I had the good fortune to attend the Illinois Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Chicago yesterday, where Bishop Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin was the keynote speaker. His talk was folksy and outspoken, yet with a good amount of depth on natural law and the questions of life and the human person, none of which I have yet found covered in the press.

Toward the end of his talk, he made a few statements about the Notre Dame/Obama controversy. He made it very clear several times that if he were the president of Notre Dame, he would never have invited Obama in the first place. However, he said, since Obama will no doubt be coming, can Catholics make this an opportunity for the Church? Like Cyrus, the Persian king who nonetheless was used as an instrument by God to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, can Obama be a foe who, wittingly or unwittingly, does God’s work? Can it be a moment of conversion for Obama himself?

Instead of merely protesting the invitation, can it be an opportunity to demonstrate the love and logic of the true, universal position on life championed by the Church? The controversy has gotten the Church’s position on life on the front pages of the news… can the moment be seized to make this a teaching opportunity for the nation? The skeptical among us will certainly say that Obama isn’t likely to change any time soon. Perhaps this is true. But, skeptical or not, can the thought process be shifted to making the Notre Dame commencement an opportunity for conversion for all who attend or watch the news coverage? Something to think about from Bishop Morlino.