Notre Dame Commencement Could Get Ugly

By Jacqueline L. Salmon As the days tick down to President Obama’s commencement appearance at the University of Notre Dame … Continued

By Jacqueline L. Salmon

As the days tick down to President Obama’s commencement appearance at the University of Notre Dame on Sunday, there is no sign of a truce between those opposing the visit and those supporting it. It could be a very ugly day.

In interviews, anti-abortion activists are hinting at disruptions of the speech. Given that some of the protests so far have featured fake blood-covered dolls–and that airplane with the giant photo of the aborted fetus–don’t expect polite hand raisings and simple red armbands.

In a full-throated defense of the decision to invite the president, Notre Dame president John Jenkins said in a letter this week to graduates, “there is much to admire and celebrate in the life and work of President Obama…He is a remarkable figure in American history, and I look forward to welcoming him to Notre Dame.”

Jenkins also acknowledged that the “University and I are unequivocally committed to the sanctity of human life and to its protection from conception to natural death.”

But that hasn’t mollified his critics.

An article on the conservative Web site, LifeSiteNews.com, said Jenkins does not “criticize Obama for the extreme pro-abortion record that has led U.S. pro-life advocates to label him the most ‘pro-abortion’ president in U.S. history.”

Some graduates won’t even be making an appearance at the commencement.

“Don’t show up,” says the Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, which is holding an alternative service, which he’s calling a “Vigil for Life,” for students who don’t want to attend the ceremony. In a statement to graduates on his Web site, he urges students: “Don’t participate in an event which will only serve to obscure rather than highlight the Church’s pro-life teaching and the true spirit of Notre Dame.”

It’s tough to tell how many students will stay away. Informal polls have suggested that most Notre Dame students back Obama’s appearance, but there certainly have been vocal groups, such as NDResponse, that have spoken out against the presidential appearance.

UPDATE: Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, a progressive group, today released a statement signed by close to two dozen Catholic theologians defending Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame.

“As Catholics committed to civil dialogue, we are proud that President Barack Obama will give the Commencement Address at the University of Notre Dame on May 17,” says the statement, which will run as an ad Saturday’s edition of the South Bend Tribune, the hometown paper for Notre Dame.

Some of the signers:
*Douglas Kmiec, law professor at Pepperdine University (and a former law professor at Notre Dame), who made a name for himself during the presidential campaign by endorsing Obama despite his opposition to abortion.
*Nicholas Cafardi, former dean dean of the Duquesne University School of Law and a Catholic canon lawyer, who is a member of Obama’s Catholic advisory board. The Rev. Charles Curran, an advocate of liberalizing the Catholic church’s stance on birth control, was forced from the theology faculty at Catholic University of America in the 1980s. He is now a professor of human values at Southern Methodist University.
*The Rev. Thomas Reese, senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center, who resigned several years ago as editor of the Catholic weekly magazine America under pressure from the Vatican.
*Terrence Tilly, president of the Catholic Theological Society

Their ad says that “as Catholics committed to civil dialogue, we are proud that President Barack Obama will give the Commencement Address at the University of Notre Dame on May 17…We caution those who seek to disrupt these joyous proceedings or to divide the Church for narrow political advantage that history is not on your side.”

  • MikeL4

    We caution those who seek to disrupt these joyous proceedings or to divide the Church for narrow political advantage that history is not on your side.”—————–Oh, you mean, like you have done. Divide the Church for narrow political advantage, like you have done. You “Catholics” that abadoned priciples of Life for someone who openly espouses the “right” to kill human beings in the womb, you would lecture on dividing the Church?You have no standing.

  • walter-in-fallschurch

    Rev. Frank Pavone said,”Don’t participate in an event which will only serve to obscure rather than highlight the Church’s pro-life teaching and the true spirit of Notre Dame.”i’m sure the reverend thinks he’s being principled or something, but he’s demonstrating a horrible feature of religion:it’s like he wants a world where everyone is catholic. the reverend can’t even stand to be in the same room with a “baby killer”. he thinks obama’s speaking at notre dame means that somehow the catholic church must agree with everything he stands for. he can only stand to be in the presence of other catholics. like religious people are not supposed to tolerate or even associate with people of the wrong (or worse…no) religion. they probably secretly enjoy the “us v them” feeling where they can be all righteous about “standing their ground” “on principle” in the face of “persecution”.sheesh…grow up…religions need to learn to get along with other religions, but unfortunately inherent in the beliefs of most religions is the certainty that other religions are wrong.

Read More Articles

colbert
Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

emptytomb
God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

noplaceonearth
An Untold Story of Bondage to Freedom: Passover 1943

How a foxhole that led to a 77-mile cave system saved the lives of 38 Ukrainian Jews during the Holocaust.

shutterstock_148333673
Friend or Foe? Learning from Judas About Friendship with Jesus

We call Judas a betrayer. Jesus called him “friend.”

shutterstock_53190298
Fundamentalist Arguments Against Fundamentalism

The all-or-nothing approach to the Bible used by skeptics and fundamentalists alike is flawed.

shutterstock_178468880
Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

shutterstock_186795503
The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

shutterstock_185995553
How to Debate Christians: Five Ways to Behave and Ten Questions to Answer

Advice for atheists taking on Christian critics.

HIFR
Heaven Hits the Big Screen

How “Heaven is for Real” went from being an unsellable idea to a bestselling book and the inspiration for a Hollywood movie.

shutterstock_186364295
This God’s For You: Jesus and the Good News of Beer

How Jesus partied with a purpose.

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

SONY DSC
Dear Evangelicals, Please Reconsider Your Fight Against Gay Rights

A journalist and longtime observer of American religious culture offers some advice to his evangelical friends.