The President at Notre Dame and decorum

It seems to me that we should have quite a bit of discussion of this dreadful development.

It would be a really bad idea for protesters to make asses of themselves, or disrupt the actual event at Notre Dame when the President speaks.

Infra dignitatem.

Not during the commencement ceremony.

Also, I remember that there was going to be a prayer vigil of some sort.

Would that the local bishop would perhaps concede an indulgence for those who participate in some sponsored prayer vigil.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. TNCath says:

    What about a 40 Hours Adoration at the Cathedral in Fort Wayne, culminating in Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament scheduled about the time the President will be speaking?

  2. Biff says:

    Faux News reports that the students want this 75-25. Only the faculty is opposed.

    Stay home during commencement. Send no more kids nor money to ND.

  3. Irenaeus says:

    I doubt very much the faculty is in general opposed. The stat, I suspect, comes from the campus paper’s recent editorial regarding letters to the editorial pro and con.

    In any case, Father is right; we can’t have any morons there. And, of course, all it takes is one or two morons on which the media will focus…The ND life groups have asked to take the lead on this, and we should let them.

  4. JML says:

    Deus Vult!!

    Bemidji State 5
    Notre Dame 1

    2:00 left

  5. torontonian says:

    I’m glad someone else noticed that, JML.

  6. Brendan says:

    I still think the best way to address this problem is for the large donors to voice their opposition and disgust. It is also nice to see other bishops write about their disappointment of the invitation. Maybe we will even hear something from the Vatican, perhaps something from Archbishop Burke or Francis Cardinal George.

    That’s too funny! The first search result on Google for “Bemidji State vs. Notre Dame” says of Bemidji State:

    “Their most encouraging games of the season were back-to-back 3-4 losses to North Dakota, one coming in overtime. This game will be the equivalent of 16-seed Chattanooga going up against UConn or Radford playing UNC in the first round of basketball.”

  7. Yes. If you are a student, stay home. If that is not possible, stay silent; while others cheer, you can pray.

  8. little gal says:

    I heard Joe Scheidler on Relevant Radio the other day and he said that he is working with the student groups at ND so I think that protests from the students themselves is a done deal.

    It appears obvious that only two months after being elected, that Obama is running for the next election(how does he have time to work on the nation’s economic problems with all the facetime that he is arranging in front of the TV cameras?)and using the ND invite as part of his reelection activities. Given what Obama has done that is anti life in the past two months,I agree that this is an opportunity that should be used. Although I have never done it before, I just might board a bus and head on down there and protest myself!

  9. Girgadis says:

    I think it’s perfectly acceptable for people to sign petitions and offer peaceful and prayerful witness AWAY from the commencement. But I do not support ND by either tuition payments or contributions so it would be entirely inappropriate for me to show up and make a spectacle of myself in the name of defending life. Why can’t we trust that the pro-life tuition paying parents and students will know how to get their message across?

    Disrupting someone else’s hard-earned commencement will not save a single human life, but it may set the pro-life movement backward at a time when it really can’t afford to lose credibility.

  10. TNCath says:

    The best place for student groups and other Catholics opposed to the President’s speaking is IN CHURCH before and during the commencement exercises. Standing on a corner with protest signs won’t accomplish anything. Kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament will.

  11. Tom Lanter says:

    Fr. Z

    Shades of the Land of Lakes Conference 67′ and Fr. McBrien!

    I see it from a different perspective, not what harm this President will bring to ND, God knows he should never have been invited. But will he lose what little faith, de minimis, he has left by coming on to this campus?

    Keep the Faith
    Tom Lanter

  12. Ricky Vines says:

    You all are right about the primacy of prayer. It brings us to the beginning and end of our endeavors. It also purifies our motives. Moreover, while the Holy Spirit will move all to pray specially those with a mystical and contemplative bent, that same Spirit will inspire the thinkers to analyze the errors and fallacies, the sociable types will engage their networks, the doers will hold rallies, etc. But it will be same Holy Spirit moving everyone in their own way to defend Notre Dame, the Mother of Life.

  13. Kelseigh says:

    Perhaps the strongest message, possibly even stronger than petitions and protests, would be a deafening silence after the speech?

