Double Standard

There is no way a university is going to disinvite the president.

Thomas Reese points out that when it comes to inviting pro-choice speakers and giving them honors, archbishops get the leeway for the call, and universities don’t:

This is absurd. If Cardinal Edward Egan of New York can invite Obama to speak at the Al Smith dinner in October of 2008 when he was only a presidential candidate, then there is certainly nothing wrong with Notre Dame having the president speak at a commencement.

The political wing of the pro-life movement has gone on tilt. Another strategic effort from the Republican playbook courtesy of 54,000 signatories. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I’d say that the petitions were faked by pro-choice folks intent on discrediting the pro-life movement. But that would be silly, given the sabotage delivered by the True Believers to their own efforts. I’m getting discouraged. Should I e-mail Archbishop Chaput now?


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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22 Responses to Double Standard

  1. David D. says:

    I recall plenty of people being upset over Cardinal Egan’s invitation of Obama to the Al Smith dinner. I was. I wish more had been. No time like the present to make up for that mistake.

  2. Michael says:

    I’m inclined to think the “pro-life movement” is doing Satan’s work. They’re interested in confrontation rather than saving lives.

  3. David D. says:

    Thta’s a serious accusation. How so Michael?

  4. Michael says:

    Because every time in the last twenty years I’ve ever heard pro-lifers speak publicly, they speak with anger, accuse everyone who disagrees with them of bad faith, and scream that those who don’t toe the line are going to hell. It didn’t used to be that way. Speaking quietly and prayerfully works. Screaming doesn’t.

    I have met three people in my life who were “pro-abortion”; everyone else who wasn’t “pro-life” was pro-choice. And most of the apolitical pro-choicers I know are kind and decent people who might have been disposed to listen to quiet argument, but who now, based on their confrontations with vociferous pro-lifers, are convinced that said pro-lifers are either evil or crazy.

    The road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions, and too many pro-lifers are on that road.

  5. Todd says:

    Michael makes a good point. If serious pro-lifers were to step back and listen, I think most of them would realize that the current course set by Republicans and True Believers is fruitless.

    The shouting and self-righteous approach has alienated fence-sitters and cast serious doubt on the whole pro-life movement in their eyes. And what for? Republican politician trolling for votes and cash flow.

  6. NG Lynd says:

    I found the site through an incoming link.

    This conversation is one we need more of. Most Americans are pro-choice for the first trimester, and want limits on the next two. We need to be working together to create laws that reflect the public sentiment.

    The pro-choice position is honorable; admittedly, the movement itself has been engulfed by those who are radical and have no problem quickly dismissing their own people if a member breaks rank over finer points.

    Both sides in this “battle” have to stand up to those who are leading their movements in a direction that will not do a thing to bridge divides or at least find some common ground.

    That is the way I see it, anyway.

  7. Holly Hansne says:

    Yes, the “Baby Killer” language has got to go. It does not save any babies. The lack of Christ-like love turns many away.

  8. RP Burke says:

    Einstein’s definition of madness, which is quite applicable to the pro-life political movement, is the keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

  9. Gavin says:

    I would say that this leaves no question that the political “pro-life” movement (as opposed to people on the ground or those actually succeeding in working to eliminate abortion) is only interested in humiliating its enemies – and they sure love to find them! BUT, Todd, would you care to comment on the quote from the USCCB quoted by Bishop D’Arcy? “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.” Wouldn’t that imply that the president should not, in fact speak at ND?

    Mind you, I’m always one to ignore the USCCB. But all the same, this statement seems to directly say that ND is in the wrong. I’m on your side as to the shamefulness of the “outrage”, but what of the relevant quote? Or are the bishops wrong?

  10. Todd says:

    “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.”

    Okay. What’s the context? Is the president being honored as the president of the US? Or is the honor directed at his opposition to the criminalization of abortion?

    Does this mean we can’t use music composed by non-Catholics?

