.- Bishop John M. DâArcy, whose diocese encompasses the University of Notre Dame, has issued a statement saying that President Fr. John Jenkins, CSC has given a âflawed justificationâ for the universityâs commencement invitation to President Barack Obama and should have consulted with his bishop before inviting the pro-abortion rights politician.
Bishop DâArcy said a U.S. bishopsâ document regulating such honors âdoes indeed applyâ to the invitation.
In an April 21 statement, Bishop DâArcy reported that Fr. Jenkins had sent him a copy of a letter to Bishop of Phoenix Thomas J. Olmsted. Bishop Olmsted had written to Fr. Jenkins earlier, charging that the invitation of Obama to speak and receive an honorary law degree at Notre Dameâs commencement is a violation of the U.S. Bishops' 2004 statement âCatholics in Political Life.â
Fr. Jenkins, in his letter to Bishop Olmsted, reportedly argued that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishopsâ (USCCB) document âCatholics in Political Lifeâ did not apply to the invitation to the U.S. president. The university president sent a copy of the letter to Bishop DâArcy.
Bishop DâArcy said that because the matter was now public, it was his duty as bishop to ârespond and correctâ as part of his âpastoral responsibility.â
Presenting points from his own April 15 letter to Fr. Jenkins, Bishop DâArcy said the teaching of âCatholics in Political Lifeâ is âclearâ and places the responsibility on Catholic institutions, and the Catholic Community as a whole, not to honor those who âact in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.â
He said doubts concerning the meaning of a USCCB document should be referred to the local bishop for authentic interpretation.
âThe diocesan bishop alone bears the responsibility to provide an authoritative interpretation,â Bishop DâArcy wrote.
The bishop underscored that Fr. Jenkins had indirectly consulted other bishops when he consulted presidents of other Catholic universities and asked them to consult their own bishops.
âHowever, he chose not to consult his own bishop who, as I made clear, is the teacher and lawgiver in his own diocese. I reminded Father Jenkins that I was not informed of the invitation until after it was accepted by the president,â Bishop DâArcy wrote, adding that the local bishopâs responsibility to teach is âcentralâ to the universityâs relationship to the Church.
âThe failure to consult the local bishop who, whatever his unworthiness, is the teacher and lawgiver in the diocese, is a serious mistake,â the bishop said.
âProper consultation,â he added, could have prevented the action and the âpainful divisionâ it has caused between many bishops, the school, and a âlarge numberâ of the faithful.
The bishop also took issue with Fr. Jenkinsâ contention that his invitation to President Obama did not âsuggest supportâ for the Obamaâs actions, since Jenkins said he had spoken to Obama about their disagreement.
Bishop DâArcy said the âoutpouring of hundreds of thousandsâ of people who were shocked by the invitation âclearly demonstratesâ that the invitation has scandalized many Catholics and others.
âIn my office alone, there have been over 3,300 messages of shock, dismay and outrage, and they are still coming in,â the bishop wrote. âIt seems that the action in itself speaks so loudly that people have not been able to hear the words of Father Jenkins, and indeed, the action has suggested approval to many.â
âIt would be one thing to bring the president here for a discussion on healthcare or immigration, and no person of goodwill could rightly oppose this,â he continued. âWe have here, however, the granting of an honorary degree of law to someone whose activities both as president and previously, have been altogether supportive of laws against the dignity of the human person yet to be born.â
Bishop DâArcy reported that his letter to Fr. Jenkins asked for a correction and, if possible, a withdrawal of the âerroneous talking pointsâ which appeared in the South Bend Tribune and in other media outlets.
âThe statements which Father Jenkins has made are simply wrong and give a flawed justification for his actions.â
The bishop said he now considered the application of âCatholics in Public Lifeâ to be âsettled.â
Calling for division to be addressed through prayer and action, he pledged to work with Fr. Jenkins and all those at the university to heal the âterrible breach which has taken place between Notre Dame and the Church. It cannot be allowed to continue.â
Bishop DâArcy concluded his letter with an appeal for prayers for âsubstantial and true, and not illusoryâ healing.â
âNotre Dame and Father Jenkins must do their part if this healing is to take place. I will do my part.â