The University of Notre Dame has announced that this year's graduation speaker will be Cardinal Timothy Dolan. This is very good news and not just for Notre Dame.
Four years ago, when Notre Dame announced President Obama would be the graduation speaker, all hell broke loose and we witnessed bishops speaking in ways that were not only insulting but beneath the dignity of their office. Vitriol is unbecoming a bishop, and questioning the motives of Father Jenkins and the leadership of Notre Dame was worse than unbecoming. The Apostolic Nuncio at the time, Archbishop Pietro Sambi let his feelings be known by being the first to arrive at, and the last to depart, Notre Dame's annual reception in Baltimore the night before the USCCB meeting. He plunked himself down in the most conspicuous chair in the center of the room. Many bishops did not criticize their brother bishops who were hurling stones at Notre Dame. I suspect that if that scenario played out today, some bishops would have publicly stood up to defend the decision to invite the president.
Cardinal Dolan has a cool head. More importantly, he has come to understand that his job as President of the USCCB is to keep the conference together and help foster unity among all Catholics. His decision to go to Notre Dame this year should be seen in that light, as was his conciliatory letter to the White House last month. A leader, especially a Church leader, does not throw bombs. He applies balm. Cardinal Dolan is doing what leaders do and you can hear the grumblings among the zelanti who think Notre Dame is insufficiently Catholic for their scrupulous tastes.