I find it odd sometimes that I'm sounding like a "liberal" to my friends (especially my pro-life friends) because I am not scandalized by the invitation of Obama to Notre Dame. In fact, I'm in favor of this invitation, and of all of the vigorous critique surrounding it. In a certain sense you could say that I'm on both sides of this battle, but I think for different reasons than either side has for their position. Ken Woodward has similar thoughts on this topic in the Washington Post today that I encourage you to read for yourself.
First, the sincerity of the moral outrage that this decision to invite Obama has provoked is rather incredulous. Most people seem to express "shock" that Notre Dame would invite such a vociferous supporter of abortion to speak at "Our Lady's University" at all. I find this disingenous. Most of the critics long ago wrote off Notre Dame as having secularized beyond recognition as a Catholic University. The protest being waged is not aimed at defending or protecting the integrity of Notre Dame as a catholic institution. Instead, it is a political tactic. The faith, for both the "left" and the "right" on this issue, is reduced to nothing more than a political position.
There does not seem to be any interest in the Christian event, rather there is only concern with "winning." Those who oppose abortion are hoping for a black eye on the President they see as their "enemy." The political situation is bleak, but here at a Catholic University, they have a chance to "win." The "Culture Wars" of Pat Buchanan's days are in full swing and this is the vestige it's 80's success.
Second, clearly no one believes that Jesus of Nazareth is the lord of everything and we don't believe that anyone can authentically meet Jesus of Nazareth in the Church, i.e. through another Christian. We think that those who become Christian's do so because they are "convinced of the truth" rather than put in wonder by an encounter which occurs on a personal level through another person. We think that Christianity is the natural law, or that Christianity is dogma, or that Christianity is moral perfection. We confuse Christianity with being "right."
In this mentality, Obama going to Notre Dame has no value for Obama. Apparently it's irrelevant that he will be among thousands of Catholics. Ignore that he will have personal encounters with priests who faithfully hold to the Church's teachings (I know Fr. John Jenkins) and at least one other honoree who is among the most sincere and authentic Christians of profile in America, because we don't believe that an encounter with the Body of Christ can change him, impact his life, convert him. We don't believe in Christianity.
The problem of Obama at Notre Dame is not a political one. That argument is a red herring. The real problem is that Christianity is not believed, even by its adherents.