By Kathleen Gilbert
NOTRE DAME, Indiana, March 20, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - White House Secretary Robert Gibbs stated today that President Obama will give the commencement address at Notre Dame University this year. The school confirmed the announcement, stating on its website that Obama will also receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at the University's 164th University Commencement Ceremony at 2 p.m. May 17 in the Joyce Center on campus.
In 2004, the United States of Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved a policy statement called "Catholics in Political Life," which says, with reference to pro-abortion politicians, "They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."
President Obama has been called the "abortion president" by pro-life activists, and his appearance at the university would appear to violate the USCCB's policy against honoring pro-abortion politicians.
One alumnus from the university has already expressed his displeasure in an open letter sent today to the president of Notre Dame, Rev. John Jenkins.
William Newton, a D.C. area attorney, wrote, "As an alumnus of Notre Dame Law School, I am deeply offended that you would invite President Barack Obama to speak at Commencement this year."
Newton then lists the numerous pro-abortion decisions that Obama has made since assuming the office of the presidency. "This is the person that you feel is worthy to address the students and faculty of Notre Dame, in the shadow of Our Lady atop the Golden Dome, with the spires of the Basilica in the background?" writes Newton.
"Father Sorin must be wringing his hands in heaven, that his successor would approve this disgrace. Shame on Notre Dame for choosing to scandalize the faithful who continue to support the Catholic identity and mission of the University."
Conservative commentator Kathryn Jean Lopez said on The Corner that the arrangement was "shameful."
"Last week the president of the United States perpetrated an assault on human dignity. No statements or press releases will undo what Notre Dame's position in the eyes of the world is in response: 'Doesn't matter,'" wrote Lopez. "We've got THE ONE. So much for the One the school's namesake gave birth to."
"I've been optimistic that the radicalism of this administration on life could be a real catalyst for renewal in many churches. At Notre Dame, the administration there just made a choice. They took a giant step away from their identity as 'Catholic.' They [sic] rather be of this world than the one they supposedly exist to bring people toward."
Notre Dame is among the most prestigious Catholic universities in America. The school's Center for Ethics and Culture recently established a pro-life fund in an effort to bolster Notre Dame's pro-life identity.
To contact Notre Dame:
Phone: (574) 631-5000
email form: http://president.nd.edu/contact-us
Notre Dame Fellows:
Rev. E. William Beauchamp, C.S.C., President, U. of Portland
Patrick F. McCartan, Senior partner, Jones Day
William M. Goodyear, CEO, Navigant Consulting
main: (312) 583-5700
list of all Notre Dame Fellows: http://www.nd.edu/leadership/fellows/
Cardinal Francis George, President
Archdiocese of Chicago
phone: 312-751- 8200
Most Rev. Robert J. McManus, Chairman, Committee on Education
Diocese of Worcester
committee email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact Notre Dame's bishop:
Bishop John D'Arcy, Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese
Fort Wayne Chancery
phone: (260) 422-4611