  14. JML says:


    What if they got up, took off their shoes, slapped them together to knock the dust off, and walked out?

  15. LCB says:

    Fr. Z,

    What if those opposed knelt, faced the Basilica, and began praying a rosary aloud while Obama spoke?

  16. Rancher says:

    Any behavior at the commencement by anyone which disrupts through words or actions BO’s speech will not serve to benefit the intended pro-life cause. Silent prayer, a boycott of the event, and well publicized off campus prayer events would seem to be the best course of action.

  17. Brendan says:

    Oops, I meant to say Archbishop Burke and Francis Cardinal Stafford, not Francis Cardinal George was at the Vatican. He’s the Archbishop at Chicago and President of the USCCB, so I guess it might also be a good idea to contact him, as well.

  18. Al Kresta, host of Kresta in the Afternoon has been covering this quite a bit with some good guests and commentary.

    He had a suggestion for students. He sent out part of text of his excellent commentary here, along with a few audio archive links to the radio show segments.

    Kresta makes a good point: If 10% of the students decide not to go to their commencement, it wouldn’t have the same impact as those same 10% going, but in style. Says Al, in part:

    Nothing would better settle the question about Notre Dame’s value as a Catholic witness to the Kingdom of God than for its graduating students to greet this year’s commencement speaker, President Obama , with a vivid sign of Christian faith, hope, love, and courage. During his address, each graduate should cover his or her face with a two foot by two foot photo of either an aborted child or a beautiful Leonard Nilsson photo of an in utero human.

    The President prizes learning and a lesson of this sort should delight him. It would place him in a new “pay grade.” Think of it: an auditorium of courageous and robust young men and women, willing to set themselves apart from the apathy of bourgeois society in order to confront the culture of American violence, all gathered under the patronage of a Woman and out of respect for the office of the Presidency. Isn’t this the type of coming generation President Obama hopes to cultivate?

  19. Sara says:

    There was a similiar outpouring of consternation when then-Vice President Cheney gave a commencement speech at Brigham Young University. We must all remember that Mr. Obama is the President of the United States. We may disagree with him in many areas. However, we SHOULD respect his office as the leader of our great nation, and support him in the spirit of charity as good citizens. Many in the audience will be thrilled to have the opportunity to be in his presence in person and hear him speak. Don’t ruin the commencement ceremony by being a bunch of jackasses. Pray, write letters, pray some more, say Rosaries, pray some more, talk to your Representatives and Senators, pray some more. Politely voice your displeasure to ND. Offer up some good Lenten sacrifices. But please don’t ruin the commencement ceremony for the folks who have worked so hard to earn their degrees. When I earned my degree from a Utah university I had a high muckey muck from the Mormon church give the commencement speech. I sat there politely with my hands folded and did not cause a scene, even though I disagree a thousand percent in his church and what he had to say, especially concerning women. Practice good works of charity in your dealings with President Obama..

  20. oops – that last paragraph also belongs to Al Kresta. I ended the italics too soon.

  21. Sara says: But please don’t ruin the commencement ceremony for the folks who have worked so hard to earn their degrees

    So, if the university had invited David Duke – a well known racist, ought people sit there in the spirit of charity and make no protest over the outrageous invitation?

    If 5 year old children were being executed at the same rate as babies being aborted and it were being advanced by a sitting president, this man would not be speaking at a Catholic university.

    The problem here is that people don’t see the unborn as human enough worth protesting over. Then again, it’s easy to pretend that dismembering tiny bodies inside their mother’s wombs isn’t as important as a commencement.

  22. Robert Lee says:

    Christ got upset and violent when he saw people changing money and selling doves in the temple. I think he would have had even a stronger reaction if he saw an institution that alleges to be part of His church bestowing honors on someone who not only is in favor of aborting babies in their mothers wombs, but who promotes laws that would let viable babies born alive be killed.

