Notre Dame’s Commencement & Barack Obama

Posted: April 8, 2009 in Notre Dame, Politics

Notre Dame has invited Barack Obama to speak at their graduation this year.  It has stirred up a firestorm of controversy because of Obama’s policies on abortion.  Even the bishop of the South Bend/Ft. Wayne dioceses will be boycotting.  What do you think?  Should Obama speak…or should the invitation be rescinded?

  1. shawn brugh says:

    I really think that he should not be allowed to speak. With his views on abortion it goes against the catholic beliefs and i dont understand why they even asked him to come speak. I understand that he is our president and we should respect him but i have no repect for anyone that agrees with abortions so i hope nowhere lets him speak.

  2. Ryan Yazel says:

    This is something I am pretty passionately frustrated about. Christians draw too many walls on political lines. And I don’t think we realize our reasoning is based on political motives.

    More things go on at Notre Dame on a daily basis, in the name of Academic Freedom, that are more contrary to Christianity/Catholic doctrine than Obama’s position on abortion…(such as pluralism taught from their own theology professors).

    Notre Dame does not conduct itself as a Christ-moraled institution any other time during the year, why should it/it’s patrons now take up offense at the President of the United States coming?

    …because of our political frustrations. If our true concern is anything else, let us fight against all the other harmful things going on on campus.

    Since I haven’t seen Christians protesting THOSE concerns, I have to assume this is a political issue.

    I say, let him speak! He’s the POTUS after all!

  3. Helen says:

    I just wish all these “Opinion” writers would get on with their lives. Let him speak!

  4. Melissa says:

    I think Bishop D’Arcy did a disservice to the young men and women graduating. He’s taken the focus away from their accomplishment, which is what the event should be about.

  5. Jennifer C. says:

    I think that if Notre Dame does not want Obama to speak at their graduation then he should come to speak at Ivy Tech’s graduation!!! 🙂 It is a school of common ‘folk’ and working class people, the same demographics that he tries to reach out to.

    I personally don’t agree with many of his views but what an opportunity to hear the President of the United States!! BUT whatever decision is made, I really wish the media would “shut up!!” (sorry Jesus) about it!!

    Be happy is is EASTER!!!

  6. Kneip says:

    This is one of those times that I wish people could say what they mean and mean what they say. For example, an oft-heard nugget:

    “Pres. Obama is COMPLETELY at odds with what Catholics believe — therefore, he shouldn’t come.”

    Preferred translation: “Even though he, as a mainline Christian, most likely agrees with me on everything in the Apostles’ Creed — what we believe about God, the Holy Spirit, forgiveness, etc. — he is pro-choice, and I don’t like that.”

    Rhetoric. Sigh. Just be honest, people!

  7. Lorinda says:

    I am VERY fustrated by all the commotion. I agree with David. I think that religon and politics are crossing here. My main concern is that this is taking away from the accomplishment of these students who have worked so hard for their degree. I really feel that they should not have asked him in the first place and then that he should not have excepted. They should not be asking ANY sitting president.

  8. The Bishop says:

    Let me offer one other feeble thought from the not-so-learned masses: Isn’t it possible that one’s faith may also impact one’s political views – especially when a political position which one opposes is not simply a policy, such as what tax bracket to impose on a segment of the public, but the very sanctity of innocent life itself? This President – in the face of enormous economic crises -made it a priority in the opening days of his administration to take money from our common treasury and fund abortions overseas and advance fetal stem cell research (even though much more promise is shown by adult stem cell research). The history of his actions as a state legislator in the state of Illinois to prevent the saving of the life of an infant who had the temerity to survive an abortion attempt is an obscenity.

    We live in very grotesque times with respect to our national leaders. Continually bowing in homage to these grotesqueries because of their position in government or society is certainly acceptable to the world, and I’m not advocating the overthrow of government (nor did Jesus advocate the overthrow of a barbaric Roman government). However, having their personage displayed in honor is of no interest to me either.

    Since I am not a Catholic (nor have I ever played one on TV) and since I have not paid the outrageous price of tuition so that my children could attend there, I really don’t have a dog in this hunt about Notre Dame’s mission or image. The fact is, ND really is a much more secular institution than when Father Sorin founded it in the 1800’s. Therefore, I will conclude that it is no more right or wrong for ND to have President O to speak than it would be for the same event to occur at USC.

