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Notre Dame University to present Biden and Boehner with 2016 Laetare Medal


SOUTH BEND, Ind. — With public confidence in government “at historic lows” and cynicism high, the University of Notre Dame will present its 2016 Laetare Medal to two public servants known for “their leadership, civility and dedication to our nation,” the university’s president announced.

Vice President Joe Biden and former Speaker of the House John Boehner, two Catholic officials from opposing political parties, will be this year’s recipients of the medal.

Vice President Joe Biden and former House Speaker John Boehner are shown during a joint meeting of Congress. (CNS file/Reuters)

Vice President Joe Biden and former House Speaker John Boehner are shown during a joint meeting of Congress. (CNS file/Reuters)

They will be honored May 15 during Notre Dame’s 171st commencement ceremony.

“We live in a toxic political environment where poisonous invective and partisan gamesmanship pass for political leadership,” said Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, Notre Dame’s president. “Public confidence in government is at historic lows, and cynicism is high.

“It is a good time to remind ourselves what lives dedicated to genuine public service in politics look like. We find it in the lives of Vice President Biden and Speaker Boehner,” the priest said.

By recognizing both men, Father Jenkins said, “Notre Dame is not endorsing the policy positions of either, but celebrating two lives dedicated to keeping our democratic institutions working for the common good through dialogue focused on the issues and responsible compromise.”

The Laetare Medal has been given annually since 1883 to a Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the church and enriched the heritage of humanity.”

The honor is so named because its recipient is announced each year in celebration of Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent, which this year was March 6.

“Laetare,” the Latin word for “rejoice,” is the first word in the entrance antiphon of the Mass that Sunday, which ritually anticipates the celebration of Easter. The medal bears the Latin inscription, “Magna est veritas et prevalebit” (“Truth is mighty, and it shall prevail”).

While both Biden, a Democrat, and Boehner, a Republican, “have been loyal and committed partisans, they were leaders who put the good of the nation ahead of partisan victory, seeking through respectful dialogue honorable compromise and progress,” Father Jenkins said in his statement.

“Boehner’s resistance to a simple reductionism made him suspect in his own party; Vice President Biden reminded his fellow Democrats that those in the other party are ‘our opponents, not our enemies,’” the priest added.

Before his election as vice president in 2008, Biden represented Delaware in the U.S. Senate for 36 years.

At age 29, he became one of the youngest people ever elected to the U.S. Senate. Soon after his election, his wife and infant child were tragically killed in an automobile accident, yet he persevered in caring for his family as a single parent and in serving in the Senate. He commuted between his home in Delaware and Washington for many years.

In the Senate, Biden served as chairman or ranking member of the Judiciary Committee for 17 years and played an integral role in the 1994 Crime Law and the Violence Against Women Act. He also served for 12 years as chair or ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, helping to guide issues and legislation related to terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, post-Cold War Europe, the Middle East and Southwest Asia.

Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Biden earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Delaware and his law degree from Syracuse University College of Law.

Boehner became Speaker of the House in January 2011 and was re-elected in January 2013 and January 2015. He stepped down from the post and resigned from Congress last fall.

He was first elected to the U.S. House in 1990, serving the 8th Congressional District of Ohio, and was re-elected 10 times.

Among House Republicans, Boehner served as conference chairman, minority leader and majority leader. He also served as chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee where he was the author of several reforms, including the Pension Protection Act and a school-choice voucher program for low-income children in Washington.

Growing up in southwest Ohio, the second of 12 children, he was raised in a family of modest means. After graduating from Jesuit-run Xavier University in Cincinnati, he worked in business and served in the Ohio Legislature.

Among the previous recipients of the Laetare Medal are Civil War Gen. William Rosecrans, operatic tenor John McCormack, President John F. Kennedy, Catholic Worker co-founder Dorothy Day, novelist Walker Percy, Chicago Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, House Speaker Tip O’Neil, actor Martin Sheen and jazz composer Dave Brubeck.

Retired U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2011 to 2015, will deliver the principal commencement address and receive an honorary degree at the May ceremony. Others scheduled to receive honorary degree include are civil rights activist Diane Nash, musician Arturo Sandoval and Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl.


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Nothing can justify barbaric terrorist attacks in Paris, Pope Francis says


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Using God’s name to try to justify violence and murder is “blasphemy,” Pope Francis said Nov. 15, speaking about the terrorist attacks on Paris.

“Such barbarity leaves us dismayed, and we ask ourselves how the human heart can plan and carry out such horrible events,” the pope said after reciting the Angelus prayer with visitors in St. Peter’s Square.

