President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver the commencement speech for the University of Notre Dame's 2009 graduation class. Notre Dame has not only invited President Obama to speak at the ceremony, they will bestow upon him an honorary doctor of laws degree. Bishop John D'Arcy, whose Diocese includes the University of Notre Dame, says he will boycott the ceremony.
Bishop D'Arcy is known for his efforts to protect parishioners from abusive priests. He had very harsh words for the University's choice of speakers. Speaking of Obama's decision to federally fund embryonic stem cell research, D'Arcy said the President:
...has now placed in public policy ... his long-stated unwillingness to hold human life sacred.National Review Online gathered comments from educational experts and Catholicism. George Weigel, an American Catholic author, founder of The James Madison Foundation and a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, was especially poignant:
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...
A White House spokesperson replied, saying that the President welcomes the "spirit of debate and healthy disagreement on important issues.
Notre Dame’s decision to make President Obama its 2009 commencement speaker is a very bad thing. 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.Visit the National Review Online article. It offers some fine thinking on the matter. It is well-worth reading whether or not you are Catholic.
The invitation to deliver a commencement address, especially when coupled with the award of an honorary degree, is not a neutral act. 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.
The Cardinal Newman Society has sponsored an online petition to encourage the University to rescind the invitation. The petition has 115,123 signers. Over 11,000 have signed since I first viewed the petition last evening. You can sign the petition at NotreDameScandal.com.
It is interesting to note that the Catholic vote for Obama was the largest faith vote among the "religions," with 54 percent of Catholics voting for Obama. The accompanying article with the chart below from The Pew Forum says that "Obama performed particularly well among Latino Catholics," - 67 percent voted for Obama.
The President's views on the sanctity of life were widely known during the campaign. As an Illinois state senator, Obama voted to kill a bill that would prevent killing a baby born alive. Nurse Jill Stanek was all over television and radio testifying to what Obama's views on infanticide really meant, and her personal experience with the issue. Really, it cannot get worse than that - but he won anyway. During the campaign, he told us that he would immediately recind a Bush executive order preventing taxpayer money being used overseas for funding abortions - and if you didn't believe him then, it was one of his first acts as President.