The Giggle Test


In my “real life”, for my sins no doubt, I am an attorney.  Before I raise an argument in court before a judge or a jury, I always make sure it can pass the giggle test.  It has two components:  1.  Can I make the argument with a straight face;  and 2.  do I think a judge or a jury can hear the argument without giggling.  The giggle test has saved me a lot of embarrassment over the years in court.

Jenkins of Notre Dame has obviously never heard of the giggle test.  In defense of the decision of Notre Dame to invite Obama to be the commencement speaker on May 17, 2009, and to receive an honorary degree, he has raised the defense that this is all OK because Obama is not a Catholic.

“Because the title of the document is ‘Catholics in Political Life,’ we understood this to refer to honoring Catholics whose actions are not in accord with our moral principles,” Jenkins writes. “This interpretation was supported by canon lawyers we consulted, who advised us that, by definition, only Catholics who implicitly recognize the authority of Church teaching can act in ‘defiance’ of it.”

“Moreover, fellow university presidents have told me that their bishops have told them that in fact it is only Catholic politicians who are referred to in this document.”

Analysis to follow momentarily, but first an observation.  How stupid does Jenkins believe his fellow Catholics are?  Pretty stupid if he believes they will swallow this lame defense.

In his comments Jenkins states that he has consulted certain unnamed canon lawyers who stated that only Catholics who recognize the authority of the Church can act in defiance of it.  Henry VIII, all is forgiven!  Martin Luther, it was all a big misunderstanding.  Chancellor Hitler, you can safely ignore Mit Brennender Sorge.  Using Jenkins’ “logic”, one can assume that a Catholic pro-abort politician can be honored at any Catholic institution in this country if they first renounce the Catholic faith.

Canon Lawyer, Edward Peters, at his stunningly good blog In the Light of the Law, eviscerates Jenkins’ defense.

“Does Jenkins really think that Catholic bishops would countenance a Catholic institution honoring a philanthropic murderer, or a free-speech crusading pornographer, or a right-to-privacy pimp, provided merely that the awardee was not a Catholic? Really, that’s too bizarre for words.

But speaking of words, Jenkins’ unnamed canon lawyers (assuming, by the way, that they were answering the question Jenkins thought he was asking, and that Jenkins understood and is accurately conveying their response) tell him that “by definition, only Catholics who implicitly recognize the authority of Church teaching can act in ‘defiance’ of it.” Huh?

What’s this “by definition” stuff? What definition? A definition of “defiance”? The word “defiance” is not in the Code. Even the Latin pertinacia does not seem to apply to our facts, so, what exactly is Jenkins talking about here? I don’t know, but whatever Jenkins or his canonists hope it means, the sentence he/they put so much stock in was obviously not drafted to stand up to close textual parsing. Else, all a Catholic would have to do to avoid the charge of acting in “defiance” of Church authority would be to decline recognizing Church authority in the first place!”

Jenkins should think seriously about the giggle test before he opens his mouth again in defense of the indefensible.

7 Responses to The Giggle Test

  1. […] for the homage to Obama to Obama scheduled at Notre Dame on May 17, 2009 and also addresses the sophistical defense mounted by Jenkins of his […]

  2. daledog says:

    The good Father is feeling the heat.

  3. Joseph Lluch says:

    Notre Dame gets an “F,” on the Giggle Test, an “F” for Catechism and an “F,” for not defending the free speech of the unborn. We who calls ourselves Christians/Cath. have been depicted as provincial backward folks with little comprehension, for progress and the sciences. Our faith is ridiculed by the media/academia quoting that 54% of the Cath. voted for President Obama. How many Cath. voted not to be sacrificed to the lions, when Emperor Nero was in charged? Our faith has not changed in the elapsed time especially, when the “life” of the innocent is the question. Jesus loves us today just as he did then, but more important; we must remember that Jesus always had a special love/consideration, for the weak, innocent, and the most vulnerable. November 17, will soon be water under the bridge. However, dishearten Christians/Cath. can reaffirm their commitments to faith and life through prayers. John Cardinal O’Connor reminded us in his book “Moment of Grace” of the following: “If prayer is resolutely united with that of Jesus in trust and boldness as children, we obtain all that we ask in his name, even more than any particular thing: The Holy Spirit himself, who contains all gifts.” On commencement day, I will pray/dedicate the rosary, for the protection of the innocent. I will also ask our Lord Jesus Christ to give our Cath. leaders the strength of character and wisdom to stand in disagreement when disagreement is required by principle. God Bless J. Cardinal O’Connor.

  4. […] a prior post, I noted the defense of Jenkins, President of Notre Dame, that Notre Dame honoring our pro-abort […]

  5. Mike says:

    “Chancellor Hitler” professed himself to be a Catholic. He was raised Catholic and remained a formal member of the CC until his death. And for the record, this entry goes straight to the top of the list of online rants that most quickly go out of their way to lend support to Godwin’s Law due to the oblique and nonsensical relationship attributed to Hitler and whoever it is you’re disagreeing with.

    If you aren’t familiar with Godwin’s Law, please do look it up.

  6. Donald R. McClarey says:

    Mike, Hitler despised the Catholic Church and only waited until the end of the war to settle accounts with it. Perhaps you are not aware of Hitler’s Table Talk? Here are some selections:

    ‘The war will be over one day. I shall then consider that my life’s final task will be to solve the religious problem. Only then Will the life of the German native be guaranteed once and for all.”

    “The evil that’s gnawing our vitals is our priests, of both creeds. I can’t at present give them the answer they’ve been asking for, but it will cost them nothing to wait. It’s all written down in my big book. The time will come when I’ll settle my account with them, and I’ll go straight to the point.”

    “I don’t know which should be considered the more dangerous: the minister of religion who play-acts at patriotism, or the man who openly opposes the State. The fact remains that it’s their maneuvers that have led me to my decision. They’ve only got to keep at it, they’ll hear from me, all right. I shan’t let myself be hampered by juridical scruples. Only necessity has legal force. In less than ten years from now, things will have quite another look, I can promise them.”

    “We shan’t be able to go on evading the religious problem much longer. If anyone thinks it’s really essential to build the life of human society on a foundation of lies, well, in my estimation, such a society is not worth preserving. If’ on the other hand, one believes that truth is the indispensable foundation, then conscience bids one intervene in the name of truth, and exterminate the lie.”

    “Once the war is over we will put a swift end to the Concordat. It will give me the greatest personal pleasure to point out to the Church all those occasions on which it has broken the terms of it. One need only recall the close cooperation between the Church and the murderers of Heydrich. Catholic priests not only allowed them to hide in a church on the outskirts of Prague, but even allowed them to entrench themselves in the sanctuary of the altar.”

    “The fact that I remain silent in public over Church affairs is not in the least misunderstood by the sly foxes of the Catholic Church, and I am quite sure that a man like the Bishop von Galen knows full well that after the war I shall extract retribution to the last farthing. And, if he does not succeed in getting himself transferred in the meanwhile to the Collegium Germanium in Rome, he may rest assured that in the balancing of our accounts, no “T” will remain uncrossed, no “I” undotted!”

    Hitler remained Catholic in the same sense that Benedict Arnold remained an American. As to Godwin’s Law, the point I was making obviously eluded you, or, more likely, you are unable or unwilling to debate the substance of it.

  7. Joe Hargrave says:


    Perhaps you’ve never heard of excommunication latae sententiae.

%d bloggers like this: