By Kathleen Gilbert

JACKSONVILLE, Florida, April 22, 2009 ( – Bishop Victor Galeone of the diocese of St. Augustine is the 43rd bishop to publicly condemn the University of Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama to deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary law degree on May 17.

“I am standing with my brother bishops,” said Galeone, in a statement released by the diocesan communications office.

In Bishop Galeone’s brief letter to Fr. Jenkins, dated March 21, he stated: “I find it impossible to comprehend how a prestigious Catholic University like Notre Dame would bestow such an honor on President Obama, given his unmitigated support for policies and laws that flagrantly contradict fundamental Catholic teaching on life and marriage.”

Like several other U.S. bishops, including Notre Dame’s own Bishop D’Arcy and U.S. Bishops Conference (USCCB) president Cardinal Francis George, Bishop Galeone affirmed that the University’s action “is clearly a direct violation” of USCCB policy.

The document “Catholics in Political Life,” issued by the USCCB in 2004, states: “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

“I plead with you, Father Jenkins, to rescind this egregious error in judgment,” concluded Galeone’s letter.

“May the Lord grant you the courage to do so!”

The bishop sent a copy of the letter to Jenkins to the Papal Nuncio in Washington, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, with a cover letter that stated: “The letter needs no explanation. It merely expresses the feelings of dismay and outrage from many of my parishioners, who continue to ask me to do something about this unconscionable action on the part of Father Jenkins.

“Coupled with the performance of the quasi pornographic play, ‘The Vagina Monologues,’ which continues to appear annually on the Notre Dame campus, this most recent decision raises serious doubts about Fr. Jenkins’ qualifications for continuing to serve as president of one of the foremost Catholic universities in the nation,” Bishop Galeone concluded.

The bishops who have so far expressed disapproval of Notre Dame’s invitation to Obama (in alphabetical order) are:

1. Bishop John D’Arcy – Fort Wayne-South Bend, IN
2. Bishop Samuel Aquila – Fargo, ND
3. Bishop Gregory Aymond – Austin, TX
4. Bishop Gerald Barbarito – Palm Beach, FL
5. Bishop Leonard Blair – Toledo, OH
6. Archbishop Daniel Buechlein – Indianapolis, IN
7. Bishop Robert Baker – Birmingham, AL
8. Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz – Lincoln, NE
9. Archbishop Eusebius Beltran – Oklahoma City, OK
10. Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Cantú – San Antonio, TX
11. Bishop Paul Coakley – Salina, KS
12. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo – Houston, TX
13. Archbishop Timothy Dolan – New York, NY
14. Bishop Thomas Doran – Rockford, IL
15. Auxiliary Bishop John Dougherty – Scranton, PA
16. Bishop Robert Finn – Kansas City-St. Joseph, MO
17. Bishop Victor Galeone – St. Augustine, FL
18. Cardinal Francis George – Chicago, IL; President, USCCB
19. Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger – Evansville, IN
20. Archbishop José Gomez – San Antonio, TX
21. Bishop William Higi – Lafayette, IN
22. Archbishop Alfred Hughs – New Orleans, LA
23. Bishop Joseph Latino – Jackson, MS
24. Bishop Jerome Listecki – La Crosse, WI
25. Bishop William E. Lori – Bridgeport, CT
26. Bishop George Lucas – Springfield, IL
27. Bishop Robert Lynch – St. Petersburg, FL
28. Bishop Joseph Martino – Scranton, PA
29. Bishop Charles Morlino – Madison, WI
30. Bishop George Murry – Youngstown, OH
31. Archbishop John J. Myers – Newark, NJ
32. Bishop R. Walker Nickless – Sioux City, IA
33. Archbishop John C. Nienstedt – St. Paul-Minneapolis, MN
34. Archbishop Edwin O’Brien – Baltimore, MD
35. Bishop Thomas Olmsted – Phoenix, AZ
36. Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk – Cincinnati, OH
37. Bishop Kevin Rhoades – Harrisburg, PA
38. Bishop Alexander Sample – Marquette, MI
39. Bishop Edward J. Slattery – Tulsa, OK
40. Bishop Richard Stika – Knoxville, TN
41. Bishop Anthony Taylor – Little Rock, AR
42. Bishop Robert Vasa – Baker, OR
43. Bishop Thomas Wenski – Orlando, FL