I found his Notre Dame commencement speech deeply Christian. I was struck by two passages. The first a simple statement of fact:
Understand – I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away. No matter how much we may want to fudge it – indeed, while we know that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory – the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable.
The second was a simple statement of faith:
In this world of competing claims about what is right and what is true, have confidence in the values with which you’ve been raised and educated. Be unafraid to speak your mind when those values are at stake. Hold firm to your faith and allow it to guide you on your journey. Stand as a lighthouse.
But remember too that the ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt. It is the belief in things not seen. It is beyond our capacity as human beings to know with certainty what God has planned for us or what He asks of us, and those of us who believe must trust that His wisdom is greater than our own.
This doubt should not push us away from our faith. But it should humble us. It should temper our passions, and cause us to be wary of self-righteousness. It should compel us to remain open, and curious, and eager to continue the moral and spiritual debate that began for so many of you within the walls of Notre Dame. And within our vast democracy, this doubt should remind us to persuade through reason, through an appeal whenever we can to universal rather than parochial principles, and most of all through an abiding example of good works, charity, kindness, and service that moves hearts and minds.
I believe that these sentiments will resonate with all Catholics of good will and serious purpose. When we are called by God to oppose the evils of abortion or torture or terror, we need to remain civil and fair and attuned to the calm that comes from knowing that we fight the good fight. I have not always succeeded in this. But I do know that if we do not try to do better, in the passionate and righteous pursuit of peace and justice, we will advance neither one nor the other.
(Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty.)