Friday May 8, 2009

71: Wave of Episcopal Condemnation Continues into Final Week before ND Obama Honor

By Kathleen Gilbert

SOUTH BEND, Indiana, May 8, 2009 ( – Three more U.S. bishops have condemned the University of Notre Dame’s decision to honor President Obama with the commencement speech and an honorary law degree May 17, bringing the tally of opposing bishops to 71.

Bishop James Conley, the auxiliary bishop of Denver, told that he has written a personal letter to University president Fr. John Jenkins concerning the Obama honor, which he said he preferred to keep confidential. He did say, however, that his name could be added to the list of bishops who are opposed to Notre Dame’s decision.

Bishop John Gaydos of the diocese of Jefferson City opened his column in the latest edition of the Catholic Missourian with a quote from Cardinal John Henry Newman, who wrote that a Catholic university “cannot fulfill its object duly … without the Church’s assistance; or, to use the theological term, the Church is necessary for its integrity.” (Read complete article:

“The invitation on the part of the university asking President Obama to address the graduates at this year’s commencement has raised serious questions about Notre Dame in particular and Catholic colleges and universities in general and their relationship to the wider Roman Catholic Church,” wrote Bishop Gaydos.

The bishop referred to a 2004 injunction by U.S. bishops stating that Catholic schools should not honor pro-abortion politicians, and noted that Notre Dame’s Bishop John D’Arcy confirmed that Notre Dame had violated that policy.

“When, as in this case, the university forgets its sacred trust in proclaiming the truth, then it is up to the Church to hold the university accountable,” wrote Bishop Gaydos. “I am personally grateful for Bishop D’Arcy’s pastoral vigor in handling this situation.”

Gaydos noted that, now that former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glendon has turned down the University’s Laetare medal in protest of the Obama honor, Judge John T. Noonan had been tasked to give a speech “in the spirit of the award.”

“He certainly has his work cut out for him at the Notre Dame commencement,” wrote the bishop.

In a column for the diocesan newspaper “The Bayou Catholic,” Bishop Sam Jacobs of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux in Louisiana said he had written to Fr. Jenkins to express “strong disapproval” of the invitation.

“While we respect the office of the president of the United States and the person, we do not agree with his policies and actions, especially when they are diametrically opposed to the moral teachings of the church and the fundamental Natural Law,” he wrote in the column.

As American citizens, said Jacobs, “we have a right to deny any person a forum to promote his own agenda, when these are in contradiction to the teachings of the church. And if we are going to deny them a forum, we should certainly not honor them with any recognition or award.”

The bishop said he was not opposed to open debate, but does “not consider that a graduation address is the time or place for this to take place.”

“While we want to be in dialogue with public officials who hold opposing views, we still have a right and a duty as citizens and as religious leaders to publicly voice our disagreement with their views,” he said.

Bishop Jacobs urged his readers to continue to pray for the president and all those who hold public office.

(To view Bishop Jacobs’ full article, go to:

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

See related coverage:

68 U.S. Bishops Oppose Notre Dame’s “Serious Mistake”