  9. The Bishop says:

    AN ADDENDUM: Having said that, it wouldn’t cost me as much as a local taxpayer to provide protection and crowd control if he would have gone to USC instead of ND. That is a tipping point.

  10. Kneip says:


    Did you see the news item this morning about the Common Council wanting to bill visiting guests (or, in this case, ND) for security in such times? Interesting proposal. I hope it wouldn’t mean less attention in election seasons — political candidates often have a good bit of money, if they manage it well.

  11. The Bishop says:


    No, I didn’t see that item. Our Common Council has been very meticulous in keeping their fiscal house in order (oops, I threw up a little in my mouth when I typed that). I wish them luck in collecting it. But, hey, maybe another earmark or two thrown into a “stimulus bill” would take the edge off.

    There is one saving factor that will unite us all on here: JESUS IS KING!

  12. Jim Ruth says:

    I going to throw a bomb here. I have a hard time with anyone calling themselves a Christian and believing being Pro-Choice is a Christ endorsed position any more than God condones Racism. If you are a racist I think you are going to be in for a rude awakening on judgement day too. Repenting and asking for forgiveness changes everything. But to continue to fight for the right for a woman to take an innocent life, no matter what stage that life is going through, can’t please God. And whether we like it or not that is the position of our president and it is wrong for him to occupy the platform at ND based on that position.

  13. OK…thank you to the brave souls would have commented and/or voted on such a controversial issue. And let me call those who didn’t “chicken scaredy-cats” for not voting (even though it really is anonymous) or commenting because of the “hot button issue” this is. Now for some of my thoughts (yes…I know you have been so eager to hear them 🙂 ):

    1. 54% of American Catholics voted for Barack Obama. If the Catholic church (and protesters) were really serious about “hypocrisy” why don’t they start “in house” by clearing out the 54% who didn’t just invite someone to make a speech, but have asked them to serve as President? You know, the Catholic Church does have a way to do that…they call it ex-communication. Interesting I’ve heard no local bishops advocate for such action…probably too costly. In fact, I would venture not too few Catholic Churches (especially on the Westside of South Bend) would close overnight with such action. Further, I don’t know if you saw in the South Bend Tribune this morning the picture of the protester wearing the Obama mask ( with blood on his hands…interesting I didn’t see the majority American Catholic mask with blood on their hands…I’m just saying…let’s be fair and honest in our charges of hypocrisy.

    2. Do you know how many people come and speak at Notre Dame throughout their departments each year? Are they all being asked what their stance is on abortion? Is this the universal litmus test question that should determine who is allowed to speak at ND?

    3. Is President Obama’s commencement speech actually going to be about abortion? Maybe. But that would be the weirdest commencement speech I’ve ever heard of.

    4. Presidents from both parties and both ideological persuasions have spoken at Notre Dame. I don’t recall Randall Terry showing up when Clinton spoke. Where was the bishop’s protest then? Why is it reserved only for Barack Obama?

    5. Is abortion (which I’m totally against…for some reason I feel like I’m supposed to be out with that in case you’re reading this and wondering) the ONLY test for us? What about other issues of life – capital punishment, war, social injustice, poverty, sex trafficking, etc. I concede this is a BIG issues…but is it really the only one? Given the overwhelming testimony of the prophets of Scripture…I’m thinking there are other issues close to the heart of God as well…where are those protests?

    6. Further, if you want to be a one-issue voter (and there are many that do…especially in older generations who still lay charge to anyone who votes for a Democrat…”how could any Christian vote for someone who is pro-choice?”) you can, but younger people no longer buy that the complexities of the world and our nation can be summed up in only one issue. That would be more believable if they felt the “alternative” party actually did something about the issue when elected. But let us be honest…the Republican party, while I can’t say has done NOTHING, what has been done at best can be referred to as “tinkering.” Even when they were in solid control of the White House and both houses of Congress (with, I might add a majority opinion from the American people on their views of abortion) – they did what? Yea…I couldn’t think of it either. And because there are other issues besides just abortion…I’m not standing up for the Republican party either. They both have been poor means by which the Kingdom of God advances (which…Dana…from your question in November…is just one of about a dozen reasons why I don’t vote 🙂 ). My hope is not in them. And it allows me the freedom to be an equal-opportunity critique-r without people believing their Pastor is trying to defend their political party.

