When a Catholic institution confers an honorary degree upon President Obama, it should be prepared to explain, with some degree of rigor, why the public should believe the institution takes the following actions of the president seriously:
- The executive order reversing the Mexico City Policy that prohibits the use of taxpayer dollars to perform abortions in other countries;
- The votes against the Illinois version of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act that would require medical care be provided to babies born after botched abortions — as opposed to leaving the babies to die;
- The order allowing the use of federal funds for embryonic stem-cell research that may (and likely will) lead to the destruction of human life;
- The declaration that he will sign the Freedom of Choice Act, a bill that would reverse virtually every restriction on abortion, ranging from parental-notification laws to laws against partial-birth abortion;
- The expected abrogation of the “conscience clause” that permits observant Catholic (and other) health-care workers to decline to perform abortions;
- The nomination of Kathleen Sebelius, arguably the most pro-abortion governor in the U.S., to head the Department of Health and Human Services;
- The unalloyed support for Roe v. Wade that permits abortions at any stage of pregnancy.
Merely stating that the honor is being conferred in recognition of the president’s historic election is insufficient. The historic nature of the election has already been marked thousands of times in thousands of venues. Any incremental value in having it done yet again — only this time in the form of an honor bestowed by a Catholic institution — must be explained against the actions noted above. Otherwise, it appears prominence and celebrity trump principle and values.