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Now, a U.S. cardinal denounces Notre Dame's Obama invite

Roman Catholic Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Texas criticizes the University of Notre Dame for inviting pro-choice Democratic president Barack Obama to speak at graduation in May and give him an honorary degree

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo has become the first American cardinal to denounce the University of Notre Dame for inviting Democratic President Barack Obama as its commencement speaker in May and to receive an honorary degree.

Four Catholic bishops have now criticized the school for its decision to invite a pro-choice president to address its university body, including as The Ticket reported here the other day, Bishop John D'Arcy of northern Indiana announcing that he would boycott the famous Catholic school's May 17 commencement exercises over the invitation to the president, who recently broadened funding of stemcell research.

More than 120,000 others have signed an online petition urging the institution to rescind the invitation.

A Notre Dame spokesman for President John Jenkins has stated the school stands firmly by its invitation, one of three commencement address Obama will make this spring.

Now, Cardinal DiNardo has joined the fray over faith, writing in his pastoral newsletter this weekend:

I find the invitation very disappointing. Though I can understand the desire by a university to have the prestige of a commencement address by the President of the United States, the fundamental moral issue of the inestimable worth of the human person from conception to natural death is a principle that soaks all our lives as Catholics, and all our efforts at formation, especially education at Catholic places of higher learning."

The President has made clear by word and deed that he will promote abortion and will remove even those limited sanctions that control this act of violence against the human person.

The Bishops of the United States published a document a few years ago asking all....

The University of Notre Dame's famous golden dome in South Bend Indiana

...Catholic universities to avoid giving a platform or an award to those politicians or public figures who promote the taking of unborn human life.

Even given the dignity of Office of the President, this offer is still providing a platform and an award for a public figure who has been candid on his pro-abortion views.

Particularly troubling is the Honorary Law Degree since it recognizes that the person is a 'Teacher,' in this case of the Law. I think that this decision requires charitable but vigorous critique.

Cardinal DiNardo was joined in his Notre Dame criticism by fellow Texas Bishop Gregory Aymond of Austin, who denounced the school for not "living up to its Catholic identity."

"In my opinion,” that Bishop writes in his newsletter this week, “it is very clear that in this case the University of Notre Dame does not live up to its Catholic identity in giving this award and their leadership needs our prayerful support.”

Notre Dame has taken special public relations pride in its ability to attract prominent graduation speakers to its South Bend campus over the years, especially newly-installed presidents such as Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Associated Press (Cardinal Daniel DiNardo); University of Notre Dame.

Comments () | Archives (57)

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Obama believes in the right to choose. He would rather a woman have other options to abortion, but he wants to make sure that it's safe and legal. I'm pro-choice, but would never have an abortion. It's not something to take lightly. The Catholic Church should focus it's energy on providing support to those women who chose to have a baby. Perhaps then women would have fewer abortions. Unfortunately the Catholic Church opposes pretty much very form of birth control (except the rhythm - aka Russian Roulette).

These throwbacks to the Middle Ages must be condemned and then ignored. Their primitive mindsets become more ridiculous every day.
This is the same church whose "supreme iman" said last week in Africa that condoms cause HIV, rather than prevent it.
He's also the same guy who voided the excommunication of a bishop who's both a holocaust denier and advocate of subjegation and physical abuse of women.
Thank God that Notre Dame has recognized its importance as a beacon of academic freedom and stood its ground against those intending to turn U.S. Catholic universities into madrassas.
The leadership of the Catholic Church deserves both men and women who can provide a greater understanding of the Faith, based upon reason, tradition and Scripture. What we're getting right now is the result of an institution that's growing more totalitarian and increasingly irrelevant. As that process continues, it also becomes more and more dangerous to those whose conscience and belief differ. That's what the Inquisition was all about.

If that is truly the way they feel, then let the radical right wing Catholics have their way. If they truely are a majority on campus, then let Notre Dame and the Catholic Church deal with the fallout of refusing to let the first African American president of the United States address their graduating class based a point that is supported by no one on the planet who isn't a right wing ideologue. At this point in our country's history, they have a lot more to lose than Obama does. Maybe Bob Jones University will join in their refusal to recognize the importance of our first black commander in chief just because he isn't lockstep in tune with their radical agenda. The first step in equating Catholics with right wing nutball protestants might just me eye opening for the majority of Americans. Do it. It will only push the rationally minded people of the world that much closer to atheism. As a proud atheist I can only say, Thanks for the PR Notre Dame!

