The presidents were there in splendid form; the bishops were not.
Three presidents stood upon the stage: Father Jenkins, the embodiment of academic integrity informed by faith; Father Hesburgh, Notre Dame’s president emeritus and civil rights champion, and Barack Obama, whose inauguration just months earlier was greeted with virtual national euphoria, but whose visit to campus was claimed to be “in defiance of church teaching.”
And the bishops? Sadly absent. Some, no doubt, honestly believed the President to be their antagonist. Most were silent. Notwithstanding repeated entreaties, the pastoral shepherds of the Church chose not to extend a simple pastoral blessing upon the graduates of the flagship Catholic university in America and their families.
God bless retired San Francisco Archbishop John Quinn, whose pension must be fully vested, since to my knowledge he alone conquered the intimidation of his peer group to praise President Obama for his “fine example of married life and the love and devotion to [his] children” as well as his “measured, thoughtful approach to issues of public concern. . . .”