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An open letter to Fr. Jenkins

Letter to the Editor | Monday, March 23, 2009

I am writing to express my outrage over the invitation extended to Barack Obama to speak this May at Commencement. What is one of the greatest Catholic universities in the world doing inviting a person who so openly and insistently seeks to institute policies so fundamentally opposed to our Catholic values? Central to our Catholic mission is the defense of life at all stages and in all forms. Yet the University is honoring a man who is continually removing limits on embryonic stem cell research and abortion: in short, the most liberal, anti-life President our country has ever seen. If Our Lady’s University does not take a stand against such abuse, who will?

In this era of moral relativism when so-called “Catholics” are openly supporting anti-life candidates, why is Notre Dame reinforcing these misguided beliefs. Notre Dame cannot seriously label itself as a Catholic institution any longer if Mr. Obama is allowed to speak at graduation. You cannot be a Catholic and pro-choice, nor can you be a Catholic institution and give honors and awards to pro-choice politicians. Lest you forget, Fr. Jenkins, the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops explicitly forbade such invitations in their 2004 document “Catholics in Political Life.” They write, “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” It seems pretty clear that Notre Dame, having given Barack Obama 1) an award (an honorary degree), 2) an honor (an invitation to speak at Commencement) and 3) a platform (a captive audience of more than 10,000 people), finds itself turning its back on its Catholic identity. It appears, Fr. Jenkins, that three strikes and he’s out.

Liam Larkin


off campus

March 22