Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Dear Father: An ND Alum Writes to Notre Dame

I received in the mail a letter asking for donations to the Annual Fund. The letter comes with a prepaid and self addressed envelope to mail my donation back to the university. My donation comes in the form of a letter. I feel like this whole situation is like giving a kid a condom while telling him not to have sex, or perhaps it is like giving the chubby fat kid a piece of his favorite chocolate cake then telling him not to eat it.

Dear Father,

I will forever be grateful for the opportunities that being both a student and a graduate of the University of Notre Dame has allowed me. It has opened doors for me and connected me with individuals that I would not have initially expected.

For many years Notre Dame had been synonymous with success, with being first. However, a recent incident has allowed Notre Dame to slip from being seen as the best Catholic university in America. Notre Dame has now become synonymous with being second. People around the country are questioning its catholicity. I do not blame them, for even as an Alumni the recent news of President Obama‘s speaking engagement at the University has me questioning the mission of my Alma Mater.

It is this reason that I cannot donate money to the University’s Annual Fund this year. By allowing President Obama, a Preident whose legacy is yet to be determined, to not only speak but to also receive an honorary degree from the University only sends a very mixed message to not only Catholics but also to those faiths who look to Catholicism for its inspiration and guidance and also to the country as a whole.

Despite the truly Catholic experience I received at the University, I cannot out of good conscience, as I am bound with my Catholicism to follow my conscience, donate money to the Annual Fund as long as the University keeps sending mixed messages to the public. Here are just a few reasons why the mixed message of President Obama speaking at my University goes against my conscience:

• He if a stern supporter of the homosexual lifestyle and marriages.
• He supports sex education by Planned Parenthood to children as young as 5 years old.
• He has a voting record that consistently supports abortion.
• He believes in using tax payers money to fund abortion.
• In July of 2006, he voted NO on notifying parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions.
• In March 2005, he voted YES on $100M to reduce teen pregnancy by education & contraceptives. (Sex education starting at age 5 and contraceptives, which act as abortifacients.)
• As demonstrated on his campaign trails, he views children as a punishment for someone who gets accidentally pregnant.

I know there are more issues than abortion that one must look at when voting and considering a politician, but when considering one who is so obviously anti-family and anti-life, the alumni and student body is being forced to swallow a difficult pill.

I apologize to the students who might have benefited from my donation. I would rather send my money to an institution who has leaders that are not interested in misleading and confusing the masses of a country.

I end with the words from a Jesuit President at the local Jesuit High School in my area when he heard about Notre Dame’s invitation to Obama: “What, are they trying to become a Jesuit School? They are just trying to become a Jesuit school.”

In Christ,

Paul Cat
Class of 2008


The Ironic Catholic said...

Nice. Sad situation, but nice letter. May there be more.

Unknown said...

I like the letter as well, it is well spoken.

Unknown said...

As a student and Alumni of Notre Dame as well, I find these words of Fr. Jenkins worth reading (especially those in italics):

"The invitation of President Obama to be our Commencement speaker should in no way be taken as condoning or endorsing his positions on specific issues regarding the protection of life, such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research," Jenkins said.

These "crucial differences" in positions on the protection of life are not being ignored in extending the invitation to the president, Jenkins said, but rather can be used as a catalyst for dialogue.
"We are not ignoring the critical issue of the protection of life. On the contrary, we invited him because we care so much about those issues, and we hope … for this to be the basis of an engagement with him," Jenkins said.

"You cannot change the world if you shun the people you want to persuade, and if you cannot persuade them … show respect for them and listen to them," he said.

President Obama is "an inspiring leader who has taken leadership of the country facing many challenges: two wars, a really troubled economy, he has issues with health care, immigration, education reform, and he has addressed those with intelligence, courage and honesty," Jenkins said.
Obama's historic election as the first black president in American history adds to the honor of his acceptance of Notre Dame's invitation, he said.
"I would say that it's a special feature for us that we will hear from the first African American president here at Notre Dame, a person who has spoken eloquently and powerfully about race," he said. "Racial prejudice is a deep wound in America and President Obama has been a healer, so we honor him for those reasons."

"We want to recognize his very real and significant accomplishments and his leadership. At the same time, we want to engage him in the future, and I think this occasion will be a wonderful time to do that," he said. "I think if he is going to reconsider his views, I think Notre Dame is the best possible place to begin that process."

The University's Commencement speaker carries the responsibility of providing graduates with inspiration as they leave Notre Dame, Jenkins said.
"Our graduates are leaving campus at a time of great challenges. We have special expectations for those graduates - what they will do and how they will lead the world," he said.
Jenkins said he hopes University Commencement speakers instill in graduates "the importance of public service" and "make them aware of the important issues in our world and will inspire them to be leaders and active citizens."


Maggie said...

This is a great letter. Thanks for your witness! hopefully more ND alumni will do likewise.

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