It is not hyperbole to state that Fr. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame University, is anti-Catholic. By inviting President Barack Obama to receive an honorary degree and give the commencement address at Notre Dame, Fr. Jenkins has deliberately set himself up as an authority on Church teachings, superior to that of the bishops (including his own, Bishop John D’Arcy of the Diocese of Ft. Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, who is boycotting the commencement). For Catholics, the bishops possess a certain teaching authority called the Magisterium.
The Magisterium is “the teaching authority given to the apostles by Christ, an authority handed on through the ages to their legitimate successors. The apostles laid the foundation for our Church’s faith life; each generation builds on that foundation. The Magisterium guides this gradual building.” (“The Magisterium: Guiding the Church,” Our Church Week (27 October 1991)). The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes it clear that “… this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication, and expounds it faithfully.”(Catechism of the Catholic Church, #86). “The pope and bishops are commissioned to teach authoritatively on faith and morals in a way no other teacher in the Church can claim to do.” They are the supreme authority on such matters.” (Kenneth R. Overberg, “Infallibility and Church Authority: The Spirit’s Gift to the Whole World,” Catholic Update (March, 1988). But, demonstrating that this is not some authoritarian dictate, the Catechism eloquently argues that only a true partnership between the Church and its people can make the Magisterium fully functional. “All the faithful share in the understanding and handing on of revealed truth. They have received the anointing of the Holy Spirit, who instructs them and guides them into all truth.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #91) “`The whole body of the faithful … cannot err in matters of belief ….’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #92) Thus, “`By this appreciation of the faith, aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth, the People of God, guided by the sacred teaching authority (Magisterium),… receives … the faith, once for all delivered to the saints …. The People unfailingly adheres to this faith, penetrates it more deeply with right judgment, and applies it more fully in daily life.’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #93) This input of the faithful is referred to as sensus fidelium (“sense of the faithful”).
In June 2004, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued “Catholics in Political Life.” The document opened with the statement, “We speak as bishops, as teachers of the Catholic faith and of the moral law. We have the duty to teach about human life and dignity, marriage and family, war and peace, the needs of the poor and the demands of justice. Today we continue our efforts to teach on a uniquely important matter that has recently been a source of concern for Catholics and others.” Clearly, the bishops are speaking in the voice of the Magisterium. Of particular importance to this discussion is their statement, “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” [emphasis in the original] Fr. Jenkins knows about this statement. By ignoring these guidelines, Fr. Jenkins has placed himself in authority over the bishops.
Likewise, he is discounting the sensus fidelium. He is ignoring many student organizations protesting his decision, alumni groups (and this one) , and the 364,000 persons who signed a petition against Fr. Jenkins’s decision.
Fr. Jenkins clearly has set himself above both the Magisterium and the sensus fidelium. Thus, it is not hyperbole to say he is anti-Catholic. At the very least, he has fallen prey to one of the Seven Deadly Sins – Pride.
One of the many problems with Obama’s speech at Notre Dame is that it gives the media an opportunity to misconstrue Catholic beliefs and practices. For example, an article in the Chicago Tribune extols the virtues of those who “keep their personal morality personal” unlike the misguided idiots who put their moral beliefs into practice. The writer of the article, Manya A. Brachear reveals her preconceived ideas in the title (and more clearly in the subtitle), “Obama's Notre Dame invite highlights quiet tension between Catholic teachings and personal faith: How Catholics act on their shared beliefs seems separates liberals and conservatives.” Brachear makes the argument that Catholics have such a wide variety of beliefs that they really don’t care about Catholic teachings. Everybody, according to this article, has their own beliefs, not matter what the Church teaches. “While church teachings unite them, they keep their personal morality personal.” True to the tendency to oversimplify issues, the article contends that those who follow Church teachings are “conservative” and those “cafeteria Catholics” who simply pick and choose what happens to be convenient at the particular moment in their lives are called “liberals.” The Catholics the author holds up for praise, the ones called “liberals” by most journalists, seem more like Unitarian Universalists.
Likewise, the Washington Post, while acknowledging that, according to a recent Gallup Poll most Americans are pro-life, heaps praise on those so-called Catholics who are, like Obama, pro-abortion or “liberal.”
Fr. Jenkins, out of a sense of pride and his manifest inability to admit that he made a mistake (typical of all university administrators) providing Obama with a platform to extol the virtues of abortion and wonderful usages of stem cells from aborted children, and, thereby, giving his tacit support of such ideas, has also encouraged the delightful anti-Catholicism prevalent in our country. Thanks, Fr. Jenkins. Perhaps his next move will be to announce officially that Notre Dame is no longer a Catholic institution. It wouldn’t be the first time this has happened . Once again, thanks Fr. Jenkins for helping the secularists. Maybe after the graduation, Fr. Jenkins and Mr. Obama can take in Angels and Demons , the latest money-making manifestation of anti-Catholicism.