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 20, 1971 when parishioners settled on a site for the new St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Oxford.
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Q. One of the many questions I have about the recent controversy at Notre Dame University surrounding its invitation to honor a President whose right to life record is so questionable, is simply: How could such an invitation occur at a respected Catholic University? How could this happen?

A. What happened to the erosion of values at Notre Dame University undoubtedly did not occur overnight, or even during the past several years. This lengthy erosion somehow affected both faith and reason. In other words, there has to have been a breakdown in religious education, since the evil of abortion is so clear an issue to comprehend.

Which brings up the very subject of adequate education. Judging from some of the Notre Dame students’ interviews with TV reporters during the turmoil over the University’s decision to honor the President recently (17 May), one has good reason to ask where and if these students seriously studied Catholicism. Their replies were, at most, confused or feeble. In fact, their religious educations seemed neglected.

The abortion issue is one in which contemporary science and technology (which also should be taught at a Catholic university) are rapidly helping Catholics and non-Catholics alike to understand why our traditional doctrine that life begins at conception is unassailable. A guest on a New York talk show recently commented that ultrasound, when first introduced, stunned scores of parents with pictures of the reality of human life within the womb, and that recently updated technology in this area has rendered this reality even clearer – if that is possible. (This helps explain why some abortionists raise objections to recourse to sonograms.)

But to return to the heart of the question raised above: surely there is adequate reason to question whether a college or a university, while continuing to maintain some kind of a Catholic identity, merits to be viewed as superior academically if so many of its students can be so inarticulate about an issue so critical to the Church and the nation.

Moreover, to return to the faith dimension in the instance of Notre Dame: what happened was indeed a scandal – and for many reasons. I can recall the famed Father Benedict Groeschel’s remarks at a commencement a few years ago about another self-styled Catholic institution of higher learning, which, in effect, repudiated its very mission as a Catholic school. This happened, he explained, despite the fact that this particular college had been built through the dollar bills of countless, nameless immigrants who sacrificed so much in order to raise funds for a truly Catholic institution. Yet now, those who have benefited so much from these immigrants’ sacrifices, are literally destroying these Catholic immigrants’ dreams.

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.