By Kathleen Gilbert

NOTRE DAME, Indiana, March 31, 2009 ( – Another archbishop and two more U.S. bishops have swelled the ranks of Catholics and conservatives who are expressing criticism of the University of Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama to give the school’s commencement address and receive an honorary law degree May 17.  Conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh also slammed the move by Notre Dame during his show on Friday.

Today the Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) published a letter to the school by Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota Archbishop John C. Nienstedt, who protested the “egregious decision” on the part of Notre Dame president Fr. John Jenkins to honor Obama.

Listing President Obama’s record against life, Nienstedt wrote, “It is a travesty that the University of Notre Dame, considered by many to be a Catholic University, should give its public support to such an anti-Catholic politician.

“I hope that you are able to reconsider this decision. If not, please do not expect me to support your University in the future,” he concluded.

Nienstedt is the eighth bishop, and the second archbishop, to condemn the decision since Notre Dame’s own Bishop John D’Arcy criticized the move and announced his intention to boycott the ceremony last week.

At the second annual Illinois Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Chicago on Friday, Bishop Morlino of Madison said he would not have invited Obama, according to the Catholic Citizens of Illinois. 

Bishop Robert Lynch of the diocese of St. Petersburg also commented on the scandal on his blog last Friday, saying the invitation “is a very prestigious platform to offer a President who is leading the battle for an expansion of abortion rights which may ultimately end up being unparalleled in recent history.” 

Lynch, however, emphasized the need for outraged Catholics to avoid “uncivil and venomous” rhetoric that “ill-serves the cause of life.” 

The bishop noted that most Notre Dame alumni he knew “are ardently pro-life and like myself are probably disappointed with their alma mater,” He added that “they and I will choose to convey our sadness to the Board of Trustees and Administration in a calm and dignified manner.”

Conservative talk radio guru Rush Limbaugh discussed the scandal on Friday’s edition of his program.  Limbaugh, who is not a Catholic, said the invite “does not pass the common sense test.”

“I understand the tradition of inviting newly elected presidents. I understand the historical nature of President Obama’s election. I understand all of that,” he said.  “But do none of our institutions value their principles anymore or their core beliefs or their religious foundations? Are they so easily discarded for public relations or political correctness?”

Limbaugh said it was a “shock” to him that “something as venerable as Notre Dame University” would cast aside their core beliefs “for reasons of comparitively no substance.”  “Does not the tradition of having the newly elected president do your commencement address pale in comparison to the foundational building blocks of the university and the church on which it’s founded?” he asked. 

Referring to a large mosaic of Christ on display over Notre Dame’s football field, Limbaugh mused: “Are they going to have to cover up Touchdown Jesus the day Obama makes his speech?

“How could they not?”

An online petition sponsored by the Cardinal Newman Society protesting Obama’s appearance at the university has gathered over 221,000 signatures as of Tuesday morning. (

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