March 24th, 2009
03:30 PM ET
11 years ago

Pro-life group calls on Notre Dame to rescind Obama invite

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="President Obama was invited to speak at the University of Notre Dame's commencement ceremony."](CNN) - The National Right to Life Committee is calling on the University of Notre Dame to rescind its invitation to President Obama to speak at the university's May commencement.

In a letter sent to Notre Dame's president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, the pro-life group called President Obama the "Abortion president," and that the school's invite "is a betrayal of the University's mission and an affront to all who believe in the sanctity and dignity of human life."

Anthony J. Lauinger, National Right to Life Committee vice president, cites the president's support for abortion rights and expansion of stem cell research as disharmonious with the traditional Catholic university's core values.

"As a Notre Dame parent and supporter, I am outraged by this invitation to Barack Obama. I have apologized to my eight children for the poor guidance I provided them when I encouraged them to enroll at Notre Dame," Lauinger said in the letter.

The National Right to Life Committee isn't the only group raising objections over the university's invitation.

The conservative Cardinal Newman Society has launched, a website opposing Notre Dame's decision to honor President Obama in South Bend, Indiana. As of Tuesday, over 50,000 conservative Catholics have signed the online petition protesting the invite.

UPDATE after the jump

University of Notre Dame spokesman Dennis Brown said Tuesday he does not foresee the university rescinding President Obama's invitation.

The president is set to give the spring commencement addresses at Arizona State University and the US Naval Academy in addition to Notre Dame, the White House announced Friday.

UPDATE: The bishop for the Ft. Wayne/South Bend diocese said Tuesday he is boycotting the university's graduation ceremony. Bishop John D'Arcy said his decision "is not an attack on anyone, but is in defense of the truth about human life."

"This will be the 25th Notre Dame graduation during my time as bishop. After much prayer, I have decided not to attend the graduation. I wish no disrespect to our president, I pray for him and wish him well," D'Arcy said in a statement. "I have always revered the Office of the Presidency. But a bishop must teach the Catholic faith 'in season and out of season,' and he teaches not only by his words – but by his actions."

Filed under: Abortion • President Obama
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. A little sad

    If the Catholic Church had done the right thing when it came to protecting BORN children from pedophile priests instead of protecting the priests, it would have greater credibility.

    March 24, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  2. Julia Byrd- Hayden Idaho

    I am pro life and democrat, what I have a problem with is these so-called pro-lifers that are only half pro life, no abortion, death penalty and war killing okay. If you're pro-life you gotta go all the way, otherwise you're just another right-wing republican born-again nut case. I am also a Catholic, the church needs to spend more time helping these women than putting them down. It's like your a sinner if you don't have the baby and if you do have the baby and get on welfare, you're a no good low live.

    March 24, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  3. thomas

    Luringer doesn't believe that the President of the United States is respectable enough to speak at Notre Dame? This man needs to get a grip because he is defaming both the President and Notre Dame. A university which embraces one philosophy over all others is not an educational institution; it is a mental institution.

    March 24, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  4. Chris - Seattle

    I hate to bust any bubbles here but nobody on this planet "knows God" nor "Jesus" well enough to say what he/she/it would do in any situation! All we know, as a matter of fact, is what we're "colored" to believe! Being positive & helpful to your fellow man, no matter what, is the only absolute that I take away from any religion! Grow up!

    March 24, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  5. mm

    I just spoke to god.... he doesn't like christians, muslims, etc.

    March 24, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  6. atypical

    please get on with your own life and leave others to theirs. geez.

    March 24, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  7. Robinson Girl

    I am Catholic. I understand the conern about President Obama speaking at Notre Dame if you are solely focused on the abortion issue. In no way do I feel outraged by the choice. I am an product of Catholic Schools and it would have been an honor to have him speak to us. President Obama has done what many people said was impossible. He has a story to tell. His journey to the Whitehouse is an inspiration to our youth. The conservative catholics are having a hard time seeing the big picture. There are many things he supports that falls directly in line with the Catholic church like social justice, education and taking care of our children. The Catholic church is also focused on having a universal belief, all are welcome no matter what age, gender, race or socioecomonic group you come from. I think his life story would be able to amplify this.

