This week, Bishop Thomas Wenski of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orlando, Fla., will take the unusual step of celebrating a Mass of Reparation, to make amends for sins against God.The motivation: to provide an outlet for Catholics upset with what Wenski calls the University of Notre Dame's "clueless" decision to invite President Obama to speak at its commencement and receive an honorary doctorate May 17.
Gotta hand it to Notre Dame--love the place or loathe the place, it usually manages to bring out passions on both sides. As the university reels toward graduation with giant abortion posters sailing overhead and bloodied dolls in strollers being trundled around South Quad by Randall Terry, lesser-light bishops are coming out of the woodwork across the country to get their 15 minutes in before the diplomas get handed out. John D'Arcy of Ft. Wayne-South Bend-via-Boston said his piece a couple of months ago, and about 55 others have chimed in since then to ensure their place in the storied history this little kerfuffle has blossomed into, riling up the faithful and deeply annoying undergraduates who would really like to be able to study for finals in peace, thanks.
Randall Terry keeps it klassier.
My simple question remains the same. Where were all of you strident defenders of Catholic social teaching when George W. Bush spoke at the 2001 commencement and got his honorary degree? Granted, this was a couple of years before he violated the doctrine condemning unjust war, but why did we not see the Knights of Columbus marching down Juniper Road carrying posters of Karla Faye Tucker and denouncing Bush as a murderer, inspired to a holy rage by the Church's teaching against the death penalty?
The simple answer, of course, is that abortion is the ultimate litmus test, the issue that establishes righteous indignation hellfire cred like no other, the trump card that renders the million shades of gray on your moral resume to stark black and white. As a gay woman who has had her identity helpfully reduced to a single sex act to be summarily denounced by perfect strangers, I guess I should sympathize with the university to some degree. Oh Notre Dame, you really are about so much more than whether a ten-week blob of cells should be removable or should be accorded a status greater than the woman in which it resides, but people don't want to let you be complex. They'd rather use you as a flashpoint to denounce, to pontificate, to assert their own righteousness and ratchet up their own personal power over others a couple of notches. Half the students think Obama's going to roast in hell. Half are thrilled to have him speaking at commencement. All of them are probably ready for some peace and quiet.
Thomas Wenski, please go to a bar with your fellow bandwagon-jumping bishops and shut the fuck up. Clean up your own houses and demand transparency in sexual abuse investigations, work for justice for the poor, demand justice on behalf of those who have been tortured in your name, and just shut. the. fuck. up.