.- Citing President Barack Obama’s “deliberate disregard of the unborn,” Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis has written to the president of the University of Notre Dame, protesting the “egregious decision” to invite the president as commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient. The archbishop joins several other U.S. bishops who have opposed the invitation.
Writing a March 31 letter to University of Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Archbishop Nienstedt characterized President Obama as a former “pro-abortion legislator” who has indicated his “deliberate disregard for the unborn” by promoting “the FOCA agenda” and “lifting the ban on embryonic stem cell research.”
The Freedom of Choice Act involves laws that would further enshrine permissive abortion policies in federal law and could threaten both restrictions on taxpayer funding for abortions and protections for those who object to performing abortions. The “FOCA agenda” is a term used by FOCA opponents to describe the piecemeal implementation of FOCA and other pro-abortion legislation.
President Obama recently overturned President George W. Bush’s restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. President Bush did not ban the research outright.
Archbishop Nienstedt in his letter also objected to President Obama’s “open support for gay rights.”
“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,” the archbishop wrote, asking President Jenkins to reconsider the decision.
If the decision is not reconsidered, the archbishop said, “please do not expect me to support your University in the future.”
Responding to the letter, Patrick Reilly, President of the Cardinal Newman Society, said the faithful owe “a debt of prayerful thanks” to Archbishop Nienstedt.
The Cardinal Newman Society, an organization dedicated to strengthening Catholic higher education, has organized a petition drive asking President Jenkins to rescind the invitation to President Obama. As of Tuesday afternoon the petition had more than 220,000 signatures.
Notre Dame’s 2009 commencement is scheduled for May 17.