Catholic Notre Dame University to Give Obama Honorary Degree on May 17, Against USCCB Policy

White House Secretary Robert Gibbs stated today that 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:

Notre Dame Fellows:
Rev. E. William Beauchamp, C.S.C., President, U. of Portland
(503) 943-7101

Patrick F. McCartan, Senior partner, Jones Day
(216) 586-7272

William M. Goodyear, CEO, Navigant Consulting
main: (312) 583-5700

list of all Notre Dame Fellows:

To contact the USCCB:

Cardinal Francis George, President
Archdiocese of Chicago
phone: 312-751- 8200

Most Rev. Robert J. McManus, Chairman, Committee on Education
Diocese of Worcester
phone: 508-791-7171
committee email:

To contact Notre Dame’s bishop:
Bishop John D’Arcy, Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese
Fort Wayne Chancery
phone: (260) 422-4611

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  • fatherjo

    Judas has nothing on whomever at Notre Dame is responsible for this.

  • dennisofraleigh

    If ND’s obstinate administration will not do anything, (hopefully the local Bishop will read them the riot act) perhaps the growing body of faithful ND undergrads, grads, and alumni could. If I were graduating from ND I’d try to organize some sort of visible protest, perhaps a boycott of the ceremonies, or participate wearing RED caps and gowns to symbolize the blood of innocent unborn killed by abortion. I’d also make sure plenty of printed fliers were distributed to all attendees exposing POTUS Obama’s outrageous abortion record and the USCCB’s clear instruction that such politicians are NOT to receive honors from a Catholic institution.
    OK, let the ND administration spit fire over the “scandalous, rude and un-Chrisitian” behavior of its students and alumni.

  • dennisofraleigh

    (Should have finished my thought):
    ND’s administration, not the students, should be the ones issuing the apologies for inviting Obama in the first place.

  • loey

    This is a disturbing piece of information. Notre Dame holds itself to be a Catholic institution, as frequently expressed in its mission statement. To choose a decidedly anti life, pro choice figure to speak at the university’s commencement ceremony is making a public statement that the values of the sanctity of life and protection for the innocent are inconsequential. Furthermore, such a choice seriously damages the voice of devout Catholics who uphold these values and sends a message to the public, including politicians, that the Catholic faith is irresolute and that its basic tenets are relative. The damage already caused by Obama to the pro life movement is unmistakably evident and his intentions to further limit expression of religious conscience have been clearly expressed. This decision by the university seriously undermines the efforts of all pro life faithful and contradicts the teachings of the Magisterium.

  • Joe DeVet

    “Against USCCB policy,” to be sure, but once again it can be predicted that the bishops will simply stand by fecklessly and let the whole sordid incident go by without comment and without consequence.

  • Jeff Reser

    What Father Jenkins has done is to ruin the graduation celebration for the pro-life graduates and parents. It should have been a day of happiness now he has turned it into a day of disappointment and embarrassment for the students that have worked so hard and parents that have sacrificed so much to send their children to this university.

    As a former embryo and fetus, I firmly object to having this man anywhere near the Golden Dome or the Grotto–true holy places. What an insult.

  • fatherjo

    Clerical enablers of child-killing should be defrocked. If they were “only” molesting children they would have hell to pay.

  • Fawellrichard

     notre dame is not a catholic university pure and simple—-they are a shame to the catholic faith