By Kathleen Gilbert

NEW YORK, March 30, 2009 ( – The bishop recently appointed to head up the archdiocese of New York – one of the most influential positions in the U.S. Catholic Church – said in an interview yesterday that Notre Dame “made a big mistake” by inviting President Obama to receive an honorary degree and give the commencement address at the school on May 17.

“They made a big mistake … in an issue that is very close to the heart of Catholic world view, namely, the protection of innocent life in the womb, [Obama] has unfortunately taken a position very much at odds with the Church,” Archbishop Timothy Dolan told host Charlie Sykes on the “Sunday Insight” program of Milwaukee station TMJ4.

Dolan is the fifth bishop to condemn the university’s decision since the March 20 announcement that Obama had accepted the invitation, and announcement sparked a wave of protest from the American Catholic community. 

Last Friday, the Texas Catholic Herald published Houston Cardinal Nicholas DiNardo’s “Shepherd’s Message” in which the Cardinal said the “very disappointing” invite “requires charitable but vigorous critique.”

“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,” wrote DiNardo.

Notre Dame’s own Bishop John D’Arcy responded soon after the scandal broke with a statement condemning the invitation and announcing his decision to boycott the graduation ceremony.

An online petition sponsored by the Cardinal Newman Society has gathered over 212,000 signatures as of Monday morning. (

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

See related coverage:

Houston Cardinal Becomes Highest Ranking Official, 4th Bishop to Condemn Notre Dame Scandal

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


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