  23. Nicknackpaddywack says:

    I find this whole uproar kinda silly. It’s the President of the United States addressing the graduating class of a major Catholic University. Nobody expects him, especially as a non-Catholic, to agree with every aspect of Catholic moral and political teaching, even fundamentals. I believe that none of this would even be under discussion if the Catholic identity of Notre Dame were not already in doubt. Eventually, this whole affair of creating a dust up over every pro-choice graduation speaker at a Catholic college or university will have to come to an end. Abortion will be legal in America into the foreseeable future, and the Catholic Church, being a form of cultural Christianity composed largely of nominals and heavily influenced by liberalism, will continue to be peopled by individuals sympathetic to the pro-choice cause. They’re in the mix, in many cases running the show. I guess one way to think of it is that the professionally outraged, like many of the commenters on this website, will never go out of business.

  24. JC says:


    Isn’t Obama the great Community Organizer? The guy who built his career on organizing protests and such? Yet it’s funny that, now that he’s in charge, he says people who just protest are not truly participating in society.

    Anyway, I see both sides of this. Protests fo various sorts happen at colleges all the time.

    Let’s not forget what happened when Cardinal Arinze gave the commencement address at Georgetown1

    And I think any Cardinal, much less a Vatican Prefect, is worth far more dignity and respect than a secular leader.

    That said, prayer is always more powerful than protest. Protestingn Obama here is no different than protesting Obama at the White House or something. I like Fr. Z’s suggestion. Bishop D”aArcy should offer a prayer vigil.

    Of course, I don’t “get” commencements, anyway. Any ceremony that isn’t liturgy i is basically a waste of time as far as I’m concerned. I haven’t gone to any of my graduations.

    Hey! There is *plenty* of precedent for “alternative” ceremonies. Schools have “alternative proms” for vario usreasons. Some groups wlil have “alternative graduations.”

    Why not have an alternative graduation service? Bishop D’Arcy could offer a special Holy Hour and Mass. Those graduates and bystanders who want to visibly protest Obama could attend the Mass, and they coudl take pictures of all the people in attendance.

  25. Aaron says:

    I guess I just don’t see how silently kneeling down and praying during the speech would be disruptive. For those who say “don’t ruin it for the seniors,” don’t you think that advice would have been good for Fr. Jenkins before he invited someone whom many students could not in conscience silently honor? Staying away sends a statement, true, but unless you get a very sizeable number of people to do it (and who wants to miss their own graduation ceremony) the statement is rather muted, seeing as how there is no one present to make it. Not to mention that staying away cheats the seniors, who are not the ones who are in the wrong here.

    So don’t get me wrong, I agree that protesters shouldn’t be _disruptive_, but I don’t think silent, inobtrusive but visible protest would be disruptive, and I know I myself would not be able in good conscience to simply sit by. The fact of _not_ doing anything speaks just as loudly as action, in my opinion, and I would not want to give the slightest idea of my approval of this award (let’s remember, after all, that the problem is not the president being invited to give a speech somewhere on campus, but that he is being honored with a law degree and being held up – by means of the speaking slot – for the students’ emulation).

  26. Jerry says:

    First of all the USCCB needs to remind Fr. Jenkins of their 2004 statement about this behavior. And be most public about it.

    Then the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and its Bishops should make their disgust in some way.

    In my view, the students should walk out when Obama comes to the dais.

  27. Sara says:

    My question to everyone–the outrage over our sitting President and his current views and policies now…

    Where were you at the polls this past November??

    I seem to recall Mr. Obama won by a rather sizeable majority…

  28. Lee says:

    “But it will be same Holy Spirit moving everyone in their own way to defend Notre Dame, the Mother of Life.”

    Isn’t it more to the point to ask the Mother of God to defend her own university? Isn’t she the patroness? Isn’t she the Queen of Heaven AND earth?

    This whole brouhaha to one side, we need a miracle, a big one to roll back the secularist tide in this country on many fronts. Here is the PERFECT setting.

    If we arose to the occcasion and did ALL we could in the way of prayer and fasting and rosary processions and pilgrimages, begging the Mother of God to intervene on behalf of the university, the church and the country, she would do ALL she could, which is considerable.

    This is the kind of thing she asked for at Fatima, not that Catholics go into Lisbon and protest against the Communists with clever signs and demonstrations. No, prayer and sacrifice.

    When are we going to wake up? We are so secularized that most of the talk on the topic in the best Catholic blogs is about the number of signatures on the petitions, about red envelopes, and similar impotent claptrap.

