Is Obama ‘anti-Catholic’ and could he speak at St. Thomas?

Archbishop John Nienstedt
Archbishop John Nienstedt

Leave it to a law student to pose an uncomfortable question to Archbishop John C. Nienstedt: Would the University of St. Thomas be allowed to invite President Obama to speak on campus?

The Most Rev. Nienstedt — as well as a dozen other conservative archbishops — has been in the news lately for chastising Notre Dame over inviting a pro-choice president to serve as this year’s commencement speaker and to receive an honorary law degree from the university. And the archbishops are backed by at least 225,000 Catholics who signed a Cardinal Newman Society petition railing at the audacity of Notre Dame’s president.

But on Thursday, Nienstedt indicated to St. Thomas law students at a luncheon in Minneapolis that Obama would be welcome at the Catholic university – just not at a high-profile event like commencement.

Is this an about-face? Not necessarily.

“There was definitely nuance in what the exact forum should be for that,” said law school spokesman Chato Hazelbaker, who checked with some luncheon attendees at MinnPost’s request. None of those attendees wanted to paraphrase the archbishop’s comments for MinnPost, and the archbishop was declining interview requests about his blistering letter.

Hazelbaker did not attend the luncheon, but confirmed the question was asked and answered at an event sponsored by the St. Thomas More Society, the Christian Legal Society and Lex Vitae. This was the archbishop’s first official visit to the law school, where he said Mass and went to a Q&A lunch session with about 50 attendees.

“My understanding is that the archbishop said, ‘Yes, he [Obama] is welcome, and here are some of the things that would make sense to me.’ But I don’t know the substance,” Hazelbaker said. “I just know the answer was nuanced. The other point he made, which is one of the reasons people are hesitant to paraphrase the archbishop, is that he viewed the letter as a private letter. When someone tells you it’s a private communication, you don’t want to pile on.”

Letter hits cyberspace

Somehow Nienstedt’s letter found its way into cyberspace and into mainstream and religious media leaning left and right on the Notre Dame-Obama controversy. Here are comments posted on a story by the Catholic News Agency.

The archbishop’s entire letter is in the “related content” area to the right of this story. Though the archdiocese declined to release a copy of the letter, a spokesman confirmed this is the content of the letter. Here are some of the scathing sentiments addressed to the Rev. John I. Jenkins, president of Notre Dame:

“I write to protest this egregious decision on your part. President Obama has been a pro-abortion legislator. He has indicated, especially since he took office, his deliberate disregard of the unborn by lifting the ban on embryonic stem cell research, by promoting the FOCA [Freedom of Choice Act] agenda and by his open support for gay rights throughout this country.

“It is a travesty that the University of Notre Dame, considered by many to be a Catholic University, should give its public support to such an anti-Catholic politician.”

Dennis McGrath, spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, said the phone calls to the archdiocese are split evenly between supporters and opponents while emails heavily favor Nienstedt. “They say thanks to the archbishop for standing up for our faith and for being supportive of Catholic teaching and for having the courage to speak out about this,” McGrath said Thursday. Some opponents have expressed that “the archbishop should keep his nose out of politics.”

Part of the uproar over the Notre Dame invitation appears to be related to a strict interpretation of a “Catholics and Political Life” guideline issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The guideline says that “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.”

St. Thomas and Obama
So, would St. Thomas go out on a limb and invite Obama to be a commencement speaker and give him an honorary degree? MinnPost just had to ask. News service director Jim Winterer cited the guideline above, but prefaced it with a little wit about the prominence of St. Thomas vs. Notre Dame. “First, just as a real practical thing, if we invited him, he probably wouldn’t come. … So this is not a question we’d be facing.”

On a more serious note: “This [the bishops’ guideline] has been a matter of much debate in conversations not just at universities but at parishes and other settings,” Winterer said. “Bishops have been working on a clarification, so we’ll be watching for that and hope it will offer further guidance on the question of could Obama come here. Under the [existing] circumstances, it would not be likely that St. Thomas would give the president an honorary degree or do something that would be an honor like inviting him as a commencement speaker.”

