Notre Dame alumnus regrets misrepresentation of Catholic teachings by some U. officals

William McGurn, an executive with News Corp and writer of a weekly column for the New York Post regretted yesterday in Denver, CO, the misrepresentation of Catholic doctrine on life issues and politics made recently by some officials of the prestigious University of Notre Dame, once one of the most vibrant Catholic universities in the US.

McGurn, a Notre Dame alumnus, former chief editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal and a member of the University of Notre Dame’s Asian Studies Advisory Committee, delivered  the “Robert P. Casey Lecture on Catholic Faith and Public Life,” on Tuesday at the John Paul II Center in Denver.

His remarks were followed by by Denver district attorney, Bill Ritter and the executive director of the Colorado Catholic Conference, Timothy Dore. 

McGurn, lamenting the silencing of the voice of pro-life members of the Democratic Party, said that “it simply no longer matters which name is on the Democratic ticket, because on this issue [of abortion] the party has spoken… The Democratic Party’s Catholics, Mr. Kerry included, publicly declare either that they accept that life begins at conception or are otherwise “personally opposed” to abortion, or both.”

Recalling the recent New York Times article by Mark Roche, Dean of the College of Arts and Letters of the University of Notre Dame in which, while likening abortion to slavery and torture, argued that Kerry was the obvious choice for Catholics in this election because of his position on other issues, such as healthcare, the war in Iraq, the environment, etc., McGurn noted that Roche, while not speaking for Notre Dame, was not an anomaly among Notre Dame deans.

“In the three decades since Roe rent asunder the laws and legislative compromises that had defined and limited abortion in America,” said McGurn, “Notre Dame, in its most public on this issue, has sadly been distinguished for an astonishing ability to come up with, at critical moments in this debate, convenient pretexts for the look-the-other-way crowd.”

He noted that the “crude calculus in which unequivocal Catholic teaching on the intrinsic evil of the taking of the most innocent life is weighed against judgment calls” on issues such as the death penalty and represented in Roche’s article, was also applied by Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, president emeritus of Notre Dame, who used to hold the line that “while Republicans who were against abortion agreed with only 5% of Catholic teaching, Democrats who were pro-choice were on the Catholic side in 95% of the other issues.”

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