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Bishop D'Arcy renews challenge to Notre Dame

Catholic World News - August 25, 2009

Bishop John D'Arcy of Fort Wayne/South Bend, Indiana, who rebuked the University of Notre Dame for inviting President Obama to accept an award at commencement, has renewed the argument with an article published in America magazine.

Bishop D'Arcy explains that as teacher and pastor for the community, he was obligated to object to the honor bestowed on a political leader whose views are at odds with the teachings of the Church and with the guidance of natural law. The bishop repeats his complaint that he was not consulted about the invitation. "Although he spoke eloquently about the importance of dialogue with the president of the United States, the president of Notre Dame chose not to dialogue with his bishop," he writes.

The bishop applauds the students who organized respectful protests against the Obama visit, while distancing himself from the "extremists" whose confrontational tactics occupied the attention of the media. More importantly, Bishop D'Arcy says that the Catholic university must think seriously about its relationship with the Church. "I firmly believe that the board of trustees must take up its responsibility afresh, with appropriate study and prayer," he says. He calls for a reconsideration of the ideas set forth by the heads of Catholic universities in the Land O'Lakes Statement, which emphasized independence from the teaching magisterium. Bishop D'Arcy argues:

Finally, a more fundamental question: Where will the great Catholic universities search for a guiding light in the years ahead? Will it be the Land O’Lakes Statement or Ex Corde Ecclesiae? The first comes from a frantic time, with finances as the driving force. Its understanding of freedom is defensive, absolutist and narrow.

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