I watched the entire 30 minute speech Obama gave to the graduates of Notre Dame last Sunday. As you all know, his invitation and award of an honorary degree by the Catholic University was highly controversial. I have posted several posts in protest of the actions of Notre Dame President Jenkins to invite and honor Obama. There was certainly a lot of tension in and around the ceremony. I was pleasantly surprised at the news coverage of the event. While I still disagree with Notre Dame's decision, I do think that some great good could come out of this controversy primarily because it raised the issue of abortion and became the news story of the day. I believe that if we talk more and more about the issue, eventually the truth will prevail. I would like to comment on several quotes Obama made yesterday. I don’t want to take any of his comments out of context, so you can read the entire speech in the link below.
His entire speech can be found here.
"Now this excites me. I want to congratulate the winners of this year's tournament, a team by the name of "Hallelujah Holla Back." Well done. Though I have to say, I am personally disappointed that the "Barack O'Ballers" didn't pull it out. Next year, if you need a 6-foot, 2-inch forward with a decent jumper, you know where I live."
Wisely, Obama started off his speech with some humor to lighten the tension. I must admit that Obama does have a pretty good sense of humor and seems like a nice guy. He is an extremely smart speaker. He knows how to captivate his audience and using some humor was a good tactic to win over the crowd. The crowd certainly was overwhelmingly supportive of the president. Their frequent and loud applause was both surprising and more than a little disturbing. Did they realize they were applauding the most pro-abortion president in American history?
“I also want to congratulate the Class of 2009 for all your accomplishments. And since this is Notre Dame ... (Speech is interrupted by anti-abortion protesters.)
We're fine, everybody. We're following Brennans adage that we don’t do things easily. We're not going to shy away from things that are uncomfortable sometimes.”
President Obama handled the interruptions and protest very well. I’m not saying I disagree with the protests, but Obama was not fazed by the distractions and in some ways they helped Obama’s speech. The majority of the crowd was vocal in disapproval of the protests. Maybe some were upset that there was so much controversy around their graduation, a time that is supposed to be joyful, but they should thank President Jenkins for all the controversy surrounding the graduation; he knew there would be controversy when he invited and honored Obama. The protester could be heard clearly. He said, “Abortion is murder. Stop killing babies.” It’s hard to argue that message. It was sad that students at Notre Dame would boo such comments. I hope Obama is true to his word that he will not shy away from things that are uncomfortable at times, because this issue of abortion is not going to go away.
“Our very survival has never required greater cooperation and greater understanding among all people from all places than at this moment in history.”
What about the survival of the most innocent unborn children?
“The soldier and the lawyer may both love this country with equal passion, and yet reach very different conclusions on the specific steps needed to protect us from harm.”
My first thought is who would know more about protecting our country, the soldier who is out on the battlefield or the lawyer who can sit in a court room and talk your ear off but has never seen enemy combat? The lawyer and the soldier may love their country equally, but that does not mean that they have equal knowledge on every issue. Just as the lawyer does not have as much knowledge about national security and war, I would not expect the soldier to know the inner workings of the law. We can respect that everyone has an opinion, but we must not accept that everyone’s opinion has equal weight due to a difference in knowledge about the issue. When speaking on faith issues, the bishop of your diocese is the teacher on faith issues. If an individual lay person or politician outside of the church has an opinion on faith issues, their opinion does not carry the same weight as that of the bishop.
“The gay activist and the evangelical pastor may both deplore the ravages of HIV/AIDS, but find themselves unable to bridge the cultural divide that might unite their efforts.”
How can you successfully fight an issue when your beliefs and lifestyle contribute to the very issue itself? We can all agree that a cure for HIV/AIDS is desirable, but how does the gay activist suggest we cure this disease? Seriously, what is their answer and solution to the problem? I know that many think that the widespread distribution of condoms and contraceptives is the answer; it’s not. When we encourage the use of contraceptives for those in Africa for example, we are encouraging promiscuity. The lifestyle of the gay activist and others who live a promiscuous life live a lifestyle that is not only morally wrong and sinful, but they also live a lifestyle that leads to the acquiring and spreading of HIV/AIDS.
“Those who speak out against stem cell research may be rooted in an admirable conviction about the sacredness of life, but so are the parents of a child with juvenile diabetes who are convinced that their son's or daughter's hardships can be relieved.”
