Dear Father Jenkins,Mason Slidell
When you informed me in December 2008 that I had been selected to receive Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, I was profoundly moved. I treasure the memory of receiving an honorary degree from Notre Dame in 1996, and I have always felt honored that the commencement speech I gave that year was included in the anthology of Notre Dame’s most memorable commencement speeches. So I immediately began working on an acceptance speech that I hoped would be worthy of the occasion, of the honor of the medal, and of your students and faculty.
Last month, when you called to tell me that the commencement speech was to be given by President Obama, I mentioned to you that I would have to rewrite my speech. Over the ensuing weeks, the task that once seemed so delightful has been complicated by a number of factors.
First, as a longtime consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award the president an honorary degree. This, as you must know, was in disregard of the U.S. bishops’ express request of 2004 that Catholic institutions “should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles” and that such persons “should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” That request, which in no way seeks to control or interfere with an institution’s freedom to invite and engage in serious debate with whomever it wishes, seems to me so reasonable that I am at a loss to understand why a Catholic university should disrespect it.
Then I learned that “talking points” issued by Notre Dame in response to widespread criticism of its decision included two statements implying that my acceptance speech would somehow balance the event:
• “President Obama won’t be doing all the talking. Mary Ann Glendon, the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, will be speaking as the recipient of the Laetare Medal.”
• “We think having the president come to Notre Dame, see our graduates, meet our leaders, and hear a talk from Mary Ann Glendon is a good thing for the president and for the causes we care about.”
A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.
Finally, with recent news reports that other Catholic schools are similarly choosing to disregard the bishops’ guidelines, I am concerned that Notre Dame’s example could have an unfortunate ripple effect.
It is with great sadness, therefore, that I have concluded that I cannot accept the Laetare Medal or participate in the May 17 graduation ceremony.
In order to avoid the inevitable speculation about the reasons for my decision, I will release this letter to the press, but I do not plan to make any further comment on the matter at this time.
Yours Very Truly,
Mary Ann Glendon
Monday, April 27, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
2:17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we ourselves were found to be sinners, is Christ then an agent of sin? Certainly not! 18 But if I build up again those things which I tore down, then I prove myself a transgressor.
Paul is saying here that, by endeavoring to be justified in Christ, all Jews by Nature now find themselves to be Sinners. Paul and Peter are now Sinners. Once they leave the protective covering of the Law, once they cross the dividing wall between Sinners and Jews by Nature, they themselves become Sinners. But, if by no longer following the Law by following Christ, and so are now said by all good Jews to be Sinners, was it Christ then who was an “agent of sin” by making them to be sinners, by destroying the wall dividing Jews by Nature and Sinners from the Gentiles? NO! But, once I’m over the wall, once I no longer trust the Law, I can no longer build it up again. If I do so, if I rebuild the Law dividing Sinners from Jews, then I am now permanently a Sinner, since I have broken the Law by leaving its protection.
In other words, Paul is telling Peter and other Jews, once you leave the protection of being a Jew by Nature in order to follow Christ, in the eyes of all good Jews, you are now a Sinner from the Gentiles, with no hope at all of salvation. You are a “sinner.” But only from their perspective. You are now in Christ. But you can’t go back. You can’t do both. If you try to rebuild the wall like Peter did again between Jews and Sinners and try to put yourself back on the side of Jews, you are a Sinner, since you have already transgressed the Law. You can’t just go back.
2:19 For I through the law died to the law, that I might live to God. 20. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose.
A Jew who has not believed is now going to look at someone like Paul and say that Christ was an “agent of sin” for Paul, that Christ caused Paul to become a Sinner, outside the Law. Paul is therefore telling Peter and all other Jews: It is all or nothing. You can’t rebuild the wall of separation spoken about in Ephesians 2:14, since if you do, you will find yourself on the side of the Sinners from the Gentiles. You have to die to the Law, just as Christ died to the Law, since he became a curse by hanging on a tree, as Paul explains later in Galatians 3:13. Christ died to the Law by becoming cursed by the Law. The Law was its own undoing; by cursing, it blessed. Christ died to the law, and thereby found himself to be a “sinner among the gentiles.” But he therefore lived for his Father, “lived for God.” We too must go through the same process, dying to the Law with its restrictive claims to salvation.
Yet I cannot “die to the law,” since I cannot do what Jesus did, taking upon myself the curse of the law and hanging from a tree. The only way I can be on the other side of the Law and not be a Sinner is to be in Christ. That is the only way. Or else I am just a Sinner. I have to now live in a new place, and that is in Christ. I have to be crucified in his crucifixion, and allow him to live in me, or else I am just a Sinner. He is the only one who actually died and took the curse, so he must now live in me. Only thus can I also die. All I have left as a Jew outside the Law – now considered a “sinner from the Gentiles” by all law-abiding Jews – is faith in Christ. That is now my only hope for salvation.
