1. Religion & Spirituality
Scott P. Richert

All Eyes Are on Notre Dame

By May 15, 2009

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After months of debate, the weekend has arrived. On Sunday, May 17, President Barack Obama will deliver the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame.

More importantly (and more controversially), President Obama will receive an honorary degree from Notre Dame, despite the fact that the first 100 days of his administration has been marked by the fulfillment of campaign promises to extend funding for abortion and embryonic stem-cell research—policies in direct opposition to the teaching of the Catholic Church.

President Obama's elevation of Kathleen Sebelius, the former governor of Kansas and a Catholic who is radically pro-abortion, to the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services has sent a clear signal that he is not simply committed to abortion rights but is willing to take on the Catholic Church on this issue. Sebelius, who received tens of thousands of dollars from a late-term abortionist to advance her political ambitions, had been warned by three successive bishops not to receive Communion because of her pro-abortion stand.

Combine this with Obama's earlier choice of Joe Biden, a Catholic who dissents from Church teaching on abortion, as his Vice President, and add in persistent rumors that the reason he has not appointed an ambassador to the Holy See is because the Vatican has rejected his pro-abortion candidates, and one wonders why only 60 or so American bishops have protested Notre Dame's decision to honor the most pro-abortion President the United States has ever seen.

All of that said, how should Catholics who have been scandalized by Notre Dame's action comport themselves this Sunday? There have been calls for mass demonstrations and attempts to disrupt the graduation ceremony, and perennial political candidate Alan Keyes has already deliberately had himself arrested on the campus of Notre Dame.

Bishop John D'Arcy of the Diocese of South Bend, one of the first bishops to object to the decision to honor President Obama and the bishop in whose diocese Notre Dame lies, has urged Catholics not to disrupt the proceedings. It's the right advice.

Notre Dame should not have chosen to honor a man whose position on the gravest moral evil that we face today is so adamantly opposed to the teaching of the Catholic Church. But as Catholics, we understand that we owe respect to properly constituted authority, even when those who exercise that authority hold views that are in error.

The outcry against Notre Dame's decision to honor President Obama has had its effect. Catholic support for the President has dropped dramatically; many Catholics who had convinced themselves that "Obama is not pro-abortion but pro-choice" have begun to see that his actions prove that to be "pro-choice" is to be pro-abortion. Neither his reputation nor Notre Dame's will emerge from this weekend unscathed.

Tomorrow, I offer my predictions about what President Obama will say in his commencement address. And check back on Sunday for coverage of the event, and of any further controversy that develops.

More on Notre Dame and President Obama:

May 15, 2009 at 11:41 am
(1) Paul Ferkul says:

My guess is Obama will say that in a perfect world abortions would be rare, but that abortion should remain a legal “choice.” This is the usual political cop-out. I would ask him two questions:
1.) Should there be more or less abortions? 2.) (Assuming he answers “less”) What have you done to lessen the number of abortions?

May 15, 2009 at 12:50 pm
(2) Dave says:

This issue has really galvanized Catholics along with all the other Obama shenanigans of attacking our constitution and getting away with it (so far)…

It amazes me that a public institution like Arizona State has the cahonies to stand up to the bamster and not give him an honorary degree because he is still a newbie and unproven while our supposed principled Catholic college makes an impulsive knee-jerk offer of a law degree of all things…

…and talk about knee-jerk decisions of Father Jenkins…remember Ty Willingham being let go so abruptly?

…Charlie Weis offered a ten year contract extension after only one year of football?

May 15, 2009 at 1:33 pm
(3) Char says:

Maybe this was stated before and I have not had a chance to read it…What kind of control does the pope have? Isn’t he the “boss” so to speak? If he has control why isn’t he saying NO, this can not happen! If the leaders of this University still plunge forward then you simply remove them from their position. As a Catholic I’m tired of seeing these kinds of things go on and really no action being taken from the hierarchy. When a bishop or cardinal or priest tells a pro-abortionist not to take communion… it should be up to the person preciding to refuse it. He can simply give them a blessing on the forehead and send them on their way. We can’t simply speak the words and not take action. Is someone worried that there is going to be a scene caused? Give me a break! We’ve had a bigger scene with the sex scandal and thats extremely negative, why don’t we take a stand for what’s right and show some action and let that be what everyone focuses on. At least that is something positive for the catholics that are feeling like we are lost, have no hope and we will never recover from the corruption from the goverment to the vatican. Who will be the first one to make the right move? Quite frankly with the crud I’ve learned recenlty dealing within my own parish and what I see going on with Notre Dame I am seriously questioning what is the difference between our goverment and the catholic church, they seem to mirror each other some times. Then I remind myself its hu(man)s with power and thats the business part of it; its not the Church that Jesus Christ created for us. That thought is the only thing that is keeping me in our faith at this time.

May 15, 2009 at 1:45 pm
(4) Jodi says:

We have A LOT more important things to be concerned w/than whether or not Notre Dame is giving President O’Bama an honorary degree. If this is all you have to worry about, consider yourself fortunate. What happened to our teaching of not judging? Focus your concern & energy on being a better person yourself before worrying about every move President O’bama makes….

May 15, 2009 at 1:54 pm
(5) Char says:

If you’re not concerned about what our leader are doing…You got trouble girl!

May 15, 2009 at 1:59 pm
(6) Raz says:

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew ~

May 16, 2009 at 4:25 am
(7) Anonymous says:

May 16, 2009 at 4:29 am
(8) A, Innocent says:

It is not so raging to see Notre Dame not yielding to church teachings – even Jesus said it

before and so it will… that men will be lovers of the world (themselves)- just as Notre

Dame [a catholic institution and a forum supposed to be a key locus for imparting church

doctrines] has decided to honor Obama in awful anticipation for recognition and honor in

return. That not withstanding, it is mess on the institution been a promoter of abhorrent

practices creeping stunningly into “global ethics”. Like earlier published by Scott on his

issue on abortion, he said, ‘since it is now generally accepted, should we now say it is


In the same way, should we commend Notre Dame University for the mess? The best

answer could be hewn from Bishop Doran’s explicit “

which he said earlier this year to the Notre Dame University.

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