Catholic Bishop, Pro-Life Congressmen Criticize Notre Dame on Obama Speech

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 26, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Bishop, Pro-Life Congressmen Criticize Notre Dame on Obama Speech

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 26
, 2009

South Bend, IN ( — The University of Notre Dame is coming under further criticism for having pro-abortion President Barack Obama give its May commencement speech and bestowing on him an honorary degree. Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix is criticizing the UND president as are pro-life members of Congress.

Bishop Olmsted sent an email to UND president John Jenkins yesterday to express his disapproval of the “grave mistake” of inviting Obama to the Catholic college.

"I am saddened and heavy of heart about your decision to invite President Obama to speak at Notre Dame University and even to receive an honorary degree," he wrote.

Olmsted called the selection of Obama “a public act of disobedience to the Bishops of the United States,” and a “grave mistake.”

The Arizona-based bishop called the invitation a "public act of disobedience to the Bishops of the United States" and referred to the June 2004 Statement “Catholics in Political Life” that the nation’s bishops adopted.

“The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions," the statement said.

"I pray that you come to see the grave mistake of your decision, and the way that it undercuts the Church’s proclamation of the Gospel of Life in our day," the bishop concludes.

Meanwhile, several pro-life members of Congress who are Notre Dame graduates are upset at the college as well.

Rep. Pete King of New York, a Republican who a law degree from Notre Dame in 1968, is one of the members to have voiced an opinion against the decision.

“It would be appropriate for Notre Dame to invite the president of the United States to deliver the commencement address, provided that the university made it absolutely clear how strongly it disagreed with President Obama’s stand on abortion,” he told The Hill newspaper.

“It is wrong, however, for Notre dame to award President Obama an honorary degree, because this will be seen as tacit acceptance of the president’s abortion views, which are so antithetical to Catholic moral teaching on the sanctity and value of human life," he said.

Rep. Dan Lungren of California and Rep. Mark Souder of Indiana have also spoken out against the decision to invite Obama and award him.

The additional criticism comes as the national petition protesting Notre Dame’s decision to honor Obama, at, surpasses 167,000 supporters.

“The message is unequivocal and unrelenting: there is no way for Notre Dame to justify honoring President Obama given his clear record on issues that stand in direct opposition to fundamental Catholic teachings,” said Patrick Reilly, president of The Cardinal Newman Society.

That Catholic educational watchdog group and are co-sponsoring the petition.

Bishop Olmsted’s opposition joins that of Indiana Bishop John D’Arcy, who on Tuesday announced he would not attend Notre Dame’s graduation ceremony.

Also yesterday, nearly a dozen student groups from Notre Dame launched a web site outlining their protest and opposition to the selection of President Obama as commencement speaker.

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