The battle at Notre Dame rages, both there and far beyond.

The Alumni Association director issued a letter allegedly speaking for that group, and…well…here it is for the most part.

“The University does not support President Obama’s
positions on specific issues regarding the protection of human life,
including abortion and embryonic stem cell research. Notre Dame’s
positions on these issues are firm and unwavering. The invitation to
the President to be the Commencement speaker shouldn’t be taken as
condoning or endorsing his positions that contradict the teachings of
the Catholic Church.

Rather, the University has invited the President to campus for what
he’s done for racial equality, and for his stands on poverty, health
care, immigration, education, infectious disease, and seeking peace.
These are causes dear to the heart of Notre Dame, and he has elevated
these causes and made them his own.

It adds special significance that the Notre Dame family will hear
the Commencement address from our first African-American president, a
man who has spoken eloquently on the issue of race in this nation.

That said, presenting a Commencement speaker with an honorary degree
does not imply approval of all a person thinks or does. We recognize
that the University has differences with the President on specific
issues of protecting life, and we hope his visit to campus will provide
an opportunity to address our concerns in a dialogue that can deepen
over time, and ultimately lead to better policies for protecting life.
A policy that is never discussed is policy that is never changed, and
we’re going to get more discussion on these issues because of his visit
to Notre Dame.

Some creative thinking went into this rhetorical argument,
but…..aside from being unconvincing…..it’s not even an accurate
representation of the issue at hand. I’ve read and hear so many
intellectually honest responses to this, I can’t even catalogue them
all here.

But let’s take this one letter from the concerned alum I referenced below. He followed up:

I have been thinking about this a lot in the past few
days.  To me (an alum and father of 7…), Notre Dame was a place that
would steadfastly represent the Catholic Church (at least I felt it did
when I was there in the 1980’s). 
 
Inviting Obama to speak hit me as almost one of those “you can’t go
home again” moments.  It was this University that brought me closer to
my Catholic faith while I was there.  THE REASON I AM SO STEADFASTLY
AGAINST THIS POSITION THAT THE SCHOOL HAS TAKEN is because I am acting
from their instruction on how to take a stand for our faith when others
do not.  I never thought that the “others” meant the very school that
originally helped form my conscience in this area.  Literally, this
University is now no longer the way many of us saw it to be when we
were there during the most formative years of our life. That reality is
a very difficult thing to swallow. 
 
It is as if you found out your favorite uncle whom you idolized,
admired, and wanted to be like was subsequently convicted of a major
crime.  This makes you question everything you thought to be true about
him.  And it makes you disappointed, frustrated, and angry. 
 
In a strange way, this situation has grabbed me out of my paralysis and
put me in a place where I would not have gone previously- right in the
middle of the pro life movement…

That is what it truly means to be one of “the Fighting Irish”

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....