St. Thomas also would consult with the archbishop before issuing such an invitation, Winterer said.

Although the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis does not fund St. Thomas, archbishops still have some say-so over Catholic universities in their area. Nienstedt’s comparatively liberal predecessor, Harry Flynn, served as chairman of the university’s board of trustees. But before Nienstedt became archbishop, St. Thomas changed its bylaws so that an archbishop did not automatically become board chairman, which caused a firestorm among conservative Catholics. 

When did the Catholic Church become so conservative about who is welcome to speak on campus and receive an honorary degree?

“The shift in conservatism has a great deal to do with the pontificate of John Paul II,” said David Landry, an associate professor of theology at St. Thomas. “In 1991, he wrote an encyclical about Catholic universities and how they have to be more Catholic. And ever since then, there’s been this push to re-emphasize Catholic identity at Catholic universities. In most places, it has meant a particular understanding of Catholicism that is conservative.”

At the same time the church leadership is becoming more conservative, a Gallup Poll report of March 30 finds that Catholics are “essentially tied with non-Catholics on the moral acceptability of abortion, divorce, and stem-cell research using human embryos.” For example, 63 percent of Catholics vs. 62 percent of non-Catholics think embryonic stem cell research is morally acceptable.

So, what’s with this disconnect between the flock and the frocked?

“I don’t think that’s so unusual because church archbishops are the guardian of the flame — they’re schooled in theology and scripture and have a much better understanding of the faith than most Catholics do,” said McGrath, the archdiocese’s spokesman who went to Catholic schools throughout his boyhood. “A lot of cradle Catholics don’t go to Catholic schools. … They don’t really get the instruction in the faith like my vintage did. … “They may be Catholic with a small c, which is not to put them down but they just haven’t invested the time and been exposed to some of the tenets of the faith.”
Tutu controversy
St. Thomas is no stranger to controversy when it comes to high-profile speakers. In 2007, the St. Paul-based campus made headlines when its president withdrew an invitation to Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu, a former archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, because of his views on Israel.

“The [university] president’s argument was that to invite Tutu would support his position vis-à-vis Israel,” said Landry, who belonged to a committee pushing to have Tutu re-invited. “And other people said, ‘No, inviting him doesn’t imply that, that Tutu is such an important figure that even if you don’t agree with him [he’s worth hearing]. It’s a very similar kind of argument here” with the Obama and Notre Dame issue.

Some people “push the idea of what is implied by inviting a speaker or conferring a degree,” Landry said. “Some people push too far. … Certainly, I would never draw the conclusion that Notre Dame or the church has gone soft on abortion because Notre Dame invited Obama to speak.”

Landry is particularly concerned that the archbishop said Obama is “anti-Catholic.”

“The fact that somebody doesn’t agree with the church doesn’t mean he’s anti-Catholic. That implies he harbors some sort of bigotry or prejudice. I think anyone can disagree with the church or its position without being prejudiced against them.”

Though Notre Dame’s president has been under tremendous pressure to rescind the invitation, Landry doesn’t see that happening.

“My suspicion is they’ll let President Obama speak and they won’t give him an honorary degree and that will make everyone unhappy,” he predicts. “I think Notre Dame wants to be known as a great university and it wants to be known as a Catholic university. … I think there are people at Notre Dame who think that a university that is so narrow in perspective that the president of the United States is not welcome to speak there — that this is not characteristic of a great university.

“I think people in positions of power at Notre Dame are not happy at being pushed around by the Cardinal Newman Society, so I’d be surprised if they rescinded the invitation. I would be surprised if Notre Dame didn’t issue a statement about inviting the president in virtue of his office but not in virtue of his particular beliefs,” a statement that “tried to distance the university from Obama’s political beliefs.”

Casey Selix, a news editor and writer for, can be reached at cselix[at]minnpost[dot]com.

