Apparently, Cardinal Francis George thinks it is an "extreme embarrassment" that Notre Dame University invited President Barack Obama to speak at its commencement ceremony. Extreme embarrassment, eh? Wow, strong words. I mean, this is the President of the United States he's talking about. It wasn't so long ago that that kind of talk would cause a person to be branded unpatriotic.
I know Notre Dame is a Catholic university. George, and others, think Obama shouldn't have been asked to speak because his views on abortion and stem cell research are not in line with the views of Catholics. But from looking at Notre Dame's site, there is no requirement that a student be Catholic, or religious at all. I would gather that means there are students of many different religions, and maybe some who don't practice at all. I would also gather that not all students have the same views on abortion or stem cell research, regardless of the fact that they attend a Catholic university. Isn't that pretty much what college is about -- coming into contact with people unlike yourself? And let's face it, not even Notre Dame students are perfect.
It's not as if Obama is going to give a speech about abortion or stem cell research, or try to convince students who have different views than he does to change their views. Obama is about more than just his political views. If anything, the fact that Obama is the first black president should be encouraging to students. And that leads me to something I found on George's Web site.
George wrote a pastoral letter on racism where he talks about people of different races dwelling together. Here is the first black president, and George calls his invitation to speak at Notre Dame an "extreme embarrassment." Now, George wasn't referring to race when he made that comment, but he should have thought a bit more about the obvious consequence of that remark. George says it's an embarrassment and encourages people to write, call and e-mail to convey their displeasure. But by doing so, the end result of that campaign, could be the rescission of the invitation for the first black president to speak. If George is so passionate about ending racism that he would write this long involved pastoral letter, then why not express his concern over the invitation in a different way? Because despite Obama's views on abortion and stem cell research, he is still a success story for minorities, if not for everyone. See what you can do when you work hard. Heck, I'd even go so far as to say Obama is somewhat of a success story when it comes to racism in this country. No, his election didn't eradicate racism, but it meant something. It showed us that if a person is right for the job, he (or she) deserves our vote.
When former President George W. Bush gave the commencement speech at Notre Dame, he too faced protest. He also faced protest when he gave the commencement speech at Yale, his alma mater. So I guess this is just par for the course for presidents. But this notion that Notre Dame's invitation to Obama is an extreme embarrassment to Catholics, well, I think George should be embarrassed for making such a statement, especially when his pastoral letter on racism contains such nuggets as this:
The Gospel compels us to love our neighbor as ourselves, to abandon patterns of seeing those who are racially or culturally different from ourselves as strangers and to recognize them as our brothers and sisters. Even those who have suffered at the hands of others, individually or collectively, must pray to overcome hostility, forgiving those who have offended them and asking forgiveness from those whom they have offended. We must embrace one another as formerly estranged neighbors now seeking reconciliation.
Seems to me the Cardinal doesn't practice what he preaches. Embarrassment, indeed.