Tuesday, March 24, 2009

William McGurn in the Wall Street Journal on Obama and Notre Dame

In an essay published in the March 24 edition of the Wall Street Journal, "Obama Gets Their Irish Up: The president doesn't want a dialogue about abortion," William McGurn offers an analysis of the recent news that President Barack Obama will be receiving an honorary doctorate as well as giving the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame's May 17 graduation exercises. Here are some excerpts from McGurn's piece:

"We hope for this to be the basis of an engagement with him." So explains Notre Dame's president, the Rev. John Jenkins, as he discusses the university's choice of Barack Obama as this year's commencement speaker. In yesterday's student newspaper "The Observer," where the quotation appears, the thought is introduced with another helpful bromide: The honor accorded President Obama, it is reported, will be a "catalyst for dialogue."

Now, if the president were going to Notre Dame to engage in dialogue, that would be one thing. But Mr. Obama will not be going to Notre Dame to "dialogue." He will be going to help advance his agenda.

At the center of that agenda is abortion. Leave aside his enthusiasm for the Freedom of Choice Act, or the way he misrepresented his role in killing an Illinois state ban on partial-birth abortion. Already as president, Mr. Obama has ended restrictions that prevented taxpayer dollars from funding abortions overseas; opened a path for using taxpayer dollars to encourage the destruction of embryos for research; and taken aim at a "conscience clause" designed to protect doctors, nurses and others from being forced to participate in procedures (including abortion) that violate their consciences...

In the end, the result is moral incoherence. It is an incoherence in which abortion-rights advocates have the most to gain, because it demoralizes those who support the cause of life while removing fears of even the slightest social sanction for those who do not. And it is an incoherence we see all across American Catholic life today.

In our intellectual life, this incoherence gives us a college president who tells the campus paper that honoring an abortion-rights president is consistent with the bishops' statement that such leaders "should not be given awards, honors, or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."


You can read the whole thing here.

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