  11. Liam says:

    Of course, it might be nice for Catholic universities to follow the model of the university founded by our nation’s foremost Deist Founder (that would be the University of Virginia founded by Thos. Jefferson) and not given honorary degrees at all. Leave it to Harvard University (aka The World’s Greatest University(TM)) to continue its indulgent ritual of honorary degrees, while The World’s Other Greatest University(TM) down Massachusetts Avenue – that would be MIT – follows the example of UVA because its founder was an alumnus thereof. Honorary degrees are unworthy. Give medals. Like the Laetare Medal….

  12. David D. says:

    Notre Dame, an ostensibly Catholic institution, knowingly chooses to honor an extremely high profile and deeply committed advocate of abortion on demand without restriction of any kind, an act that the Church unequivocally condemns as the unjustified taking of a human life. What should the response have been? What if the invited speaker were an advocate of apartheid, honor killings or some other barbaric practice? What if Bishop Williamson were the invited speaker?

    The various and clumsy renderings of the pro-life movement offered here seem strangely fixated on the supposedly vituperative rhetoric of its adherents as if there were some moral equivalence between harsh words and infanticide. In any event, the pro-life movement as a whole is surprisingly peaceful, especially in contrast to the violence inflicted on the unborn by so-called pro-choicers. It is also remarkable that a movement which offers its adherents no material benefit has endured for over 30 years. Although there is obviously a political aspect to the pro-life cause, the sine qua non of the movement is prayer. This is necessarily so as anyone who realistically assesses the present situation understands that it is hopeless absent Divine intervention. Prayer, of course, does not garner much attention except it seems from pro- choice advocates who find themselves compelled to spew all manner of invective whenever a group of middle aged women gather to say the Rosary near the local abortuary. For those posters in the area who are interested, and I know there are many of you here, there is a Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form being offered to end abortion at Our Lady of Mr. Carmel in the Bronx on this glorious Feast of the Annunciation. If your local parish does not offer a Mass for this intention, perhaps you could ask your pastor to consider doing so sometime soon?

    Let’s be honest. The posters here are not really outraged over the supposed hypocrisy of criticizing Notre Dame while giving Cardinal Egan a free pass. (There are some differences between the two situations not the least of which is the customary nature of the invitation to the Al Smith dinner as opposed to Notre Dame’s particular invitation of Obama.) Nor are they concerned about the political ineptitude of the pro-life movement. (Such criticisms, incidentally, fall to account for the unique difficulties of trying to challenge a Constitutional right spun from whole cloth by a non-democratically elected, activist Court). Nor are they really bothered by the supposedly uncharitable tone taken by certain pro-life speakers. (If uncharitable language really were a concern, Todd would have had something more thoughtful to say than “Michael makes a good point” after Michael wildly condemned pro-lifers to hell for doing Satan’s bidding.) Rather, the real annoyance is that there is a pro-life movement at all. What’s the big deal about abortion after all?

  13. Tom B says:

    David D., thanks for taking the time to craft such a measured post. Your comments are very much appreciated.

  14. Michael says:

    Michael wildly condemned pro-lifers to hell for doing Satan’s bidding

    David, you prove my point. I pity you.

  15. Todd says:

    “Michael wildly condemned pro-lifers to hell for doing Satan’s bidding.”

    Truly an interesting interpretation. When one spends one’s time shouting and not listening, it’s simple to completely miss what the other person is saying.

  16. JC says:

    Yes, it’s wrong to call people who are “pro-choice” or “non-political” “baby killers” because they actively or passively support legalized abortion.

    We should call them “baby killers” because they use artificial contraception, the fundamental abomination which is tearing our society apart, socially and economically, as both Bl. Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI predicted.

  17. David D. says:


    So Michael, in recognition of the old proverb, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar,” merely offers some gentle advice to pro-lifers in a wholly non-confrontational manner when he accuses them of “doing Satan’s work,” when he questions their integrity by stating that they are “interested in confrontation rather than saving lives,” and when he concludes that “too many pro-lifers are on that road [to hell]”? That is “[t]ruly an interesting interpretation” to borrow a phrase devoid of any condescension. As to another of Michael’s insightful comments, how does his infantile retort, “David, you prove my point. I pity you” add to the discussion? Wasn’t the original subject of this entry hypocrisy?

