By Kathleen Gilbert

SOUTH BEND, Indiana, May 19, 2009 ( – Further reports of U.S. Catholic bishops condemning the Notre Dame scandal are continuing to surface after the school’s commencement exercises Sunday, where President Obama offered the commencement address and received an honorary law degree. 

There are now 83 U.S. bishops known to have condemned Notre Dame’s decision to honor the deeply pro-abortion president.

“I am surprised and disappointed that Notre Dame University would honor anyone who publicly supports the culture of death that seems to pervade our society,” said Bishop Roger Foys of the diocese of Covington, KY in an April 3 statement appearing in the diocesan newspaper the Messenger. 

“The issue of life is a core issue and one that cannot be treated lightly,” said Bishop Foys.  “This decision is simply a bad one and no amount of publicity to the contrary can put a positive face on it.”

In the diocese of Gary, Indiana, spokeswoman Valerie McManus responded to a pro-lifer’s query by confirming that Bishop Dale Melczek was “appalled” at the honor and had issued a personal letter to University president Fr. John Jenkins expressing his disapproval.

“During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama repeatedly stated his pro-choice positions,” wrote Melczek in published portions of the letter.  “Since his inauguration, President Obama, by word and deed, has undermined the culture of life and promoted pro-abortion laws as well as embryonic stem cell research.

“It is deeply troubling for me that Notre Dame University would grant an honorary Law Degree to President Obama, who so clearly teaches by word and deed disrespect for the human person and the sanctity of human life,” he said.

“It is also very troubling for me that Notre Dame University, with its image and reputation of being so thoroughly committed to the Catholic Church and Catholic values, acted so boldly contrary to the clear instruction of the bishops of the United States in our 2004 directive that Catholic institutions neither honor nor invite to speak persons who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles,” the bishop added.

Bishop Michael Pfeifer of San Angelo, Texas, sent (LSN) a copy of his letter to Fr. Jenkins, advising him to “consider the perspective of a more important person at Notre Dame and how this person sees this situation following your decision. The person I speak about is the beautiful lady in the grotto – Notre Dame.”

“The main question is what does Notre Dame, Our Lady, have to say about all of this? As a friend, fellow religious and priest, I must state that I picture her beautiful heart once again been pierced by the sword of your decision,” wrote Pfeifer in the May 11 letter. 

“While she is a mother of compassion and love, she is also a mother of truth and courage. The answer she gives is the answer that ultimately counts the most.

“While I can in no way presume to speak for Our Lady and give specific answers, I know that she is asking you and others at Notre Dame to fulfill the one and only command she ever gave in all the gospels and that is, adapting her reply to you, ‘John, do whatever he (Jesus) tells you to do,’” wrote the bishop.

The communications office of the archdiocese of Detroit released a summary of Archbishop Allen Vigneron‘s opposition to the Notre Dame honor. Vigneron, according to the release, voiced disapproval of the honor early on to local news outlets, and addressed a personal letter to Fr. John Jenkins in March. 

“Reminding Fr. Jenkins of the many historic ties between Notre Dame and the Detroit archdiocese, the archbishop expressed both his disappointment and disagreement with the school’s decision,” read the statement.

“Archbishop Vigneron stands in solidarity with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on this matter – and the conference has said that politicians who support abortion ‘should not be given awards, honors, or platforms that would suggest support for their actions.’” (To see the original statement:

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

See related coverage:

79: More Bishops Condemn Obama Honor in Final Days before ND’s “Day of Shame”