Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, on Friday became the first American cardinal to publicly criticize the University of Notre Dame for inviting President Barack Obama to be this year's commencement speaker and to award him with an honorary law degree.
In his weekly "A Shepherd's Message" in the Texas Catholic Herald, Cardinal DiNardo expresses his disappointment with Notre Dame's decision.
Cardinal DiNardo begins his column by commenting on Pope Benedict's recent letter explaining his decision to lift the excommunications of the four bishops ordained by the schismatic Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Praising the Pope's call for internal peace in the Church, the Cardinal says that "vigorous and heartfelt discussion, even debate, needs to be placed in the arms of charity for effectiveness."
"In light of what I wrote above," the cardinal says in the final part of his column, "I want to venture a comment on the recently released statement of the University of Notre Dame; that statement noted that the President has accepted an invitation to give the Commencement Address this year as well as receive an Honorary Law Degree."
“I find the invitation very disappointing,” Cardinal DiNardo writes.
"Though I can understand the desire by a university to have the prestige of a commencement address by the President of the United States, the fundamental moral issue of the inestimable worth of the human person from conception to natural death is a principle that soaks all our lives as Catholics, and all our efforts at formation, especially education at Catholic places of higher learning."
According to Cardinal DiNardo, “the President has made clear by word and deed that he will promote abortion and will remove even those limited sanctions that control this act of violence against the human person. The Bishops of the United States published a document a few years ago asking all Catholic universities to avoid giving a platform or an award to those politicians or public figures who promote the taking of unborn human life. Even given the dignity of Office of the President, this offer is still providing a platform and an award for a public figure who has been candid on his pro-abortion views."
"Particularly troubling, he continues, is the Honorary Law Degree since it recognizes that the person is a 'Teacher,' in this case of the Law. I think that this decision requires charitable but vigorous critique.
Cardinal DiNardo was also joined by fellow Texas bishop Gregory Aymond, who also spoke about the scandal on Friday.
"In my opinion,” writes the Bishop of Austin, “it is very clear that in this case the University of Notre Dame does not live up to its Catholic identity in giving this award and their leadership needs our prayerful support.”
Counting Bishop Aymond and Cardinal DiNardo, four U.S. bishops have criticized Notre Dame's invitation to President Obama.
This past Tuesday, Bishop John D'Arcy, the bishop of the diocese that Notre Dame is located in, announced that he would not be attending Obama's commencement and suggested that the university was choosing “prestige over truth.” Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix spoke out against the invitation on Friday, saying that Notre Dame was committing “a public act of disobedience to the Bishops of the United States.”