Cardinal Archbishop of Galveston-Houston Daniel DiNardo became the first Catholic prelate to come out publicly against Notre Dame University inviting President Barack Obama to speak at their commencement.
In a pastoral letter to his congregation, DiNardo wrote:
I find the invitation very disappointing. 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."
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 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.
Four other bishops - including Bishop John D'Arcy whose district covers Notre Dame, have also protested with D'Arcy promising to boycott the commencement.
Speaking as one of the "subway alumni" of the school who has had both brothers and sisters attend the university, I think I can say with some certainty that the majority of alumni probably oppose the idea of the President speaking or getting an honorary degree while the majority of the current student body probably supports it. Besides, Notre Dame has become a Catholic school in name only as this annual survey attests:
Dozens of Catholic colleges recently hosted productions of "Vagina Monologues," a vulgar play in which the lesbian seduction of a 16-year-old girl is portrayed as her "salvation." [See sidebar.] A women's center at Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana, funded four students' travel to a pro-abortion leadership conference in Washington, DC--at a time when thousands of pro-life college students were finding their own way to the same city for the annual March for Life. And now comes hard data that confirms the failure of many Catholic colleges to tend to their students' spiritual needs.
A survey of students at 38 Catholic colleges--including major universities like Creighton, Loyola Marymount, Notre Dame and St. John's of New York--reveals that graduating seniors are predominantly pro-abortion, approve of homosexual "marriage," and only occasionally pray or attend religious services. Nine percent of Catholic students abandon their faith before graduation.
What does that say about a "Catholic" college when nearly 1 in 10 students who spend 4 years within its Catholic community end up abandoning their faith altogether?
Catholic education has changed. Some of that change is to address the changing realities of the church in the modern world. But other changes are simple cave ins to popular beliefs in the culture. Notre Dame - one of the more secularized Catholic colleges in the nation to begin with - apparently has plenty of experience with the latter.