  18. Todd says:

    David, a few things:

    1. The use of quotes (while it does have other meanings) implies a quotation, exact words the other has said. You have attributed words to people that simply aren’t there.

    2. The slogan about the road to hell is not a condemnation to a place nor an association with a particular evil being, but an observation of a tendency.

    3. The blogosphere can be a rough and tumble kind of place. You’ve been called on misinterpreting someone else’s statement. There’s been mild sarcasm, but no name-calling or complaint, so I consider this all fair play.

    4. Michael related personal experience. That doesn’t brand a whole movement, but he did apply this experience to embellish on the original point of the post, a certain double standard on the part of bishops in general.

    I think we can all concede that individually, we’re mostly all pro-life, and that we’ve had both good and bad experiences with individuals and with the movement as a whole.

    If you could veer from quoting what somebody didn’t say, I think this thread could be more productive. Perhaps we all would benefit from taking a step back and striving for the best of clarity when writing as well as listening.

    I’m always willing to take objections by e-mail and address them provately if someone feels unfairly treated here. Correspondence is absolutely non-bloggable unless a rader gives explicit permission otherwise.

  19. David D. says:

    1. I’m a bit confused. I did a side by side comparison and don’t see any misattributions.

    Quote 1: “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar,”

    The use of quotation marks is used to set off the proverb cited. I do not attribute these words to anyone.

    Quote 2: “doing Satan’s work,” Attributed to Michael

    Source: Line 1, Post No. 2, Poster ichael.

    Full sentence copied and pasted from original, “I’m inclined to think the “pro-life movement” is doing Satan’s work.”

    Quote 3: “interested in confrontation rather than saving lives,” Attributed to Michael

    Source: Line 2, Id.

    Full sentence copied from riginal: “They’re interested in confrontation rather than saving lives.”

    Quote 4: “too many pro-lifers are on that road [to hell]”? Attributed to Michael.

    “To hell” placed in brackets to indicate “that road” refers back to “road to hell” used just prior to the quoted material.

    Source: Last Line, Post No. 4, Poster Michael

    Full sentence copied and pasted from original, “The road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions, and too many pro-lifers are on that road.”

    Quote 5: “[t]ruly an interesting interpretation”

    Bracket used to indicate use of capital “T” in original. Not attributed.

    Source: Line 2, Post No, 15, Poster Todd

    Full sentence copied and pasted from original, “Truly an interesting interpretation.”

    Quote 6: “David, you prove my point. I pity you” Attributed to Michael.

    Source: Line 1, Post No. 14. Poster Michael.

    Full sentence copied and pasted from original, “David, you prove my point. I pity you.”

    2. That’s a very generous inference and certainly not clear especially in the context of Catholic blog where some readers might actually take seriously the prospect of eternal damnation and where the poster had previously made reference to Satan.

    3. See No. 1 above.

    4. Any help the pro-life movement can get even if that comes in the form of criticism should be welcome. Still, I thought the characterization of the pro-life movement was overly harsh, incomplete and in need of balance, and counter-productive. My personal experience has been quite the opposite.

  20. Todd says:

    Thanks, David, for the clarification. I confess I missed post #2, which was significantly stronger than the explanation given in #4. I apologize for my error.

    I would say that in my experience far from “all” pro-lifers have been … difficult, let’s say. But some, both in parishes and especially on the net have been less than charitable, and all too ready not to apologize or to listen to others.

    What is it about divisive issues that makes people difficult, and how much does that damage the pro-life movement?

  21. Jimmy Mac says:

    Once a fixed idea of duty gets inside a narrow mind, it can never get out.

  22. Liam says:

    MIneral oil can help, if stories are to be believed….

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