To readers: If you were Notre Dame’s president, what would you do? And, what do you think of Archbishop Nienstedt’s letter?  

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Comments (26)

  1. Submitted by Paul Wochnick on 04/03/2009 - 11:13 am.

    So, what’s with this disconnect between the flock and the frocked?

    “I don’t think that’s so unusual because church archbishops are the guardian of the flame — they’re schooled in theology and scripture and have a much better understanding of the faith than most Catholics do,”

    Or it might be that many Catholics completely understand the beliefs of Catholicism but in regards to the questions in the survey, choose to reject those beliefs.

  2. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 04/03/2009 - 11:13 am.

    Well it does make me wonder how this plays out in Biblical terms. Did Jesus welcome sinners into his presence, just not at high profile events?

  3. Submitted by Virginia Martin on 04/03/2009 - 11:48 am.

    I must have misunderstood Christian beliefs. I thought everyone was welcome. Does someone stand at the door and query people as they come into church whether they believe in abortion, stem cell research, etc.
    I am scandalized that the Catholic Church deems the President of the United States an unsuitable speaker for their schools. The Catholic Church seems to be driving itself further backward into the medieval and becoming less and less relevant. The Pope declared that using condoms in Africa to prevent AIDS a sin and that they didn’t work and that monogamy was the only answer.
    He should get out more.

  4. Submitted by Ted Snyder on 04/03/2009 - 11:52 am.

    Applying the lable “anti-Catholic” to President Obama cheapens the term. It does not belong in discussion of policy differences that exist between the President and the Catholic Bishops.

    The Archbishop has spewed intemperate rhetoric before pertaining to gay and lesbian people. As I recall he did so within a short time of receiving his appointment the Archdiocese.

    Archbishop Nienstadt’s credibility as a church is quickly diminishing because of these kind of outbursts. There are plenty of places where the Catholic Church and President Obama agree — particularly around economic social justice. It would appear that none of that is on Nienstadt’s radar.

    Interestingly Notre Dame at the same commencement ceremony is also awarding its prestegious Laetare award to MarY Ann Glendon, a legal scholar (and recent US ambassador to the Vatican) noted for her research in support of the human status of the human embryo.

  5. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 04/03/2009 - 12:21 pm.

    This is the same institution that welcomed Anne Coulter with open arms, one of the most hateful, bigoted, anti-family person on the planet, but somehow the President might besmirch their image.

    It is sad that the Catholic Church, once a champion of the least among us, has forsaken the idea of charity and justice in order to align itself with the conservative right who care nothing for real family issues of Christ like humanity, but only are concerned with wedge issues. In aligning themselves with an un-Christlike conservative ideology the Catholic church risks becoming irrelevant, which is sad.

  6. Submitted by Tom Laney on 04/03/2009 - 12:21 pm.

    When the hypocritical Catholic hierarchy advises every Catholic soldier that they have an absolute moral right to refuse to fight in this Unjust Iraq War, I may listen to their opinions on free speech and academic freedom.

    Their cowardice embarrasses Jesus.

  7. Submitted by Julie Olson on 04/03/2009 - 12:26 pm.

    Firstly, the issue isn’t “conservative vs liberal” in any way, nor is this political.

    The fact is that President Obama would be welcomed to speak at a Catholic University under the same conditions as any speaker.

    However, the problem is that his stance on issues such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research are very contrary to Catholic Moral and Social teaching. The fact that Notre Dame is inviting him specifically as a Commencement speaker is a way of basically stating that his actions don’t matter. And the fact that they are giving him an Honorary degree…that is an outright endorsement of him and his blatant attack on life.

    This is what the bishops are reacting to, and it is their duty as bishops to step in. Their office is an authoritative teaching office; their job is to defend the Church and to speak out against those things that are offensive to our faith.

    Whether it’s Obama or some other pro-abort, the reaction would be the same and should be the same. You’d see the same outcry if it was Pelosi or Biden as well.

