By Kathleen Gilbert

NOTRE DAME, Indiana, April 14, 2009 ( – Bishop John D’Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend, whose diocese includes the University of Notre Dame, has issued a statement urging pro-life protesters to host only peaceful and respectful demonstrations against the school’s honoring of President Obama. Obama is scheduled to give the university’s commencement address and receive an honorary doctorate of law May 17.

A spokesman from the diocese told LifeSiteNews that, contrary to news reports that misinterpreted the bishop’s statement by saying that the bishop was discouraging all public protests, the bishop has no problem with peaceful and prayerful protests against the Notre Dame scandal.

“I urge all Catholics and others of good will to stay away from unseemly and unhelpful demonstrations against our nation’s president or Notre Dame or Father John I. Jenkins, CSC,” said the bishop in the April 10 statement.

“The Notre Dame community is well-equipped to supervise and support discussions and prayer within their own campus.”

Bishop D’Arcy said he had a “positive meeting this week” with University President Fr. Jenkins, and expects further dialogue to continue.

“These are days of prayer and hope when we should turn to the Risen Christ for light and wisdom,” he concluded.  “Let us all work towards a peaceful graduation experience for the class of 2009 at our beloved Notre Dame.”

Vince LaBarbera, the diocese’s communications director, clarified to today that the bishop is specifically opposed to “demonstrations that attack the President, Fr. Jenkins or Notre Dame,” and said that, “A peaceful, prayerful demonstration is okay.” 

LaBarbera indicated that the statement was directed against pro-life advocates that had vowed to disrupt the commencement ceremony.

Bishop D’Arcy has repeatedly condemned the honor, saying that Notre Dame “has alienated itself from the Catholic community.” He has said that he will boycott the ceremony.

See related coverage:

Notre Dame’s Bishop on Obama’s Pro-Abortion Views: “No One Is Allowed to Say Who Sits at Table of Life”

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

Bishops Bruskewitz, Aquila Issue Stinging Condemnations to “Formerly Catholic” Notre Dame