By Kathleen Gilbert

March 27, 2009 ( – American Cardinal Daniel DiNardo has criticized the decision of the Catholic University of Notre Dame to honor President Barack Obama by inviting him to be this year’s commencement speaker and awarding him with an honorary doctorate. The Cardinal said that the “disappointing” invitation “requires charitable but vigorous critique.”

The Cardinal’s remarks constitute the highest-ranking criticism yet from a member of the Catholic Church hierarchy against the University’s decision. So far three other American bishops have criticized the invitation, including the bishop of the diocese where Notre Dame is located, Bishop John D’Arcy.

In his weekly “Shepherd’s Message” column, published today in the print edition of the Texas Catholic Herald, and reprinted on the Whispers in the Loggia blog, Cardinal DiNardo says, “I find the invitation very disappointing.

“Though I can understand the desire by a university to have the prestige of a commencement address by the President of the United States, the fundamental moral issue of the inestimable worth of the human person from conception to natural death is a principle that soaks all our lives as Catholics, and all our efforts at formation, especially education at Catholic places of higher learning.”

The president, says the cardinal, “has made clear by word and deed that he will promote abortion and will remove even those limited sanctions that control this act of violence against the human person.”

Referring to a 2004 directive by U.S. bishops that Catholic schools not honor or give platform to politicians who favor abortion, the cardinal noted, “Even given the dignity of the Office of the President, this offer is still providing a platform and an award to a public figure who has been candid on his pro-abortion views.

“Particularly troubling is the Honorary Law Degree since it recognizes that the person is a ‘Teacher,’ in this case of the Law. I think that this decision requires charitable but vigorous critique.”

For a list of contact information regarding the Notre Dame scandal, go to:

See related coverage:

Bishop Olmsted: Notre Dame’s Obama Honor “Public Act of Disobedience to U.S. Bishops”

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

Petition against Obama’s Notre Dame Honor Skyrockets Past 103,000 Signatures in Four Days

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