Despite Disagreements, Obama to Deliver Commencement Speech at Notre Dame

March 23, 2009

The University of Notre Dame’s announcement that President Obama will give the commencement address and receive an honorary degree this spring has met with a mixed response, including strong opposition from anti-abortion groups and others who disagree with Mr. Obama on that issue, reports The Observer, a student newspaper.

Some critics said the university’s invitation to the president violates the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ statement on Roman Catholics in political life, which says in part: “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors, or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

Notre Dame’s president, the Rev. John I. Jenkins, told the newspaper that the invitation was consistent with the bishops’ statement.

The university has a tradition of inviting the sitting U.S. president to speak at its commencement and awarding him an honorary degree. According to The Observer, Mr. Obama would be the sixth president to speak and the ninth to receive an honorary degree from Notre Dame. —Beckie Supiano