As million of children die yearly of malnutrition, disease and violence, these pontificating people who represent a religion known for its violence toward young boys and history of torture, killing and pillaging of indiginous races has the gall to stand up and decry what science is trying to learn? What pathetic hypocrits! As a practicing catholic i have walked away from your hypocracy and BS. Like the rest of all religions, yours has no authority to condemn the actions of anyone!!!

The idealogue ramblings of Cardinal DiNardo are just another example of why so many of us recovering Catholics and graduates of Catholic colleges have left the church behind. DiNardo reminds me of the old button that reads "If God were alive today, he'd be an athiest."

What I find offensive is the hypocrisy of the Catholic church management. Let's be frank about it, that's basically what the elevated clergy is, and yet while they sit in comfort and riches, they denounce those practices that hold out hope for the hopeless that are in the realm of the secular. If they cared that much for human life, they should have protested the fact that the previous President served as the governor of a state that leads the nation in fulfilling capital punishment sentences, yet strangely they were quiet on that. And the Church management is silent on the abuses in sub-Sahara Africa, reckless when it comes to disregarding the use of condoms in HIV/AIDS wreaked nations, and in this country silent when child abuse was happening on their watch. With this level of involvement in government affairs and national policy, they are no longer within their own non-secular margins, and as such, perhaps they should no longer enjoy the tax-free status they have long enjoyed. Surely taxing the Roamn Catholic and all the other churches properties and holdings should be studied as a means of getting the economy turned around. Finally, and there is some irony here, they should render to Caesar what is Caesar's....

"The President has made clear by word and deed that he will promote abortion and will remove even those limited sanctions that control this act of violence against the human person."

Is that true Cardinal DeNardo? Is removing interest group pandering and politically motivated restrictions on access to information an "act of violence against the human person"

Was that true when Galileo championed Copernicanism or medicine in the 16th century introduced surgery on cadavers to instruct and save lives?

Is that the logic behind excommunicating a 9 year old Brazilian, along with her her doctors, for having an abortion to save her life but not the step father who raped her?

Fitting picture of Cardinal DiNardo. Does anyone really believe in religion now a days?

As Catholic it is shameful that the organization that lacked the courage to speak out against Hitler and who even now shelters child molesters has the gall to protest the participation of our President in a commencement ceremony. I will go to mass but I stopped giving money long ago. Until the church changes, other catholics should do the same.

Where was this outrage when the victims of sexual abuse were coming forward. Why is there no outrage that Cardinal Mahony is still the Cardinal in Los Angeles. Will these same critics come out against Notre Dame if one of the politicians they invite supported either war in Iraq or Afghanistan? The Catholic church needs to clean its own house before it goes poking at the political views of our president.

What a shame these higher ranking people of the church didnt put the same vigor in towards the past 40 years of church abuse

the catholic church has gotten really creepy. not the church i remember. at this point i would consider being snubbed by the church a good thing.

This from an organization whose leader recently discouraged parishioners in AIDS-ravaged Africa from using condoms. I was once Catholic. Not anymore. I cannot morally justify attending Mass and supporting the church.

This is why I no longer go to the Catholic Church. The dogma overcomes common sense.

They say that anti-Catholicism is the anti-Semitism of liberals. Thus it is not surprising to see the liberals supporting the decision to give Obama a degree from a Catholic university on free speech grounds.

I agree with them. I think that Yeshiva University should invite Holocaust deniers to speak at their graduation and Moorehouse College should invite a Klansman to speak at their graduation--all in the name of free speech.

This is the same group that hid pedophilia and recently excommunicate a mother who took her 9 year old incest victim to have an abortion? Oh WHAT a moral high groud.

If this idiot "church" wants to impress us here's how. Sell ALL of your assets and give them to the poor. That camel through the eye of a needle thing's a pain ain't it?

Hypocrites....the Catholic Church should remember not to throw stones....maybe they can have some pedofile priests address the graduating class....

Did the cardinal also denounce speeches given at Notre Dame by politicians, such as George W. Bush, who support the death penalty? If not, then he is a liar and a partisan thug who twists Catholic teaching for political reasons.

"Particularly troubling is the Honorary Law Degree since it recognizes that the person is a 'Teacher,' in this case of the Law. I think that this decision requires charitable but vigorous critique."

So, he shouldn't speak at Notre Dame on law because he is in agreement with the law of the country of which he is President?