    Now…to address the Gallup Poll – our religion is not democratic. The fact that self-proclaiming “Catholics” are in favor of abortion and stem cell research reveals only that the Church has not done a good job in catechesis and in providing an education in moral teaching. Or, it’s quite possible that those voters ARE catechized and are simply rejecting truths that the Church has always held.

    Here’s the reality; as Catholics we’re not conservative or liberal. We are either faithful or we’re not. And those who do not hold to the Catholic faith simply are not Catholic no matter what label they slap on themselves when answering a poll.

  8. Submitted by Terry Nagle on 04/03/2009 - 01:22 pm.

    Thank heavens the Catholic church is keeping the Bush doctrine alive – “If you’re not with us, you’re against us”. Certainly Bishop Nienstedt recognizes people (such as President Obama) and institutions (such as the University of Notre Dame) are highly complex and hardly deserve outright condemnation i.e. Obama – “anti-catholic”; Notre Dame, “do not expect me to support your university in the future”.

  9. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 04/03/2009 - 01:27 pm.

    “When did the Catholic Church become so conservative about who is welcome to speak on campus and receive an honorary degree?”

    This question is phrased incorrectly, as the response indicates…

    “…there’s been this push to *re-emphasize* Catholic identity at Catholic universities.”

    The Church hasn’t suddenly become “conservative”; the dogma hasn’t changed a wit.

    The problem, as can be seen in the poll, is that there are so many who identify themselves as Catholic that have a such a tenuous grasp of the teachings of the Church (sadly, there are many Catholic priests that are just as ignorant).

    Pope Benedict is pushing to re-emphasize Catholic identity throughout the Church, and the refusal to provide a bully pulpit to those with a message that is anathema to Catholic doctrine is certainly as good a place to start as any.

    Hiram, Christ welcomed sinners into His presence to hear His word; he welcomed repentant sinners into His grace.

    He did not invite them to provide a counterpoint during His Sermon on the Mount.

  10. Submitted by Andrew Kearney on 04/03/2009 - 01:27 pm.

    It is unfortunate that the church has been taken over by people like Absp. Nienstedt. It all stems from Paul VI’s disastrous encyclical on birth control Humane Vitae. The people-who are the church-not the hierarchy-immediately rejected it and there has been a diminished role for the hierarchy ever since . Of course there is a small group of vocal extreme conservatives who applaud such harshness. I think that is the difference between Flynn and Nienstaedt. Both are conservative but Nienstedt has that sharp and mean edge to him. Many Catholics will continue to live the faith-following the justice that God brought to us in Jesus Christ and are leaving “the church’ to the hierarchy and the newly emergent conservative priesthood.

  11. Submitted by Michael Ernst on 04/03/2009 - 02:30 pm.

    I wish that Cardinal Newman were still alive so that he could sue the Cardinal Newman Society for slander.

  12. Submitted by Paul Wochnick on 04/03/2009 - 04:34 pm.

    “Here’s the reality; as Catholics we’re not conservative or liberal. We are either faithful or we’re not.”

    I completely disagree. The reality is that Catholics are diverse politically. To ignore this aspect of Catholicism is to put your head in the sand.

    Faithfulness is about doing the work of Jesus Christ and following your heart. Faithfulness is not about blindly following a patriarchal hierarchy.

  13. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 04/03/2009 - 04:41 pm.

    There is no shortage within the Catholic Church of the Spirit of Christ, which has long since been poured out on “all flesh” beginning with the first Pentecost. It’s just that it is rarely found in that very ancient, VERY human institution centered in the Vatican in Rome (the chief sin of which is its delusion that it’s not prey to the petty human foibles and follies that infest us all). Rather, it’s found in the place it has so often been found in Catholicism, in the best to be found among priests, monks, nuns, and laity; in those those who sense the Spirit’s guidance and use the living and teaching of Christ as the example by which they judge what seem to be the spiritual inspirations they receive (i.e. molesting children is not “inspired” no matter how strong the feelings to do so might be). There are many wonderful Catholic leaders and laypeople who who seek to be the presence of God and do the work of the Gospel in the world, often over the objections of the leaders of the “church.” Don’t let the bias, bigotry and hate evidenced by a few, very human, very dysfunctional, very loud leaders of your faith turn you aside from God’s presence which is still amply to be found there if you but seek it.