    Think of a student led Rosary Procession on campus every evening until graduation; of Notre Dame grads and Catholics in rosary pilgrimages every Saturday morning to Marian shrines in all the major cities and towns of this nation, a protest that lifts its eyes to Heaven for relief.

    It would bring down Heavenly intervention, and at this point we need nothing less.

    A political victory, the withdrawal of the invitation due to an infinite number of signatures is simply too puny a victory to aim for at this point. We need the modern equivalent of the pillar and the cloud, pharoh and his army swamped, and we need it now.

    This is the PERFECT occasion to beg for it, together, “in every form of prayer and petition.”

  29. John Enright says:

    I don’t think I am agreement with you on this issue, Father. Peaceful protest is warranted in this case.

  30. vox borealis says:


    The popular results of the 2008 election were 53% to 46%. Whether 53% is a “sizeable [sic] majority” is debatable. In any case, your argument is at best confusing and at worst spurious. Presumably the same people who are in an uproar about this issue voting against Mr. Obama in November. That they constitute a minority of voters only underscores the countercultural aspect of Catholic Christianity (commented on by Pope Benedict).

  31. Sara,

    You will find few, if any, regular US readers of this blog who weren’t at the voting booths working hard to keep Obama out of office.

    Once again, if David Duke had gotten into the Oval Office, would Notre Dame have invited him?

    Me thinks not. That is because it is politically correct to fight racism, but it’s not politically correct to fight abortion.

  32. roxanne says:

    Lee I completely agree with you. Why are we thinking so small? Petitions are a good show to the secular world but what about calling on the Holy Spirit to do the heavy lifting here. Praying & fasting by all for a great intercession is the answer. Start the rosary processions and the vigils. The God of the Universe can surely show his power if we only faithfully ask.

  33. Mary Gibbs says:

    Dear Fr. Z: Thanks for your efforts. I wrote Fr. Jenkins suggesting that he award Barack “The King Herod of Judea Lifetime Achievement Award for Most Babies Killed”. I pointed out to him that Barack must one day give an accounting to the King of Kings for all of these murders. I added: I wonder how the Catholic priest, the celebrated education leader who so spectacularly honors the baby killer, will be held to account. I told him I am giving my children “The Cardinal Newman Society Guide to Choosing a Catholic College” for their children. I also told him I will remind them of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s thoughts on the subject. I wish I could be optimistic but after receiving Jenkin’s standard reply to my complaint last March in re his vagina Monologues curious commitment, I am not. Jenkins wants to see his picture splashed across the front pages of all newspapers on May l8th pumping the president’s hand, the object of the pres’s flashy smile. Rosaries are needed! MFG

  34. Kelly says:

    Father Z and all,

    I am a sophomore at Notre Dame, and part of the ad hoc group at I can tell you that this is only the tip of the iceberg. The administrations and even more so the professors are the biggest problem at this institution. The professors are laughing with glee at this announcement while the students are being indoctrinated and scandalized by their teaching and this decision, and they don’t even know it. That being said it is also possible to get a good education here, we have some amazing professors who love the Church and teach the truth, but those numbers are dwindling.

    We are currently trying to educate the students as to why this is wrong, protest from now until the day of commencement to show our disgust at the scandal, there may be some forms of protest on the day itself from other pro-life groups, and the seniors are currently in the process of deciding what to do. Some are not going, and are trying to get an alternate commencement set up maybe inviting the Bishop to the Grotto. Others are going but putting a cross and baby feet on top of their cap. Besides the scandal this is causing it is also dividing the campus and taking the focus off of what graduation is really about. celebrating the students and their families. It was extremely selfish for the administration to do this, [very much to the point!] and it very upsetting. Please pray for us, and for me as I discern whether it is appropriate to stay at such a place.

    Father Z, I was wondering if there is anyway to remove Notre Dame’s status as a Catholic institution? I know we would never do that, but it seems like it might need to happen to prevent further scandal.

  35. Irenaeus says:

    You have to have a dialogue with your enemies… but you dont give them awards for their faults. They have a great opportunity to do something positive with this encounter. I pray that one of the administrators can take advantage of it to the betterment of all.

  36. Fr. Michael says:

    “Let’s not forget what happened when Cardinal Arinze gave the commencement address at Georgetown1”

    What happened when Card. Arinze went to Georgetown?

