By John Jalsevac

NOTRE DAME, IN, 25 March 2009 ( – Nearly a dozen student groups at the University of Notre Dame issued a statement today repudiating the University’s selection of President Barack Obama to deliver its 2009 Commencement Address.

Signatories of the statement include The Irish Rover Student Newspaper, Notre Dame Law School Right to Life, Notre Dame Law St Thomas More Society and others.

The statement criticizes the president’s position on abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and other life issues, and chastises University administration for apparently looking over what they termed “fundamental moral principles.”

Citing Catholic teaching on abortion, as well as the US Bishops’ 2004 document “Catholics in Political Life,” which forbids Catholic institutions from honoring pro-abortion politicians, the document expresses “deepest opposition” to the decision.

 “Our objection is not a matter of political partisanship, but of President Obama’s hostility to the Catholic Church’s teachings on the sanctity of human life at its earliest stages,” reads the statement.

The statement also observes that, “The social justice issue of our day is the deliberate, legal attack on the most vulnerable members of society, the unborn. To award a Notre Dame law degree to a lawyer and politician who has used the law to deny equality to the unborn diminishes the value of the degree itself.”

The students also express their concern that by inviting President Obama, the university has put students in “a moral dilemma as to whether they should attend their own graduation.”

“Many pro-life seniors, along with their families, are conflicted about whether to participate in the commencement ceremony,” write the students. “The lack of concern for these devoted sons and daughters of Notre Dame, who love this University and the Catholic principles on which it was built, is shameful.”

“This is not a partisan issue; rather, it’s an issue of respect for human life, and our Catholic character,” said senior Emily Toates of Notre Dame Right to Life. “We want to emphasize that we are not attacking the office of the President, but taking issue with his moral stances. I think the statement makes it clear that the student body of Notre Dame is not unequivocally in favor of this decision.”
The students’ voices are added to those of the more than 130,000 individuals who have so far signed the Cardinal Newman Society’s petition against the decision to invite Obama. The bishop of the diocese where Notre Dame is located, Bishop John D’Arcy, has also expressed his disapproval of the invitation, and has said that he will boycott the graduation ceremony.

To read the complete statement, see:

To contact Notre Dame:
Phone: (574) 631-5000
email form:

Notre Dame Fellows:
The Fellows are the “successors and associates in office” of the original founders of the University

Rev. E. William Beauchamp, C.S.C., President, U. of Portland
(503) 943-7101

Patrick F. McCartan, Senior partner, Jones Day
(216) 586-7272
Email: [email protected]

William M. Goodyear, CEO, Navigant Consulting
main: (312) 583-5700

list of all Notre Dame Fellows:

To contact the Notre Dame Alumni Association Board Members….

To contact the USCCB:

Cardinal Francis George, President
Archdiocese of Chicago
phone: 312-751- 8200
email: [email protected]

Most Rev. Robert J. McManus, Chairman, Committee on Education
Diocese of Worcester
phone: 508-791-7171
committee email: [email protected]

To contact Notre Dame’s bishop:
Bishop John D’Arcy, Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese
Fort Wayne Chancery
phone: (260) 422-4611

See related coverage:

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