By Kathleen Gilbert

SOUTH BEND, Indiana, May 7, 2009 ( – Two more bishops are continuing the steady stream of criticism aimed at the University of Notre Dame for honoring President Obama with the commencement address and an honorary law degree May 17.  However, unlike several of their brother bishops, the two bishops say that despite the gravity of the scandal, the invitation ought not to be rescinded out of respect for the office of the Presidency.

In the latest edition of The Tablet, the newspaper of the diocese of Brooklyn, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said the invitation “has caused an uproar and a division within the Catholic community.”

“Father Jenkins made a serious error in inviting President Obama to be the commencement speaker at Notre Dame, and even more so in conferring upon him an honorary degree,” DiMarzio wrote.

Noting that Jenkins had stated the honor should not be construed as “condoning or endorsing” Obama’s pro-abortion agenda, the bishop wrote: “Unfortunately, his [Jenkins’] disclaimer has not been accepted by the bishop of his diocese, and many other bishops, as well as a host of the laity and alumni of the University of Notre Dame.”  DiMarzio pledged to express his opinion to the University president in a letter. 

The bishop said the controversy “cannot be resolved” since “the invitation to President Obama cannot be rescinded,” and thus, “Whatever scandal has occurred cannot be eliminated.” 

However, he said, “it is a lesson for the Catholic community regarding interaction with politicians.” 

The bishop explained that “Catholic politicians and Catholic voters may never directly support anything which is intrinsically evil,” with a prime example being abortion. 

“Support for abortion, or camouflaging it as a matter of choice, can never be an acceptable position for a Catholic,” DiMarzio affirmed, adding that the politician’s “ultimate intention must be the clear elimination of intrinsically evil acts,” not just the reduction of them. 

(To read Bishop DiMarzio’s full column, go to:

Bishop Joseph V. Adamec of Altoona-Johnstown, PA, in a statement dated April 8, emphasized that “the responsibility for the situation lies with the Bishop within whose jurisdiction the university is located,” rather than “the rest of us” bishops, whom Catholics across the country have been asking to weigh in on the scandal.  Notre Dame’s Bishop John D’Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend was the first bishop to condemn the scandal and announced he will boycott the graduation ceremony. 

Noting the need to “respect those who rule over us,” Bishop Adamec said: “Given the President’s position of not protecting the lives of unborn babies, he should not have been invited. However, since he has been, he should be given the respect called for by his office by us who claim to be followers of the Apostles’ teachings.

“At the same time, that does not mean that he should be given an award such as an honorary degree,” the bishop continued.  “That goes against the guidelines, which we Bishops have adopted.”

While “there is no reason that would dictate giving the President an award,” he said, “There is reason for not doing so.

“Despite the fact that Notre Dame University has painted itself into a corner, its President could rise to the occasion and have this Catholic institution of higher learning be a powerful witness to the plight of the unborn by withdrawing the honorary degree,” Bishop Adamec suggested.

But if the degree was a precondition for the president’s acceptance, like the covering up of Jesus’ name at Georgetown University before the president spoke there, said Adamec, “we are seeing an unprecedented intrusion into the practice of our Faith in this nation, and it is being aided by educational institutions claiming to be Catholic.”

(To read Bishop Adamec’s full statement, go to:

To see the list of bishops who have been confirmed as opposing the Notre Dame scandal:

See previous coverage:

66: Bishops Decry “Toxic Residue” of Notre Dame Scandal