.- Citing President Barack Obamaâs âdeliberate disregard of the unborn,â Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis has written to the president of the University of Notre Dame, protesting the âegregious decisionâ 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 âpro-abortion legislatorâ who has indicated his âdeliberate disregard for the unbornâ by promoting âthe FOCA agendaâ and âlifting the ban on embryonic stem cell research.â
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 âFOCA agendaâ 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. Bushâs 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 Obamaâs âopen support for gay rights.â
âIt 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,â the archbishop wrote, asking President Jenkins to reconsider the decision.
If the decision is not reconsidered, the archbishop said, âplease do not expect me to support your University in the future.â
Responding to the letter, Patrick Reilly, President of the Cardinal Newman Society, said the faithful owe âa debt of prayerful thanksâ 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 Dameâs 2009 commencement is scheduled for May 17.