SOUTH BEND, Indiana, MARCH 24, 2009 (Zenit.org).- For the first time in 25 years, the bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend will not attend the University of Notre Dame’s graduation ceremony.
In a statement released today on the diocese’s Web site, Bishop John D’Arcy revealed his decision to not attend this year’s commencement, at which President Barack Obama will speak and receive an honorary degree.
He said his move isn’t an attack on anyone, but rather a gesture done in defense of the truth of human life.
Father John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, informed the bishop Friday that Obama had accepted an invitation to speak at the university’s spring commencement. Bishop D’Arcy noted that this was the first he had heard that such an invitation had been extended.
“President Obama,” he said, “has recently reaffirmed, and has now placed in public policy, his long-stated unwillingness to hold human life as sacred. While claiming to separate politics from science, he has in fact separated science from ethics and has brought the American government, for the first time in history, into supporting direct destruction of innocent human life.”
Bishop D’Arcy noted that he made his decision “after much prayer,” and that he wishes “no disrespect to our president.”
“I have always revered the office of the presidency,” he said. “But a bishop must teach the Catholic faith ‘in season and out of season,’ and he teaches not only by his words — but by his actions.”
“My decision is not an attack on anyone, but is in defense of the truth about human life,” he added.
Quoting a 2004 statement of the U.S. bishops, Bishop D’Arcy said, “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.”
“Indeed, the measure of any Catholic institution is not only what it stands for, but also what it will not stand for,” the bishop noted.
Honor for Glendon
Bishop D’Arcy noted that Notre Dame will also honor Mary Ann Glendon, former U.S. ambassador to the Holy, at this year’s graduation ceremony. She will be presented with the university’s Laetare Medal.
The medal has been awarded annually since 1883 to a Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the church and enriched the heritage of humanity.”
The bishop said he has spoken with Glendon, and he encouraged her to accept the award, “and take the opportunity such an award gives her to teach.”
“Even as I continue to ponder in prayer these events, which many have found shocking, so must Notre Dame,” concluded Bishop D’Arcy. “Indeed, as a Catholic university, Notre Dame must ask itself, if by this decision it has chosen prestige over truth.
“Tomorrow, we celebrate as Catholics the moment when our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, became a child in the womb of his most holy mother. Let us ask Our Lady to intercede for the university named in her honor, that it may recommit itself to the primacy of truth over prestige.”
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