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Speaker choice goes against Catholic identity

Letter to the Editor | Monday, March 23, 2009

The fact that President Barack Obama has been chosen to give the Commencement address at the University of Notre Dame shocks and saddens me and deeply shakes the identity of Notre Dame as an institution of catholic education. The choice of President Obama reflects poorly on the University, as many of the President’s policies and ideas fly in the face of what it means to be Catholic. While an outstanding orator and the President of the United States, Mr. Obama’s standing as a champion on the issues of abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research makes him a very poor choice to give the Commencement address to our graduates in the spring.

Supporters of President Obama who also happen to be Catholic may point to their beliefs that Mr. Obama has many other ideas that will help a great number of people across the country, most especially the poor and unemployed. However, based purely on action, Mr. Obama has been able to pass laws, either through legislation or executive order, that both remove federal regulations on embryonic stem cell research and remove restrictions on foreign aid going towards abortion, better known as the Mexico City Policy.

At a time when our nation is facing a financial crisis – which he is doing all he can to turn around – Mr. Obama has found the time to overturn the laws enacted by President Bush that both re-instituted the Mexico City Policy and put limits on embryonic stem cell research in favor of research into the more successful adult and umbilical stem cells. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama has done nothing to alleviate the fears of many Catholics, including myself, who feared that he would come through on his promise to Planned Parenthood that he would ensure that passing the Freedom of Choice Act (which would do away with many state laws that require parental notification or consent for minors wanting an abortion, that allow health professionals to conscientiously object to performing an abortion and that force abortion practitioners to give women the side effects and possible repercussions of their choice to have an abortion).

Needless to say, Mr. Obama has acted and plans to act in a manner that directly contradicts the Catholic message of this University. I, as a future graduate of this University, implore the powers that be to find an alternate speaker who better represents the message and mission of the University of Notre Dame.

Brendan Durr


Knott Hall

March 20