President Obama does not promote abortion. He has said that even though he supports a woman's right to choose we must do our best to REDUCE the number of abortions. The cardinal should speak all the facts before he pronounces his judgements.

This guy on the photo has a look of a total religious fanatic,
this kind of people are responsible for wars.

President Obama was INVITED.

Had he turned ND down, the malcontents would be whining a different tune.

And why don't any of the ecclesiasticals look fundamentally healthy, or well even??

How come these big mouth troublemakers Cardinal Daniel DiNardo and Bishop Gregory Aymond don't make a stink about their priest molesting young Boys!

Who cares? The Catholic Religion is a sham anyway, with so many of their priests engaged in pedophilia and sundry other sexually deviant acts I'm surprised that they all aren't driven to suicide. Religion is a superstitious belief in something you don't understand, have trouble describing, and rarely follow unless you are in trouble. Is it any wonder that "God" spelled backwards is "dog". That "live" spelled backwards is "evil" and that the previous statements make about as much sense as Cardinal Daniel DiNardo's stance on President Obama's upcoming speech at Notre Dame. I live by the "do unto others" rule and it's been good for me so far!

It would seem that Notre Dame's administrative decisions are starting to match the pitiful record of their football teams in recent years. How any unversity that calls itself "Catholic" can invite the most pro-abortion president in our history to speak, and be awarded a degree. is beyond belief. Somebody better "SHAKE DOWN THE THUNDER FROM THE SKY" and wake 'em up in South Bend.

John Shean
San Diego

I'm delighted that the minions of the Catholic church are increasingly involved in the affairs of the United States of America.

They are behaving like good American citizens.

And they should be taxed like every other good American citizen.

They chronically violate the constitutional separation between church and state; having surrendered their obligation to perform as an exempt religious organization, the IRS is legally required to strip the catholic churches of their tax exemption.

Hello IRS......put a pause on your efforts to audit minimum wage American workers and go get your hundreds of millions in tax dollars from these giant mega-religious political organizations.

Last gasps of a dying cult.

The man taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago. Given a choice between admission to U of C Law and admission to ND Law, which would a student chose? Catholics need to check themselves. Their reliance on these "priests" as mouthpieces to and from God is making them look like Soviet citizens.

I have always thought of myself as a Catholic, but I'm not sure anymore. I am so tired of the Church's hierarchy bumbling and selective criticisms, I could spit. The next logical step would be for Catholic universities to admit only Catholics, denounce Islam as a religion of violence, admit excommunicated bishops---oooppps, they have already done that.

Where were these bishops and cardinals when the Bush administration were fabricating lies and 4000 Americans were killed fighting an unjust war caused by those lies?

Where were they recently when a Brazilian cardinal excommunicated a doctor for aborting a 9 year-old's child, born of a rape by her step father?

Why did it take so long for the hierarchy (I'm from Cardinal Law territory) to apologize clerical scourge of child rape?

A man who is a Catholic bishop or unconnected to the real woes of family life today--he can only appreciate them vicariously, not directly. It is easy to issue pronouncements when there are no personal effects to be felt.

After the clergy abuse scandal American Catholics are not wont to take everything a bishop of Cardinal says as gospel.

No pro-choice democrats for him, no. Only anti-choice warmongers. What a hypocrite.

It's about time to rescind the tax-free status of the Catholic Church and other politically active religious entities. They can't have it both ways - if they want to lobby and push their political and social agenda, then they have to pay their weight. An added plus of the new economy! Real estate tax boon for cities or a muzzle on the religious right, a win win for everyone!

Does anyone really care what these cardinals in red dresses and lace have to say about anything?

The rabid-raccoon-in-headlights expression on his face is priceless!

And yet if Obama were Newt Gingerich--famously twice divorced and three times married, serial adulterer and all around terrible person (who serves their wife with divorce papers when she is recovering from cancer surgery?) the Catholic Church would be welcoming him with open arms. The idea that you keep people of good will and excellent character from speaking to your students so long as they aren't Catholic, while you embrace a known adulterer and retroactively forgive his sins as long as he becomes an official catholic is just astonishing to me.

also, I'm from Boston. when the Church renders Cardinal Law back to us in Chains for suborning perjury and enabling the rape of thousands of little children I'll lend an ear to their opinions.


Thank you Cardinal DiNardo! I am proud to hear your words and those of Bishop Aymond. I hope you are joined by your brother US bishops. Keep on speaking the truth!!

