TCND Podcast #5: Scott Appleby from Notre Dame

cndpodcastrssCourtesy of Sirius 159/XM 117 (The Catholic Channel), it’s The Catholics Next Door podcast! Featuring segments from The Catholics Next Door and occasional extra surprises, you can get a full three hours of The Catholics Next Door, Monday through Friday from 10AM to 1PM EST, only from Sirius/XM. Sign up today!

In this episode: Professor Scott Appleby from Notre Dame joins us for a heated debate about the University’s decision to give President Obama an honorary doctorate. Also, Father Leo Patalinghug from Grace Before Meals offers his feedback on this news story.

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Greg Willits

Greg Willits is a media creator, radio host, podcaster, Catholic New Media trailblazer, co-author of The Catholics Next Door: Adventures in Imperfect Living and author of The New Evangelization and You: Be Not Afraid (Servant, 2013). He is the founder of New Evangelizers and the former Chief Operations Officer of the Star Quest Production Network and spends his time between tech development and Catholic Media Leadership and Productions. Greg currently serves the Archdiocese of Denver as Director of Evangelization and Family Life Ministries. He and his wife, Jennifer, have been married since 1995 and have four boys and a daughter.

17 Responses to “TCND Podcast #5: Scott Appleby from Notre Dame”

  1. chirotim says:

    Give the devil his due: Appleby wins on points. Not a KO but a unanimous decision

  2. Amy says:

    Greg and Jennifer–

    Love your show–you are the perfect combination of entertainment and knowledge of the Catholic faith.

    I listened to your interview with Professor Appleby and, maybe it was just me, but I thought he was very arrogant. I think that’s the attitude of some Catholic colleges today and I predict that President Obama WILL NOT be disinvited. If that’s the case, I think faithful Catholics should begin a campaign to have Our Lady’s name removed from this institution. She has suffered enough with this so-called Catholic college.

    Also, I was cheering you on, Greg, during the Appleby interview and also when you were talking with the Catholic caller who was trying to justify voting for Obama. If I hear one more Catholic call in and try to compare abortion to the Iraq war, I’ll scream.

    Keep up the good work. I listen at work, so I can’t call in, but I wanted to give you some encouragement.

    Amy

  3. Dan Harms says:

    Greg, great job taking a heated issue head on.
    Jennifer, you broke the tension in the discussion tremendously well. Together you put together an interview from a reasonable point of view that was both charitable and pointed.

    Prof. Appleby:
    “You think that because the university has invited the president to give the commencement speech that that indicates support or as you quoted the bishop as saying ‘standing for’ everything that president Obama has said and done. And I just don’t see that as a reasonable – or lets put it this way – the only reasonable conclusion.”

    Fair enough. But it certainly doesn’t indicate that you “stand against” his decisions in any way shape or form… quite the opposite.

    Prof. Appleby:
    “I couldn’t see the university coming out and saying ‘reversing the Mexico city policy was a good idea,’ quite the contrary. It was a very troubling decision. So was not only the announcement of the stem cell research question but even more troubling was the lack of sustained discussion of the ethical considerations of the president.”

    …so why would you give the President an honorary Doctorate of Law?

    Especially in light of the 2004 Bishops statement regarding such awards to politicians who stand so starkly opposed to our Catholic morals, there is no excuse Notre Dame can give that will justify this mess.

    Thanks Greg and Jennifer.

  4. Mardel says:

    First, I want to say that I am so happy that TCND has a podcast for those of us who do not have the budget for a Sirius subscription.

    Second, on this particular interview – thanks for sticking to your convictions and not backing down in the interview. I was pleased to hear the professor finally concede on the point that considering they are giving the President an honorary law degree that can be perceived as endorsing his legal opinions – one of which favors abortion. He has many very well-known “anti-life” positions.

    The life issue should not be just “one of several important Catholic issues” – without life, what other issue is there to defend?

    Notre Dame’s honorary degree gives many non-Catholics a perception that Catholics endorse Obama. (That so many Catholics voted for him doesn’t help either). The speaking invitation alone would have been easier to defend. I also side with Greg on that point – these Catholic institutions should not invite any politician.

    I am with the many Catholics who are very disappointed in Notre Dame for making this decision. I will continue to pray for our President and all our political leaders for conversion of hearts. It seems I also need to pray for some of our Catholic institutions as well.

    Great interview & keep up the good work! Love you both!

