More Notre Dame/Obama reactions
"A sad day"
These are some of the latest comments by member of the U.S. Catholic hierarchy over the decision to invite President Barack Obama to speak at Notre Dame's commencement.
Speaking as the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, this weekend Cardinal Francis George of Chicago said George said he had spoken with the administrative committee of the bishops' conference and corresponded with University president Fr. John Jenkins several times on the issue of Barack Obama speaking at the commencement.
"That conversation will continue .... whether or not it will have some kind of consequence that will bring, I think, the University of Notre Dame to its [the USCCB's] understanding of what it means to be Catholic," he said. "That is, when you're Catholic, everything you do changes the life of everybody else who calls himself a personal Catholic - it's a network of relationships.
"So quite apart from the president's own positions, which are well known, the problem is in that you have a Catholic university - the flagship Catholic university - do something that brought extreme embarrassment to many, many people who are Catholic," the cardinal said.
"So whatever else is clear, it is clear that Notre Dame didn't understand what it means to be Catholic when they issued this invitation, and didn't anticipate the kind of uproar that would be consequent to the decision, at least not to the extent that it has happened," said George.
He urged concerned Catholics "to do what you are supposed to be doing: to call, to email, to write letters, to express what's in your heart about this: the embarrassment, the difficulties."
Meanwhile, Archbishop John Nienstedt, the Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, said, “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. I hope that you [Fr. Jenkins] are able to reconsider this decision. If not, please do not expect me to support your University in the future.”
And Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City said, "I know many of you join me in surprise and anger that the University of Notre Dame - which for many is “the” example of a Catholic University - through its president, Father John Jenkins, has invited the most pro-abortion president of the United States not only to give the commencement address this year, but also to receive an Honorary Law Degree. This is in violation of the U.S. Bishops teaching that no honors ever be given by our Catholic institutions to those who support and promote the killing of innocent human beings through abortion. This is truly a sad day for the famous university dedicated to our Blessed Mother. I encourage those who care to write to Father Jenkins and express their displeasure with this invitation. May Father Jenkins have the courage to rescind this invitation and not be afraid of the possible embarrassment by admitting that he has made a bad decision. Catholic institutions of higher learning must always be places where the Catholic values we hold so dearly will always be supported and promoted - not where the culture of death is allowed to be honored or valued. Let us pray for those who work so hard to keep our Catholic institutions truly Catholic in all they do to promote the gospel of life."
As for the Cardinal Newman Society petition - more than 223,000 signatures as of 4:30 p.m. today.