Editorials

CONNONWEAL Numero uno Reactions were fast and furious last week in the wake of Pope John Paul II's motu proprio apparently ordering American Catholics to recognize the University of Notre Dame...

...A Florida political figure said that he was personally in agreement with the pope, but as an elected official he had to abide by the decisions of the voters in the national polls...
...In a column appearing in the Wall Street Journal twenty minutes after Victoriae splendor was issued in Rome, Father Neuhaus rejoiced that the pope, after helping bring down communism, "has now confronted the naked gridiron...
...But I never heard anyone on the team say that...
...I like to play center," she said...
...In fact, it did not explicitly mention football...
...George Weigel, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, suggested that the pope had been influenced by Michael Novak's 1976 volume The Joy of Sports...
...At Boston College, which handed Notre Dame its single loss (41-39) in a November 20 upset, several professors asked whether the document's teaching about "living encounters of opposing teams" might not indicate that the national championship belonged to BC...
...But the Reverend Richard McBrien, former chairman of the Notre Dame theology department, said that his university affiliation could not silence him...
...The National Catholic Reporter lamented that Notre Dame football was big business and that the whole game had become a "domestic rehearsal for brutal American domination around the globe...
...Still, there was little mistaking John Paul IPs meaning: "Some people have suggested that the rightful autonomy of championship, which derives from divine wisdom and takes its pattern from the journey to God, can be separated from truth, defining victory according to subjective judgments aggregated by modern methods of polling or according to mechanistic rankings emerging from computer sciences," the pope declared...
...She was joined by Jeannine Gramick of New Ways Ministries who said that the document insulted gays...
...CONNONWEAL Numero uno Reactions were fast and furious last week in the wake of Pope John Paul II's motu proprio apparently ordering American Catholics to recognize the University of Notre Dame as the nation' s number-one football team...
...Noting that throughout the season their team had averaged a 31.3-point margin of victory compared to Notre Dame's 18.7 margin, they said that the papal condemnation was directed only at extreme theories that would have refused Notre Dame the championship even if their season records had been identical in every detail...
...Christ's Vicar has spoken," wrote the Wanderer while urging readers to send the Vatican examples of modernist doctrines taught at Notre Dame...
...It remains to be seen whether the bishops and their liberal-minded staffs can break loose from the Notre Dame-hating pieties of the National Council of Churches...
...At Notre Dame, Coach Lou Holtz, whose team not only had the same record of eleven wins and one loss as Florida State but also defeated the Seminoles 31-24 last November 13, said he felt vindicated...
...The speakers acknowledged that Victoriae splendor did not explicitly mention contraception, abortion, or homosexuality...
...The pope implies that we want to separate the intrinsic nature of championship and the object of the act of the victory from the binding dependence of freedom on truth and the natural knowledge of Eternal Law," said a Catholic linebacker...
...But we welcome the words of the Holy Father, which not only carries a special weight for Catholics but can provide a unique contribution to the discussion of this divisive question among all citizens...
...ing pastoral letters or debating women's ordination...
...These theories," he continued, "radically sever the intimate relationship between victory and the living encounter of opposing teams, and moreover assert, according to certain theologians, that the sphere of the magisterium does not extend to man as 3 athlete, homo ludens...
...The editor of Commonweal said that she had no immediate comment but that the magazine's next issue would be completely devoted to a symposium on Victoriae splendor aimed at promoting a discussion that went beyond the sterile polarization of the Right and Left...
...John Paul has understood the statism latent in the demand that we check our faith at the stadium gate," wrote Neuhaus...
...I don't want to exaggerate," he said, "but Victoriae splendor is the Vatican equivalent of Saddam Hussein's seizure of Kuwait...
...The Reverend Richard John Neuhaus was more adamant...
...Frances Kissling of Catholics for a Free Choice appeared on CNN's "Sports Tonight...
...In an editorial headlined "Victoriae's Secrets," the New York Times wrote that while the pope's moral opinions deserved respect, his time would be better spent urging athletes to use condoms...
...But the papal document also did not mention Notre Dame or Florida State...
...At Florida State, Catholic students and faculty maintained that Victoriae splendor did not apply to them...
...In an article in America, the Reverend Avery Dulles outlined three distinct models of picking the national football champions, represented by the Associated Press poll of sportswriters, the USA Today/CNN poll of coaches, and the New York Times computer rankings...
...The church was being pushed back into a preconciliar era, he added, an era when Notre Dame football had been considered more important than study"He 's bigger than you, he's stronger than you, he's younger than you...
...It's time we talked strategy...
...Others thought that the pontiff was swayed by his well-known Marian devotion...
...The papal statement was "another outdated aggression by celibate old men against the reproductive rights of women," she said...
...Cardinal John O'Connor took the Times's editorial to task in a 5,000-word personal column in Catholic New York, the archdiocesan newspaper...
...The papal declaration, entitled Victoriae splendor, warned against "undue acquiescence" in polls and computer rankings like the ones that awarded the national championship to Florida State University...
...The bishops recognize the appropriate role for secular expertise in an area like football and the possibility of disagreement among people of good will," said Archbishop William H. Keeler of Baltimore, president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops...
...Each model, he said, had its own advantages and disadvantages...
...Victoriae splendor, however, offered a fourth, overarching model, Father Dulles explained, "less important for its specific fallible judgment than for its reminder to Catholics that the last word on balancing methods must be pronounced within the community of faith and in fidelity to Christian sources...
...It's a complete caricature of our views...
...The Holy Father could have reminded the People of God that the first shall be last and vice versa," said Tom Fox, editor of the liberal weekly, "but that might have threatened the power fixation of the Vatican itself...
...And nothing about half the human race eitherójust what you'd expect from patriarchy," said Ruth Fitzpatrick of the Women's Ordination Conference, interviewed on "Good Morning America...
...The paper expressed regret that the pope had not called on Catholics to limit themselves to gender-inclusive touch football without keeping won-loss recoreds...

Vol. 121 • January 1994 • No. 2


 
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