By Kathleen Gilbert

BILLINGS, Montana, April 30, 2009 ( – Bishop Michael Warfel of Montana has joined the chorus of U.S. bishops voicing opposition to the Notre Dame scandal with a scathing letter issued today to University President Fr. John Jenkins. 

In the letter, a copy of which received from the bishop’s office, the bishop condemns the Obama honor as the latest in a series of decisions sending a “shamefully ambiguous message” on the school’s fidelity to Church teaching. 

Bishop Warfel also indicates he will encourage parishioners to boycott the school and its Catholic formation programs “until its leadership discontinues making decisions that are inconsistent with the promotion of the Catholic Church’s teachings on the sacredness of human life.”

Below is the full text of the letter.

Dear Fr. Jenkins,
I am adding my name to the list of bishops who are dismayed at your decision to invite President Obama to offer this year’s commencement address and receive an honorary law degree on May 17. Given the position he has publicly taken pertaining to abortion, this invitation has more than sufficient potential to undermine Catholic teaching on the fundamental principle of right to life. As you should know well, those who take such positions are not to be provided platforms where they may espouse their views or be allowed a context by which the matter of abortion seems trivial. Until there is clarification, this decision will prevent me from advocating participation by members of this diocese at the University of Notre Dame.
Notre Dame’s decision is particularly disturbing because it seems to be one in a series of decisions. These decisions have sent a shamefully ambiguous message concerning Notre Dame’s fidelity to the Church’s teaching on the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the human person.  As an example of this, one does not need to look further than Notre Dame’s decision last year to ignore Bishop D’Arcy’s call to cancel the lewd “V-Monologues” with its mockery of Catholic teaching on human sexuality. 

It is my intent not to support Catholic formation programs offered at Notre Dame until its leadership discontinues making decisions that are inconsistent with the promotion of the Catholic Church’s teachings on the sacredness of human life.
Yours in Christ,
Michael W. Warfel
Bishop of Great Falls-Billings

The bishops who have so far expressed disapproval of Notre Dame’s invitation to Obama (in alphabetical order) are:

1. Bishop John D’Arcy – Fort Wayne-South Bend, IN
2. Bishop Samuel Aquila – Fargo, ND
3. Bishop Gregory Aymond – Austin, TX
4. Bishop Gerald Barbarito – Palm Beach, FL
5. Bishop Leonard Blair – Toledo, OH
6. Archbishop Daniel Buechlein – Indianapolis, IN
7. Bishop Robert Baker – Birmingham, AL
8. Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz – Lincoln, NE
9. Archbishop Eusebius Beltran – Oklahoma City, OK
10. Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Cantú – San Antonio, TX
11. Archbishop Charles Chaput – Denver, CO
12. Bishop Paul Coakley – Salina, KS
13. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo – Houston, TX
14. Archbishop Timothy Dolan – New York, NY
15. Bishop Thomas Doran – Rockford, IL
16. Auxiliary Bishop John Dougherty – Scranton, PA
17. Bishop Robert Finn – Kansas City-St. Joseph, MO
18. Bishop Joseph Galante – Camden, NJ
19. Bishop Victor Galeone – St. Augustine, FL
20. Cardinal Francis George – Chicago, IL; President, USCCB
21. Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger – Evansville, IN
22. Archbishop José Gomez – San Antonio, TX
23. Bishop Bernard Harrington – Winona, MN
24. Bishop William Higi – Lafayette, IN
25. Archbishop Alfred Hughes – New Orleans, LA
26. Bishop James V. Johnston – Springfield-Cape Girardeau, MO
27. Bishop Peter Jugis – Charlotte, NC
28. Bishop Joseph Latino – Jackson, MS
29. Bishop John LeVoir – New Ulm, MN
30. Bishop Jerome Listecki – La Crosse, WI
31. Bishop William E. Lori – Bridgeport, CT
32. Bishop Paul Loverde – Arlington, VA
33. Bishop George Lucas – Springfield, IL
34. Bishop Robert Lynch – St. Petersburg, FL
35. Bishop Joseph Martino – Scranton, PA
36. Bishop John McCormack – Manchester, NH
37. Bishop Robert Morlino – Madison, WI
38. Bishop George Murry – Youngstown, OH
39. Archbishop John J. Myers – Newark, NJ
40. Archbishop Joseph Naumann – Kansas City, KS
41. Bishop R. Walker Nickless – Sioux City, IA
42. Archbishop John C. Nienstedt – St. Paul-Minneapolis, MN
43. Archbishop Edwin O’Brien – Baltimore, MD
44. Bishop Thomas Olmsted – Phoenix, AZ
45. Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk – Cincinnati, OH
46. Bishop Glen Provost – Lake Charles, LA
47. Cardinal Justin Rigali – Philadelphia, PA; Chairman, USCCB Pro-Life Committee
48. Bishop Kevin Rhoades – Harrisburg, PA
49. Bishop Alexander Sample – Marquette, MI
50. Bishop Edward J. Slattery – Tulsa, OK
51. Bishop Richard Stika – Knoxville, TN
52. Bishop Anthony Taylor – Little Rock, AR
53. Bishop Robert Vasa – Baker, OR
54. Bishop Michael Warfel – Great Falls-Billings, MT
55. Bishop Thomas Wenski – Orlando, FL
56. Archbishop Donald Wuerl – Washington, D.C.
57. Bishop David Zubick – Pittsburgh, PA