Passing on the custom of inviting the newly elected President, Notre Dame announced this morning they will honor Vice President Mike Pence at their 2017 Commencement. (The only other president not invited in the last 40 years was Bill Clinton.)
Mike Pence is an honorable and worthy choice.
But Notre Dame’s decision does raise some legitimate questions.
As we noted last month: “If Obama was ok, why not Trump? Or would they have worried about a ‘circus’ had Hillary Clinton been elected?”
Or would they have invited her Vice President instead?
In 1960, Dwight Eisenhower would become the first of six presidents to speak at Notre Dame. In the years following World War II, Catholics were assimilating into American life and cementing their place in the middle class. The challenge then, as it had been in preceding decades, focused on proving that American Catholics could be reliable American citizens.
The tradition of Notre Dame inviting the President may have been necessary during the aspirational Catholic era of the 1950’s and 60’s. But this tradition strikes us as a distraction from the real challenge facing Catholics today.
Catholics no longer must prove we can be good citizens.
On the contrary, the challenge before us is whether we can be good Catholics.
The record speaks for itself. We as Catholics have failed our country in living out the demands of the Gospel. Catholics number nearly 70 million, and make up nearly 25% of the American electorate. Yet abortion remains legal, for any reason, during all nine months of pregnancy. Meanwhile so-called same-sex ‘marriage’ is the law of the land -- having been championed by Catholic legislators across the country including our country’s first Catholic vice president.
Detractors once said we were too Catholic to be American.
Perhaps the bigger problem today is that we are too ‘American’ to be Catholic.