By Kathleen Gilbert

AMARILLO, Texas, May 14, 2009 ( – Bishop John Yanta, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Amarillo, TX, has published a letter to University of Notre Dame president Fr. John Jenkins that strongly condemns the school’s invitation to President Obama to give the commencement address and receive an honorary law degree May 17. 

A spokesperson for Bishop Frank J. Dewane, bishop of the Diocese of Venice in Florida, told LSN that the bishop has also written a personal letter to University of Notre Dame president Fr. John I. Jenkins concerning the decision to honor President Barack Obama. The bishop, however, said that he prefers to keep the letter confidential at this time, but asked that his name be added to the list of bishops who are opposed to the University’s decision.

Former House Speaker and recent convert to Catholicism Newt Gingrich has also weighed in on the honor, saying it reflected poorly on the Catholic identity of the school.

In a letter to Fr. Jenkins dated April 10, Bishop Yanta wrote, “From the first moment I heard of your regrettable, ill-advised action I was very disappointed.”

(To read Bp. Yanta’s full letter:

Referring to Psalm 78, Yanta continued: “God has been very good to Notre Dame and more and more, gradually, you have ‘forgotten God’s deeds,’ you choose ‘to be a defiant and rebellious race,’ your heart is ‘fickle,’ you ‘forget the things He has done,’ and ‘you have failed to keep God’s covenant and would not walk according to His law.’”

Despite being a “passionate Notre Dame fan” since boyhood, said Bishop Yanta: “In conscience I can no longer support Notre Dame as a Catholic College.  I am deeply offended how you treat my wife of 54 years, the Church I love whose head is Jesus Christ.”

Reflecting on humanity’s involvement if the suffering of Christ, the Bishop Emeritus said, “I also see Notre Dame crucifying Our Lord once again. Our Blessed Mother must be sorrowful for what you are doing to her Son, using her name in doing so.

“Blessed Mother Teresa said: ‘Do you think that God is going to bless a nation that kills its unborn babies?’” Yanta recalled.  “Do you think God is going to continue to bless Notre Dame?…

“As a brother to you in the priesthood of Christ, I will pray for you to disinvite our Pro-Abortion President, who has supported and surrounded himself only with Catholics who dissent and are stubbornly defiant of the Church’s teachings, i.e., the issues of life, pro-abortion Catholics receiving Holy Communion, e.g. Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Kathleen Sebelius and others.”

“Sadly,” said the bishop, “the Body of Christ is being divided in this Country and you have joined them.”

Bishop Yanta said that, should Fr. Jenkins “choose to remain unmoved and continue to be defiant, thereby setting a scandalous example for your students and the nation,” the bishop would protest future Notre Dame events and pray for the school’s conversion.

Bishop Yanta is the 75th U.S. bishop known to condemn the Notre Dame scandal.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who converted to Catholicism in March, also joined in the widespread Catholic protest against the Obama invitation.  Gingrich told FOX News Sunday, “To the degree that Notre Dame still thinks of itself as a Catholic institution, it raises real questions.”

“I think the president’s position has been the most radical, pro-abortion of any American president, so I think there is a legitimate question there,” said Gingrich. 

“But look – I’m a new convert,” he added.  “I’ll let the Vatican speak for the church. I’m just speaking for Newt Gingrich.”

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

See related coverage:

74: Catholic School Association Downplays USCCB Policy Role while More Bishops Decry ND Scandal