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Notre Dame may break 64-year tradition by not inviting Trump to graduation

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SOUTH BEND, Indiana, December 7, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins is not yet sure whether he will invite President-elect Donald Trump to address this year’s commencement ceremony.

In 2009, the Holy Cross priest rebuffed months of intense criticism caused by his invitation for pro-abortion Barack Obama to speak. Jenkins disregarded the objections of some 367,000 petitioners and 83 cardinals, bishops and archbishops, including his own ordinary, and infamously ignored the requests for “dialogue” from more than 80 peaceful pro-life protestors arrested for a prayer demonstration against the Obama appearance.

Now he is worried that a Trump appearance might be more of a “circus.”

“My concern a little bit is that, should the new president come, it may be even more of a circus,” Father Jenkins said, telling The Observer student newspaper he will make a speaker selection during the spring semester. But for now, he is weighing the pertinent factors.

Notre Dame traditionally invites presidents to speak at its graduation during their first year in office.

Obama was the sixth president to deliver the commencement address after Dwight Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. This is twice as many presidents hosted as commencement speakers as any other non-military college, according to CRUX.

Father Jenkins said that no matter who the president is, they “should be listened to,” but graduation day is for Notre Dame families and he doesn’t want the focus to be on something else.

“I do think the elected leader of the nation should be listened to. And it would be good to have that person on the campus — whoever they are, whatever their views,” he stated. “At the same time, the 2009 commencement was a bit of a political circus, and I think I’m conscious that that day is for graduates and their parents — and I don’t want to make the focus something else.”

The Jenkins comments come less than a month after Trump’s historic election upset over Hillary Clinton. The media had assumed Clinton would win after Trump caused campaign controversy with his brash demeanor, unrefined rhetoric, and lewd language toward women.

The election demonstrated divisions in the American electorate, with Clinton-supporting factions engaging in riots, vandalism, and other civil unrest in pockets across the country in the wake of the Trump win.

The business mogul's tough immigration stance is also considered controversial by some and has been called bigotry in politically correct circles. He has promised to build a wall on the Mexican border and threatened to deport illegal immigrants guilty of additional crimes.

Six days after the election, Father Jenkins told illegal immigrant students at Notre Dame during a prayer service that the university would continue to support them, even if Trump keeps his campaign promise to cancel the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program.

The week before, Father Jenkins was one of more than 400 college and university presidents to sign a public statement in support of DACA. The program is a result of Obama’s executive order allowing some illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to get work authorization and oftentimes college financial aid.

Trying to deport the illegal immigrant students would be “among the most ill-advised moves (the administration) could make,” Jenkins said. “If there should be an effort to do that, we would do everything we can to fight that, whatever way we can. Not only for these young people who are Notre Dame students, but for the good of the nation.”

Father Jenkins said it was important at this point to wait and see what a Trump administration will do.

He further said that he recognizes that his position at Notre Dame gives him a speaking platform, though one he does not use for his personal agenda.   

“I think being president of Notre Dame gives me a certain soapbox,” Father Jenkins stated. “You can say things that people will pay attention to what you say because of that. I take that seriously. I try to use that soapbox that I have as well as I can to serve those ideas and not kind of advance a personal agenda.”

The third-term Notre Dame president said months after the Obama commencement scandal in 2009 that he’d do it all over again when asked about the controversy.

"He is the president of the United States,” Father Jenkins stated at the time, “and there was a tradition of Notre Dame inviting presidents to be commencement speakers and receive honorary degrees, and we continue that tradition.” 

Emphasizing Obama’s status as the first black U.S. president, Father Jenkins said it was "an honor for us to welcome him to campus. For all the controversy, I think it was a successful day."

Jenkins has presided over some notable lapses in Catholic identity at the university, which have continued over decades.

In addition to Obama’s 2009 honorary degree and speaking engagement, there were a September 2016 appearance by pro-abortion and gay “marriage” Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the university earlier this year honoring pro-abortion and gay “marriage” Vice President Joe Biden with its Laetare Medal for an American Catholic in recognition of outstanding service to the Church and society. That decision also sparked protest from students and faculty.

The Catholic identity deficit was demonstrated in recent years as well. The university hosted the vulgar “Vagina Monologues” on campus and willingly complied with the HHS Contraception Mandate, even while countless other Catholic and Christian organizations have sued for the mandate’s religious liberty violation, when the university agreed to provide employees benefits to same-sex “spouses.” The school also officially sanctioned a student group for homosexuals, denied recognition to a marriage advocacy student group, and a prominent Notre Dame priest-professor was compelled to back out of a project providing students information to assist in ensuring they receive an authentic Catholic education at the university.

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