA, sex, and life expectancy. And what’s “clear” about the ethics of yours? (Have you read Charles Krauthammer’s account of why he skipped your stem-cell signing? Obama’s ‘Science’ Fiction.)
And what about the equality of all: men and women, born and unborn?
“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.”
Fair enough. Can we add: “Without obfuscation,” too?