    7. I appreciate the sentiments expressed above for the dampening effect this has on those who should be the focus of the day – the GRADUATING class. It feels that their day has been hijacked, not be an invitation by the President of ND to a SITTING PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES!!!!!!, but by a bishop, and other protesters like Randall Terry who are using this event for their own agenda and purposes and turning it into a distracted circus.

    Final Concern for me:

    My greatest concern in this protest (and maybe even this blog) is that it does nothing to change the reality of abortion (and other evils). What happens to the girl who has actually had an abortion? She may think nothing of it…but she might be suffering through guilt, shame, pain, etc. And we know that Jesus can take care of all of that for her! Further, we know Jesus, when encountered, will be the hope that abortion will never be a reality for this girl again. My fear is that she can’t ever get to Jesus. If she has no familiarity or connection with Christianity, if she sees on TV how “Christians” are treating the President who has been invited to A GRADUATION CEREMONY because of his pro-choice position there is no telling what she might think they would do to her (or feel about her) because of the reality of an abortion in her life!!! In the paper this morning one protester actually compared Obama to “Satan” (click on link above to read article). If he is “Satan” there’s no telling what she must think they think of her! It’s sad. She needs Jesus. And it seems the protesting Christians (while meaning well) might actually be what is keeping her from getting to him. Because, as recent studies have told us, all of this commotion has verified what most young non-Christians think about Christianity – that it is judgmental, too political, and hypocritical (also anti-homosexual…but that isn’t the current protest). And because of that, the question about whether it is “true” has been supplanted by the question is it “good” and has been judged – “no.”

    So, if you have had an abortion, Jesus loves you. AND you are welcome to the Living Stones Church. And once here, we’ll all together move towards a place of new, abundant, free, and eternal life!

    P.S. President Obama…this invitation is also extended to you as well 🙂

    Speaking of which…Sunday is Easter!! Viva la Vida baby!

  14. The Bishop says:

    Yes, the President (no matter which one from which party) will always be welcome to come to LSC and repent. That would be a good thing.

  15. Helen says:

    Sam, you hit the points that I was thinking of. there are so many things we need to b e doing beside wearing masks, causing chaos. Just state your opposition and drop it and get on with life.

    P.S. Sam, I seemed to find older people mentioned whenever there is differences.
    I guess being one of those I must be a bit of a rebel. Hmmm.

  16. Helen says:

    Does anyone find it strance that on 28 have cast votes? Not too passionate about this issue at LSC!

  17. Lori says:

    One of the things that frustrate me as a Christian, is being linked with other Christians who try to force their views on the rest of society.

    We get nowhere fast when we try to force others to believe the way we do. It would do us well to remember all of the past wars that have been fought by well-meaning Christians who have tried to force society to think like us.

    Christianity is about freedom to choose what to believe. Jesus never forced his opinion on anyone. The issue of abortion is, in the end, a choice between the person having the abortion and God.

    Our job as Christians is to love these people no matter what they choose, and to bring these people into a relationship with God.

    We cannot accomplish this if we attach strings (such as our views on abortion) into our relationship with those who have chosen abortion.

    All of that to say this: Notre Dame has had controversial speakers in the past and it has not kept the speakers away. It is a great honor for a president to consider coming for a graduation ceremony.

    Whether or not we agree with each other on this issue, the main issue is loving women who have had abortions into relationships with God, and not imposing our own beliefs (right or wrong), onto them. It is about winning them into the kingdom, not about us and what we believe to be right or wrong.

    Ok…I’ll shut up now and bring my sermon to an end lol.

  18. Interesting how many votes got cast in such a short amount of time. Especially since I can see how many times someone hit on this post…looks like someone is voting more than once to throw off the numbers! Bishop D’Arcy, is that you?

  19. The Bishop says:

    Just to clarify, this is not Bishop D’Arcy. Also, the voting mechanism will not permit more than one vote to be cast (I won’t tell you how I came to know this).

  20. actually…there is a way around…changed setting so as to prevent.

