National Catholic Bishops Back Pro-Life Bishop D’Arcy Over Notre Dame Scandal

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 22, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

National Catholic Bishops Back Pro-Life Bishop D’Arcy Over Notre Dame Scandal

by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 22
, 2009

South Bend, IN ( — The nation’s Catholic bishops on Monday issued a strong statement supporting Bishop John D’Arcy, who publicly opposed the University of Notre Dame’s decision to honor pro-abortion President Barack Obama and allow him to give the college’s commencement address.

In March, the northern Indiana Catholic leader said he would not attend the Catholic college’s commencement because it invited such a strong abortion advocate and would give him an honorary degree.

"The bishops of the United States express our appreciation and support for our brother bishop, the Most Reverend John D’Arcy," the statement reads.

"We affirm his pastoral concern for Notre Dame University, his solicitude for its Catholic identity, and his loving care for all those the Lord has given him to sanctify, to teach and to shepherd," it adds.

The bishops expressed their appreciation for Bishop D’Arcy during their spring General Assembly, June 17-19, saying they "expressed their solidarity" with his handling of the scandal and noting his "care and concern for the University of Notre Dame," which resides in his diocese.

At the time, Bishop D’Arcy said, "I wish no disrespect to our president, I pray for him and wish him well. 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."

"My decision is not an attack on anyone, but is in defense of the truth about human life," D’Arcy stated after his decision not to attend the Notre Dame graduation.

The Cardinal Newman Society, which also criticized Notre Dame and gathered more than 367,000 signatures on a petition opposing the commencement address and honor to President Obama, welcomed the bishops’ strong expression of unity.

“Facing criticism by political partisans and secularists, Bishop D’Arcy prayerfully led dozens of his fellow bishops and thousands of Catholics worldwide in confronting the scandal at one of our own Catholic universities,” said Patrick Reilly, president of CNS.

“It is a comfort and a blessing to American Catholics that the bishops’ conference would issue such an extraordinary expression of unity and support," he said.

Last month, The Cardinal Newman Society helped coordinate a spiritual bouquet for Bishop D’Arcy and his 82 brother bishops who publicly stood with him, “in grateful appreciation to the Church’s shepherds who prayerfully provided witness for a strong Catholic identity on Catholic campuses.”

Bishop D’Arcy took several actions to oppose Notre Dame’s scandalous actions. He voiced his strong disapproval, announced his boycott of the commencement exercises, and issued a correction in response to Notre Dame President Fr. Jenkins’ attempts to defend the choice of Obama as speaker and honoree.

Bishop D’Arcy declared that, despite Fr. Jenkins arguments to the contrary, the University of Notre Dame was in direct violation of the 2004 USCCB document “Catholics in Political Life,” which reads, “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.”

Most of the 82 bishops who joined Bishop D’Arcy also took the position that Notre Dame was in violation of “Catholics in Political Life.”

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