By dying, Christ undid the law. Now, if justification is through the law, then Christ died in vain, since it can still bring salvation. But, says Paul to Peter, the law can no longer fulfill that function. As he says later in 3:24, the Law was our babysitter until Christ should come. Now, it has no function. You can’t go back to it after you have left it. You can’t go back to the babysitter when the parents come home. The Cross of Christ has replaced the Torah and all of its works. Yet only Christ can actually die to the Law by taking the curse upon himself. Therefore, for me to find salvation, he must live in me.
Nathan O'Halloran, SJ
Monday, April 13, 2009
2:11 But when Cephas came to Antioch I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And with him the rest of the Jews acted insincerely, so that even Barnabas was carried away by their insincerity.
2:14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” 15 We ourselves, who are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, 16 yet who know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Nathan O'Halloran, SJ
Saturday, April 4, 2009
The education of women will always correspond to men's opinion about them. Don't we know how men regard women: Wein, Weib und Gesang, and what the poets say in their verses? Take all poetry, all pictures and sculpture, beginning with love poems and the nude Venuses and Phrynes, and you will see that woman is an instrument of enjoyment; she is so on the Truba and the Grachevka, and also at the Court balls. And note the devil's cunning: if they are here for enjoyment and pleasure, let it be known that it is pleasure and that woman is a sweet morsel. But no, first the knights-errant declare that they worship women (worship her, and yet regard her as an instrument of enjoyment), and now people assure us that they respect women. Some give up their places to her, pick up her handkerchief; others acknowledge her right to occupy all positions and to take part in the government, and so on.They do all that, but their outlook on her remains the same. She is a means of enjoyment. Her body is a means of enjoyment. And she knows this. It is just as it is with slavery. Slavery, you know, is nothing else than the exploitation by some of the unwilling labor of many. Therefore to get rid of slavery it is necessary that people should not wish to profit by the forced labor of others and should consider it a sin and a shame. But they go and abolish the external form of slavery and arrange so that one can no longer buy and sell slaves, and they imagine and assure themselves that slavery no longer exists, and do not see or wish to see that it does, because people still want and consider it good and right to exploit the labor of others, and as long as they consider that good, there will always be people stronger or more cunning than others who will succeed in doing it. So it is with the emancipation of woman: the enslavement of woman lies simply in the fact that people desire and think it good, to avail themselves of her as a tool of enjoyment. Well, and they liberate woman, give her all sorts of rights equal to man, but continue to regard her as an instrument of enjoyment, and so educate her in childhood and afterwards by public opinion. and there she is, still the same humiliated and depraved slave, and the man still a depraved slave- owner.
They emancipate women in universities and in law courts, but continue to regard her as an object of enjoyment. Teach her, as she is taught among us, to regard herself as such, and she will always remain an inferior being. Either with the help of those scoundrels the doctors she will prevent the conception of offspring -- that is, will be a complete prostitute, lowering herself not to the level of an animal but to the level of a thing -- or she will be what the majority of women are, mentally diseased, hysterical, unhappy, and lacking capacity for spiritual development. High schools and universities cannot alter that. It can only be changed by a change in men's outlook on women and women's way of regarding themselves.
The County aruges that same-sex marriage ban promotes the "integrity of traditional marriage" by "maintaing the historical and traditional marriage norm as between a man and a woman." This argument is straightforward and has superficial appeal. A specific tradition sought to be maintained cannot be an important governmental objective for equal protection purposes, however, when the tradition is nothing more than the historical classification currently expressed in the statute being challenged...
We begin with the County's argument that the goal of the same-sex marriage ban is to ensure children will be raised only in the optimal milieu [of one father and one mother]. In pursuit of this objective, the statutory exclusion of gay and lesbian people is both under-inclusive and over-inclusive. The civil marriage statute is under-inclusive because it does not exclude from marriage other groups of parents - such as child abusers, sexual predators, parents neglecting to provide child support and violent felons - that are undeniably less than optimal parents. Such under-inclusion tends to demonstrate that the sexual orientation-based classification is grounded in prejudice or overbroad generalizations about the different talents, capacities or preferences of gay and lesbian people, rather than having a substantial relationship to some important objective. The ban on same-sex marriage is substantially over-inclusive because not all same-sex couples choose to raise children. Yet, the marriage statute denies civil marriage to all gay and lesbian people in order to discourage the limited number of same-sex couples who desire to raise children. In doing so, the Legislature includes a consequential number of "individuals within the statute's purview who are not afflicted with the evil the statute seeks to remedy" Conway, 932 A.2d at 649...
A suggested rationale supporting the maintaing statute is "promoting stability in opposite-sex relationships." While the institution of civil marriage likely encourages stability in opposite-sex relationships, we must evaluate whether excluding gay and lesbian people from civil marriage encourages stability in opposite-sex relationships. The County offers no reasons that it does and we can find none. The stability of opposite-sex relationships is an important governmental interest, bu the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage is not substantially related to that objective...
Now that we have addressed and rejected each specific interest advanced by the County to justify the classification drawn under the statute, we consider the reason for the exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from civil marriage left unspoken by the County: religious opposition to same-sex marriage. The County's silence reflects, we believe, its understanding this reason cannot, under our Iowa Constitution, be used to justify a ban on same-sex marriage...