  21. Jim Ruth says:

    The thing that concerns me the most about the other side is the lie. The lie that it is only a bunch of cells…it’ll be fine…it’s for the best (for who? the baby?) I’ve heard enough stories to know that it’s not fine for either person involved-short term or long term. But loving a person, any person into the Kingdom warts and all, is what we should be and are from my perspective here at LSC. And though we don’t want to force our views on anyone else, we do have an obligation to tell them about the greatest Revolutionary ever, our Savior, Jesus. Like Sam said “He didn’t die for kissing babies.” I will agree though, Christians do a much better job of sharing the Gospel when they walk it out than sometimes the way they talk it out.

  22. Andrew says:

    i voted yes because im tired of people complaining about him coming there because he is for abortion…Well u kno wat.. hes not comin there to talk about his ideas, or ABORTION, HES ONLY THERE TO TALK TO THE STUDENTS ABOUT THEIR OPPORTUNITIES IN LIFE, SO STOP COMPLAINING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IDC IF U ARE A REPUBLICAN, HES THE PRESIDENT SO LIVE WITH IT!!
    thank you

  23. Janelle says:

    First I’d like to say that I’m very pro-life, very conservative and all most always vote Republican.

    BUT, I just don’t see this as an issue concerning any political point of view you may have. From the eyes of Janelle, this is what’s going on:

    –Notre Dame invited the President to speak, which was well within their rights to do so.

    –The Bishop doesn’t like it, so he wants to boycott … which is his right to do so.

    –Everyone is in an uproar because one powerful man doesn’t like what another powerful man is doing … so we all have to jump to one side or another???

    Seriously, why do we care so much about things that don’t matter. Whether he speaks or not, I don’t see anyone’s life being different because of it.

    If I HAVE to have a personal opinion about it, I think it’s rude to UN-invite anyone to anything.

  24. Jennie_Upside_Down says:

    President Obama wasn’t invited on the basis of his views as a man, the fact that he’s black or which political party he follows.

    He was invited because he’s the president of our country. Period.

    Catholics as a whole have a history of hypocrisy based on their own feelings for the moment. Why saddle up and become all holy now?

  25. Melissa says:

    I don’t think this issue is really about abortion, but since it’s become that, I have to come out of the closet. I call myself a Christian. I’m also pro-choice. I’m very adamantly pro-choice. I value life. I value it so much I think both sides should come together and get the message out that creating one should be taken very, very seriously, thereby making abortion a non-issue. Not only do I value the life of the unborn child, I value the life of the woman carrying it. She has value also and I love her. The government should not “force” her to have that child anymore than it should tell her she can’t have one. We live in a culture where it is acceptable for men to abandon their children. We give lip service that it’s not, but it really is. Women and children bear the brunt of poverty. Our adoption system stinks. Let’s address those issues. Let’s address the issue that birth control isn’t covered by health insurance or that the last administration, while wanting to reverse Roe v. Wade, also cut federal funding for child support collection efforts. We want to make women have these children, yet we do a horrible job supporting them once they do. Let’s talk about how much we please God with that. Let’s talk about how many people attending pro-life rallies have adopted or foster children. Rather than trying to make abortion illegal and have reproduction controlled by our government, let’s deal with the issues that make abortion a reality in the first place. I could go on.

    I could also go on about how one can value life AND support embryonic stem cell research, but I have to caulk my tub.

    To those of you who couldn’t honor anyone with a pro-choice stance, I hope you’d still come to my birthday party because I loved you enough to want you there.

  26. Mark says:

    Better late than never. As for me I wouldn’t walk across the street to see President Obama or the Pope speak. It all seems a little hypocitical for the Catolic church to hold any thing against President Obama seeing the way they enable and protect the child molesting priests amongst other things. As for abortion no matter how you look at it if your Pro choice your Pro murder no matter how you rationalize it. Please don’t say a word to me if I shoot Bambi’s mom seing most of the pro choice people would kill a baby but save a seal. Makes no sense at all

  27. LAteniteMike says:

    Sorry to say I have to agree with mark on this one….

    Catholic religion is a vial and polluted thing, and the Pres and his beliefs seem to fit in.
    That is not to say that they can’t be saved or made to see the truth…
    So Might I suggest We Lay Prayers down, and get them so prayed full of the holy Ghost, that they see the light Of Jesus blarring in their minds .. the Truth , The Light , and the Way!

    Because as I see it , if Prez keep on this path of destruction of America, life , and liberties, we all shall be doomed…. Save Jesus…….

    speaking or not, does it truely matter, but to give an Honorary Degree does seem susspect, and wrong.

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