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A pro-life perspective on Obama speaking

Mark Weber | Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I am a Roman-Catholic, pro-life and middle-upper class citizen with strong leanings toward the Republican Party. Oh, and one more thing: I am ecstatic that the President of the United States is coming to speak at my graduation Commencement.
Within hours of the big announcement on Mar. 20, 2009, I was receiving infuriating emails from my fellow pro-lifers calling for the immediate repeal of President Obama’s invitation to Notre Dame. “We must stand against evil,” said one message.” “He supports gay marriage, which is an affront to the family,” read another. “He should not be given this opportunity to confuse our youth.” One message went so far as to compare Obama with history’s most hated villain.
The email read: “The German people supported Hitler because he was dynamic and promised jobs and food. There is more to a man than his charisma.” There is also more to a man than his views on the single issue of abortion. Such rash and radical comments not only fail to promote the end of abortion, they undermine the entire pro- life movement.
In an emergency press release issued by the Pro-Life Action League, national director and Notre Dame alumnus Joe Scheidler made the following statements: “Over the first two months of his administration, Barack Obama has established himself as the most pro-abortion president in U.S. history. My alma mater should not be providing a platform for this president. Father Jenkins cannot expect pro-life Catholics to stand back and allow the most pro-abortion president in U.S. history to make a mockery of Notre Dame’s Catholic identity.”
As a pro-lifer myself, I understand where Scheidler is coming from; I, too, am concerned for the pro-life movement under the Obama administration. I simply cannot agree, however, with the idea that Notre Dame, one of the finest academic institutions in the nation, should deny the President of the United States a platform to speak solely because of his views on abortion. Obama is not coming to Notre Dame to speak about abortion, nor is his speech supposed to play a pivotal part in the formation of our Catholic identity.
It is our responsibility, not our Commencement speaker’s, to continue to cultivate our Catholic identity and apply it beyond graduation. The role of a Commencement speaker is to welcome college graduates into the real world, arm them with knowledge of complex and evolving issues and inspire them to be passionate and influential citizens of a global community. I simply cannot think of anyone more qualified to do these things than the leader of the free world, President Barack Obama.
Thus, to my fellow pro-lifers: let us battle the president on each and every issue pertinent to life, but let us not undermine our intelligence and our patriotism by forsaking other important issues in the reckless pursuit of one. The world will not stop turning for the abortion issue to be resolved. We as Catholics are therefore called to be dynamic citizens who take a multi-dimensional approach to making our world a better place; this means listening and learning from influential world leaders such as Barack Obama.
To disinvite the President of the United States based on a single issue, even one as important as abortion, would be a disgrace both to our Catholic identity and to this great Catholic University.
Mark Weber
March 21, 2009