  37. Merriweather says:

    Graduates receive their degrees in a separate ceremony, so protesting during Obama’s speech won’t “ruin their graduation”. At least not anymore than Fr. Jenkins already has.

    What’s really *special* about the whole thing, is how they “anticipated” this reaction, and did it anyway. They really don’t care what actual Catholics think, they do what they want.

    I think a coordinated effort to turn your backs on him when he speaks might work, if there were enough people doing it.

    Don’t try to bring in signs or banners, I’m sure they will be confiscated. But if you stick something to the inside of your gown, on the back, you might be able to turn it inside out once your inside.

    I’m also not opposed to booing loudly when he’s announced by Fr. Jenkins. And especially after his speech.

    Don’t forget the Litany of the Saints either–a large number of people chanting that in unison is very impressive, and you’ll need all the help you can get.

    Whatever happens, Obama must not be allowed to use this to his advantage—if he is publicly shamed by a large vocal group, the address will have cost him image-wise, rather than helped him gain.

    I also haven’t lost hope that a miracle will happen, and he’ll be disinvited.

  38. Merriweather says:

    I also think it would be a nice gesture for Dr. Glendon, when she gets up to accept the Laetare medal, instead of accepting it, she could articulate why she has to refuse it—because the President of Notre Dame betrayed his mission and invited a radical baby killing commie to the commencement and gave him an honorary degree.

  39. Brendan says:


    Here is an excerpt from an article from the Catholic News Agency when Edward Cardinal Egan declared Marymount Manhattan College no longer Catholic after they invited Hillary Clinton to receive an honorary award, violating the same 2004 “Catholics in Political Life” statement from the U.S. Bishops that Notre Dame is now doing.

    “This is the fourth time since Pope John Paul II issued ‘Ex Corde Ecclesiae,’ the apostolic constitution on Catholic universities, that a bishop has declared a historically Catholic college or university to be no longer Catholic. The 1990 document gives local bishops the responsibility of determining whether colleges can be called ‘Catholic.’

  40. Felice says:

    As usual I disagree with you, Fr. Z. [tisk] It’s not disruptive for people to kneel and pray, whether silently or out loud, or turn their backs on obama when he speaks. This is their graduation and they have not only the right but the responsibility as Catholics to themselves, others and to God to stand up for God and His teachings. They should not be denied the chance to do what is in their hearts. [Another person who jumped to conclusions and assumed I think people should not protest.]

  41. EDG says:

    Qui tacet…I agree that the protests should not be violent and disruptive, [Right.] but I think there should be protests. Otherwise, they’re definitely giving the appearance of consent.

    The person who is responsible for putting the students in this position in the first place is Fr. Jenkins, who must have known that giving an honorary doctorate (in Law!) to Obama was going to be seen as a slap in the face to the Church. And that’s what it is. ND long ago (Land O’Lakes, 1967) unilaterally severed its ties with the bishops and the Church so that it could get government money. The bishops need to recognize this now, give ND its wish, and declare that it is no longer a Catholic college. IMHO, that’s the only way of resolving this.

  42. Mark says:

    Do not attend the commencement ceremony, do not send your children to study at Notre Dame, and transfer to a university worthy of the name “Catholic”. Nonattendance is by default not disruptive. Have a private “graduation celebration” instead with your family and friends. In the meantime, do offer prayers for that place.

    In the context of two thousand years of Catholic history, foregoing one’s graduation ceremony is an exceedingly small sacrifice to make to witness to one’s solidarity with the unborn children.

  43. Limbo says:

    The asses are those who remain silent – protest loudly Life is worth fighting for so too is the Catholic Faith.

  44. Corleone says:

    It would be a really bad idea for protesters to make asses of themselves, or disrupt the actual event at Notre Dame when the President speaks.

    I guess the operative word is “asses” in that sentence. If the president is unwilling to listen to anyone but his own voice, maybe this is precisely the forum to voice opposition. If one can imagine at the moment of the president’s speech an entire crowd chanting in unison “abortion is murder, protect the unborn!” with raised banners for the media and the world to see, I would call this a good job of witnessing the Catholic faith.