  14. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 04/03/2009 - 07:12 pm.

    “Christ welcomed sinners into His presence to hear His word; he welcomed repentant sinners into His grace.

    “He did not invite them to provide a counterpoint during His Sermon on the Mount.”

    It’s a Notre Dame commencement address, not the Sermon on the Mount. I believe there are several instances in the Bible in which Jesus engaged in religious discussions and debates.

  15. Submitted by Maria Jette on 04/03/2009 - 08:58 pm.

    What a nasty letter to a fellow cleric! I wouldn’t want to call “our” archbishop a crackpot, but letters like this one really make you wonder about his mental stability. He’s creepily reminiscent of Savanarola, his predecessor in the maniacally anti-homosexuality line.

    I haven’t sought another source for his letter, so don’t know if the version printed here is exactly as he sent it, but assuming it is: I’d like some further detail on how Obama’s “deliberate disregard of the unborn” is indicated (NIenstedt’s verb) by his “open support for gay rights throughout this country.” Does the archbishop feel that gay folks are depriving certain embryos of their lives? I’m afraid that does have the ring of Catholic doctrine about it… perhaps his spokesman, Mr. McGrath, could enlighten us.

    Speaking of Mr. McGrath, he continues to astonish with his smug statements about the Catholics who apparently just don’t get it, as they “just haven’t invested the time and been exposed to some of the tenets of the faith.” I agree with another comment above: plenty of practicing Catholics have been exposed to some, most, or perhaps even ALL the tenets of the Catholic Church– they just don’t buy them all. Meatless Fridays came and went, Mr. McGrath, and the day may yet come when the tenets of the Catholic Church show more interest in the already-born than the un-, pre-, or not-to-be-born!

  16. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 04/03/2009 - 09:53 pm.

    Bishop Tutu’s criticism of Israel’s ACTIONS does not make him anti-Semitic any more than Obama’s failure to observe the belief of a religion NOT HIS OWN make him anti-Catholic.

    This whole far-right thing in the Catholic church reflects the intolerant rigidity common in the 1940s and 1950s before the saintly John XXIII became pope and “opened the windows” to let fresh air blow into the church. Since his death, the church has slipped back into the old mode and has produced a number of Catholics who seem to think that abortion is the only moral issue in the modern world. (Except for the use of condoms in Africa to avoid catching AIDS, of course.)

    If Notre Dame had invited former president Bush to speak, would Archbishop Nienstedt have said “No” based on Bush’s pre-emptive war that has left hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead and two million displaced? Or for his disregard of the suffering of New Orleanians after Hurricane Katrina? Or for tax policies that created new billionaires every year while also sending a million Americans into poverty each year?

  17. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 04/03/2009 - 10:01 pm.

    Some of the commenters here seem to fear that President Obama is going to make a point of praising abortion and stem-cell research in a commencement speech.

    Do they, and the archbishop (who has created a tempest in a teapot), really think the speech won’t be about anything but the bright future in store for the new grads etc. etc. etc.?

  18. Submitted by Larry Wall on 04/04/2009 - 01:54 pm.

    It is very disappointing to hear the Archbishop refer to President Obama as “anti-catholic” – especially considering the president’s attempts to call for “inclusion” within the various American ethnic, cultural, religious, and political groups. He believes we are all American citizens that deserve respect and the right to express our views without retaliation.

    Bigotry and exclusionary practices are characteristics of many humans – to include Catholic Archbishops.

  19. Submitted by Terry Hokenson on 04/04/2009 - 03:01 pm.

    This is journalism at its best. Thank you, Ms. Selix and I find it marvelous, too, how good journalism engenders enlightening discussion.

