The Cardinal Newman Society has begun a petition to Notre Dame president Fr. John Jenkins, CSC not to allow Obama to give the commencement at Notre Dame:
“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 honor on President Obama given his clear support for policies and laws that directly contradict fundamental Catholic teachings on life and marriage,” the petition reads.
I tend to waffle on this one, but I don't think inviting the President of the United States is an outrage or scandal for a Catholic University. Other offices, sure, an argument can be made there. But the President is a symbol of national unity and of one's country, and I don't think the culture war for life will be won by this form of entrenchment policy. Rather, the pro-life movement will win its cause when it can reach out to the president, work with him, and also challenge him. Notre Dame should issue a clear statement that it does not agree with Obama's pro-choice policies and positions. The university can call on him to change his positions in a statement, but can also welcome him, I think, as President of the United States. Inviting him to speak is not the same as an endorsement of his policies. I don't think the tension between prophetic witness and striving for common ground is necessarily compromised by this invitation.
Nathan O'Halloran, SJ