Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fargo, said on national television May 14 that the University of Notre Dame is “ignoring their Catholic identity” by giving an honorary degree to President Barack Obama. Obama will speak at the university’s commencement exercises May 17 and receive an honorary degree.
“Certainly Notre Dame is a wonderful Catholic institution. It is one that has a Catholic character and a Catholic identity,” Bishop Aquila said on “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren” on Fox News channel Thursday, May 14. Referring to President Obama’s views and actions related to abortion, Bishop Aquila said “to extend an honorary degree to someone who is opposed to a basic, fundamental right as the right and the dignity of human life, from the moment of conception until natural death, that sends a very mixed message and certainly is perceived by the average layperson as condoning or giving an appearance of supporting his ideas on human life and the unborn child.”
Bishop Aquila said graduates of Notre Dame from the Diocese of Fargo have contacted him with concerns about the university’s decision to honor Obama. He said bishops “serving as teachers, need to extend their teaching and help people to see. Because, certainly, NARAL or Planned Parenthood would never invite Benedict XVI, much less extend an award to him. And essentially, Notre Dame is ignoring their Catholic identity and who they are, their Catholic character, by giving an award to (President Obama).”
In an April 5 letter to Father John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, Bishop Aquila wrote that Notre Dame’s invitation to President Barack Obama “diminishes the reputation of Notre Dame and makes one wonder what its mission truly is.”
Bishop Aquila wrote that President Obama, “clearly rejects the truth about human dignity through his constant support of a so called ‘right to abortion.’ He also tolerates the inexcusable act of letting aborted children die who are born alive. He promotes an intrinsic evil which must always be resisted by a just and civil society.”
The full text of the letter can be found here: www.fargodiocese.org/bishop/Homilies/StatementNotreDameLtr4-5-09.pdf
Printed with permission from the Diocese of Fargo.