The word ‘choice’ is a smokescreen behind which those killing unborn children take refuge. Every chance you get, blow that smoke away. (Donald Cardinal Wuerl)
Cardinal Wuerl has dispelled any notion that his acceptance of an honorary degree suggests approval of Notre Dame’s award of the Laetare Medal to Vice President Biden and has instead referred with approval to Bishop Kevin Rhoades’s denunciation of the award; Cardinal Raymond Burke has strongly endorsed Bishop Rhoades’s judgment; and John Boehner’s colorful characterization of Ted Cruz at Stanford University as “Lucifer in the flesh”and a “miserable son of a bitch” has raised a challenge for those composing the Laetare Medal tribute to Boehner for his “civility” and abstention from “poisonous invective.”A key element in the narrative justifying the award of the Laetare Medal to Vice President Biden has been the implicit approval thought to flow from the presence of Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington on the Commencement platform as Biden is honored. Thus, in his first letter declining to meet with student leaders protesting the award — he declined twice — Father Jenkins observed that Cardinal Wuerl, “who has served the Church faithfully over six decades as a priest, bishop, and cardinal,” would be “honored at our 2016 Commencement.” The implied image is of Cardinal Wuerl benignly smiling during the presentation to Biden. As National Catholic Reporter columnist Michael Sean Winters grandiloquently proclaimed,
[His] presence will spread a kind of imprimatur over the award the way the cold Indiana breeze will spread his red ferriola in the wind.
Sycamore Trust to Cardinal WuerlIn his letter on behalf of the Sycamore Trust board, Bill Dempsey cited the Winters article as evidence that the Cardinal’s presence at commencement would be taken as “signaling approval of the award and therefore as diminishing the importance of the Church teachings that the Vice President disregards.” (That is, the Vice President’s “strong support of Roe v. Wade and of same sex marriage” as well as “federal support for embryonic stem cell research and the abortifacient/contraception mandate.”) In addition, Bill wrote:
Your presence will be taken as approval both of Father Jenkins’s disregard of the objection of Notre Dame’s bishop and also, more broadly, of what this means about the relationship that should obtain between bishop and university.
Cardinal Wuerl’s DisclaimerIn his reply on behalf of Cardinal Wuerl, Mr. Ed McFadden, the Secretary of Communications for the Archdiocese, stressed that no inference could be drawn from the Cardinal’s presence during the presentation of the Laetare Medal for the very good reason that he would not be present.
It is important to note that Cardinal Wuerl will not be present at the Notre Dame Commencement this year. Some time ago, he was invited to celebrate the Baccalaureate Mass and in the context of that occasion to receive an honorary degree, which takes place the day before Commencement. In fact, he will be leaving the campus that evening for a longstanding prior commitment.
The word ‘choice’ is a smokescreen behind which those killing unborn children take refuge. Every chance you get, blow that smoke away.
Cardinal Wuerl’s Citation of Bishop Rhoades’s StatementBill concluded his letter with a plea that Cardinal Wuerl associate himself with Bishop Rhoades’s criticism of the university’s action.
We earnestly entreat you to show your support for Bishop Rhoades in the exercise of his ‘right and duty to watch over the preservation and strengthening of the Catholic character of Notre Dame’ (Ex Corde Ecclesiae 5.2) rather than for Father Jenkins in his rejection of the bishop’s counsel.
The archdiocese does not comment on matters involving other dioceses, but refers to the statement on the matter released by the Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend.