By Kathleen Gilbert

LA CROSSE, Wisconsin, April 7, 2009 ( – Bishop Jerome Listecki of the diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, published a statement on the diocesan website today condemning the University of Notre Dame’s recent invitation to President Obama to offer the commencement address and receive an honorary law degree.

“The University of Notre Dame recently invited President Obama to give this spring’s commencement address and to receive an honorary degree in law,” wrote Listecki.  “This invitation was extended in spite of President Obama’s continual offenses against the sanctity of human life through his executive actions and appointments since taking office.”

The bishop cited as “an important principle” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops 2004 statement: “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.”

“The decision of the President of Notre Dame to ignore the Bishops and to give both a platform and an honor to President Obama is indefensible,” wrote Listecki.  “And so I raise my voice along with many of my brother Bishops, as well as the faithful who have been deeply scandalized.

“I ask Fr. John Jenkins, President of Notre Dame, to rescind the invitation.”

The bishop encouraged La Crosse faithful to join a nearly quarter-million strong petition launched by the Cardinal Newman Society on a website dedicated to the scandal (

Bishop Listecki is the 25th U.S. bishop to condemn the honor.

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. Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Cantú, San Antonio
5. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo – Houston
6. Archbishop Timothy Dolan – New York
7. Bishop Thomas Doran – Rockford
8. Auxiliary Bishop John Dougherty – Scranton
9. Cardinal Francis George – Chicago, President, USCCB
10. Archbishop José Gomez, San Antonio
11. Bishop William Higi, Lafayette, IN
12. Archbishop Alfred Hughs, New Orleans
13. Bishop Jerome Listecki, La Crosse, WI
14. Bishop William E. Lori, Bridgeport, CT
15. Bishop Robert Lynch – St. Petersburg
16. Bishop Joseph Martino – Scranton
17. Bishop Charles Morlino – Madison
18. Bishop George Murry, Youngstown, OH
19. Archbishop John J. Myers – Newark
20. Bishop R. Walker Nickless – Sioux City.
21. Archbishop John C. Nienstedt – Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota
22. Bishop Thomas Olmsted – Phoneix
23. Bishop Kevin Rhoades – Harrisburg
24. Bishop Edward J. Slattery – Tulsa
25. Bishop Anthony Taylor, Little Rock, AR

See related coverage:

Seven More U.S. Bishops Make 24 Against Notre Dame Scandal

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