In her open letter declining the Laetare Medal, Prof. Mary Ann Glendon worried that Notre Dame’s decision to honor a strongly pro-abortion public figure would create a “trickle-down” effect by which other Catholic schools would become less hesitant to do the same, thus obscuring the seriousness of the Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion.
Now I know that post hoc does not mean propter hoc, but I couldn’t help remembering Prof. Glendon’s letter yesterday afternoon as I sat in the audience at Fordham Law School’s diploma ceremony listening to pro-abortion advocate Sen. Charles Schumer wax eloquent about himself for fifteen minutes. The unannounced speech surprised almost everyone—everyone except Fordham’s president, Fr. Joseph McShane (SJ), who introduced Schumer as “a dear friend of long standing.”
I suppose it is some consolation that the powers that be at Fordham Law felt they had to keep Schumer’s speech a secret—it suggests that they expected (and dearly wished to avoid) passionate argument over their decision. Fordham seems to have recognized, with Joseph Bottum, that opposition to abortion is now at the core of Catholic culture in this country. Still, it is at least a little ironic that self-appointed defenders of “openness” and “dialogue” within the Catholic Church so easily act as unaccountable elites making decisions with consequences for the whole Church without even a show of consultation with either faithful or hierarchy.