Notre Dame Invites President Obama Again

Despite Catholic outrage over the University of Notre Dame’s 2009 invitation to President Barack Obama to address its graduates, the University has again invited the President to speak on campus as a candidate for reelection.

From the Notre Dame news release:

The University of Notre Dame’s president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., and student body president Brett Rocheleau have joined in inviting both President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Gov. Mitt Romney to speak at the University during the fall election campaign.

Continuing a long-standing tradition, Father Jenkins and Rocheleau addressed letters to each of the presidential aspirants, offering Notre Dame as a “forum for serious political discussion” on important issues facing the nation. The intent of the invitations, which include the candidates’ running mates, is to provide the campus community a firsthand impression of the contenders and their messages.

The tradition of election-year invitations to presidential and vice presidential candidates was established 60 years ago by Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., in his first year as Notre Dame’s president. That year, both Dwight Eisenhower and his Democratic opponent, Adlai Stevenson, spoke at the University.

Other candidates who have accepted the invitation through the years include Richard Nixon, Henry Cabot Lodge, Warren Miller (a Notre Dame alumnus), Edmund Muskie, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Joe Lieberman.

More than 367,000 individuals signed The Cardinal Newman Society’s petition opposing President Obama’s 2009 commencement address and honorary degree from Notre Dame, and 83 Catholic bishops publicly criticized the honor.  In 2004, the U.S. bishops approved a policy banning Catholic honors and platforms to individuals who oppose fundamental Catholic teachings.

The invitation will seem inappropriate to many Catholics, as the Church struggles with the intransigence of the Obama administration on a Health and Human Services regulation forcing Catholic institutions to provide employee and student health insurance coverage for sterilization, abortion-causing drugs, and contraceptives.  The University of Notre Dame is in the awkward position of having invited to campus the target of the University’s pending lawsuit over the HHS contraceptive mandate.  President Obama has supported legal abortion, funding for Planned Parenthood, homosexual ”marriage” and embryonic stem cell research — all considered by Catholics to be highly immoral.

The invitation to Governor Romney also could raise concerns. He opposes the cloning of human embryos but has in the past supported embryonic stem cell research that is privately funded and uses ”surplus” embryos from in vitro fertilization. The Romney campaign has not responded to The Cardinal Newman Society’s requests for clarification of his current position.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage

  • Peter Nyikos

    You will probably get a lot of readers with your headline, with the “again” in italics, but the actual article shows that Notre Dame was caught in a bind–either abandon the old tradition of inviting both candidates, or invite Obama along with Romney.

    I hope that, whichever candidate accepts, questions related to values that Catholics hold dear will be prominent, especially the freedom of conscience violation by the HHS contraceptive mandate, but also abortion, research on stem cells whose harvesting involves the killing of embryos or fetuses, and same-sex civil unions (“marriages”).

  • pmrdoc

    If Cardinal Dolan can invite both candidates to a Catholic fundraiser, why cant ND invite the candidates for discussion of election? I don’t see much difference here.

  • JB

    This is different from conferring an honorary degree. I don’t necessarily see it is as wrong to offer both candidates a forum to make their case. They should press both candidates on life issues and the HHS mandate.

  • R Caffery

    Also, didn’t Mr. Obama go back on promises made in the last visit to ND? IF he speaks again, it is sure to be a web of lies and half truths and will try to divide and weaken the Catholic conscience. Seems he trashed the very idea of Catholisim last time. Romney supports abortion for rape, incest and life/health of the mother. Many have come to accept this but whether it is justified to vote for such a person or not the plain fact is that he supports murder. The article should mention this fact. Clearly, many conversions need to take place in this country and somehow, somewhere, while the lesser of two evils rules the day, we need to start working toward getting and supporting candidates who don’t support ANY great moral evil and pulling support from those that do. We keep setting ourselves up for failure time and again with always the same result – the evil just increases. So many good Catholics soaking in the stream of half truths, lies and distortion from the media. Let ‘s turn off the tube and start discussing how we can get off this insane treadmill and do something that works.

  • Kate

    So true, R Caffery!!! Thank you for speaking the truth!!! Why don’t we put as much effort into getting a pro-life and Catholic-thinking candidate, such as Santorum in the primaries, instead of putting so much effort into electing “the lesser of two evils”? I understand that Romney was prochoice when he was governor of Mass., then he changed his mind again to attract “the vote”.

  • ATT

    Misleading headline – they invited both candidates. Don’t become like the MSM and twist the truth for your own propaganda spin.

  • CT

    Santorum didn’t win in the primaries because for decades now there has been poor to no catechizing of Catholics and that has led to the culture war that is currently raging within the Church. So many Catholics have been allowed to believe falsely that all evils are equal, so they can rationalize for whom they can vote. Frankly, I believe many Catholics have given in to the moral relativism that has replaced truth in our society. When we have nuns riding around the country on a bus tour, equivocating and confusing intrinsic evils with issues of prudential judgement, how can we not expect to have a confounded Catholic electorate? For people to embrace and believe the truth they must hear it over and over, with united and undivided fervor from the Holy teachers that God entrusted it to. God bless Pope Benedict XVI in his efforts to re-evangelize the Church universal. We should all support this, whenever and wherever and however we are best able to. Let us pray too that our Bishops will speak out loudly and with a single voice, without caveats or contradictions, so that those who wish to remain true to their Catholic heritage will know the truth and will vote with a faithful conscience. If President Obama does speak at Notre Dame, I pray there will be follow up questions that will not allow him to obfuscate the truth.