By John Jalsevac

April 2, 2009 ( – Two more bishops have joined the chorus of Catholics and fellow bishops protesting the decision of the Catholic University of Notre Dame to invite President Barack Obama to be this year’s commencement speaker and to receive an honorary doctorate.

Bishop Thomas Doran of the Rockford, Illinois diocese, and Archbishop Eusebius Beltran of the Oklahoma City Diocese have both made public their disapproval of the university’s decision, with Bishop Doran suggesting that the university should change its name to the “Northwestern Indiana Humanist University.”

Bishop Doran recently provided The Cardinal Newman Society with a copy of a letter he sent to University of Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins expressing his “dismay and outrage” at the decision to honor President Obama. (To read the complete letter, see:

Bishop Doran wrote that Fr. Jenkins should rescind the invitation “and so avoid dishonoring the practicing Catholics of the United States, including those of this Diocese.”

“This decision of your flies in the face of the expressed directive of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in the year 2004, that Catholic institutions not so honor those who profess opposition to the Church’s doctrine on abortion and embryonic stem cell research,” he said.

In a separate letter to The Cardinal Newman Society, the bishop indicated that he has advised the people of the Rockford diocese how to make their own sentiments on the matter known to the authorities at Notre Dame.

The bishop suggested that if Fr. Jenkins fails to rescind “this unfortunate decision” he should have the “decency” to change the university name to something like, “The Fighting Irish College” or “Northwestern Indiana Humanist University.”

“On behalf of our more than 20,000 members and the nearly one quarter of a million signers of the petition opposing Notre Dame’s actions, I want to thank Bishop Doran for his strong public witness and letter encouraging Fr. Jenkins to rescind the commencement invite to President Obama,” said CNS President Patrick Reilly.

Bishop Beltran of Oklahoma City, in a statement published on NewsOK, said, “President Obama, by word and action, has approved of abortion and other atrocities against human life. Therefore he deserves no recognition at a Catholic institution.” According to NewsOK the bishop said that more comprehensive remarks by him on the issue would be published in the April 5 edition of the Sooner Catholic, the archdiocese’s official newspaper.

A petition launched by the Cardinal Newman Society on the same day that it was announced that Obama had accepted the invitation to speak at the university has been signed by over 230,000 individuals. (To sign the petition:

The bishops who have so far gone public with their disapproval of Notre Dame’s invitation of Obama (in alphabetical order) are:

1) Bishop John D’Arcy – Fort Wayne-South Bend
2) Bishop Gregory Aymond – Austin A
3) Archbishop Eusebius Beltran – Oklahoma City
4) Cardinal Daniel DiNardo – Houston
5) Archbishop Timothy Dolan – New York
6) Bishop Thomas Doran – Rockford
7) Cardinal Francis George – Chicago, President, USCCB
8) Bishop Robert Lynch – St. Petersburg
9) Bishop Charles Morlino – Madison
10) Archbishop John J. Myers – Newark
11) Bishop R. Walker Nickless – Sioux City.
12) Archbishop John C. Nienstedt – Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota
13) Bishop Thomas Olmsted – Phoneix
14) Bishop Kevin Rhoades – Harrisburg
15) Bishop Edward J. Slattery – Tulsa

See related coverage:

Notre Dame’s Bishop Will Not Attend Obama-Honoring Graduation, Criticizes University’s Decision

Notre Dame Faces Groundswell of Outrage after Announcing Plan to Honor Obama

Notre Dame President: School “Honored” by Obama’s Acceptance to Speak and Receive Honorary Degree

Catholic Notre Dame University to Give Obama Honorary Degree on May 17, Against USCCB Policy