  45. Fr. Michael says:

    EDG wrote: “ND long ago (Land O’Lakes, 1967) unilaterally severed its ties with the bishops and the Church so that it could get government money.”

    Since it’s Sunday I’ll be cautious and write even more charitably than I already typically do. The above quoted portion of EDG’s comment is laughable. ND and other Catholic universities, specifically, and other private schools, in general, received government funds before ’67, during ’67, and after ’67. Buona domenica.

  46. Paul Haley says:

    The best “protest” I can think of is for everyone to boycott this ceremony and, if not possible, to not applaud anything this man says. Say the rosary and keep quiet and do not watch it on TV. Can you imagine the scene – deathly quiet with pun fully intended.

  47. Anne Scanlon says:

    So much to pray for…and I sure don\\\’t know the best thing for anyone to do….although perhaps silence from the student body holding pictures of those aborted babies would make the loudest statement…especially remaining silent and in their seats after The President speaks….and it may leave the media peplexed as to what pictures they should take. Meanwhile we need to storm heaven …..

  48. EDG says:

    Of course they received Federal money before then, but it was certainly much easier for them to get more government money after making it clear that they regarded themselves as something removed from the institutional control of the Church. Why do you think “Catholic” schools went around removing their crucifixes in the 1960s and 70s?

    The Land O’Lakes statement – the event was led by Fr Hesburgh, of course – should have met with much stronger opposition from the bishops at the time, but the entire Church was in a disciplinary and structural crisis, so I think it sort of slipped by. But what you are essentially seeing is the explosion of the time bomb, where now universities and other theoretically Catholic institutions (watch for certain hospitals to do this) feel perfectly free to reject the authority of the bishops.

    It’s naive to think this is not of great interest and joy to the Obama administration. The Catholic bishops are the only group in the US that has offered consistent opposition, some more than others, to Obama’s statist, anti-life policies. The selection of Biden, the pushing of Pelosi as a “Catholic” spokesperson, the gay attacks on the Church in the recent Connecticut legal ploy to separate the local churches from their bishop, to name a few things, were all directed at making it appear as if the Church still existed but was now “free” of the bishops and, by extension, Rome. I think the Obama administration sees the awarding of this degree by ND as the confirmation of what has been a very successful strategy, and if Obama and his type of Catholics get away with kicking the bishops in the teeth unopposed, they are going to be emboldened. The ND event is going to be used to show how the “real” Church approves of Obama’s policies and how irrelevant and ineffectual the bishops are, and it will also probably encourage more attempts to separate Catholic institutions, including parishes, from their bishops while at the same time allowing them to keep the brand name “Catholic.”

  49. Rather Read says:

    My father (88 years old) is an alum. We’ve always supported Notre Dame, but no more. If I was a senior, I’d forgo the commencement and go to the grotto or the church, and pray.

  50. Mark says:

    I didn’t read all the comments, so maybe this has been mentioned already, but I think it would be great if students pulled out rosaries while President Obama was speaking and just silently said the rosary. Can you imagine seeing a sea of students saying their rosaries while the President spoke? It would be great.

  51. Stan Kabala says:

    While I disagree with and am appalled by the invitation, the real scandal is the conferring of the Honorary Degree. Logic can support the invitation of a US President, it cannot support the conferring of an Honorary Doctorate of Laws when the laws he supports result in both abortion and infanticide.

  52. little gal says:

    “I think the Obama administration sees the awarding of this degree by ND as the confirmation of what has been a very successful strategy, and if Obama and his type of Catholics get away with kicking the bishops in the teeth unopposed, they are going to be emboldened. The ND event is going to be used to show how the “real” Church approves of Obama’s policies and how irrelevant and ineffectual the bishops are, and it will also probably encourage more attempts to separate Catholic institutions, including parishes, from their bishops while at the same time allowing them to keep the brand name “Catholic.”

    Amen,EDG. I might say that as someone who considers herself a moderate,I have noticed that other moderates are coming out against Obama speaking. How I read this is that this issue is reaching into the \’heart of the Church\’ and therefore this is a very important opportunity both for teaching and clarifying Catholic identity.

  53. Fr. Michael says:

    EDG wrote: “Of course they received Federal money before then, but it was certainly much easier for them to get more government money after making it clear that they regarded themselves as something removed from the institutional control of the Church. Why do you think “Catholic” schools went around removing their crucifixes in the 1960s and 70s?”

