I haven’t done any research on this, so I’m running the risk of being wrong. But it seems to me that Catholic leaders used to reserve their venom for pro-choice elected officials who were also fellow Catholics. I could point to any number of examples, but you may recall there was some buzz during the 2004 presidential campaign that John Kerry would be denied communion because of his pro-choice stance.
So it strikes me as an unfortunate escalation for Catholics who oppose abortion rights to protest Notre Dame’s decision to invite President Obama to speak at the university’s commencement and to award him an honorary degree. As the Boston Globe’s Michael Paulson reports, Harvard Law School professor Mary Ann Glendon, a well-known conservative Catholic, is the latest to take part in the protest, as she has refused to accept an award on the same platform as Obama.
Trouble is, Obama is not a Catholic, or even a conservative Protestant. Rather, he is a member of the United Church of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination that supports abortion rights (notwithstanding the fact that he quit his UCC church over statements made by his former minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright). Indeed, the UCC is part of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, which issued a statement shortly after Obama’s inauguration praising him for overturning Bush administration policy on global reproductive-health assistance.
Are Notre Dame’s critics — including Mary Ann Glendon — suggesting that a Catholic university can’t honor a non-Catholic if his religious beliefs differ from Catholic doctrine? It certainly sounds that way, doesn’t it? How far do they intend to go with this?