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Monday, May 18, 2009

Notre Dame has chosen to abandon its Catholic identity for its new identity “Secularism”

My good friend and former boss Fr. Peter Rossa, Pastor of St. Bernadette Catholic Church in Scottsdale, AZ posted today the text of his homily regarding the "Notre Dame Flap". I was very moved by the conviction of his words. By now most of you have heard of the issue and outcry that was created when Notre Dame invited Barack Obama to speak and their Commencement. However, many people are still wondering "what's the big deal?"

I have stayed out of it as I figured much more intelligent and articulate people are writing on it. But when I read Fr. Rossa's homily today I was very convicted by his words and felt he gave a very good explanation of why this Notre Dame business is such a big deal - not politically but in regards to our faith. Fr. Peter is a wonderful Priest and I am grateful that he has given me permission to share his Homily with you. Feel free to leave your comments below and I'll be sure that he get's them.

Fr. Peter Rossa - Homily - 6th Sunday of Easter

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

This week, a non-parishioner and a fellow catholic, asked me a simple question. What is all the Notre Dame flap about?

I was sort of amazed. In my mind the answer was obvious. The so-called flap was all about life and our nations growing lack of respect for it.

As I thought a little more before I answered, I realized that I’ve wrestled with this flap for some time in trying to reconcile the Faith of the Church with my daily attempt to live my life in the public square.

And yet, many others have not.

Jesus tells his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.” “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete.” “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

The Gospel proclaimed today goes to the heart of this persons question: what is all the Notre Dame flap about?

In case you missed it, the University of Notre Dame has invited President Obama to speak at its commencement ceremony and will be presenting him with an honorary law degree. Over 60 bishops in the United States have been united in voicing their displeasure and objection to the university’s presidents decision; many bishops have asked that the U.S. President be disinvited, some have suggested Fr. Jenkin’s, Notre Dame’s president, should resign, others have asked Fr. Jenkin’s religious superior to intervene. And now, there is a groundswell of people contemplating and encouraging the removal of the university’s privilege to call itself Catholic.

Yesterday, I was saddened at the irony unfolding before my eyes as I watched both CNN and Fox News. Truly news worthy, this story is being covered so thoroughly because it is so divisive, energy filled, and reveals an ongoing identity crisis within some Catholic Universities. Passions abound everywhere.

I sat shocked as I witnessed an 80+ year old man, an elderly woman, and even an elderly priest kneeling down praying the rosary while several police officers prepared stretchers, arrested them, and carried the faithful off with rosary beads still grasped in their hands.

The reporters stated that these people were unwelcome protesters at the university and that the police were acting under orders to arrest them from the university president-a catholic priest!

At any other time of the year that old man, elderly woman, and priest would have been welcomed on the university grounds; they would have been considered an example of prayer and maybe even a source of inspiration for a homily honoring their example.

But yesterday, because the university has chosen to separate itself from the beliefs of the Catholic faith, Catholics praying for the defense and sanctity of human life, were perceived as a disturbance, a source of civil disobedience and a threat to the commencement ceremony.

This is incredibly uncomfortable for us Catholics.

I, like many others, have spent much of my life in defense of our country, and our country’s freedom. Together, we’ve spent much of our lives so that others might live and be free to express themselves and their beliefs without fear of being arrested-especially while praying for the safety and conversion of others.

It seems that we’ve lost something as citizens. It saddens me that our president isn’t welcome at a Catholic University. Unfortunately, his legal thought and belief system cannot be reconciled with the Church’s most fundamental call to defend the most innocent and defenseless of people.

Jesus constantly reminds us in the Gospel that the ways of the world are not the ways of God; that being united to him brings division, and that the world’s hate will be levied against those who are united to Jesus and love him because the world hated Jesus first.

Jesus tells us today “It was not you who chose me but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.” “This I command you: love one another.”

“Love one another.” “Bear fruit that will remain.” These words are at the heart of the Gospel message. The Gospel urges each of us to reflect on how we are to live out our faith in a manner that honors Jesus’ call to holiness.

The mission of a Catholic University is to hand on the faith. Faith first really matters. The university has lost its identity and its soul has been corrupted by a form of secular political correctness that has consistently and deliberately divorced faith and reason. Faith and reason are now seen as incompatible foes; secular reason has become the standard bearer and measure for truth.

The fact that God revealed to the world, through Jesus, that Jesus “is the way, the truth, and the life” has been lost.

At the university, revelation is no-longer dogma; there is a new dogma: academic freedom. In other words, freedom from religion. Not coincidentally, the secularism that has rooted itself at Notre Dame, as in other places, has provided nourishment for the growth of a second dogma: jurisprudence. This dogma, void of natural law, is what enabled the deaths of 40 million children because of Roe v. Wade. A decision supported by the President and opposed by the Church.

Secularism, void of divine revelation, is the greatest threat to the Gospel since the founding of Christianity because it deems itself to be the arbiter of truth and denies God who is the truth.

Christ, reminds us, and has warned educators through the successors of the apostles, our bishops, that academic freedom is only free so long as it remains rooted in the truth, Jesus Christ.

Some will say that there really isn’t much to this flap.

They say that it’s not such a big deal to invite the President to give the commencement speech and award him an honorary law degree. Providing an honorary law degree to a president who’s legal views are in conflict with the fundamental beliefs of the Church is a very big deal. Some say it’s not a big deal so don’t get too excited over it; if it isn’t that big a deal why wouldn’t they just disinvite the president? Why not say we can’t give you the degree?

It’s an honor to have the President speak, and it’s an honor to receive a degree.

This event has great meaning and value, and that is why the bishops are being so vocal.

The university has chosen to abandon its Catholic identity for its new identity “Secularism.” Say and think what you will, but the images on the news are the best evidence of the loss of faith at Notre Dame.

Peaceful Catholics being hauled off to jail while praying the rosary for a respect of human life by police under orders from a Catholic University President, who is a Roman Catholic Priest, reveals just how far, and what a threat secularism, indifference and complacency have become.

I pray that the university rediscovers its true identity by loving one another as Jesus loved us for it was he who chose and appointed us to go and bear much fruit. Love one another as I have loved you.

There is no greater honor and love than this to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

Faithfully in Christ,
Fr. Pete Rossa