By Kathleen Gilbert

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana, August 19, 2010 ( - The archbishop of New Orleans has responded to the decision of Xavier University, a Catholic institution in his diocese, to host President Obama for a speech commemorating the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina on August 29.

Archdiocesan spokeswoman Sarah Comiskey told that she spoke directly with Archbishop Gregory Aymond regarding the affair, and that the prelate stated he had not been consulted nor invited to the campus event. At the time of the Obama event Aymond will be participating in an Interfaith Prayer Service at St. Louis Cathedral to pray for the continued rebuilding of the region devastated by the storm.

Comiskey said, however, that the archbishop “did note … that this is not a political speech, but one that is a gesture of compassion for and solidarity with the people of New Orleans and Xavier University of New Orleans is often used by the mayor and public officials for such events."
Bishop Aymond, as bishop of Austin, Texas, was an early critic of the University of Notre Dame's decision to host President Obama as the school's commencement speaker and recipient of an honorary law degree in May 2009. At the time Aymond expressed "great disappointment and sadness" at the honor bestowed upon the pro-abortion president.

"In my opinion, it is very clear that in this case the University of Notre Dame does not live up to its Catholic identity in giving this award and their leadership needs our prayerful support," wrote Aymond in a diocesan column.

See previous coverage:

President Obama to Speak at Catholic Xavier U.