My World of Religion, Politics, Entertainment and Social Issues

If you are visiting my blog, expecting to see 'Toward a Progressive Catholic Church,' I have changed my title to reflect my wide assortment of interests. Having retired from my secular job, I hope to devote the rest of my life to my hobbies, ministries and perhaps a part-time job that makes good use of my communications skills. This blog will be designed to address my multi-faceted interests.

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Location: Rochester, New York, United States

I have an M.A. in Theology and an M.Div (Master of Divinity) from St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry. I am currently a media consultant and promoter of classical music. I am also certified as an officiant by the Federation of Christian Ministries for baptisms, weddings and funerals and minister independently of the Rochester Diocese. My life has encompassed many interesting paths: broadcasting, free-lance writing, video-production, music, ministry and a secular job in government. In addition to this blog, I have a YouTube site at www.youtube.com/priestray and I have a Facebook page.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Notre Dame & Barack Obama





Dear Blog Visitors:

It should be no surprise that controversy surrounds Notre Dame’s invitation to President Barack Obama to be its keynote speaker at this year’s graduation ceremony. I applaud Notre Dame for not caving into unfair criticism.

In recent political races, conservative Catholics have come across as a one-issue group. This is not meant to criticize those who work on behalf of the sanctity of human life. However, I would urge Catholics to look at the wide spectrum of issues that are pivotal to their faith, including the rich legacy of social-justice documents that have been passed down since the 19th century.

When I worked as an issues writer on John Kerry’s campaign, he was unfairly targeted by conservative Catholics as being ‘pro-abortion.’ I defended him against these attacks, because he stated over and over again that he was opposed to abortion, but at the same time, he defended the rights of women to make informed choices. My position is exactly the same.

During the Kerry campaign, I was contacted directly by Fr. Frank Pavone, who is the president of Priests for Life. He wanted to know why I was affiliating myself with Catholics for Kerry, when Kerry was not considered to be pro-life. I responded to Fr. Pavone in a lengthy e-mail that I considered myself to be pro-life, just as I considered Kerry to be pro-life. Fr. Pavone responded that I was not pro-life if I defended a woman’s right to choose. I then explained that if a pregnant woman were to approach me for advice as to whether or not she should seek an abortion, I would never recommend one. I would offer other options, such as offering the child for adoption, if the mother were unable to care for her or him. After a few more e-mails back and forth, Fr. Pavone was satisfied that I at least cared enough about the issue to have some respectful dialogue with him via lengthy e-mails.

When I ran for public office in 1983, I was asked about the abortion issue. My response was that I was opposed to abortion, with possible exceptions being made only in the cases of incest, rape or a serious medical condition that threatens the life of the mother. I would certainly advise a woman against what has come to be known as ‘abortion for the sake convenience.’ Yet, a woman must make her own choice, even though I would pray that an alternative such as adoption would be carefully considered.

If abortion were to be outlawed entirely, such as the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, my fear would be that we would see what was commonly referred to as ‘kitchen table abortions,’ which were particularly common in the early twentieth century. Many of these abortions went horribly wrong, resulting in the death of the mothers. (This type of abortion is vividly portrayed in the motion picture, ‘Vera Drake.’) At the very least, Roe vs. Wade allowed for ‘safe’ abortions.

Concerning President Barack Obama’s invitation to be a commencement speaker at Notre Dame, it is my prayer that faculty, students and alumni of the university will come to realize that Obama epitomizes all that is good in the Catholic social-justice tradition. It is my guess that his commencement address will cover such areas as the economy, jobs, education and a mandate to look out for those less fortunate than ourselves. All these areas are hallmarks of Catholic social-justice initiatives, and Barack Obama should be applauded for his efforts, as opposed to being singled out for ridicule over one issue.

A legend of Notre Dame is the late Knute Rockne. My guess is that he would be ecstatic over Notre Dame’s decision to invite Barack Obama as its keynote speaker. In fact, if he were alive today, I can picture him giving the President a standing ovation and encouraging him to “win one for the Gipper.”

I extend my hearty thanks to Notre Dame for inviting a great speaker and leader to its commencement exercises.

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