A police car is seen outside Notre Dame Cathedral as people leave after a Mass celebrated by Paris Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois in Paris Nov. 15 to pray for those killed in terrorist attacks. Coordinated attacks the evening of Nov. 13 claimed the lives of 129 people. The Islamic State claimed responsibility. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

A police car is seen outside Notre Dame Cathedral as people leave after a Mass celebrated by Paris Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois in Paris Nov. 15 to pray for those killed in terrorist attacks. Coordinated attacks the evening of Nov. 13 claimed the lives of 129 people. The Islamic State claimed responsibility. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The attacks in Paris Nov. 13, attacks the French government said were carried out by three teams of Islamic State terrorists, caused the deaths of at least 129 people and left more than 350 injured, many of them critically. A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a soccer stadium, gunmen attacked customers at cafes and restaurants and a team of terrorists gunned down dozens of people at a concert.

The attacks, Pope Francis said, were an “unspeakable affront to the dignity of the human person.”

“The path of violence and hatred cannot resolve the problems of humanity, and using the name of God to justify this path is blasphemy,” he said.

Pope Francis asked the thousands of people who gathered at St. Peter’s for the Sunday midday prayer to observe a moment of silence and to join him in reciting a Hail Mary.

“May the Virgin Mary, mother of mercy, give rise in the hearts of everyone thoughts of wisdom and proposals for peace,” he said. “We ask her to protect and watch over the dear French nation, the first daughter of the church, over Europe and the whole world.”

“Let us entrust to the mercy of God the innocent victims of this tragedy,” the pope said.

Speaking Nov. 14, the day after the terrorist attacks, Pope Francis had told the television station of the Italian bishops’ conference, “I am shaken and pained.”

“I don’t understand, but these things are difficult to understand, how human beings can do this,” the pope said. “That is why I am shaken, pained and am praying.”

The director of the television station recalled how the pope has spoken many times about a “third world war being fought in pieces.”

“This is a piece,” the pope responded. “There are no justifications for these things.”

On social media, Islamic State militants claimed responsibility, but Pope Francis insisted there can be no “religious or human” excuse for killing innocent people and sowing terror. “This is not human.”

French authorities reported Nov. 14 that eight terrorists were dead after the night of attacks; six of them committed suicide and two were killed by police, who stormed the concert hall where the terrorists had taken hostages and where the majority of victims died.

Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris issued a statement calling for calm and for prayers, not only for the Paris victims, but also for the victims of recent terrorist attacks in Lebanon and in Africa.

“May no one allow himself to be defeated by panic and hatred,” the cardinal said. “Let us ask for the grace of being peacemakers. We must never lose our hope for peace if we work for justice.”

With some 1,500 inside Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral and hundreds more gathered outside Nov. 15, Cardinal Vingt-Trois celebrated a special Mass in memory of the victims. As the cathedral bells tolled a death knell, police patrolled the square in front of the cathedral and checked people as they entered the Paris landmark for Mass.

The cardinal told the assembly, which included government officials and ambassadors from a variety of nations, that the Mass was intended as a sign of sharing the pain of the victims and of praying for them, their families, for Paris and for France.

“The savage killings this black Friday plunged entire families into despair, and this despair is all the more profound because there can be no rational explanation that would justify the indiscriminate execution of dozens of anonymous people,” the cardinal said.

The only Christian response, he said, is to be “messengers of hope in the heart of human suffering.”

The terrorists succeed if their actions shake Christians’ hope founded on faith in Christ and on a belief that all of history, including moments of suffering, is in God’s hands, he said.

The appropriate response to the “barbaric savagery” of the terrorists, he said, is “to demonstrate additional trust in our fellowmen and their dignity.”

Just a few hours after the attacks occurred, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, issued a statement saying the Vatican was “shocked by this new manifestation of maddening terrorist violence and hatred, which we condemn in the most radical way.”

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, sent a message in the pope’s name to Cardinal Vingt-Trois, calling the attacks “horrific” and relaying the pope’s prayers for the victims, their families and the entire nation.

“He invokes God, the father of mercy, asking that he welcome the victims into the peace of his light and bring comfort and hope to the injured and their families,” Cardinal Parolin wrote.

The pope also “vigorously condemns violence, which cannot solve anything, and he asks God to inspire thoughts of peace and solidarity in all.”

Father Lombardi was asked about security concerns throughout Europe, and particularly whether the terrorist attacks would impact plans for the Year of Mercy, which is scheduled to begin Dec. 8.

“These murderers, possessed by senseless hatred, are called terrorists precisely because they want to spread terror,” Father Lombardi responded in a statement. “If we let ourselves be frightened, they will have already reached their first objective.”

