University of Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., in an interview with Nicolás Luco, columnist for one of Latin America’s leading dailies, El Mercurio of Chile, was asked about the “open gestures of dialogue” behind the selection of Vice President Joseph Biden and former Speaker John Boehner as the University’s Laetare medalists.
Father Jenkins replied, in part:
“One of our great challenges today is people who disagree often will vilify, attack, demean the opposition and then they cannot work with the opposition. So we come to this impasse of acrimony of intransigence … and it doesn’t serve society.
“One of the great Catholic concepts is the common good. What is the common good? What would serve everybody? You and I may disagree, or Boehner and Biden may disagree, but we have to recognize that whatever we think, we have to act for the common good.
“One thing I hope we do at the University is we try to bring our students to understand they can disagree but they need to talk to one another, reason with one another, and despite differences, they should always respect the other person and not demean.
“Unless we do that, we cannot work together, we cannot serve the common good. We are just in this gridlock of antagonism that is all too common today.”