The University of Notre Dame has attracted magnified, national attention twice this year.
The first was sparked by its decision to award President Obama an honorary degree. A fierce debate ensued between supporters of the decision and protesters who argued that Obama's pro-choice position on abortion should have made him ineligible.
The second cause has been triggered by the dismal performance of the football team and the subsequent firing of coach Charlie Weis. The school has moved on this issue with a kind of delicacy one might expect of a bomb squad in action.
The Obama controversy got nasty, and has repercussions. In certain respects I think it was a political move to demonstrate a type of broadmindedness that would appeal both to the Catholic mainstream and to American public's sense of toleration, real or not. But whatever the motives on either side, it was unmistakably a legitimate religious moral debate.