Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bishop Rhoades and Notre Dame's Defiance

The letter below was forwarded to me yesterday.
I have since been assured by Jean Scicchitano of the Harrisburg Diocese's Pro-Life Office that it is legitimate and that permission has been given for it to be distributed beyond the original recipient.

Subject: FW: Bishops statement re Notre Dame

Dear Christina,

Thank you for your note of concern which you recently sent to the Bishop’s office regarding the University of Notre Dame.

Maria Wood, secretary to Bishop Rhoades, referred your email to me. Bishop Rhoades has discussed this issue with me, as it pertains specifically to my office.

As is clear from Bishop Rhoades’ most recent commentary entitled "Disturbing advances for the culture of death", President Obama’s policies, and those of his administration, on abortion and embryonic stem cell research violate the moral law and Church teachings on the sanctity of human life and dignity of the person. Bishop Rhoades concurs with Bishop D'Arcy's statement and position on the matter. (Bishop D’Arcy is the bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, the diocese in which Notre Dame is located). Bishop Rhoades stands firmly with the US Catholic Bishops’ statement called “Catholics in Political Life” which unambiguously 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.

Bishop Rhoades also supports those who exercise their freedom of conscience and speech to express their opposition to the university’s decision to have President Obama as commencement speaker and honoree. In fact, Bishop Rhoades has written to the president of the university to express his disagreement with the university’s action.

It is disheartening and distressing when an institution that is regarded as Catholic, such as Notre Dame, fails to follow the guidelines set forth by the Bishops of the Catholic Church, especially in these vital moral matters. It is not political nor partisan to stand for the sanctity of human life and the dignity of the human person. President Obama clearly does not stand for or advance the cause of the defenseless unborn and their mothers and families. This is the tragic reality we must come to terms with as Catholics living in an increasingly secular environment. It is heartening on the other hand, to see how many Notre Dame students, faculty and alumni have made their commitment to human life known and how many Catholics and others of good will have done the same.

It is Bishop Rhoades’ hope and prayer that all the institutions that bear the name “Catholic” will affirm the Church’s teachings, expose the culture of death and build up the Culture of Life. Thank you for your selfless commitment to the defense of innocent human life. Please be assured of our prayers.

On behalf of Bishop Rhoades and myself, I am


Paul CB Schenck, MA (Theol.), LHD

Director Office of Respect Life Activities
Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg

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