If you are looking for the definitive article on the Catholic Church’s struggle and divide on the abortion issue, as exhibited in sharp relief by the decision of Notre Dame to grant an honorary law degree to President Obama this weekend, this lengthy essay by Joseph Bottum, published in First Things, is it. An excerpt:
…Abortion is not the only life issue, but it is the one that bears most directly on the lives of ordinary Catholics as they fight against the current to preserve family life. And until Catholic universities get it, they will not be Catholic—in a very real, existentially important sense.
What’s more, they will not be politically effective. Notre Dame and President Obama created the present unhappy situation by attempting to use each other in the normal political way, but Notre Dame has gained nothing from it. If anything, Notre Dame has lost ground. What political capital has it earned with the White House from the embarrassment of Mary Ann Glendon’s withdrawal and the open sniping of the bishops and the protesters camped outside the college gates? Nothing that will do the school any good.
And the closing remarks:
Wouldn’t it be more politically effective if Catholic schools withheld their honors to try to force the politicians they admire to oppose abortion? Wouldn’t it be more culturally powerful if Catholic schools were Catholic in a way that Catholics understood?