  20. Submitted by MIa Wheaton on 04/05/2009 - 02:14 am.

    The old saw that religion and politics shouldn’t mix was never more evident this week than in the dustup over the University of Notre Dame’s invitation to President Barack Obama to speak at the university’s commencement next month.

    Thousands of conservative Catholics have signed an online petition against the invitation;, alumni and some students have objected and several high-ranking clergy, including the Twin Cities own Archbishop John Nienstedt, have written protest letters. They cite the president’s pro-choice views, his lifting of the ban on federal funding for overseas family planning organizations, some of whom perform abortions, his lifting of the ban on federal funding for stem cell research and his support for gay rights.

    But, thankfully, Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins is not backing off the invitation. The university has a tradition of inviting presidents shortly after their election. Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush have all spoken at the campus in South Bend, Indiana.

    A college or university should be a place for discussion of ideas, a place for healthy debate, for interfaith dialogue and reaching across political and social boundaries. If not on a campus, even one affiliated with a deeply religious culture, then where?

    Former President Bush spoke at Notre Dame even though he is a supporter of the death penalty. There were protests. Should he have been banned? And had he been invited after the start of the Iraq War, should he have been banned for starting what many believe was an unjust war.

    And former President Reagan spoke despite a widely held belief by progressives that he was an opponent of social justice, an important precept for many Catholics.

    While I am pro-choice and pro-stem cell research, I understand how many Catholics and others feel so strongly about those issues. But I don’t see how a political leader’s stand on some highly charged issues can be the only way we judge him. And, as the university’s president has said, an invitation to speak is not an endorsement of Obama’s positions.

  21. Submitted by MIa Wheaton on 04/05/2009 - 02:17 am.

    This is manufactured outrage, for which conservatives are famous. This cardinal protected and shuffled around pedophiles for years and now he judges Obama and preens for the cameras! The Catholic Church has little business casting stones. I’m Catholic and yet I admit my Church is corrupt to the core. I am pro-life, but this is not the point. It is right to state our beliefs, but it’s wrong to expect everyone else to agree.

    This “controversy” is much to do about nothing and 100% politically motivated. There is no reason why Obama shouldn’t speak or accept the degree. Every other recent President has done so, and none of them accepted all of the Church’s teachings.

    Some will say that abortion is the most important teaching. Not true. All teachings are important, and there’s more to being pro-life than just preaching anti-abortion. The American Catholic Church is obsessed with abortion, and for that reason, they seek to bring down any/all powerful liberals while throwing themselves at the feet of Republicans (such as Bush, who only claims to care about the issue once every four years when pandering for votes). Our country has and will continue to pay the price for this unholy POLITICAL alliance.

    The hypocrisy/hysteria must stop. The invitation was extended and accepted. Notre Dame should be gracious and welcome Obama warmly. For those who wish to challenge his views, they should invite him back for an on-campus debate. Unlike our former Prez, he will welcome the debate and not call them evil or Anti-American if they disagree with him.

  22. Submitted by Ann Spencer on 04/05/2009 - 11:44 am.

    Several aspects of this situation trouble me.

    If, as I have read, Notre Dame has invited all previous Presidents to speak, why is Obama being singled out for protest? Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were both pro-choice. Were they invited to Notre Dame and, if so, did the hierarchy and alumni react as they have against Obama? Does the current firestorm reflect only the more conservative bent of today’s Catholic church, or is something else at work? We have seen an alarming level of personal vitriol aimed at this President by right-wing talk radio. The Obamas have been called “trash in the White House” by one radio host and the President is regularly vilified as a socialist, a Marxist and even a fascist. Does the opposition to Obama have as much to do with the politics of the current Catholic hierarchy (and the large donors to Notre Dame) as it does religion?