  5. Noebie says:

    i am among the 53% of catholics nationwide who voted for obama, and yet i believe it made no sense for the university to invite him to speak at commencement

    my vote was a matter of personal conscience arrived at after months of prayerful consideration – though i cannot read the minds or hearts of the administration at notre dame, it seems the same cannot be said of their action

    at least on the surface, this appears to have been a decision made with little regard for the consequences to the university community, and to catholics at large in the united states

    they surely must have known that this would be controversial and divisive – and this seems to me the last thing we need as a faith community and as a nation just now

    i was also a bit surprised at professor appleby’s lack of composure at points during this interview – and i am very proud of greg and jennifer for their professional demeanor throughout

  6. Eileen Harshman says:

    The disclaimers he was repeatedly mentioning about not representing the administration, (professor) was a little annoying, imo. I suppose we can say that people’s eyes have been opened as to the seeming majority of faculty and students who accept and welcome this outrageous decision! God have mercy on Our Lady’s university.

  7. Michael Teissere says:

    This so called Professor is nothing than a moral relativist. The university is honoring a man but just forget that he publicly funds the destruction of human life from the most undefensable. ND’s should honor Hitler because based on the professors reasoning, it’s just about dialogue and they could honor the office as president of USSR, and he did many other things that coenside with Catholic teaching, but just forget that he gassed millions of innocent humans in the chambers. To put abortion on the same level of an evil and not an intrinsic evil misses the point of the difference. Greg I love the fact that you clarified the question on ND’s position. However Obamas’ appointments are pro abortion and not just pro choice. Great show and keep the faith!

  8. Carlos Giron says:

    Just found your show via Podcast. I have enjoyed listening.

    Please don’t be afraid to go toe to toe, respectfully and lovingly, with the likes of Mr. Appleby.

    Let me tell you what I find most troubling about your conversation with Mr. Appleby and all of the criticism thus far: Where is the gospel in all this debate and discussion??? How does Notre Dame and Mr. Appleby’s actions compare to what our Lord taught us by example in the Gospels? Can someone point out an example where the Lord tells us it’s OK to celebrate one’s goodness while excusing, ignoring, or temporarily suspending judgment one’s wickedness? Never find it because it does not exist. Jesus reinforced over and over that a tiny bit spoiled, spoils the lot. He sat and ate with sinners, but only to tell them they were sick and in need of a doctor.

    Our Lord and his Apostles told us about the futility of having one foot in the kingdom and one out, about being lukewarm. Mr. Appleby says he does not agree with or want to reward Obama’s views on abortion, but he does applaud his views and work on other issues like social justice. Foolishness; Appleby, like other liberals, makes the mistake of equating sin and rebellion. Obama is not simply a sinner because of his views; He is in outright rebellion with God and his Church on earth. We all give in to temptation and commit sin, but how many of us sit back and intellectually debate the merits of one of God’s Commandments and decide to change, twist, or improve it on our own – even the Church commissioned by Christ wasn’t given that power. If Obama was a seventeen year old boy, with a pregnant girlfriend, facing a high school counselor and a rep from Plant Parenthood (free courtesy of Uncle Sam), and he unwisely helps the girlfriend choose abortion – that’s a sin. When one, in the face of criticism decide after much time, introspection, and meditation, that abortion is acceptable and then publicly express those views by voting to enact laws which aid your brothers and sisters in sin, that is rebellion. The scriptures tell us about the especially harsh punishment these people will receive. These are the type people the scriptures tell us to have no part of, to weed out of our midst. If we are to follow Mr. Appleby’s example, we must let every false profit and antichrist sent by Satan pretending to be 80% good into our lives. Problem is, it’s the 20% evil that will send our children to perdition.

    I used to dream when I was a kid about going to Notre Dame. Now, I wouldn’t send my son there at gunpoint.

    Notre Dame is lost to the liberals and liberals in the Church. Wittingly, or unwittingly, they serve the world and its master. The University is an embarrassment and a shame to Catholics in this country. All we can do is pray. The forces at work can only be overcome by God. We must pray for the likes of Obama and Appleby, but we must never honor such men or institutions like Notre Dame when they openly and thoughtfully operate outside of our Lord’s will.

    Perhaps I’m wrong and it’s Notre Dame’s plan is to have Obama over for dinner, so they can tell him he is extremely sick and badly in need of a doctor.

  9. Jeb says:

    Well done guys. This was a very lively and respectful debate. And I have to agree with Professor Appleby’s point that the invite has had the positive effect of generating these very conversations (podcasts.)

    I agree with the Catholics Next door on most points, but I disagree with a blanket rule “no politicians speak at Catholic Universities.” We cannot practice isolationism *if* we have the opportunity to influence our government. I agree a townhall is more appropriate at this time than a commencement speech and honorary degree, because it is more interactive (and therefore influential.)

    The only interaction I had at my own Notre Dame commencement was blowing up a giant beach ball and putting it in play.

    Jeb, ND Class of 1983 (in exile)

  10. Ken B says:

    Thank you for discussing this topic. I have to tell you though that I disagree with you strongly on this. I think it’s a HUGE mistake to not have dialogue with those whose views we oppose. There is nothing productive in that approach. I would think this would present an excellent opportunity to have that dialogue with President Obama, who IS NOT Catholic, on this important issue. I agree with Mr. Appleby that inviting President Obama in no way endorses his policy positions in any way nor does it honor them.

    Additionally, I think it is a bit disingenuous of you to suggest that President Obama is not deserving of an invitation to speak at Notre Dame or any university for that matter. Our new President is one of the most inspiring figures in American history, who has broken barriers and inspired a great many people to get involved in the political process. Not to mention people in my parents’ generation who never thought they would live to see a Black President of the United States. To not recognize his many accomplishments is to ignore quite a bit of history.

    I pray that you and those that share your view, might also open your hearts and minds to those that don’t necessarily agree with you on all things.

  11. Greg says:

    Ken – You’re parsing my words, so let me clarify.

    While I think it’s stupid for a CATHOLIC school to invite the most pro-abortion president in history to speak at their school, what I said I had the biggest problem with is that President Obama is not deserving of the honorary doctorate of law degree ND wants to give him, considering he thinks that Roe v. Wade is a well-ruled case and that he would continue to defend it.

    Therefore, an honorary doctorate implies the university HONORS his legal opinions. I said it was not wise for a CATHOLIC university (Notre Dame or otherwise) to HONOR President Obama.

    You seemed to have heard what you wanted to hear, though. And frankly, the argument that he has “many accomplishments” is quite stale. What, other than getting elected, has he accomplished that would be worth a Catholic university putting aside morals to honor this man? What has he done of note in his first 70 days of office other than making tax payers pay for immoral embryonic destructive research while removing funding for already proven and worthwhile adult stem cell research, making tax payers pay for abortions in other countries, threaten to take away the conscience rights of medical personnel, appoint pro-abortion cabinet members and judges, and create more partisanship in the United States by flat-out ignoring the concerns of millions of Americans who believe in the Constitution’s provisions for the Right to Life?

    What else has he done that’s worth honoring him? Nothing. Just because he’s the President, that doesn’t mean much to me. He’s still a man, and a man who is so intent on the destruction of life doesn’t deserve my respect nor do I owe him any. It’s great we have a black president, as you point out, but is that why he should be honored? Is that his great accomplishment? That he won? I would rather have had a black man like Alan Keyes in the White House. I disagree with a lot of what he says, too, but at least he understands the sanctity of life.

    I also hope to be proven wrong, but I think it’s rather naive to think Obama will be engaging in a dialogue with Notre Dame about his stances. He’s not going for a dialogue. He’s going so that others can hear him talk. It’s not a two-way street. I’ll be surprised if he bothers to stick around to hear the recipient of the Laetare Award.

  12. Ken B says:

    Greg,

    Let me clarify my point, because after reading my post I realized that I may not have made it clear. Inviting President Obama to speak at commencement is in no way an endorsement of him or his policies. Think about that statement for a minute. He’s speaking to young people who are about to really begin their professional lives. Whether you agree with the man or not, Obama is one of the most inspiring figures in American history. He is the consummate American success story, not to mention his string of “firsts” such as first African American President of the Harvard Law Review. To discount the significance of his accomplishment of becoming the first African American President and being elected to the Senate (only the 5th African American in over 200 years), I think is to ignore a good bit of history in this country. To a bunch of young people about to leave college for the professional world, I think it’s entirely appropriate for Obama to speak. That is in addition to the fact that he is our President and it’s an honor to host the President regardless of your political differences. I do feel your pain though. I can recall similar outrage at the announcment of President Bush as commencement speaker at my alma mater, Hampton University in 1991. This came on the heals of his veto of the Civil Rights bill. Imagine an HBCU inviting the man who vetoes a bill of significant importance to African Americans, being invited to speak to them at their commencement. Believe me we had the same outrage back then. We didn’t disinvite President Bush nor did we disrespect him.

    I think we actually agree on a few things Greg. First, I’m certain we both can agree abortion is wrong and that we both disagree strongly with the President’s policies concerning abortion. I think we can take it further to say that we also both disagree with the President on the issue of embryonic stem cell research.

    To the matter of an honorary degree, from your podcast, I got that you feel it is in some way honoring President Obama and I would agree. I would also agree that it is extremely inappropriate for a Catholic institution to honor someone who promotes policies not in line with Catholic teaching. I have done some looking at various university criteria for awarding honorary degrees but have been unable to locate such a policy for ND. I was able to locate one for the Engineering school, which makes no mention of the recipient upholding Catholic teaching.

    That doesn’t mean it’s inappropriate for him to speak at commencement, only that he should not receive an honorary degree. I strongly believe that it is entirely unproductive and very un-Christian to not invite or even disinvite someone to speak at your campus solely on the basis of differing political views. This is why I can’t understand why people are in an outrage over him speaking at ND. I seem to recall the same outrage among the Jews when Jesus dined with tax collectors. I have yet to hear anyone, including you Greg, who is so outraged at President Obama’s appearance at ND, propose an invitation to the President to have some sort of dialogue on the issues of abortion and embryonic stem cell research. You yourself stated that you doubt he would even stick around for the awarding of the Laetare Award. With that attitude could you seriously blame him? Why not turn the situation into a dialogue? Why seek to segregate ourselves among only those who agree with us? Why not seek dialogue and possibly conversion? Isn’t that what we pray for at every Mass? I know at my parish we do.

  13. Jennifer says:

    Ken,

    I have read both of your aruguements and being an objective third party I think I need to weigh in here. I agree, he should not be allowed to get a honor…and if I am not mistaken Greg has said on MANY occasions that he wouldn’t disagree to have him speak at ND if there was a dialouge to be taken. Yes, the President is the first African American President, and yes he has made it through and has had major support from his grandparents as his mother has not been around. He has made multiple statements and different comments out there that contradict and don’t add up…but what politician doesn’t right?? The President, whether we like it or not, is going to speak at ND…and I think that even if we hated it the only part that many are having the problem with is the Honorary degree that is going to be given. Why give a man that is against everything that your school AND FAITH agrees with. If you’re going to have the President, as the first African American president speak, then that can be okay to a point…but the degree is FRUSTRATING!!

  14. Ken,

    Jesus dined with tax collectors, but he didn’t have any tax collectors speak on His behalf to His followers. As a matter of fact, I think that dinner between our President and the ND administration is highly appropriate.

  15. Greg & Jennifer,

    I think you both did a fine job on this interview.

    For me, this ND situation brings the sad realization that some of our fellow Catholics aren’t as pro-life as they are called to be. A commencement speech is not dialog; it *is* an honor. The honorary law degree adds insult to injury.

    Prof. Appleby is especially hurtful when he claims (near 22:00) that we’re simply motivated by an opportunity to make this event controversial.

    No. Some things in life transcend politics, prestige & accomplishment. We are under no illusion that our aggressively pro-abortion president will change his mind because we first honor him. On the contrary, ND’s decision to honor Obama has divided Catholics.

    Shannon | @shannonswenson

  16. Ken B says:

    Jennifer,

    Thanks for your response. Given what you wrote, I stand corrected. Having listened to your RA podcast for a long time, I feel I know Greg. I know he is a passionate Catholic which is great. Both of you are an inspiration to so many out there. An so if you say that he has advocated for a dialogue and that he has differentiated between speaking at commencement and awarding an honorary degree, then so be it.

    Understand, I do not have Sirius so I don’t get to listen to your show daily so I have no idea what other things Greg has said on this issue. What I do know is that in the 30 minutes that I heard, there was no proposal on Greg’s part for dialogue. He only asked the question of Prof. Appleby if ND had plans for a dialogue with President Obama. He also didn’t make a distinction between speaking and awarding the honorary degree. I suppose in the short time of the interview and given Greg’s obvious passion perhaps it just never came out. That’s understandable.

    I certainly meant no ill will toward either of you or your show. I still have the rosary I received from you guys a few years ago and I like to think you two are what got me back to praying the rosary regularly. God Bless and have a wonderful Easter.

  17. Greg says:

    @ Ken – The Jennifer who responded above was not Jennifer Willits but another Jennifer.

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