A War of Words That Folds Neatly into the New Century's War of Weapons

President Obama goes to Notre Dame University this Sunday to deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary degree, the ninth U.S. president to be so honored. The event has stirred up a hornet's nest of conservative Catholics, with more than 40 bishops objecting, and hundreds of thousands of Catholics signing petitions in protest. In the words of South Bend's Bishop John M. D'Arcy, the complaint boils down to President Obama's "long-stated unwillingness to hold human life as sacred." Notre Dame, the bishop charged, has chosen "prestige over truth." Not even most Catholics agree with such criticism. A recent Pew poll, for instance, shows that 50% of Catholics support Notre Dame's decision to honor Obama; little more than one-quarter oppose. It is, after all, possible to acknowledge the subtle complexities of "life" questions — When actually does human life begin? How is stem cell research to be ethically carried out? […]