Countless American Catholic boys have on some fall Saturday in their young lives been thrilled to witness -- in person, on radio or on TV -- a Notre Dame comeback on the football field.
Now, a rising generation of American Catholics may witness a Notre Dame comeback of a higher order.
This comeback is not about touchdowns and field goals. It is about faith and country.
Our nation is now heading deeper into a cultural war that has already divided our society for decades. Whether Notre Dame's current leadership likes it or not, the school is inextricably involved in this war, which is a conflict over fundamental questions of morality on which the Catholic Church takes an inalterable stand.
There is only one question: Whose side is Notre Dame on? Does she stand with her church on the side of right? Or does she stand with those who would defend the indefensible?
Shall it forevermore be legal in America to kill an unborn child? Shall the government grant cohabitating homosexuals the same legal rights as married couples, including the right to adopt children?
The Catholic position is clear: Abortion and same-sex unions are wrong and must never be legalized.
President Barack Obama's position is equally clear: Abortion should be legal, and homosexual unions should have the same legal status as marriage.
In 2004, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops published a document -- "Catholics in Political Life" -- clearly stating the bishops'
understanding of how Catholic institutions such as Notre Dame should deal with politicians who defy fundamental moral principles.
"The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles," said the bishops. "They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."
Nonetheless, Notre Dame announced on March 20 that Obama would not only give the school's May 17 commencement address, but that he also would receive an honorary doctorate in law.
This threatened to send a scandalous message to every young Catholic in America: The church does not take seriously its own views on the right to life and the sanctity of marriage.
A few years ago, Notre Dame's decision might not have elicited a sustained reaction from American Catholics. Yet, now it seems to have awakened a sleeping giant.