This is one of the holiest periods of the liturgical calendar in my Roman Catholic faith.  It is so special that it's the only time in the year that the Church designates as "Holy Week."  Yet, in this holiest of periods, our Archbishop has behaved in a manner that has been anything but holy.  Archbishop John C. Nienstedt's recent actions have forced other members of this family of faith to endure the most appallingly, unholy, disrespectful, and inappropriate abuse of position, power and privilege exhibited by any local church leader of similar standing in recent memory.  
I refer, quite obviously to the Archbishop's statement attacking our new president because of his political beliefs.  Nienstedt has misused his office in an attempt to strong-arm the distinguished University of Notre Dame to rescind its invitation to President Barak Obama to be the principal speaker at this magnificent institution's commencement next month.
    I certainly hope that people who do not identify themselves as Catholic don't assume that Archbishop Nienstedt speaks for each of the more than 750,000 Catholics who make up his flock. Neither should the Archbishop, himself, presume that he speaks for  of us who make up that membership.
    When Archbishop Nienstedt speaks to those of us who occupy the pews of the 222 parishes in his archbishopric on matters strictly related to faith and morals, then we listen and, perhaps, even learn.  Some heed his Excellency's directives and, no doubt, some do not.  After all, it is a church based on concept of Free Will.
    Urging the leading Catholic university in this country to rescind its generous and thoughtful speaking invitation to President Barak Obama is not only an outrage, it is far beyond the Archbishop's proper purview.  It is, quite frankly, an unspeakable embarrassment to those of us who share the Archbishop's identity as Catholics and Americans, but do not share his politics.  Thankfully, Notre Dame University has a deeper sense of honor, nobility, and good manners.  It knows—clearly better than Nienstedt—when the Archbishop is out of line as a spokesperson for Catholics on a political matters.
    John Nienstedt was only 13 years old when, on September 12, 1960, the Democratic nominee for the office now held by President Obama, Sen. John F. Kennedy, went before the Greater Houston Ministerial Association.   In a speech that historians still believe to be one of the most important diversity statements of American public life, Kennedy set forth the boundaries of the freedoms of religion and speech that are held so sacred in our national culture and character.
    Because the Archbishop appears to be totally unfamiliar with the precepts of that part of our U.S. Constitution, allow me to quote Kennedy:  "…I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him."
    Kennedy went on to state: "…I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials; and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all….:
    Near the end of this moving and lasting declaration, and to the point of Nienstedt's call for Notre Dame to uninvite President Obama, Kennedy made certain the protestant clergy, who constituted most of that 1960 audience, had no doubt where he stood: "…Whatever issue may come before me as president — on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject — I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise."
    As equally unauthorized to speak for anybody else, as Archbishop Nienstedt was in this instance, I ask, Mr. President, that you please accept my deepest and most sincere apologies for this dishonorable and ill-mannered action by one of our church leaders