Letter To The Editor: President’s Visit In Best Interest?
Published: April 9, 2009
To the Editor:
I am not an alumnus of Notre Dame, nor has any member of my family ever been, but I do feel it important to comment on the decision of Notre Dame to invite President Obama for their commencement speech.
I am however a Catholic who believes we are One Body of Christ and as such we all need to be mindful of how our actions affect the body as a whole as well as how those actions impact our body’s immune system. Truth is to our spiritual body as medicines are to our physical body, and this whole episode just doesn’t ring true.
The actions of President Obama are counter to our Catholic heritage that values the person. His actions have devalued the person in many important ways. From the right to life of the unborn and just barely born, to the rights derived from the principles of subsidiarity and the common good. Our Catechism advises us in paragraphs 1881 through 1885 that “the human person ... is and ought to be the principle, the subject and the end of all social institutions” and that “subsidiarity, according to which a community of higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need ... with a view to the common good.”
Certainly a good case can be made that the current economic malaise that our country is experiencing has its roots in the abandonment of the value of the person and that we are therefore witnessing the symptoms of the disease.
I understand the tradition that Father Jenkins is trying to uphold. I also understand his statement, “Yet, we see his visit as a basis for further positive engagement.” But, I don’t agree that President Obama’s visit is in the best interest of the common good, and I also don’t agree with Father Jenkins’ tactics. Circumstances have given Father Jenkins an opportunity that only God can provide because the national media attention to this episode is truly a gift. Christians now have the chance to do two things: first, we can demonstrate the importance of our principles and convictions. Yes, it would be embarrassing to rescind the invitation, especially for Father Jenkins. But that would be short lived, and a good Lenten sacrifice. Secondly, if the ultimate goal is to truly have an engagement with President Obama, then the engagement would carry more weight once he realized how important our principles are to us and how much we disagree with his. Imagine seeing this story unfold all while the nation is watching! Once we have his and the nation’s attention, we can shine the light back on the person and ultimately God, where it belongs.
These are serious times, far more serious than the tangential economic issues we are all suffering, and leadership, now more than ever is needed. As Catholics, our institutions must at the very least do no harm to the common good, and at their best, promote the person and the common good by all of their actions.
Andrew Dymek, Roswell