As the swell of criticism against the Notre Dame scandal continues to rise, three more bishops have spoken out against the school’s decision to honor president Obama at this year’s commencement ceremony, bringing the total number of opposing bishops to 52. President Obama is expected to deliver the University’s commencement address and receive an honorary law degree May 17.
Bishop Joseph Galante of New Jersey’s Camden diocese weighed in on the controversy in the April 24 edition of the “Catholic Star Herald.” Discussing how Catholics are expected to integrate Catholic faith and identity into daily life, Bishop Galante said Notre Dame’s honoring of Obama “suggests that our foundational moral principles do not matter.”
“These situations are often complex and each situation must be judged on the particular circumstances that pertain by those who are responsible for upholding Catholic teaching in the institution in question, whether at Notre Dame University or elsewhere,” wrote Galante.
“However, it would appear to me to be inappropriate specifically to honor an individual, particularly a prominent public official, who intentionally holds and deliberately advocates positions contrary to fundamental moral principles.
“To do so suggests that our foundational moral principles do not matter. To do so betrays our Catholic belief. To do so ignores the Church’s Catholic identity and our own Catholic identity, which is more than a name or a label, but defines who and what we are at our core,” Bishop Galante concluded.
As a publisher’s note in the Catholic News & Herald this week, Bishop Peter Jugis of Charlotte, NC, wrote: “It is evident that action on the important issue of defending unborn human life must proceed along various fronts simultaneously.
“Public outcry over Notre Dame’s decision must be accompanied by ongoing catechesis in our parishes, public witness by the entire Catholic Church and involvement in the political process in order to promote a culture that protects the sanctity of unborn human life.
“The problem of the lack of respect for the right to life of the unborn is so serious in our society that this multi-front approach is essential. This is a task for laity, clergy, religious, parents and teachers – in short, for everyone.,” wrote Bishop Jugis.
Earlier this month, Bishop Glen Provost of the diocese of Lake Charles, LA, issued a statement condemning the Notre Dame decision as displaying “total disregard” for U.S. bishops’ policy.
“I must express my dismay at the fact that Notre Dame University would confer an honorary degree upon a commencement speaker who publicly, in theory and in action, espouses a position on such a fundamental issue as the life of the unborn that is in direct opposition to Catholic Church teaching,” wrote Bishop Provost.
“With all due respect to the person and the office of the President of the United States, at issue is a far more fundamental principle. Such an action on the part of the University displays a total disregard for an instruction by the Bishops of this country on the consistency between the actions of Catholic institutions and what the Catholic Church teaches.”
“In this matter, I share the consternation of my brother bishops and of many Notre Dame alumni who have already voiced their objections. I am in complete agreement with them,” said the bishop. “Appeals to ‘academic freedom’ or engagement should not prompt an indifference to what our actions imply.
“In reflecting on the need to voice my objection, I am reminded of a statement in the letters of Madame de Sévigné that I read many years ago.
“Expressing her regret at the death of a dear friend, which could have been prevented by decisive action, she writes: ‘By saying, “I don’t want to take responsibility for anything,” people become responsible for everything.’
“For both the individual Catholic living in this climate of moral relativism and for the Catholic institution bestowing an honor, this observation is particularly applicable,” wrote Bishop Provost.
“Honos habet onus ["Honor has responsibility"] applies as well to the one who bestows the honor.”
The bishops who have so far expressed disapproval of Notre Dame’s invitation to Obama (in alphabetical order) are:
1. Bishop John D’Arcy – Fort Wayne-South Bend, IN
2. Bishop Samuel Aquila – Fargo, ND
3. Bishop Gregory Aymond – Austin, TX
4. Bishop Gerald Barbarito – Palm Beach, FL
5. Bishop Leonard Blair – Toledo, OH
6. Archbishop Daniel Buechlein – Indianapolis, IN
7. Bishop Robert Baker – Birmingham, AL
8. Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz – Lincoln, NE
9. Archbishop Eusebius Beltran – Oklahoma City, OK
10. Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Cantú – San Antonio, TX
11. Bishop Paul Coakley – Salina, KS
12. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo – Houston, TX
13. Archbishop Timothy Dolan – New York, NY
14. Bishop Thomas Doran – Rockford, IL
15. Auxiliary Bishop John Dougherty – Scranton, PA
16. Bishop Robert Finn – Kansas City-St. Joseph, MO
17. Bishop Joseph Galante – Camden, NJ
18. Bishop Victor Galeone – St. Augustine, FL
19. Cardinal Francis George – Chicago, IL; President, USCCB
20. Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger – Evansville, IN
21. Archbishop José Gomez – San Antonio, TX
22. Bishop William Higi – Lafayette, IN
23. Archbishop Alfred Hughs – New Orleans, LA
24. Bishop Peter Jugis – Charlotte, NC
25. Bishop Joseph Latino – Jackson, MS
26. Bishop John LeVoir – New Ulm, MN
27. Bishop Jerome Listecki – La Crosse, WI
28. Bishop William E. Lori – Bridgeport, CT
29. Bishop Paul Loverde – Arlington, VA
30. Bishop George Lucas – Springfield, IL
31. Bishop Robert Lynch – St. Petersburg, FL
32. Bishop Joseph Martino – Scranton, PA
33. Bishop Charles Morlino – Madison, WI
34. Bishop George Murry – Youngstown, OH
35. Archbishop John J. Myers – Newark, NJ
36. Archbishop Joseph Naumann – Kansas City, KS
37. Bishop R. Walker Nickless – Sioux City, IA
38. Archbishop John C. Nienstedt – St. Paul-Minneapolis, MN
39. Archbishop Edwin O’Brien – Baltimore, MD
40. Bishop Thomas Olmsted – Phoenix, AZ
41. Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk – Cincinnati, OH
42. Bishop Glen Provost – Lake Charles, LA
43. Cardinal Justin Rigali – Philadelphia, PA; Chairman, USCCB Pro-Life Committee
44. Bishop Kevin Rhoades – Harrisburg, PA
45. Bishop Alexander Sample – Marquette, MI
46. Bishop Edward J. Slattery – Tulsa, OK
47. Bishop Richard Stika – Knoxville, TN
48. Bishop Anthony Taylor – Little Rock, AR
49. Bishop Robert Vasa – Baker, OR
50. Bishop Thomas Wenski – Orlando, FL
51. Archbishop Donald Wuerl – Washington, D.C.
52. Bishop David Zubick – Pittsburgh, PA