Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Question: Do politics and religion mix? Sometimes

Father John J. Lombardi

Question: Why is the most famous person in the world-- President Barak Obama, being both lauded and lashed at one of the most famous colleges in the world, Notre Dame University in Indiana?

The President, popular amongst most folks for various reasons, is invited to do the keynote for the famous college's commencement May 17, and the local Bishop. John D'Arcy is not going as a protest-missing what would be his 25th commencement. Tons of protesters and bloggers and alarmists are ticked off-and gathering storm-- because the pro-abortion president has been invited to, and will receive honors, at Notre Dame, which, translated means Our Lady. Many are upset because the flagship college of Catholic higher education is countenancing a pro-abortion legislator.

Meanwhile, others may yawn the tirade off as Catholics gone wild.

If there's any doubt in your mind if the presidential invite is wildly inappropriate or that folks shouldn't be upset or that certain people in the Catholic Church are not favored (a kind of "subtle imperialism" whereby some are not held to the same standards of others), read The United States Catholic Bishops 2003 statement in their document entitled "Catholics in Political Life" --"The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."

Sometimes Catholic officials who invite pro-abortion legislators say they're not honoring the persons' policies but rather the office of the individual. That's kinda commendable and convincing-for a second, that is. In that vein, just think if President Obama promoted slavery or sex trafficking-would he be welcomed at Notre Dame? If a legislator was a Ku Klux Klan member would Notre Dame or any other Catholic institution invite him-saying they were only acknowledging his office, not his hatred of minority persons? What if a politician or President Obama promoted child abuse or torture-would they be welcome, or rather wild protests prevail?

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver in an interview recently put it succinctly: "Some Catholics in both political parties are deeply troubled by these issues. But too many Catholics just don't really care. That's the truth of it. If they cared, our political environment would be different. If 65 million Catholics really cared about their faith and cared about what it teaches, neither political party could ignore what we believe about justice for the poor, or the homeless, or immigrants, or the unborn child. If 65 million American Catholics really understood their faith, we wouldn't need to waste each other's time arguing about whether the legalized killing of an unborn child is somehow 'balanced out' or excused by three other good social policies."

"We need to stop over-counting our numbers, our influence, our institutions and our resources, because they're not real. We can't talk about following St. Paul and converting our culture until we sober up and get honest about what we've allowed ourselves to become. We need to stop lying to each other, to ourselves and to God by claiming to 'personally oppose' some homicidal evil - but then allowing it to be legal at the same time." Some people may object to the Church's "focus" on abortion, and others decry the "mixing politics and religion". Well, an abortion occurs about every 10 minutes in America-over 4000 a day (and, by the way: our Church supports reconciliation and healing of those involved in abortion). Politics is supposed to be ethical, and science, too, and killing children is obviously not. Just as Christians get validly mad at the atrocities of Darfur, Sudan and poverty in our world, or lack of health care for so many, we should be justly angry over abortion. Some of our legislators are exporting abortion and contraception. Others target minorities. Some say there are "other issues, too" to be concerned about- true, and yet if you cannot welcome a child at birth then you can choose to maim him or her at any other time, as did the Nazis in selecting the systemic torture of handicapped and Gypsies and Catholics. When so many abortion politicians are allied with evil organizations like Planned Parenthood and National Abortion Rights League this, too, is shameful. Look: Our Statue of Liberty and Declaration of Independence and Catholic Vatican Council II all stood, stand for the underprivileged, the poor and defenseless and "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness". But, absurdly abortionists are given honors today even though they directly go against these and God's Law. So, yes, this is a unique issue, The Issue of our times many have said.

As more politicians foxily use the Catholic Church, her institutions and honors as cover for gaining popularity, and by saying they are personally opposed but publically for abortion, and when they are not disciplined for these egregious abuses, and while others see this public spectacle of ignoring and abuse, Catholics need to pray, act and yes, like the saints, protest. Think of Thomas More standing up to the King of England and Dorothy Day protesting for the poor of New York City, and Mother Teresa decrying at a National Prayer Breakfast right before a President, saying searingly: How can you kill children and pray for peace at the same time? Yes it's difficult to un-invite a popular president of the United States, but if he sanctions the killing of children-and partial birth abortion which is equivalent to infanticide-and the venue of his commencement is named after the Mother of God who chose Life in the midst of difficulty and he is being lauded with a doctorate, this is a direct dissent and disaster: on a major scale.. If Thomas More can stand up to a king so can others. Read what one pilgrim wrote to Fr Jenkins of Notre Dame University, and shared with me, inspiring me to see how pole love their Lord, Church and our Lady:" It was once said that "Bad things happen because good people do nothing". I think that while we need to honor and respect President Obama as the leader of our country that we must let him know that we disagree with his stance on policies that are contrary to our Catholic Church teachings. Please reconsider this decision to have President Obama speak at Notre Dame."

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi