Cardinal Arinze’s speech at Georgetown

Cardinal Arinze’s speech at Georgetown

Cardinal Francis Arinze, the Nigerian prelate who heads the Congregation for Divine Worship, ruffled feathers at Georgetown University the other day with a commencement address that—horrors!—promoted Church teaching on family life and morality. If you want to know what the fuss was all about, here is the address in full. It is quite good (and relatively short.)

Update: An emailer tells me that Cardinal Arinze said back in February that he knew what a stink his speech would raise at Georgetown. Double bravo to a bishop willing to do what is right even knowing it would make him unpopular and a lightning rod for controversy. It certainly doesn’t help his oft-touted (by media pundits such as myself) chances of becoming Pope at the next election or endearing him to his American or European brethren.

Strange anecdote: I once met Cardinal Arinze briefly, when I was a student at Franciscan University. My neighbors were a nice couple from Nigeria, teaching and studying at the school. It turns out the cardinal is the husband’s cousin and when he was in town, we were invited to come by and meet him. I was struck by the idea that here was potentially the next Bishop of Rome (and maybe the first African pope in over 1,000 years) and I was shaking his hand as he sat on my neighbor’s porch.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • He was regal and solemn and friendly. I can’t say I spent more than a few minutes with him. Have you ever met someone and the lasting impression—which you may not be able to understand why right away—is that this is someone important, intelligent, holy, or something like that? That’s the impression I had.

  • Justin,

    I’ll assume this was your first commencement. What exactly do you think a commencement is about? This topic is what the university asked the cardinal to speak about: Christian-Muslim relations. And in that context, the assault on the family by secular humanism is a major area of alignment between the two religions.

    What is this diversity you so pride yourselves on? Isn’t the cardinal’s comments different from others you’ve heard? Isn’t that diverse? Or is diversity only for the affirming, “I’m OK, you’re OK” talk that pats you on the back in your “okayness”?

    Admit it Justin, you’re just pissed off because it was your graduation and you didn’t like what the cardinal had to say.  If someone had given a talk that pissed off orthodox Catholics, you’d have been okay with it. Go ahead and admit it, you’ll feel better.

  • You are wrong about Ingebretson; he is no longer a priest in the Catholic Church. He left the Jesuit order and the Catholic Church to join a schismatic group that calls itself the “American Catholic Church.” However, they have no relationship to the universal Catholic Church. Therefore he has no place apologizing on behalf of Catholics.

    As for Cardinal Arinze, all he did was state Catholic belief. It’s amusing that out of his whole speech everyone focused on one line. Tell me exactly where the cardinal told a significant portion of the audience they are going to hell. What did say was that Catholic teaching is that homosexuality is immoral and that its practice undermines the family. He is correct.

    Fancy that you might hear Catholic teaching at a Catholic college. It must have been a new experience for you and thus I can understand your surprise. And however Georgetown “markets itself,” the Church’s clear teaching in various places, including Ex Corde Ecclessiae, is that the essential character of a Catholic university must be expressed. If I enrolled in Hebrew University in Jerusalem (if there were such a place), should I be surprised that the commencement speaker addresses the audience as Jews?

    At Howard University (a historically black college) should I, a white student, be offended if the commencement speaker addresses the graduating class with the assumption that most are black? But I guess it’s different for the Catholic Church. It always is.

  • Well, you got one thing right—It’s not a Catholic university. I would rather be Catholic than Jesuit if being Jesuit means repudiating the things Cardinal Arinze stated, the things that are the Truth as inspired by the Holy Spirit and passed on through the successors of the apostles.

    That he took them all by surprise by the enunciation of Catholic belief shouldn’t be a surprise in itself.