Some media want us to believe that an equal and opposite Notre Dame
campus student group has launched its own counter-protest to defend the
controversial commencement plans.

But it doesn’t compare with this.

Notre Dame Right to Life, Notre Dame College
Republicans, and nine other student organizations have created Notre
Dame Response, a student coalition that opposes the university’s
decision to award President Barack Obama an honorary degree in May. “In
defense of the unborn, we wish to express our deepest opposition to
Reverend John I. Jenkins, CSC’s invitation of President Barack Obama to
be the University of Notre Dame’s principal commencement speaker and
the recipient of an honorary degree,” the coalition said in a
statement. “Our objection is not a matter of political partisanship,
but of President Obama’s hostility to the Catholic Church’s teachings
on the sanctity of human life at its earliest stages. His recent
dedication of federal funds to overseas abortions and to embryonic stem
cell research will directly result in the deaths of thousands of
innocent human beings. We cannot sit by idly while the University
honors someone who believes that an entire class of human beings is
undeserving of the most basic of all legal rights, the right to live.”

They’re only getting started.

Additionally, Fr. Jenkins has put some of his students
into a position of moral dilemma as to whether they can attend their
own graduation. Many pro-life seniors, along with their families, now
feel personally conflicted about participating in the commencement. The
lack of concern for these devoted sons and daughters of Notre Dame, who
love this University and the Catholic principles on which it was built,
is shameful.”

Another bishop has weighed in.

Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix has called Notre Dame’s
honoring of President Barack Obama “a public act of disobedience to the
bishops of the United States.”

He did it in a letter.

Dear Fr. Jenkins,

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.

It is a public act of disobedience to the Bishops of the United
States.  Our USCCB June 2004 Statement “Catholics in Political Life”
states: “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.” No one could not know of the public
stands and actions of the president on key issues opposed to the most
vulnerable human beings.

John Paul II said, “Above all, the common outcry, which is justly
made on behalf of human rights — for example, the right to health, to
home, to work, to family, to culture — is false and illusory if the
right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition
for all other personal rights, is not defended with the maximum
determination.”

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.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted
Diocese of Phoenix

Will any of this make a difference to Fr. Jenkins? People in high places are saying ‘no’.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....