Bishop of Winona: Notre Dame flap ‘no win’ for the Church, losing situation for university

Bishop of Winona, Minnesota Bernard Harrington
Bishop of Winona, Minnesota Bernard Harrington


In an article titled "The Notre Dame Flap," Bishop of Winona, Minnesota Bernard Harrington, harshly criticized the decision of the University of Notre Dame to bestow an honorary degree upon President Obama, saying that it has created a "no win" situation for the Church in the U.S. and a losing one for the university.

In his final column for the diocesan newspaper, "The Courier," before officially retiring, Bishop Harrington revealed that he has joined more than 50 bishops in expressing "my disbelief and disappointment" for Notre Dame’s decision.

"President Obama has been blatantly pro-abortion in the first few weeks of his new administration with the lifting of the ban on federal funding of abortions and approving with federal funds embryonic stem cell research," the Bishop of Winona wrote.

"He is also 'on record' that he approves the 'Freedom of Choice Act' (FOCA) and he is seriously considering lifting the exemption of conscience clause from those in the medical field who oppose abortion."

According to Bishop Harrington, the University of Notre Dame "is choosing to defy the bishops of the United States and turn its back on the Catholic community in its continual defense of the right-to-life. The university’s stance is similar to that of Catholic politicians who say that they are pro-life and then support legislation and vote for programs that foster abortion."

"It is hard to believe that the University of Notre Dame has chosen 'political rightness' over principle and truth," he added.

Bishop Harrington recalled that shortly after the election of Pope Benedict XVI, the president of the university, Father John Jenkins, CSC, asked the Pope what the university could do for his papacy.

"I am sure that Pope would now tell Father Jenkins the same thing that Pope Benedict XVI told Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives."

During the brief meeting with Pelosi on February 18, Pope Benedict spoke to the pro-abortion Catholic democrat about "the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church's consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society."

The Bishop of Winona also said in his column that "no matter what the President of Notre Dame says, the invitation and bestowal of an honorary degree upon President Obama is a 'no-win situation' for the Catholic Church of the United States and in particular, a losing situation for the University of Notre Dame."

"It might be a little too dramatic to say that Our Lady of the Golden Dome is hanging her head in shame, but there is no question that hundreds of thousands of ‘loyal Irish’ supporters are angered, dumbfounded and disappointed in this administration’s decision," he said.

After ten years of leading the southern Minnesotan diocese, Bishop Harrington has announced that he will "pass the crosier" to his coadjutor, Bishop John Quinn.

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