An Open Letter to Father Jenkins
President of the University of Notre Dame
I pray God that you, and the Trustees and Faculty of the University of Notre Dame will reconsider your decision to extend an Honorary Degree to Barack Obama, and that you will withdraw your invitation to him to speak at the University’s Commencement exercises in May. As leaders in the American Catholic community do you not hold to the Church’s teaching with regard to the inviolable sanctity of human life, and against the heinous practice of abortion?
The issue at stake in the fight against abortion is starkly simple: Are all human beings created equal, or not? It is the same issue that was at stake in the fight against slavery and racial discrimination.
As an American who subscribes to the self-evident truths our country was founded upon, I answer the question in favor of equality. As a descendant of enslaved Black Americans, I believe that any other answer would invalidate the struggle for justice to which so many Americans of all races gave their lives.
Given that the principle at stake is the same as that which demanded opposition to slavery, I have always had a simple test when dealing with any question involving abortion. I ask myself what I would do or say if slavery was the issue in question. I recommend this test for your consideration. Ask yourself whether you would invite as a Commencement speaker an individual who abused the authority of office to provide Federal funding for the purchase of slaves. Would you consider it honorable for the University to confer an honorary degree on an individual who issued executive orders allowing US funds to be used to support slave markets? Would you let the University be used to give stature to a politician who supported the position that ownership of slaves is a matter of individual choice?
I hope and assume that the answer to all of these questions is no. Since you have chosen to answer otherwise where abortion rather than slavery is at issue, you must see a moral difference between enslaving grown people and killing nascent ones. Or else you see a moral difference between the nascent child in the abortuary and the slave on the auction block. As a Black, Catholic, prolife American, I challenge you to explain the difference to me and to everyone like me. Perhaps you make a distinction because the child is more helpless, more imperatively incapable of voluntary wrongdoing, more explicitly acknowledged by Christ to be the subject of His special regard? (Matthew 18:6, Luke 17:2) Or perhaps it’s because some refuse to recognize the nascent child’s humanity?
Whenever someone raises the latter objection I remember a speech Frederick Douglass made in which he felt compelled to make arguments for the humanity of black Americans because, he said, “A respectable public journal, published in Richmond Virginia., bases its whole defence [sic] of the slave system upon a denial of the Negro’s manhood.” You see, people once raised a question about that, which supposedly Catholic Christians (including some no doubt from my home state of Maryland) probably used at that time to justify their commerce with slaveholders; their willingness to hold in honor those who practiced or defended slavery; or even their own willingness to hold slaves themselves.
When I read of slavery in my youth I could not understand why so many tolerated such evil for so long. I asked God to help me never in my life to be such as they were. Once I fully understood the nature of the abortion issue, I was moved to stand against abortion and the slaughter of innocent life as I would have wanted all people of conscience and goodwill to stand against slavery and the rape of my forbears’ liberty. When people suggest that Barack Obama shares some heritage with me, I know better. For the truest test of that heritage is not the color of someone’s skin, but the determination of their heart, never to stand silently by while God’s fundamental law of justice is denied to persons whose only crime is the unjustly despised appearance of their humanity.
I know that the Catholic Church today is guilty of no such dereliction. The Holy Father, the clergy, and millions of the laity have joined together in prayer, and work and sacrifice to bear witness against the wrong of abortion, to bear witness against a false idea of choice that betrays God-given liberty. Your University bears the name of the Blessed Mother of Christ, who honored God’s will for human life though it could have meant her own dishonor in the minds of her contemporaries. Even if, as you say, Obama’s visit does worldly honor to you and your colleagues, what is more consistent with her example: to seek honor at the expense of God’s truth, or to forego it if need be, in obedience to His loving will.
I realize that such a decision is not so much for thought as for prayer. So I ask that you give prayerful consideration to the plea that is on my heart, and on the hearts of millions like me. This may well be a teaching moment for Obama and other politicians like him. But sometimes one deed speaks more certainly of truth than many words could do. Thus spoke the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross. Are we not called to act as He did? Perhaps the best Commencement speech of all would be the testimony of silence, in which, perhaps for the first time, someone who needs to hear it will hear the voice of Rachel, weeping. (Matthew 2:18)
With Pleasing Hope for Life,
Worth considering? Then don’t forget to DIGG IT!!!!
