The Washington Post has this brief blurb:
Notre Dame Obama Commencement Speech Stirs Catholic Opposition
By Michael A. Fletcher
More than 87,000 names have been added to an online petition launched by a conservative Catholic group calling for the University of Notre Dame to rescind its invitation to President Obama to speak at its May 17 commencement ceremony.
The petition calls it “an outrage and a scandal” that Notre Dame, one of the nation’s leading Catholic universities, would honor Obama. The petition says the president’s pro-choice views and support for embryonic stem cell research “directly contradict fundamental Catholic teachings on life and marriage.”
The petition drive was started by the Cardinal Newman Society, a Virginia-based group that promotes orthodoxy at Catholic colleges and universities. The group launched a website notredamescandal.com with the petition on Friday, shortly after the White House and Notre Dame announced that the president would be speaking at the graduation, where he also will be given an honorary degree.
“His abortion stance, his views on stem cell research, his threat to remove conscience protections for Catholic health care workers and his support of the Freedom of Choice Act (proposed legislation that would prevent local governments from interfering with a woman’s right to choose) would essentially nullify pro-life protections that have been legislated” across the country, said Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society.
The petition drive has been joined by several Notre Dame campus organizations, as well as other groups, including Catholicvote.org, a group that promotes “a culture of life.”
Hmmmm . . . sounds like a tempest in a teapot, right? Wrong, says this snarky little post from USA Today:
Paulist Press’ CathNews hits the hot buttons in a wrap up. Leading the attack on the invitation is the Cardinal Newman Society, dedicated to promoting orthodoxy on Catholic campuses. The Society called this invitation a “travesty,” launched the website notredamescandal.com and gathered 13,000 signatures on a protest petition, in less than a week. The petition says, in part:
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.
And you know the crap has hit the fan when the Archbishop of the nation’s largest Catholic University gets involved:
Meanwhile, the Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend has indicated he will not attend the commencement ceremony.
“President Obama has recently reaffirmed, and has now placed in public policy, his long-stated unwillingness to hold human life as sacred,” Bishop John D’Arcy said in a statement issued Tuesday. “While claiming to separate politics from science, he has in fact separated science from ethics and has brought the American government, for the first time in history, into supporting direct destruction of innocent human life.”
“I wish no disrespect to our president, I pray for him and wish him well,” the statement continued. “I have always revered the Office of the Presidency. But a bishop must teach the Catholic faith ‘in season and out of season,’ and he teaches not only by his words — but by his actions.”
And one major Catholic theologian is invoking that most dreaded of retributions, The Wrath of the Alumni:
George Weigel, a Catholic theologian and distinguished senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, said the invitation is not a “neutral act” and will significantly damage Notre Dame’s reputation in Catholic circles following Obama’s decision to reverse restrictions on embryonic stem cell research and for family planning groups that provide abortions.
Weigel said he was not surprised by the outpouring of criticism following the university’s announcement on Friday that Obama would become sixth U.S. president to speak at its commencement. Obama will also become the ninth U.S. president to receive an honorary degree from the university.
“Major donors have the most effective leverage in situations like this,” Weigel said. “I hope the donors are paying attention.”
Ralph McInerny, a philosophy professor at Notre Dame for more than 50 years, likened the invitation as a “deliberate thumbing of the collective nose” at the Roman Catholic Church.
“By inviting Barack Obama to be the 2009 commencement speaker, Notre Dame has forfeited its right to call itself a Catholic university,” McInerny wrote in a column for The Catholic Thing. “It invites an official rebuke. May it come.”
Like most univerity administrations, Notre Dame’s is hoping that this will all blow over and they will be able to add another President to their list of Commencement Speakers.
I doubt that it will. Indeed, every day it seems that more and more Catholics become enraged over this affront to their beliefs being invited to speak at commencement. And while it may have seemed like a good idea pot-inauguration when Obama was riding record-high approval levels, his meteoric fall is only aggravating and inciting the opposition to Obama’s speech.
Good. May it come.