BY ED WEST
OVER 62,000 people have signed a petition protesting at a Catholic university’s decision to ask President Barack Obama to give its commencement address.
The president is due to give the address at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana, on May 17, despite consistently voting in favour of abortion throughout his career as a senator.
The petition to Fr John Jenkins, president of the university, is in protest at the decision to invite the President to speak and to give him an honorary law degree.
The campaign is organised by the university’s Cardinal Newman Society, and is backed by Dr Ralph McInerny, a professor at Notre Dame for more than 50 years, who wrote on The Catholic Thing website: “By inviting Barack Obama as commencement speaker, Notre Dame is telling the nation that the teaching of the Catholic Church on this fundamental matter [abortion] can be ignored.” According to Catholic commentator Thomas Peters, writing on his American Papist blog, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver has encouraged Catholics to write to Notre Dame to protest against the decision.
The petition reads: “It is an outrage and a scandal that ‘Our Lady’s University,’ one of the premier Catholic universities in the United States, would bestow such an honour on President Obama given his clear support for policies and laws that directly contradict fundamental Catholic teachings on life and marriage.
“Instead Notre Dame has chosen prestige over principles, popularity over morality. Whatever may be President Obama’s admirable qualities, this honour comes on the heels of some of the most anti-life actions of any American president, including expanding federal funding for abortions and inviting taxpayer-funded research on stem cells from human embryos.” Illinois Senator Barack Obama was elected President in November, becoming the first African-American US leader. One of his first acts as President was to overturn Ronald Reagan’s Mexico City Policy, which banned American government funds from being used to promote abortion overseas. Fr John Jenkins, president of the university, said: “The invitation to President Obama to be our commencement speaker should not be taken as condoning or endorsing his positions on specific issues regarding the protection of human life, including abortion and embryonic stem-cell research. Yet, we see his visit as a basis for further positive engagement.”