In a recent announcement by the University of Notre Dame which flies in the face of all that the U.S. Conference of Bishops has been advocating in recent months, the most aggressive pro-abortion president in the history of our nation, President Barrack Obama, whose current agenda includes eliminating the conscience objection for pro-life physicians and healthcare workers, will receive an honorary law degree from the University and will be the University’s commencement speaker on May 17, 2009 .
The announcement has garnered top media coverage nationwide, from the Wall Street Journal to the national wire services, and has sparked zealous emails and phone calls from Notre Dame alumni and non-alumni alike to the University. The local bishop has refused to attend the Commencement. Intelligent, erudite and faithful Catholics continue to express shock and outrage.
Bishop John M. D’Arcy, whose diocese is Fort Wayne-South Bend, said that he was not informed of the decision to allow Obama to speak and be awarded a degree until just prior to the White House announcing the news. The bishop expressed particular concern that “President Obama has recently reaffirmed, and has now placed in public policy, his long-stated unwillingness to hold human life as sacred. “While claiming to separate politics from science,” said D’Arcy, “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.”
Pointing to a 2004 U.S. Bishops’ statement that calls on Catholic institutions not to honor those who thwart Church beliefs, Bishop D’Arcy said that “the measure of any Catholic institution is not only what it stands for, but also what it will not stand for.” George Weigel, noted papal biographer, Catholic theologian and distinguished senior fellow holding the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C concurs.
“Notre Dame’s decision to make President Obama its 2009 commencement speaker is a very bad thing,” wrote Weigel in a short commentary published in National Review. “It’s bad for Notre Dame, bad for Catholic moral witness in America, and bad for the bishops who are trying to mount a defense against the Obama administration’s assault on the conscience rights of Catholic health-care professionals.”
“The invitation to deliver a commencement address, especially when coupled with the award of an honorary degree, is not a neutral act,” continues Dr. Weigel. “It’s an act by which a Catholic institution of higher learning says, ‘This is a life worth emulating according to our understanding of the true, the good, and the beautiful.’ It is frankly beyond my imagining how Notre Dame can say that of a president who has put the United States back into the business of funding abortion abroad; a president who made a mockery of the very idea of moral argument in his speech announcing federal funding for embryo-destructive stem cell research; a president whose administration and its congressional allies are snatching tuition vouchers out of the hands of desperately poor Washington, D.C., children who just as desperately want to attend Catholic schools.”
To read other outstanding commentary on the issue from noted Catholic thinkers, click here. Should you wish to contact Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., president of University of Notre Dame, by email or regular mail, click here. To reach the University by phone, call: (574) 631-5000.
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