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Catholics petition Notre Dame to rescind Obama speaking invitation

Hesburgh Library at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana

Empowered by Tuesday's announcement by Fort Wayne, Ind., Bishop John D’Arcy that he plans to boycott President Obama's upcoming commencement address at the University of Notre Dame, some Catholics are gathering signatures on a protest petition.

Furious over Obama's decision to lift restrictions on embryonic stem cell research, conservatives have already collected more than 120,000 signatures on an online petition urging Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins to rescind his invitation.

"Notre Dame has chosen prestige over principles, popularity over morality," says the petition at sponsored by the Cardinal Newman Society. "It is an outrage and a scandal that Our Lady’s University, one of the premier Catholic universities in the United States, would bestow such an honor on President Obama given his clear support for policies and laws that directly contradict fundamental Catholic teachings on life and marriage."

Jenkins said he will not rescind the invitation for Obama to speak and receive an honorary law degree (the president already has a real one, from Harvard). Obama would be the ninth president to receive Notre Dame's honorary degree and the sixth to serve as commencement speaker.

Obama was invited, said Jenkins, despite his positions on abortion and embryonic stem cell research, because he is "an inspiring leader." In a statement, the university president said:

The invitation to President Obama to be our commencement speaker should not be taken as condoning or endorsing his positions on specific issues regarding the protection of human life, including abortion and embryonic stem cell research. Yet, we see his visit as a basis for further positive engagement.

At the White House, White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said that the president, who won the support of millions of Catholics during the campaign, "does not govern with the expectation that everyone sees eye to eye with him on every position, and the spirit of debate and healthy disagreement on important issues is part of what he loves about this country."

Still, opinion is inflamed among some Catholics.

“I’m just heartbroken; I’m insulted,” Terri Rohr, class of 1984, told the Philadelphia Bulletin. “I was shocked when I heard it. I always thought of Notre Dame as a place where a person’s worth was not determined by their position or power, but who they were in the eyes of God. It’s not only a slap in the face to the students and the alumni, but to Catholics everywhere.”

The Fighting Irish are expected to welcome Obama May 17. Look for protests too.

-- Johanna Neuman

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Photo: University of Notre Dame's Hesburgh Library. Credit: University of Notre Dame.


Comments () | Archives (10)

The comments to this entry are closed.

None of today's "outraged" protesters had much to say when pro-choice, pro-death penalty, pro-war, pro-torture Condoleezza Rice spoke at Notre Dame's commencement. At least President Obama agrees with the Catholic Church on most of these issues.

Support the University's decision. Sign the petition:

Wow. As someone who attended Catholic school his whole life, including university, I find actions like this embarrassing and shameful. Catholics should be honored that the President has chosen to speak at a Catholic university. People like this make having a degree from a Catholic university seem like an impediment to success in the wider world.

Quick Catholics and Republicans, to the Dark Ages Mobile. There is scientific progress to impede, quality of life to limit, and human suffering to prolong. Long live the ignorant and the morally hypocritical.

I do not believe in many of President Obama's beliefs regarding stem cell research, but I do not believe that people should be in outrage about him speaking at Notre Dame. It is an extreme honor to have our president speak at Notre Dame regardless of his beliefs and policies.

I can appreciate the honors of having the president of the United States speak at your ceremonies. What I do not understand is why would you allow any one to speak at a Catholic University who does not agree with the Catholic Christian belief of the sanctity of life.

"the pursuit of life"... This should not be just a Catholic issue. What has happened to our core values as Americans? Our Founders roll in their graves.

Apparently the Notre Dame President has decided that it is easier to support abortionist and those who would use embryo to harvest cells and, ultimately, organs.

The everyday Catholic is not only expected to comply with the Church rules, but they are reminded to avoid those who would lead them into sin. That should apply in spades to the leaders of the Church.

Seeking prestige can and will ultimately destroy the human soul.

Dear Seniors,

Please don't go to your graduation if Pres. Obama comes to your school. Show him with your actions that the course he has selected is NOT in agreement with your beliefs.
Barbarajean O'Flanagan
New Bern, NC

Obama does not agree with the teachings of our Catholic Church and SHOULD NOT be speaking at Commencement.

Why would we as Christians, not just Catholics, allow anyone to tell us to cover our religious symbols? If Notre Dame wants to have a man with different views speak at their graduation in hopes that it will initiate talks, that one thing but to cover the very symbols that govern and represent us as Christians is a slap in the face of God. What a sad day for humanity!


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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