In defense of proper definitions, Barack Obama wanted to pursue possible recriminations against some in the Bush admin. for their use of torture in dealing with terrorists. A terrorist is one who uses the force of violence and fear to strike at innocent or defenseless persons. Barack Obama’s first executive orders had to do with opening wide the door of violence against, not terrorists, but the most innocent among us: the unborn. In my judgment, his “presidential” decrees make HIM the worst kind of terrorist and purveyor of violence against the most defenseless of all.
I think of a dissenter as a member of a community who expresses views in conflict with those commonly accepted. That is, to qualify as a dissenter one would have to be mostly Catholic in the first place, disagreeing with their common views on only a few points.
A proponent of the views of a community in direct and hostile opposition to Catholicism wouldn’t be a dissenting voice, but even so might still contribute to a dialog or at least to educating Catholics as to the thoughts of their enemies.
But inviting the doctrinaire figurehead of a hostile movement can lay no claim on any such utility, either to understand the opposing rational or find common ground. It is merely an honor extended to the office he holds. But to say that office truly commands the respect accorded is to say that Catholicism is in the wrong on this point. In a state where the existence of churches do not depend on the whim of the President, it is their right to clearly oppose his views. If they do not, then they acknowledge his correctness.
Your letter was referenced in Pat Buchanan's article on the Human Events website at http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?fc_c=1390228x2944530x72615585&id=31274
While I am not comparing these articles, there are some good responses to Pat's article including one quote the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen: "Send your children to a state university where they will learn to fight for their faith and not a Catholic university where it will be taken from them!"
Other responses don't seem to understand that there is a difference between debating an issue (allowing a dissenter to speak) versus inviting someone who has power and is taking action which will facilitate abortions.
Dr. Keyes, Just wanted you to know that this post brought tears to my eyes. You are truly blessed with a gift of showing your heart through written word. I am getting ready to email this to many, BUT…
I had to let you know I got a good laugh yesterday. I have been sending my mom articles by you and talking about you for years, but as most Americans, she does not always pay attention to things concerning government.
She calls me to look at an email sent to her by my aunt – a video of you being interviewed recently where you chided the young man interviewing you for laughing about things of a serious nature and how we have elected people that behave like adolescents.
FINALLY she knows who you are! BUT more importantly, (& why I laughed) she showed me where one man had sent the email to at least 75 people. That was not counting the many others that it was sent to by others on previous emails, the many she sent it to and the ones I sent it to! We are getting the word out at least.
Thank you again for your dedication in and to this country!
I was a lot less diplomatic and more mean-spirited when I wrote my letter to Fr. Jenkins:
Why does a Catholic University give an honor and a platform to the most anti-pro-life president to take office? I thought that you academic types were supposed to be smart, but apparently you can’t recognize an agenda that is diametrically opposed to your own. Perhaps you do realize this, but feel that Catholicism is outdated and therefore seek to destroy it from within its own institution.
Either way, be it ignorance, or disrespect for the principles upon which Notre Dame was founded, Obama is a poor choice. It’s the equivalent of the NAACP choosing Thom Robb of the Ku Klux Klan as keynote speaker.
I’m sure that you will have the 60% of Catholics who voted for Obama supporting your decision to have Obama speak. Know that you are supported by a bunch of buffoons who don’t even know that which they profess to believe. Among the 40% of Catholics who know what Catholicism stands for, you are despised for having made this invitation to a man who thinks that babies are a punishment, not God’s blessings.
As a current Notre Dame student and member of the graduating class, thank you for your letter to Fr. Jenkins. There has been much hatred and vitriol spread by both sides of the debate. Many more well reasoned and composed statements like yours are needed. Expressing my outrage over President Obama’s appearance has not been popular with my classmates. Who knew defending Catholic values at a Catholic school would be so controversial!? Please continue to keep myself, my classmates, and Our Lady’s University in your prayers.
Cordial: I submitted the open letter as a letter to the editor at the paper’s web site. Perhaps they’ll see fit to share it.
