I am intrigued by comments here and there asserting that the opposition to Barack Obama’s role in Notre Dame’s commencement must be nothing but politics at work. Politically motivated. Obviously and clearly. Usually “hacks” is used at least once in the conversation.
I am trying to figure out what this means.
Of course, bringing the word “politics” into a religion discussion is a tactic used to immediately discredit the other side. You know that right? It doesn’t matter if the assertion is true or not, if secular political considerations are actually a controlling factor in decisions or discourse. To accuse someone, especially a bishop, of “playing politics” is to render their position suspect.
We have seen this for years in the discussions of abortion-rights-supporting politicians and the Eucharist. (The few) bishops who have stated that their understanding of canon law moves them to declare that abortion-rights supporting Catholic politicians have cut themselves off from the Eucharist are accused of “politicizing the Eucharist.” Which never made any sense to me. If a bishop said, “You’re a Democrat. You can’t receive Communion.” That’s politicizing the Eucharist. But focusing on a position and support for organizations that provide and promote abortion is not about politics. It’s about moral issues that do happen to have a political dimension.
It’s the same with Obama and Notre Dame. Is the criticism being leveled because Obama is a Democrat?
First. The accusation is faulty because it presumes American bishops are naturally sympathetic to the GOP. Anyone who is familiar with the American episcopacy knows how laughable an assertion this is, not only historically, but in the present as well.
Secondly, does anyone really think that if Rudolph Giulani or Arnold Schwarzenneger were invited to serve in the same role, that those protesting Obama’s role would be either silent or cheering?