Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Barack Obama and Notre Dame: Juris Doctor Honoris Causa?

That's the title of an essay I published this morning as the First Things Daily Article. It is a portion of a lecture I delivered on March 28, 2009 on the campus of the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. The talk, “What the Abortion Debate is Really About,” was given at the 2009 Notre Dame Right to Life Collegiate Conference, “Evangelium Vitae, VI: You Did It For Me: For a New Culture of Human Life.” Here are some excerpts:
According to Catholic moral theology, the unborn human being, from the moment of conception, is a full-fledged member of the human community. That means that the unborn’s personhood is not like a matter of taste, preference, or a “deep concern” of “personal belief.” It is a fact that prolifers are convinced they know is true, just like such other facts as that Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon, that it’s wrong to torture children for fun, that Mother Teresa was morally better than Adolf Hitler, and that the Earth is the third planet from the Sun.

But President Obama vigorously opposes this prolife understanding of human community. For those who may doubt this claim, one need only consult the consistent and unbroken public record the president has established on this matter. It began when he was an Illinois state senator, continued during his brief stint in the U. S. Senate, and has been an integral part of the agenda of the first sixty days of his administration. Admittedly, Obama is an articulate, winsome, intelligent, and gifted leader. But, whether we like it or not, he has employed those gifts as an apologist for excluding prenatal human beings from the protections of our laws. And he has not been shy in making this plain for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear....

I have no doubt that Notre Dame would never bestow an honorary doctorate in science to an astronomer who vigorously advances the agenda of geocentricity or a chemist who refuses to teach his students the periodic table, or award an honorary doctorate in divinity to a theologian who is an unrepentant apologist for racial apartheid and white supremacy, regardless of what these three individuals may have accomplished or how well their celebrity may be received by the wider culture and its influential institutions.

Why then would the University of Notre Dame bestow an honorary doctorate of laws on someone who for his entire public life has enthusiastically fought for a segment of the human population, the unborn, to remain permanently outside the protections of the law? Not only that, he has also demanded that our legal regime require that his fellow citizens, including Catholics, underwrite the destruction of these prenatal human beings. And not only that, he is right now preparing to remove by executive order protections that were put in place so that prolife physicians, nurses, medical students, and others in the health care field may not be forced to participate in abortions or be discriminated against for refusing to do so or even harboring such beliefs.

Unless the university does not believe that the Church’s understanding of the moral law is true and knowable, it can no more in good conscience award an honorary doctorate of laws to a lawyer who rejects the humanity of the proper subjects of law than it could in good conscience award an honorary doctorate in science to a geocentric astronomer who rejects the deliverances of the discipline he claims to practice.

You can read the entire article here.

No comments: