Is Notre Dame Not Ashamed?


notreshameGrowing up, Notre Dame was my favorite university. I don’t know why really. I think mostly because I loved their football team and, later, the movie Rudy.

It wasn’t because I was Catholic at all, which would have been perhaps legitimate. And being born and raised a Texican, allegiance to a school north of the Mason-Dixon was at the very least odd – and possibly dangerous. But I loved Notre Dame none-the-less.

In my wiser, older age of eighteen I came to the realization that Notre Dame was at least a distant second to Texas A&M (Whoop!). And my life has been for the better ever since.

However, I still wanted so desperately to love Notre Dame. As my knowledge and appreciation of the Catholic faith has grown, so has my respect and admiration for great Catholic schools. Unfortunately, it seems that as my own faith has grown in orthodoxy (truth), Notre Dame’s has gradually atrophied. Which is very sad, as it has excelled in so many other areas of academia, sport, and other achievement.

It seems that instead of using it’s success to stand for Truth, they have increasingly used it to boost their own prestige and popularity at the expense of their principles and morality.

The latest example of this has to do with our new President. Not only has Notre Dame invited Barack Obama to be their commencement speaker for graduation ceremonies this May, but they are awarding him with an honorary doctoral degree.

This contradicts the policy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that says no Catholic institution should honor pro-choice politicians. And it will be putting a lot of Notre Dame students in a tough spot in deciding whether or not to attend their own graduation ceremony.

Many Notre Dame students, allumni and affiliated organizations have come out in protest. In fact, they’ve started a petition that has already garnered over 140,000 signatures and it’s growing fast. Notre Dame officials have insisted that they will not rescind their invitation. We will see if they can stand the pressure in the coming months.

No matter what happens, good will come of this.

Either Notre Dame will actually do the right thing, admit their mistake, and send their regrets to Obama that they will not support guests who advocate the killing of innocent human life at its earliest stages.  Obama will be embarrassed (anything is possible right?) for supporting and advancing such horrific practices in our country and Notre Dame officials will have less to answer for when they meet God at their judgment.  Oh, and just maybe Notre Dame will have taken a giant leap back toward actually being a Catholic university.

Or…Notre Dame won’t rescind the invitation.  They will legitimize, award and honor a politician who directly contradicts Church teaching on human-life, the family, and other fundamental moral issues.  All the while embarrassing themselves, helping to further the culture of death that Obama supports, and taking a giant leap even further away from actually being a Catholic university.

But – in the process – hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) of Catholics will join together in protest to call attention to the shame of Notre Dame, advancing the pro-life message and hopefully reminding Notre Dame of where it came from.

Hey, who knows, maybe even the main stream media will actually cover the protest.  I know, I know…wishful thinking, right?

In fact, many in the MSM have already come out saying how ungrateful and unreasonable we Catholics are.  First, we complain that Obama isn’t engaging pro-lifers, is appointing the most radical pro-abortion candidates he can find to his administration, has promised to sign FOCA, and has wasted no time at all during his first weeks in office to advance the abortion slaughter in the U.S. and abroad – even amidst “the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression.”  (What a guy).

But now he has truly reached out to us by accepting this honorary doctorate and is willing to speak at a graduation commencement…and we want to send him away.  How very ungrateful of us.  Don’t we want to have as much conversation with Obama as possible on these issues?

This isn’t about conversation.  There’s no conversation in a commencement speech.  And this isn’t about give and take anymore.  This country has already taken too many lives from the evil of abortion.  And too many politicians supporting this culture of death have been given pedestals they never deserved.

If a university like Notre Dame can’t stand up for what is obviously right in a case like this, then it should stop pretending to be Catholic.  It’s time for Catholics and Catholic organizations to decide if they are truly Catholic or not.  Either you believe in Church teaching or not.

Go here to sign the petition and stand up for what is right:

13 comments Add comment

Terry Fenwick March 25, 2009 at 4:54 pm

Praying in Half Moon Bay!