    Second, it seems to me that we are seeing an extension of a trend in the Catholic Church that began when some bishops urged the denial of communion to Catholic politicians who differed from the church’s position on issues such as abortion, stem cells and gay rights. The current controversy takes things one step farther and attempts to block speech on Catholic campuses by prominent public figures who differ with church teaching, even if the speakers are not Catholic. As I have said in a comment on David Brauer’s Daily Glean column, this not only makes the bishops and Notre Dame alumni look foolish and intolerant, but it shows a lack of confidence in the strength and staying power of their own beliefs.

    In the interests of full disclosure, I am a non-Catholic married to a Catholic. My children are Catholic. They attended Catholic schools through high school, and one of my daughters spent her freshman year of college at Notre Dame. I hold the school in high esteem. I also have a great deal of respect for the Catholic Church, particularly its efforts at alleviating poverty, achieving social justice and educating many generations of children. I hope its better angels prevail and that Obama is warmly welcomed at Notre Dame.

  23. Submitted by Jerry Capecchi on 04/05/2009 - 02:27 pm.

    I read the statement made by Dennis McGrath, spokesperson for the Archdiocese, in the Minnpost article – Is Obama ‘anti-Catholic’ and could he speak at St. Thomas? – quoted as follows:

    “They may be Catholic with a small c, which is not to put them down but they just haven’t invested the time and been exposed to some of the tenets of the faith.”

    I found this to be highly insulting. I have 17+ years of Catholic “with a large C” education and taught Biology in a Catholic high school for ten years, yet am very upset with Bishop Nienstedt’s statement that President Obama is “anti Catholic”, and am incensed with the threatening letter he sent to Notre Dame. Does my disagreement with the bishop in this and other areas make me a Catholic or a catholic in his estimation? I am deeply troubled by the “cafeteria” approach Mr. McGrath, the Bishop, and other catholic conservatives appear to take in citing the Bible as a basis to reproach such things as homosexuality, yet lean on Church dogma, not biblically based, in areas such as married priests and women in the priesthood.

    Lastly, I am most concerned that he and the Bishop are so wrapped up in dogma that they appear to lose sight of Christ’s main commandment – Love God and Love your neighbor. After all, that is what matters most.

  24. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 04/05/2009 - 07:39 pm.

    Couple of very misguided statements have been made that need clarification.

    First of all, there is no evidence, nor has any allegation be leveled suggesting Archbishop Nienstedt ever had anything whatsoever to do do with the cover up of unfaithful, abusive priests.

    That is a very hurtful and unwarranted slander.

    Secondly, not that it mitigates the shameful cover ups that did occur, but it needs to be said that the overwhelming majority of sexual abuse that was carried out by unfaithful, predatory priests was not pedophilia (adult abuse of prepubescent children of both genders), but pederasty (abuse by an adult homosexual male against adolescent males). That may not be what church bashers wish to hear, but it is an irrefutable fact.

    It is my understanding that the Church is re-evaluating the wisdom of ordaining “celibate” homosexual men; a little late, perhaps, but still a step in the right direction.

    Lastly, I *cannot* understand how people that claim to be Catholics can conclude that it is possible to separate the the faith from the Holy See (the “paternalistic hierarchy”).

    Such statements betray a startling lack of understanding of what the Catholic Church is and what Catholics believe.

  25. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 04/06/2009 - 10:39 am.

    Opus Dei as a religio-political organization is a totalitarian cult and Archbishop N. as a member of that organization is responding in-kind….what more can one expect from a card-carrying cult member?

    It’s something Catholics of conscience, or otherwise, have to deal with and words downgrading Obama are but incredibly meaningless ravings.

    Bishop N’s words and political perspectives are his own choice and also his own self-indictment.

    But,if his accusation is not endorsed by the members of that particular church body, then they, the church members, should publically deny it. And if Bishop speaks as ‘personal opinion’, should he be represnting it as church doctrine?

    Consider also, what more can one expect from a ultra-conservative cult figure/advocate?

    Who takes him seriously? Whose views does he represent? My god, why should so many be surprised, considering the source?

    I would also say in a gentler way…I suppose one should be glad Nienstadt publically exposed himself.

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