Political and conservative religious activist Randall Terry was in town Wednesday, hoping to persuade Bishop John M. D'Arcy to use his pull to halt President Barack Obama's scheduled speech at the University of Notre Dame's commencement ceremony May 17.
Instead, D'Arcy refused to meet with Terry, a move that forced the founder of the pro-life group Operation Rescue to compose a list of requests on the spot and leave the letter with the bishop's staff.
Whether it works, time will tell.
“You have the premier political proponent of child killing in the Western hemisphere in Barack Obama speaking at the premier Catholic institution of the Western hemisphere,” said Terry, flanked by pro-life activists gathered outside the Fort Wayne Chancery, 1103 S. Calhoun St. “One supports life, the other supports the slaughter of the innocent; how can this be happening?”
What's more, published reports said Notre Dame will honor the president with an honorary degree, which D'Arcy said he didn't know about until a public announcement was made.
Terry listed on his letter to D'Arcy three requests:
• Terry requests D'Arcy revoke, or threaten to revoke, Notre Dame's status as a Catholic university. D'Arcy, according to Terry, has that authority, and there is precedence for such an act. A message to spokesman Vince LaBarbera, director of communications for the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, was not returned this morning.
New York Archbishop Edward Egan removed Marist College, Nazareth College, Saint John Fisher College and, more recently, Marymount Manhattan College, from the official directory of Catholic schools due to pro-choice speakers.
Terry wants D'Arcy to threaten the same fate for Notre Dame until or unless the university removes its president, the Rev. John I. Jenkins.
• Terry asks D'Arcy to hold a reparations Mass at 2 p.m. May 17 - during Notre Dame's commencement proceedings. Reparations, Terry said, are religious pleas to God for mercy in exchange for promises to perform an act of repair for one's sins.
“(D'Arcy) said he's going to boycott - great, that's awesome,” said Terry. “Now give a chance for young people to join in the boycott and hold a reparations Mass asking God for forgiveness for what Notre Dame has done.”
• Lastly, Terry challenged D'Arcy to hold an alternate commencement ceremony for Notre Dame seniors who join him in the boycott, and that he award them “Hero Diplomas.”
Terry's main argument is that D'Arcy is not using his full authority to challenge what he calls “the most seminal fight in the pro-life arena since Terri Schiavo's death,” and his focus is urging D'Arcy to take his boycott a bit further by using that authority.
“We're asking, we're encouraging him, you've gone this far, now take the last step,” said Terry. “Say to them, ‘if you do not cancel President Obama, I will revoke your name from the Catholic directory, until you dismiss Father Jenkins for his open defiance.' That's something he can do.”
Terry said Notre Dame's decision to invite Obama to its commencement was an obvious display that the university's moral compass is broken, and that it was a decision based primarily on prestige.
Now, it seems, Terry and his pro-life followers are hoping to use the power of voice and numbers to rally in what he calls “a defining moment for Catholic orthodoxy.”
“This is a fight of ideals, and it has real victims,” said Terry. “There are human beings dying right now under Obama's orders. Right now. To have him speak at Notre Dame at this time is utter treachery against Catholic orthodoxy and against human beings that are dying.
“If they think we're going to lay down and be quiet while they allow the rape of Catholic orthodoxy, they are sadly mistaken.”