Did Cardinal George really blast Obama's invitation?

April 2, 2009

The Sun-Times, in its usual subtle manner, is trumpeting Cardinal George's comment that Notre Dame's inviting President Obama to deliver its commencement address brought "extreme embarrassment" to Catholics. cardinal-george-charles-rex-arbogast The issue is Obama's policy position on stem cell research and abortion, but to my ears that's not really what Cardinal George was talking about in his comments. If you watch the entire video the Sun-Times story is based on, it seems clear that Cardinal George is describing the reaction of many specific Catholics to Notre Dame's invitation as one of "extreme embarrassment." The point is that there are many powerful Catholics who have publically criticized President Obama's policies and have close associations with Notre Dame. For them, it seems the University is not as outraged by the President's policies as they are. And for some reason, that is embarrassing to many individual Catholics. Since the Cardinal states at the beginning of the video that "Catholicism means that you are not an individual ever," it seems his assessment of the invitation is not about stem cells or abortion, but more about solidarity. He thinks Notre Dame should have considered how their invitation would impact other Catholics who have been critical of President Obama's policies. That seems to be what he meant by this quote: "It is clear that Notre Dame didn't understand what it means to be Catholic when they issued this invitation." The Cardinal's comments are entirely contextual. It almost sounds like he is trying to take a middle of the road stance to me- hardly a "blast" as the Sun-Times proclaims. The real question is whether or not all Catholics need to agree with each other.