Obama is being ambiguous and deceptive when he mentions those who speak out against stem cell research. The Catholic Church and pro-life advocates are not against all stem cell research, but embryonic stem cell research which destroys life. Protecting of innocent human life is always admirable and critical, but the decision to fund embryonic stem cell research is neither admirable nor justified. While I can and do empathize with parents of a child with juvenile diabetes, and I realize that often their intentions to do what is best for their child is admirable, the fact remains that embryonic stem cell research destroys a human life. Also, the facts indicate that embryonic stem cell research has provided no recorded medical treatments. On the other hand, several advances have been made and medical treatments have been found through adult stem cell research, which does not destroy human life. Why encourage the destruction of life when funding could otherwise be spent on adult stem cell research which has actually proven to lead to medical treatments? Even if embryonic stem cell research could provide some medical treatment, it would not be justifiable to destroy the innocent human life even if it may lead to a cure of another. Evil means is never justified by a desirable end. The underlying problem with this issue is that of fertility clinics and the practice of in vitro fertilization. You can find a previous post about embryonic stem cell research here.
“How does each of us remain firm in our principles, and fight for what we consider right, without, as Father John said, demonizing those with just as strongly held convictions on the other side?”
People often use name calling such as “demonizing” to attack or belittle others and their opinions. I think this is exactly what Obama is doing here with this comment while at the same time he appears to come off as congenial with those he disagrees with. To be fair, he is right that we should not demonize others. When we see sin, it can sometimes be hard for us to separate the sinner from the sin. I have a hard time of this myself. We should not demonize others, but we must not be afraid to admonish the sin. In fact, we have a responsibility to speak out against sinful ways. Obama’s words are particularly troubling because they are so convincing to those who don’t closely examine his actions and his tactics. He suggests that we all just get along, but that is not what we are called to do. We are responsible for evangelizing others and protecting and spreading the truth. There is such a thing as truth, and to deny that there are some very basic truths revealed by God is irresponsible and even sinful. We do not create our own personal truths which are separate from other individual’s ideas of truth. This sort of moral relativism waters down or completely ignores the truth and is one of the greatest and most prevalent evils of our time. Moral relativism poisons our society and destroys hearts, minds and souls. We must always try to separate actions from people. We should be able to accept the sinner, after all we are all sinners, but we absolutely must reject the sin. Sometimes the sinner does not want to hear that he or she is living in sin. Sometimes the sinner is upset when confronted with the truth. We must not abandon truth so as to pander to the feeling of sinners. We must proclaim the truth to sinners so that they might be converted. Archbishop Gomez of San Antonio talks more about this issue using much more eloquent words than myself. I encourage you again to read the article if you haven't already, because he hits the nail on the head.
"I didn't change my underlying position, but I did tell my staff to change the words on my Web site."
This comment was made after telling a story about how one of his supporters who happened to be pro-life commented negatively about something that was written on his campaign website regarding pro-life advocates. The fact of the matter is that Obama is a strong abortion advocate. He believes women should be able to abort and kill their own babies in practically any case. It is easy to change words, especially if it is politically expedient, but it is much more difficult to change your actions. Actions speak much louder than words, and Obama's actions time and again reflect his radical anti-life positions. It is very unlikely that we will be able to convert president Obama, but we must continue to pray for him and all abortion advocates; pray that with the grace of God through the Holy Spirit their hearts and minds might be converted.
"Let's make adoption more available."
Why encourage adoption if there is nothing wrong with abortion? Think about it. It doesn't make sense. I think president Obama is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. He has no intention of making adoption more available. Look at his actions.
"Let's provide care and support for women who do carry their children to term."
We should be able to hold president Obama to his word. There is an excellent bill, the Pregnant Women Support Act, which is being introduced by pro-life democrat Robert Casey. The Pregnant Women Support Act has been backed by the USCCB, and is a bill that both sides of the abortion issue should overwhelmingly support. Who could not support a bill providing assistance to pregnant women? Maybe Planned Parenthood since it would damage their abortion business… Please contact your representatives in support of this bill.
"Let's honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded not only in sound science, but also in clear ethics, as well as respect for the equality of women."
This appears to be in response to the controversy surrounding the Provider Conscience Clause. I have spoken about this extensively in a previous post here.
"I was not raised in a particularly religious household… I was drawn to be in the church. It was through this service that I was brought to Christ."
It should be pointed out that Obama is not Catholic. In fact, there is some question whether or not he is even a Christian. His comments here are a little misleading. He was led to a church whose pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, holds some extremely radical views. No one really knows president Obama's religious beliefs, I don't know if even Obama himself knows, but he certainly holds several beliefs contrary to the Catholic Church and the vast majority of Christian denominational churches.
"It's beyond our capacity as human beings to know with certainty what God has planned for us or what He asks of us. And those of us who believe must trust that His wisdom is greater than our own."
These words are actually very true. I agree completely with what he says here, but again it must be understood in the proper context. Faith may admit occasional doubt and be accepting that some things are a mystery, but faith is also acceptance of truth. If we truly have faith in God, we will not fear standing up for the truth. We know that all things, even the end of abortion, are possible with God.
Please also read these excellent articles related to the Notre Dame controversy:
Archbishop Chaput of Denver
Bishop Finn of Kansas City
Father Frank Pavone