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Obama at Notre Dame: An Opportunity We Should Not Waste

Could his controversial invitation be a blessing in disguise for pro-lifers?

by
Elizabeth Scalia

Bio

April 7, 2009 - 12:00 am
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I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.”
Deuteronomy 30:19

As an Illinois state senator, Barack Obama voted twice against a measure similar in intent to the unanimously approved 2002 federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which provides medical assistance to living children born during attempted abortions.

President Obama’s 100% NARAL rating and his quick move to fund overseas abortions and embryonic stem cell research suggest that the president, if challenged by Moses to “choose life,” would politely demur. Given his anti-life positions, Obama’s acceptance of an invitation to speak at what is arguably America’s preeminent Catholic university has created an uproar.

Several bishops have argued well against the invitation, and Bishop John D’Arcy, of Fort Wayne and South Bend, has said he will not attend the event. For many pro-life Catholics, myself included, the thought of President Obama addressing the upcoming commencement exercises at Notre Dame just scalds.

It scalds, but as my email fills up with angry press releases from various pro-life groups and with appeals to sign anti-Obama petitions, I find all the fire-breathing just a bit scalding, as well.

I understand and support the duty of Catholic bishops to register strong disapproval of the president’s anti-life positions, and I further believe that teaching the truth is always imperative, but Catholic universities have never been intellectual ghettos, offering only narrow exposure to ideas. On the contrary, Catholic universities have been bastions of rigorous debate with the application of reason triumphant over trends, sentiments, or policies. Because I believe that, and because I believe in the rightness of the Catholic position on life and the ability of the Holy Spirit to use surprising people and circumstances to do God’s will, I keep thinking, “Why are the Catholics approaching all of this with outrage and apparent fear, instead of confidence in battle?”

The current administration has famously quipped “never let a good crisis go to waste.” Well, Catholics might take a page from the president’s book and see this situation as less a “crisis” than an opportunity.

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