We have been informed by the Notre Dame University administration and President Obama’s press office, that President Obama was selected as a speaker to encourage dialogue. With all due respect, this reason does not hold up to scrutiny.
The primary purpose of dialogue is for the parties to inform one another in truth as to the truth to aid in the formation of conscience. As Catholic’s we are obliged to inform our conscience and the conscience of others with and in the truth:
“Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened. A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. The education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative teachings.” CCC 1783 (emphases added).
In addition to informing our conscience and that of others we are obliged to recognize that “charity always proceeds by way of respect for one's neighbor and his conscience: ‘Thus sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience . . . you sin against Christ.’ Therefore ‘it is right not to . . . do anything that makes your brother stumble.’” CCC 1789.
In other words, dialogue with an individual requires that both parties: (1) wish to inform one another’s consciences in truth; and (2) respect each other’s conscience.
It is for these two reasons that great violence is done to the English vocabulary when one refers to Notre Dame University’s invitation to President Obama to speak and be honored with a degree as dialogue.
First, President Obama does not act as one who believes in informing conscience in truth through dialogue. Indeed, in a 2007 speech to Planned Parenthood he expressed his desire to “turn the page" on the abortion discussion. President Obama has already informed us of his goals: “On this fundamental issue [abortion], I will not yield and Planned Parenthood will not yield.” Moreover, the President of the United States has described the issue of when the human rights of a baby begins as being “above my pay grade.” Yet despite admitting ignorance of when a child is entitled to human rights he then proceeded to take actions which subsidize the death of little children by rescinding the Mexico City Policy and ordering the funding of experimentation which requires the direct killing of embryonic human beings. On top of all of that, he has picked a Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, who recently stated while receiving the Margaret Sanger Award, that one of the primary goals of United State's foreign policy is going to be the spread of Margaret Sanger’s vision, which is racist, apocalyptic and murderous. Lastly, he has stated that to him a sin is an action that does not conform to his values. Does that sound like someone who is open to dialoguing in truth to you?
Second, it has recently been reported that President Obama is going to eliminate all conscience protection for doctors, nurses and pharmacists who do not wish to participate in abortion. I cannot help but appreciate the irony of President Obama’s Catholic supporters who cast those of us who object to his being honored by Notre Dame as intolerant in the name of tolerance and democratic pluralism, while supporting a man who makes war on the conscience of our brethren doctors, nurses and pharmacists. Turning back to the Catechism, when we wound a man’s conscience we “sin against Christ.” What then can be said of a man who has taken action to not only wound a man’s conscience, but to obliterate it and subject it to his own will and public policy? Is this not war against Christ? Is this not a grave crime against charity?
This reminds me of a story by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen regarding communism. He described a city block that contained four houses. The first three lived in harmony and tolerance. The first neighbor wished to heat his house with coal, the second wished to heat his house with wood and the third wished to heat his house with gas. Among these three there could be dialogue and compromise. Then a fourth neighbor, preaching tolerance and compromise, moved into the fourth house, he was an arsonist and wished to heat his home by burning the other three. Bishop Sheen’s point was simple, it is impossible to compromise with the arsonist!
As much as it pains me to say it, the current President of the United States is a moral arsonist. As we spin our wheels arguing back and forth with his Catholic agents regarding tolerance he is burning down the house of conscience to the ground, he is burning the house of life to the ground and by continuing to encourage and pick wayward Catholics like Kathleen Sebelius for powerful positions, he is burning the moral and teaching authority of Christ’s Church and Her Bishops to the ground.
We should be tolerant of this man, but not of his opinions. Might I offer a parting suggestion to the President of Notre Dame? Instead of letting President Obama speak, speak to him, perform the spiritual act of mercy of admonishing the sinner, instructing the ignorant and counseling the doubtful. Instead of handing him an honorary award hand him a Catechism of the Catholic Church and a Baltimore Catechism.
Oh, at last but not least, tell him that if our Holy Martyrs were willing to be fed to lions not to light incense before the image of the Emperor of Rome, he’s got another think coming if he thinks we going to take the next four years lying down or that he is going to get any honor from us if he does not change his ways.