By Kathleen Gilbert

SOUTH BEND, Indiana, April 30, 2009 ( – Three more bishops have spoken out against the University of Notre Dame’s decision to honor President Obama by asking him to deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary degree at the school’s graduation ceremony May 17.

“In my first year as bishop no issue has generated more mail expressing dismay and sadness as the recent decision by the leadership of the University of Notre Dame to honor Pres. Barack Obama at this year’s commencement,” wrote Bishop James V. Johnston of the diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, MO in his weekly column dated May 1. 

“Regardless of whether it is deserved or not, Notre Dame holds a special place in the hearts of a vast number of Catholics who see it as a proud symbol of the Catholic Church’s place in American life.”

Considering President Obama’s extreme pro-abortion agenda, said the bishop, “it is saddening and bewildering that Notre Dame would act in this manner.”

“This honor will cause confusion and scandal among many.”

Bishop Johnston expressed solidarity with Notre Dame’s Bishop D’Arcy and his decision to boycott the ceremony, and said he joins those calling for Notre Dame to “reconsider this decision.” 

“Even at this late date, such a reversal would be a credit to Notre Dame’s leadership, and would restore the near-universal goodwill that Notre Dame is now almost assured of losing,” said the bishop.

Bishop John McCormack of Manchester, NH also expressed solidarity with Notre Dame’s Bishop John D’Arcy in his condemnation of the scandal.  Manchester’s diocesan website reprinted Bishop D’Arcy’s original statement, in which he questioned whether the school had chosen “prestige over truth” and announced his intention to boycott.

Bishop Bernard Harrington of Winona, MN, says he is among several bishops who have written to University president Fr. John Jenkins “to express my disbelief and disappointment” at the Obama honor.

In the May 2009 edition of the diocesan newspaper The Courier, Bishop Harrington referenced the 2004 U.S. Bishops’ document “Catholics in Political Life,” which forbids Catholic schools from honoring pro-abortion politicians.  In honoring the deeply pro-abortion president, said the bishop, Notre Dame “is choosing to defy the bishops of the United States and turn its back on the Catholic community in its continual defense of the right-to-life.”

“The university’s stance is similar to that of Catholic politicians who say that they are pro-life and then support legislation and vote for programs that foster abortion,” said the bishop.  “It is hard to believe that the University of Notre Dame has chosen ‘political rightness’ over principle and truth.”

Bishop Harrington suggested that the University “judge itself in the same light of truth and justice” as Bishop D’Arcy, who had stated that his attendance at the ceremony would have implicitly approved President Obama and given scandal. 

“No matter what the President of Notre Dame says, the invitation and bestowal of an honorary degree upon President Obama is a ‘no-win situation’ for the Catholic Church of the United States and in particular, a losing situation for the University of Notre Dame,” said Harrington.

“It might be a little too dramatic to say that Our Lady of the Golden Dome is hanging her head in shame, but there is no question that  hundreds of thousands of ‘loyal Irish’ supporters are angered, dumbfounded and disappointed in this administration’s decision.”