Tigerlilly66: I am serious about my faith, but I thank God this has not prevented me from growing spiritually from my friendships with many Baptists I have met and worked with over the years. In Christ we are one, as St. Paul said, provided we honor Him with a wholehearted love of His Father God. I pray that all people who respect God’s will for life will join in trying to open the hearts of the President and Trustees at Notre Dame. Their action harms the country, and endangers their spiritual welfare as well. Thanks for your good wishes and Godspeed.
I like a lot of what Alan Keyes has to say. His recent interview in which he exposed Obama for the fraud he is was stirring. He is sharp, quick-thinking, and a true Conservative. Judging from what little I’ve read in the last couple of days, it seems Mr. Keyes is not just Catholic in name only, but dyed-in-the-wool Catholic. I happen to be Baptist, and Baptists around Catholics is a lot like Jews in the presence of Nazis…not a safe environment if one likes to continue to breathe. I won’t go into Catholic history here, but it is what it is and it isn’t a pretty sight. I wish Alan much success in making life miserable for the liberals and their “messiah” Obama.
Thanks Ambassador Keyes ~ you are a warrior for life!!!
Like your slavery test, I use a holocaust test. Every argument for abortion was used to slaughter innocent Jews — they’re a drag on society, they’re sub-human, etc. If you can substitute slave or Jew for embryo and you sound like a Nazi or the KKK, you may want to rethink your position.
Also, when you say this could be a teaching moment, I sadly think that this is a teaching moment for Fr. Jenkins, Notre Dame and us. Fr. Jenkins needs to assess where his true fealty lie. He, by his actions and silly explanations have taught us where they are.
Justus for All
Justus age 13 his
brother Pastor age 9
alcala de henares
flogged in public
Justus age 9
beheaded in public
for Justus is my
and these are
of this happy place
children come to play
all of thier
tiny smiles light
up this playground
built of endless
& oak strong
not one single
it is a flawless
Your simple test involving enslavement and abortion is inspiring, and it is something I will ponder myself for many hours.
Prior to reading your most eloquent article my thoughts had turned to the early days of the church and the Roman Empire in comparison to this scandal.
In those days Christians could escape the wrath of the emperor, one that probably considered himself a deity, by the mere act of burning a piece of incense in the emperor’s honor.
Now in the 21st century a group of Christians is going to honor The Pretender with incense that is disguised as an honorary degree.
In those early days the choice was incense or your death.
In the 21st century the choice is incense in support of someone else’s death and the loss of your soul.
God Bless you and all here.
That’s our school’s paper which features a large editorial section (the Viewpoint) that has been filled with (mainly negative) responses to the University’s decision to bring in Obama. Writers from across the nations are often included so you might want to think about submitting it. You make the arguments better than anyone else I’ve ever read and it would certainly provoke some serious discussion here on campus.
As I read your letter Mr. Keyes I couldn’t help but feel that you are far more adequate at expressing your thoughts than is our president with or without a TelePrompTer.
In all honesty, we would have some theological disagreements but on this issue we are totally on the same page.
There is absolutely zero difference between what happened in our history to people of color and unborn babies. None! both are the unjustifiable harming and taking of a human life.
I thank God for folks like you who have the passion and are able to turn that passion into action.
“I realize that such a decision is not so much for thought as for prayer.”
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”
When I consider that we are taught to regard God as our Father and lift our petition to Him in confidence, trusting in the affection that a parent must have for a child…I have in the past felt to lament the difficulty I had in learning to know what it meant to have a father. But how much greater must be the distress of those whose own behavior gives no cause to believe in such paternal affection.
To what manner of God must the supporters of abortion pray, or how can they view their own relationship to divinity? What a tragedy for the young mother ensnared by this evil practice into destroying her own child, for her convenience or because of imperfection. Are we ever convenient to God? Are we ever perfect? What must she endure every time she prays to God as her Heavenly Father?
I am thankful, that my heart does not bear such a scar.
Hey Alan, I agree with you whole heartedly on your thoughts. I wish that more people had the thought process to make such a rational statement. I’m not sure how to contact you via this blog, so I appologize for posting this in comments, but I just wrote a new posting to mine and I was wondering if you would read it and make a comment…I would like to know your thoughts. http://unrequitedtoil.blogspot.com/