    March 24, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  8. aware

    Progressive think it is wrong to go to war for any reason but it is alright to kill babies for any reason. Science has enabled us to view these tiny human beings, with all of their DNA intact, in the womb! 🙁

    Will we kill the disabled and the elderly next?

    March 24, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  9. New Day

    "You cannot be a good Catholic and be pro-choice!"

    But, apparantly you can be a good catholic and:

    1. Pro Capital Punishment
    2. Pro War
    3. Pro guns (probably due to the fact that Jesus always packed heat)
    4. Anti-Mortgage Bailout. (because kicking people out of their house
    if they made mistakes is very Christian)
    5. A Pedophile

    So, being a good Christian/Catholic means you protect life in the womb but, once it's out, if it does something we dont like, we get to beat its head in with a rock.

    March 24, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  10. Karl

    It's amazing that when liberal college students oppose ultra-conservative speakers, the right accuses them of seditioning speech...rightly so. Now we have the right doing the same. Give it a break and allow the President to speak. For the person that feels his/her advice to eight family members to attend Notre Dame...TAKE THEM OUT OF NOTRE DAME! There's other universities. I'm sure several other college students will be glad to take those spot vacated.

    March 24, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  11. Citizen KV

    I don't see the issue here. Is Obama going to give a speech about having sex and getting abortions? I'm Catholic and pro-choice (wow- they do exist!) and I would be honored to hear ANY president speak.

    March 24, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  12. Andrew M.

    I think much of the uproar over this situation is largely due to a misunderstanding of the issue at hand: when one acknowledges that an unborn child is in fact a child (as pro-lifers do), abortion changes from a simple medical procedure to a morally outrageous act. In the eyes of those who are pro-life, abortion is responsible for nearly 50 million innocent deaths, in the same way the Rwandan genocide claimed 1 million lives or the current situation in Darfur an estimated 300,000.

    There is no doubt in my mind that Barack Obama is a very intelligent man and brilliant orator, or that he might even be capable of bringing our country out of its current economic crisis. However, as a Catholic, pro-life University, to offer an honorary degree to a man who as a central part of his political agenda has promoted this extensive genocide of unborn children is antithetical to what the University claims to stand for.

    To all the pro-choice people reading this thread, it is necessary to understand that trying to convince a pro-life person that abortion is just a 'single issue' is almost like trying to convince an African American that civil rights are 'nothing to get worked up about,' or a Jew that the Holocaust was 'no big deal.' Abortion is a huge issue, in the same way some might feel about violence toward women or child abuse, and I feel that the alumni of the University and Catholics are justified in their outrage.

    March 24, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  13. aware

    Progressives think it is wrong to go to war for any reason but it is alright to kill babies for any reason.

    Science has enabled us to view these tiny human beings, with all of their DNA intact, in the womb!

    Will we kill the disabled and the elderly next? 🙁

    March 24, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  14. ceepee

    Perhaps Bishop Williamson is free that day.

    March 24, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  15. Proud Army Vet

    I don't find this alarming at all. The current Pope.. Oh excuse me I
    mean 'Holy Father' Please! Called for pro-choice politicians to be denied Communion, during the 2004 U.S. presidential election campaign.

    I have a better idea why doesn't Notre Dame invite Bishop Richard Williamson to speak at the May commencement.

    I bet all those students would love too here him talk about the Good Old Days, when Pro-Life Catholics ran a wonderful vacation resort called Auschwitz!

    March 24, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  16. antillian

    to Mississippi Mike:

    On a side-note, I find it amusing that pro-lifers are being called "anti-choice." Oh, we believe that people can choose whether or not to have a baby, we just believe people should be making that choice when determining whether or not to commit the act of making babies, not deciding whether or not to kill babies.

    that same argument aplies to you, now lets turn it around....

    On a side-note, I find it amusing that pro-choice are being called "baby killers" Oh we believe that people can choose whether or not to have an abortian, we just believe people should be minding there own business when determining what woman wants to do to their bodies in their private lives.

    On another second note:
    "Oh, we believe that people can choose " who is we? you mean people that only think like you?

    "we just believe people should be making that choice when determining whether or not to commit the act of making babies"

    "not deciding whether or not to kill babies." Because a faith decides when a baby is alive doesn't make it so. It is that arrogance of "We are the only ones that know whats right" that turns so many away from archaic fairy tales like religion.

    March 24, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  17. andrew

    This from the church whose head says condom use will make the AIDS crisis worse. Earth to Catholics: it's the twenty-first century. Get with it.

    March 24, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |

    For all of you that keep screaming Freedom of Speech let me ask you this... Would you let a pro-lifer speak at your kid's graduation? Most of you would probably say no. Notre Dame is a Catholic university. Catholics strongly disagree with what he's done. They have a right to say "I don't agree with what you've done and I don't want you to speak in my college." They have that right. Freedom of Speech doesn't mean you can't disagree with someone and not listen to them.

    March 24, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  19. Dave in Atlanta


    Get over this !!!

    P-R-E-S-I-D-E-N-T Barack Obama was elected by the people in November 2008.

    Get over it, its time to move on. I am sick of these who are angry that President Obama is in office. If you don't move will be a very long eight years for ya (smile).

    March 24, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  20. Mississippi Mike

    "The man is NOT pro-abortion. "

    Oh yes he is. Name one bill he voted against that would have limited the abortion rights movement in any way. The only times in his political life he took a stand were times when he voted for bills that not even some of the most radical abortion rights groups dared support. I don't know why he likes the idea of killing babies so much but he does. This guy has a radical agenda that is so over the top that most people can't believe he holds the positions he does.

    March 24, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  21. Austinite

    Planned Parenthood is making a fortune off this? They're a non-profit genius...

    Right Wingers are truly the intellectual elite.

    March 24, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  22. MC

    The protesters are not saying that Obama has to agree with them, as many comments here claim. They're saying they don't want to give a position and platform of honor to someone whose policies are not in line with a basic tenet of the Catholic faith. Remember, Notre Dame is a Catholic University. I personally don't believe in abortion but don't expect everyone else in the world to agree with me. But I'm not about to facilitate someone else getitng the procedure. Get the paralell??

    Finally, I disagree strongly with the characterization of anyone who is against abortion (as most Catholics are) as a "right wing zealot." The majority of Catholics are not Bible belt, Christian fundamentalists who blindly follow televangelists. Why do you think the last Pope had so much of a problem with the US ("a la carte")Catholics?

    March 24, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  23. wendyann

    "These people" (according to Len from Washington) – are Catholics! If you are a practicing Catholic then you can't be pro-choice; also, it is a sin to knowingly support a pro-choice candidate/president.

    Having BHO speak at the university is an affront to the Catholic Church and the Sanctity of Life. If you don't agree with the Church then why are you Catholic?

    March 24, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  24. Ally

    I don't care about his views on abortion. I don't want him to speak because I am sick to death of hearing his voice read his pre-written speeches off the teleprompter. I mean, that idiot is still campaigning EVERYWHERE! Where will he show up next while the country is falling apart? "I Love New York Season 3?"

    Someone needs to tell him the campaign is over, and his on-the-job training has begun. Seems the only thing he's learned really well is how to fly around on Air Force One and giggle like a middle-school girl when being asked serious questions.

    March 24, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  25. Dean

    To all the pro life supporters It's real simple if you don't like abortions don't get one now mind your own business.

    March 24, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
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