Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 16, 1978 when the first Mass was held at St. Monica Church, Northford.
Catholic Transcript Reader Survey
Catholic Transcript Reader Survey

The turmoil set into motion at the University of Notre Dame recently by inviting President Barack Obama to give its May Commencement Address and to receive an honorary doctorate of laws, is saddening for many reasons.

The University of Notre Dame has many redeeming academic virtues. And despite some stumbles along the way to excellence in academics, it has for years, by and large, been perceived as a university of note by many who are observant of Catholic Tradition. Optimally, this perception should match reality, meaning that the University should serve as an avenue toward faith in search of understanding. Catholic Tradition postulates that faith and reason go together; and theology is often defined as faith in search of understanding (fides quaerens intellectum). This definition is commonly attributed to St. Anselm of Canterbury (d. 1109), a Doctor of the Church.

If, with few exceptions, the University is not always recognized either for faith formation or for intellectual pursuits, despite its superior academic ranking, it does encompass certain prestigious departments, such as the one especially dedicated to philosophy, whose Chair is highly regarded throughout the world.

One could hardly affirm that Notre Dame, however, meets all the standards of a Catholic University as set forth by the Venerable Cardinal John Henry Newman in his classic, The Idea of a University.

When one thinks seriously about the current turmoil at Notre Dame, its ultimate cause is not that difficult to discern. Essentially at issue is whether an academic institution widely described as Catholic, can continue its mission while simultaneously approving of, or tolerating, or even pretending not to notice, the utter evil of abortion, by honoring anyone whose publicly stated views or actions embrace abortion in any way.

Abortion entails the deliberate termination of innocent human life. It is thoroughly incompatible with Catholic faith. This doctrine is Biblically founded in a Tradition that reaches back to the beginning; it has never changed, nor will it ever change.

(That the Church’s doctrine in this regard did not emerge until recent times, as the Speaker of the House of Representatives reportedly opined during a television program not too long ago, is sheer nonsense, not worth taking the time even to dismiss summarily.)

Repeatedly in columns or editorials here, as well as in classroom lectures and homilies, I have cited the wisdom of great non-Roman Catholic Christians such as Alexandr Solzhenitsyn; as well as non-Christians, such as Mohandas Gandhi, in the cause of holding fast to what is morally correct.

In My Non-violence, Gandhi said: "The business of every God-fearing man is to dissociate himself from evil in total disregard of the consequences. He must have faith in a good deed producing only a good result…"

Abortion, if nothing else, is an act of sheer violence directed upon a totally helpless innocent. (Of the few possessions in Gandhi’s cell when he died was a small picture of Christ.)

Solzhenitsyn’s indictment of embracing evil in any form was dramatically enunciated in a 1976 BBC interview, which reportedly shook Great Britain to its core; no one had been allowed to say as much publicly in recent times:

"Those people who have lived in the most terrible conditions, on the frontier between life and death, …they all understand that between good and evil there is an irreconcilable contradiction, that it is not one and the same thing – good or evil – that one cannot build one’s life without regard to this distinction…" (See the BBC Script.)

Solzhenitsyn’s credentials to prophesy were not acquired by his honorary academic degrees, nor even by his Nobel Prize in Literature (1970); his right to speak to the world in such terms was forged while imprisoned in the nightmarish Gulag Archipelago.

Why is it that apparently intelligent human beings cannot comprehend the utter evil of abortion? What is there about it so attractive that it can confuse or mislead an otherwise moral-minded person? Why is it that an academic institution can so easily fall prey to its insidious signals, vibrating through the universe with almost mesmerizing effects – like the signals of the legendary nymphs of the Rhein in a Wagnerian opera? Why is it that a center of learning whose roots, at least, were planted in Catholic Tradition, can even allow itself to enter, however remotely, into its very penumbra, and not expect to be gravely wounded by the experience?

For a committed, thinking Catholic, these are all serious questions.

Msgr. David Q. Liptak is Executive Editor of The Catholic Transcript, and censor librorum for the Archdiocese of Hartford.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.