Friday, June 19, 2009

Taking the bishops' temperature on the Notre Dame controversy

John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter always does his homework (unlike some of the other writers for that weekly. John was in attendance this week at the Spring meeting of the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops in San Antonio, Tex. The big issue of the American Church, Notre Dame's invitation to and the granting of an honorary doctorate to the president was not on the agenda. But John says in his column today, that's about all they talked about in the hallways

Many Catholics are frustrated that only 83 bishops took public positions against the invitation and the degree. Many bishops are frustrated that any bishop took a public position. John does an excellent job of explaining some of the background:

I spent much of this week in San Antonio for the spring meeting of the U.S. bishops, where the press gallery was the loneliest corner of the room. Largely because the bishops opted not to put the flap over Notre Dame and President Barack Obama on their public agenda, many media organizations, including every major secular news outlet in the country, took a pass.

In reality, the fact that the Notre Dame-Obama controversy wasn't floated in public merely meant that it was talked about everywhere else.

Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco said on Wednesday that it came up "at breakfast, over coffee and in the hallways," and several bishops reported that the topic surfaced during their private regional meetings Wednesday morning. Bishops also reported that it came up in Thursday afternoon's closed-door executive session, in the form of a discussion of the conference's 2004 policy statement on engaging figures in political life. (That statement stipulated that Catholic institutions should not honor politicians who hold views contrary to church teaching, a provision that many bishops felt Notre Dame violated.) The session was led by Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Center, chair of the bishops' committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, which is responsible for the document. . . . Read the balance at the National Catholic Register

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