The president’s celebrated appearance at Notre Dame marked the university’s most advanced occasion of giving a platform to a high-profile pro-choice speaker but practicing Catholics are starting to notice.
In the 1980s, Notre Dame provided a podium to New York Governor Mario Cuomo and Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, both Democrats. Arguably, the “personally opposed but…” positions that these politicians took put them to the “right” of the current chief executive who can’t seem to bring himself to personally oppose abortion, at least publicly.
In fact, Sen. Moynihan voted for the ban on partial-birth abortions the first time it came up while, as an Illinois state senator, Barack Obama voted against banning the procedure. “Probably Notre Dame is rich enough that it can safely thumb its institutional nose at the 70 or so bishops who publicly challenged the university for flouting their guidelines on such invitations,” William McGurn wrote in the Wall Street Journal. “Nor can we expect much from Notre Dame’s trustees.”
“At a time when Americans all across this country have declared themselves ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ on the Obama invite, the reaction of Notre Dame’s board is less the roar of the lion than the silence of the lambs.” McGurn, who writes for the Journal, is himself a Notre Dame grad.
“At Notre Dame today, there is no pro-life organization—in size, in funding, in prestige—that compares with the many centers, institutes and so forth dedicated to other important issues ranging from peace and justice to protecting the environment,” McGurn reports. “Perhaps this explains why a number of pro-life professors tell me they must not be quoted by name, lest they face career retaliation.”
“The one institute that does put the culture of life at the heart of its work, moreover—the Center for Ethics and Culture—doesn’t even merit a link under the ‘Faith and Service’ section on the university’s Web site.” Oblivious as the university fathers may be to the pro-life cause, not to mention, Catholic dogma, alumni are increasingly not and neither is the surrounding diocese.
For the first time in history, the bishop of South Bend refused to attend graduation ceremonies when President Obama spoke. In fact, the bishop attended one of the protests.
Moreover, thousands attended counter demonstrations, said rosaries and silently protested on and off campus. “We are not protesting against inviting the President of the United States to give the commencement speech at a Catholic University or granting him an honorary degree,” a brochure from the American Society for the Defense of Tradition Family and Property (TFP) read. “This has been done before.”
“Such honors and respect are proportional to the office of President.” TFP took part in the graduation day protests.
“Our protest is against the inviting of and bestowing honors upon a politician openly and consistently favorable to abortion.” This was, in fact, a position that the commander-in-chief did not deviate from at Notre Dame’s lectern.
“We uphold the natural moral law that condemns abortion while protesting that an honorary Doctor of Law degree is being given to one who denies that moral law.” Actually, Obama is even more tacitly in favor of abortion than the last pro-choice Democratic president.
Where Bill Clinton vowed to make abortion “safe, legal and rare,” the president will merely say that he wants to end “unwanted pregnancies.” Yet Bill Clinton is the only president in the past 30 years who never spoke at Notre Dame.
Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.