Sandy Newfield March 25, 2009 at 5:03 pm

I am not catholic, but I am a Christian. Having Obama speak and get an honorary degree at a catholic university seems very wrong to me. I have read and heard several blogs, radio and tv and still can’t say this is the right thing to do. But it appears to be a done deal. Glad I am not in the situation of chosing attending my graduation or backing up my beliefs with action. No one wins with this, i hope Obama declines the offer. thanks Matt

Kelly March 25, 2009 at 6:07 pm

I’m an ’04 grad of ND. I love my school. I’m pretty much the opposite of an Obama-fan. I don’t know why ND officials would do something SO controversial.


I also know that when they decide to invite such a public figure, they’re not looking to validate his/her policies. They’re looking at Barack just like the hundreds of thousands of other Catholics who were able to vote for him: He’s man who’s been telling people what they want to hear, and they’re turning a blind eye to these crimes agains humanity because they literally “know not what they do”. The officials are inviting him in his first year of presidency, hoping to AVOID controversy, just like they invited Bush in May ’01. Unfortunately for them, he’s been extremely quick with his Pro-Choice actions/travesties!

Ultimately though, like it or not, he’s the president. And ultimately, the university is not actually an institution that falls under the jurisdiction of the USCCB at all (though they usually do what’s suggested). However, I hope the petition succeeds because that and money are the only voices that ND officials hear.

This is by no means the first time ND has done something controversial, and it won’t be the last… but I also know that Notre Dame is still very much a Catholic place, no matter the “scandals”, and that once this blows over, I hope you can once again be an Irish fan, Matt. Because the Spirit of Notre Dame can’t be quelled by a few decisions of an administration.

james March 25, 2009 at 7:06 pm

i saw your post on facebook and i signed the petition. I agree that Notre Dame should be ashamed of what they’re doing, calling themselves a catholic institution while inviting a pro-abortion president. He’s a decent guy, I mean we’re all sinners and “he who is without sin cast the first stone”, but that doesn’t mean he should get honors from catholic institutions either.

but you don’t have to worry about the media. It’s been on the wall street journal, fox news, washington times, usa today… just google “notre dame barack obama” and it’s everywhere.

Reese March 25, 2009 at 7:54 pm

The most troubling thing to me about this entire scandal, if I understand correctly, is that the president of Notre Dame is a Catholic priest. If I’m not mistaken, all of the former presidents have been priests of the Holy Cross order as well…so, even if the school is not underneath the jurisdiction of the USCCB, the president of the university and his predecessors are…not only that, but as Catholics, it was just last April that Pope Bendedict XVI came to the US with a primary focus on speaking to the educators of Catholic Universities. This must be like a slap in the face!

I’m tired of ‘catholics’ that separate their faith from the rest of their professional lives…to be fully Catholic is to fully integrate the faith into our professional lives (and every other aspect), whether that be in the realm of politics, education, medicine, etc.

I’m glad that the petition has gotten so many signatures, but I pray that our Priests and Bishops may be able to stand up for the Church and her teachings without needing the support of the majority vote. I pray, especially on this Feast of the Annunciation of Our Lord, that all of us may respond in the way Our Blessed Mother did, even when we’re faced with public humiliation, job loss, persecution, imprisonment, etc.

thanks matt

Zach Ellerbrook March 25, 2009 at 9:39 pm

If ND claims to be a Catholic university, then they are under the “jurisdiction” of the God of the universe (of course, they are whether they claim to be Christian at all or not). Abortion is not political. It’s the ending of human life. I cannot understand how the university can invite a head of state that supports the ending of human life, whether he is our president or not.

Kelly March 26, 2009 at 10:26 am

I was by no means implying that ND officials inviting Obama to speak at commencement was good/right/okay.

I was actually just, in the spirit of debate, trying to help you understand a mindset. (One that I do not share, by the way, but rather one that many of my fellow alumni and current students hold). I was trying to give you perhaps some insight into the “other”, which is the basis of all peaceful and diplomatic discussion, something that is very Catholic. Jesus said love your neighbor/enemies, and St. Thomas Aquinas said the only possible response to another human being is to love them. So I wanted to share some insight in order to stop the demonization of those who would possibly see inviting Obama as “okay/right/good”.

Also, the argument regarding the USCCB is a moot point, since neither the institution nor Fr. Jenkins are “under” the US Conference of Catholic Bishops… 1st, the Conference is not legislative, but rather consultative. And while a priest in a religious order promises to remain loyal to the magistrate, he only promises loyalty to his Order’s head, which in this case is the Congregation of the Holy Cross: Bishop D’Arcy has limited control over the actions of Fr. Jenkins because the C.S.C. is a “pontifical right religious congregation.” Meaning that any sort of orders would have to come from C.S.C. superiors or the Vatican itself.

The argument that Fr. Jenkins will have to answer to the God of the Universe, however, is wholly valid. Pray for him.

Nina J. March 26, 2009 at 12:51 pm

UND has no shame. Period. And that is the true tragedy and sin here.

Jeffrey Johnson March 29, 2009 at 12:55 pm

I jumped on the responsorial bandwagon as well here:

I think it’s a real slap in the face to all FAITHFUL Catholics.

albert April 3, 2009 at 1:26 pm

you american guys are sometimes funny! Be pro-life, this is totally biblical,but be it fully: be anti-war fully. Have you ever counted innocent lives spoiled in Irak, in Afgnistan, in Palestine? all over the world(Sure I’m not defending terrorists and bad guys who kill and deserve death, not at all -though Jesus says ‘love your enemies’- but ONLY innocent children and civilians)? Abolish death penalty in US, cause no life be it a criminal’s life belongs to man! Be fully pro-life, ban the arms and amunitions, be anti-gun and rifle in USA… Defend innocent lives, be anti-abortion, but stay consistent. For sure many young girls and women who abort wouldn’t if they were helped to keep their children: advocate then for better social help for those in distress and total confusion, isolation and helplessness, those with no future… that is the true ‘prolife’ policy. God bless you, God bless America

albert April 3, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Isn’t Obama’s policy for better education for all, better healthcare for all? that’s the only way to be ‘pro-life’. Educated people, healthy and wealthy people are the least to abort. So if being prolife is just judging poor guys, helpless women, undereducated girls, then it’s jusy hypocrisy and pharisaism!! (I’m afraid i’m becoming judgmental myself, sorry, sir!!!)But more seriously, let’s be less pharisaic, let’s tackle the causes, not the consequences! Let Obama be welcomed at Notre Dame, give him more support for his social policy for health and education, and discuss with him on that day, what he means by ‘pro-choice’, take the opportunity to convince him that he’s on the wrong way! Good to have such prestigeous university: we d’like to have similar in africa, in rwanda specifically!!

Carl April 3, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Albert, you are too funny. War, though horrific is not an intrinsic evil. Abortion is. Gun violence, though tragic, is the fault of a mainority of gun owners, not the guns themselves. Obama is morally bankrupt. It is one thing to not be pro-life. It is quite another to have no respect for life whatsoever. Obama supports abortion and euthenasia, which i find horrifying. It is only a small step from allowing abortions to forcing abortions, or from right to die to responsibility to die.

Reese April 3, 2009 at 3:24 pm

There’s no doubt that there are problems, even big ones, with our policies on the death penalty and war, just keep in mind that they are both biblical principles…in other words, a country can be justified in going to war and in giving the death penalty. But, think about it this way, you wouldn’t be worried about broken windshield wipers on your car when the engine won’t even run, would you? We must first deal with the problem of the greatest magnitude and then move to the others. Over 1 million babies a year are murdered in this country, that is more than all the deaths caused by euthanasia, the death penalty, and all american wars combined! where would you start?!

Thanks for your prayers, we need them!

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