Bishop Bernard Harrington of Winona:
Like so many bishops of the United States, I have written to Father John Jenkins, CSC, President of the University of Notre Dame, to express my disbelief and disappointment that the administration of the University of Notre Dame has invited President Obama to address the graduating class and then to bestow an honorary degree upon him. President Obama has been blatantly proabortion in the first few weeks of his new administration with the lifting of the ban on federal funding of abortions and approving with federal funds embryonic stem cell research. He is also “on record” that he approves the “Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA) and he is seriously considering lifting the exemption of conscience clause from those in the medical field who oppose abortion.
The Bishops of the United States in June 2004 asked Catholic universities and other Catholic institutions not to give public honors or to permit pro-abortion politicians a public platform. The University of Notre Dame, which has considered itself a leading Catholic institution of higher learning, is choosing to defy the bishops of the United States and turn its back on the Catholic community in its continual defense of the right-to-life. The university’s stance is similar to that of Catholic politicians who say that they are pro-life and then support legislation and vote for programs that foster abortion. It is hard to believe that the University of Notre Dame has chosen “political rightness” over principle and truth.
Shortly after the election of Pope Benedict XVI, the president of the university asked the Pope what the university could do for his papacy. I am sure that Pope would now tell Father Jenkins the same thing that Pope Benedict XVI told Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives.
Bishop John D’Arcy, bishop of Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend in which Notre Dame is located, stated that he will not be present at this year’s graduation for the first time since becoming the local bishop in 1985. He states very clearly that if he attended the ceremony, he would be implicitly approving of what President Obama has done and would certainly give scandal and bad example to the Catholic community. I think that the University has to judge itself in the same light of truth and justice.
No matter what the President of Notre Dame says, the invitation and bestowal of an honorary degree upon President Obama is a “no-win situation” for the Catholic Church of the United States and in particular, a losing situation for the University of Notre Dame.
It might be a little too dramatic to say that Our Lady of the Golden Dome is hanging her head in shame, but there is no question that hundreds of thousands of “ loyal Irish” supporters are angered, dumbfounded
and disappointed in this administration’s decision. Diocese of Winona