“It goes without saying that we must be cautious, and not irresponsible,” he said, but “we must go on living by building peace and mutual trust.”

“I would say that the Jubilee of Mercy shows itself even more more necessary,” Father Lombardi said. Preaching God’s love and mercy also is a call for people to love one another and reconcile with each other. It “is precisely the answer we must give in times of temptation to mistrust.”


Contributing to this story was Paul Haring in Paris.

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Court denies Notre Dame injunction on HHS mandate

February 25th, 2014 Posted in National News Tags: , , ,


CHICAGO — The University of Notre Dame must allow free coverage of contraceptives as required by the federal health care law despite its moral objections to doing so, said a panel of the 7th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals in a late Feb. 21 ruling that denied the university an injunction against enforcement of the mandate.

The decision was handed down in the university’s appeal of a Dec. 20 ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana denying it a preliminary injunction. Notre Dame then sought to obtain emergency relief from the 7th Circuit before the Jan. 1 deadline for the mandate to take effect and was denied.

In its lawsuit, Notre Dame argued that the mandate’s purpose “is to discriminate against religious institutions and organizations that oppose abortion and contraception.”

Judge Richard Posner, joined by Judge David Hamilton, wrote the majority opinion in the 2-1 ruling, saying the university has the option of following a so-called accommodation in the mandate that says employers who object to the coverage on moral grounds can fill out a form and direct a third party to provide the coverage to their employees.

In a brief statement Feb. 24, Notre Dame spokesman Paul J. Browne said: “Our concern remains that if government is allowed to entangle a religious institution of higher education like Notre Dame in one area contrary to conscience, it’s given license to do so in others.”

“Our lawyers are reviewing the 7th Circuit ruling and contemplating next steps,” he said.

Notre Dame and other Catholic entities that have brought dozens of lawsuits challenging the mandate on moral grounds say this third-party accommodation still does not solve their problem over being involved in providing coverage they reject for moral reasons.

In his ruling, Posner wrote: “If the government is entitled to require that female contraceptives be provided to women free of charge, we have trouble understanding how signing the form that declares Notre Dame’s authorized refusal to pay for contraceptives for its students or staff, and mailing the authorization document to those companies, which under federal law are obligated to pick up the tab, could be thought to ‘trigger’ the provision of female contraceptives.”

The mandate, under rules issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, requires nearly all employers to cover contraceptives, sterilizations and some abortion-inducing drugs to their employees in their company health plan. It includes a narrow exemption for some religious employers that fit certain criteria.

Religious employers who are not exempt can comply with the third-party accommodation.

In his dissent, Judge Joel Flaum said it was “clear that if Notre Dame were forced to pay for contraceptive coverage against its religious beliefs or else incur significant monetary penalties, this would be a substantial burden. In the university’s eyes, this form’s ‘purpose and effect,’ evident from the face of the regulations, is to accomplish what the organization finds religiously forbidden and protests.”

The deadline for employers to comply with the mandate was Jan. 1 or they would face thousands of dollars in daily fines.

On Jan. 2, according to the National Catholic Register, Notre Dame told faculty and staff that while its appeal of the mandate worked its way through the courts, a third-party administrator would notify them about access to contraceptives and other mandated non-objectionable services such as mammograms, prenatal care and cervical cancer screenings.

Flaum in his dissent noted that the form a nonexempt employer must use to direct a third-party administrator to provide the coverage “flatly states that it is ‘an instrument under which the plan is operated.’ Having to submit the (form), Notre Dame maintains, makes it ‘complicit in a grave moral wrong’ by involving it with a system that delivers contraceptive products and services to its employees and students.”


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Salesianum grad scores title-winning soccer goal for Irish

December 16th, 2013 Posted in Our Diocese, Youth Tags: , , , ,



Andrew O’Malley, a 2010 graduate of Salesianum School, scored for Notre Dame to lead the Fighting Irish to a 2-1 win over Maryland in the NCAA Division I soccer championship match Sunday at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. O’Malley, a senior defender, served as a team captain for Notre Dame.

With the score tied in the 60th minute, O’Malley headed a free kick from teammate Harrison Shipp into the net for his second career goal. The game story is available at espn.go.com/college-sports/story/_/id/10142879/notre-dame-fighting-irish-win-ncaa-men-soccer-title.

It was the first soccer championship for the Irish, who finished the season 17-1-6. The game was a homecoming for O’Malley, who is from West Chester and had a large contingent of family and friends on hand to see Sunday’s win. At Salesianum, he was part of three state championship teams. Individually, O’Malley was a three-time first-team all-state player, two-time player of the year and a two-time national All-American.

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