As imperfect as the Catholic religion may be it is still a much better answer for all the ills in the world than progressive secularism. You who have been given life and allowed to be born into this world and have no problem denying this priviledge to the millions of unborn exeamplify the very pinnacle of selfishness. Will be an interesting scene at the time of your death when all those that have been aborted will greet you at the judgement seat asking you before God and all the saints " Why did you let them do this to me ? "

I'm sure Father DiNardo will also denounce Nortre Dame inviting supporters of the death penalty and the Iraq War, both opposed by the Catholic Church.

He needs to worry more about covering up the abuse of young boys and less about Obama giving a speech at Notre Dame.

obama is a fool and is leading this country into a downfall...a baby would not choose to be murdered...obama is pro-infanticide and should not speak at any catholic college ever, let alone be a given an honorary degree, let alone a law degree

come to your senses ND!

What's right is right. No matter how many bad catholics
there are, that is no reason to support something wrong.
Comparing the death penalty or war to abortion is like
comparing apples to oranges. The death penalty is
self defense for protecting sociey from murderers, and
the like. War can be justifed though I'm not sure Iraq
could be justified. More people than Bush thought
Iraq had the weapons there. Anyway, an unborn child
doesn't have a choice over what happens to his or her

We are all forgetting the bottom line in these discussions and comments. It's not about the past history of the Catholic church, the passionate comments of it's leaders, nor the present Catholic doctrine. It's about a University as a whole, as seen by the world, approving of the destruction of a 'baby', a human life even at the stage of developement where child could live and breath on its own, but whose brains are sucked out before 'full' birth is allowed to happen. If Catholics consider themselves Christians then why won't the 'Christian' leaders of Notre Dame who claim to follow the teachings of Jesus reject the invitation to the President. What a BOLD statement that would be to the WORLD that our beliefs cannot be compromised. Show the boldness of Paul!

I have never read so much tolerance from the left as I have seen on this article's comments. It is about time that our Bishops start acting like abortion is what it is - homocide. The left will always lie about abortion - like when they tell us that the fetus is a blob or that it is part of the womans body. Obvious lies when science tells us otherwise. Even a simpleton knows that the genetic material in the fetus is different from the mother, perhaps even a different sex. So you liberals - start telling the truth and stop the ad hominem attacks.

As I read the comments about child rape and all the other sins and crimes I understand the anger of folks. But child rape, lying, murder, perjury, fraud, etc. are not teachings of the church but rather acts that go against the teachings of the church that are commiitted by specific individuals who cause scandal and should be punished. Inviting Obama to speak is just another act that causes scandal and unfortunately joins the others. And yes, I am equating promoting, performing, paying for, or having an abortion with all the other inherently evil acts previouly listed.

Only a society that has lost its moral compass and that is accustomed to following impulse rather than reason would offer negative commentaries on thiis issue. Cardinal Dinardo is quite correct in his assessment and serves as a light beacon to others.

In regards to examples of atrocities such as infidelity, pedophilia, etc. we easily note an outcry indigent in reasoning. Be attentive and observe that these are examples of people who abused the tenets of the Church. Those who faithfully and heroically follow its tenets can be seen in a St. Frances, St. Pio, and Mother Teresa. Read about their lives so that your eyes will be opened.


The Catholic church would have been much better served if John McCain and Sarah Palin had won the election. The country wiould be much better served if the Catholic church fades into obscurity in the same manner as the GOP is presently doing.

It is interesting how many people support the killing of the unborn and born.

One thing Jesus was right about about and it shows in these posts. "Remember when they hate you that they first hated me."

Sad to see so much anti-Catholicism so alive and well in 2009.

Ah, the inestimable hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, which tortured and burned people alive, opposed human rights in favor of the divine rights of kings, whose pope supported the Germans even as the Nazis were murdering Jews and other "undesireable" humans and is now defending pedophiles and Holocaust deniers, coming to the defense of morality against ... Barack Obama? That these people don't die of shame is firm proof that they truly have no shame. My congratulations to the staff and clergy at Notre Dame who see this blatant hypocrisy for what it is.

Quality information is provided in the blog.

I'm curious - all of these Bishops that are outraged that Obama was chosen to speak at Notre Dame due to his pro-choice position - where was their outrage when the Pope invited Nicholas Sarkozy, the pro-choice president of France, to the Vatican to receive the title of Honorary Chanoine in December 2007? Why was that invitation and honor to a pro-choice dignitary different than this one? Sounds more like these priests are being political rather than supporting their religion. They are being hypocrites for political purposes. Another sad day for religion........

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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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