    EDG, could you give an example where a federal grant was easier to obtain by ND or any other Catholic university after ’67?

  54. EDG says:

    I think we’re wandering off the topic, Fr. Michael. I’m sure I could find an example if I looked into it, or otherwise institutions wouldn’t have been so eager to shed the Catholic label at the time that the government started doling out education money. But if you want to leave out that entire sentence altogether, it still does not undermine the fact that removing a Catholic institution from the control of the bishops or mandatory adherence to Church policies makes it a lot more attractive to the state. And that was my point.

  55. Robert Lee says:

    Clearly Obama wants, to use the words of other bloggers as noted above, to “kick the bishops in the teeth.” Check out this link to the Catholic Thing web site for more details on the nefarious efforts he is making to try to silence the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in America:

    Obama is not only opposed to an unborn (or even a born) child’s right to life, he has opened a frontal assault on our constitutional freedom to practice religion in America.

  56. Fr. Michael says:

    EDG, that’s fine. It should be noted that ND never removed its crucifixes from the classrooms.

    God bless.

  57. EDG says:

    When I was at Mass this morning, for some reason (perhaps the reading about God’s covenant) I found myself thinking about England centuries ago, when all the heirarchs knew that the Church demanded one thing but their king wanted another. They probably didn’t even think, in some cases, that it was a terribly serious issue; and besides, I’m sure Henry VIII played on their foolish vanity. After all, who doesn’t want to be the king’s friend? And Rome was far away.

    I’m sure that Fr. Jenkins is already seeing himself shaking Obama’s hand and being not only the friend of the king but the hero of the New York Times. But it does go to the heart of the Church, and that’s why even moderates are afraid, because we sense that sometimes small things can have major consequences.

  58. EDG says:

    Thank you, Fr. Michael!

    I attended a conference at ND a few years ago, and I was very impressed to see not only the crucifixes, but the many Catholic images that were scattered throughout the campus. Some of the schools in New York State (where I am from originally) absolutely “sanitized” their premises. ND has many very good people and much to offer, and I guess that may be one of the reasons this is hitting so hard.

  59. tzard says:

    Oh vei, what a mess.

  60. Fr. Michael says:

    EDG wrote: “ND has many very good people and much to offer, and I guess that may be one of the reasons this is hitting so hard.”

    I think that is exactly right. It’s because it is such a great Catholic university that these things matter and the wealth of concern is so present. Rick Garnett of the ND Law School has written well on this point.

  61. John Sloan says:

    Decorum is out when you are fighting the worst abortionist in the history of our country and that man being the president. God is not going to ask us to be polite in supporting our Christian ideals. Luke 12:49–(Jesus) “I came to set fire on earth…..not some namby pamsy….Oh, Mr. President we like you so much we would not dare let you know what it our religous gut. [“decorum”, rightly understood, is never “out”. ]

  62. Rob says:

    With all due respect, dear Father, the one who “made an ass of himself” was the College president who issued the invitation.

    The burden is not on faithful Catholics to justify how they protest. Short of breaking the law or the commandments, any effective form of protest is fine with me. Where has being “nice” gotten us over the years?

    Remember that right-to-life got the most attention when they were the loudest and noisiest in the old Operation Rescue days. Now we’re all so polite—led by our polite bishops—maybe it’s time to ask why thing are just getting worse with very few brave enough to even open their mouths. Silence has become the order of the day.

    One last thing—I know you have to be careful with the authorities so you don’t get your ecclesiastical hand slapped, but please, don’t put a damper on the natural outrage and frustration Catholics feel at having been so ripped off by those who should have protected us. Seeing some good honest emotion and meaningful expression of the Ecclesia Militans would do everyone alot of good.

  63. Sara says:

    To answer the poster’s question–

    I am not well versed with who David Duke is so I am not adequately prepared to answer your question. Perhaps if I have time later on this day I might research the individual.

    However–I WAS raised in a household with a great deal of patriotism, with parents and grandparents who RESPECTED the office of the President and the government of the U.S., even though we didn’t necessarily agree with absolutely everything. (And we WERE raised in a good Christian household). We have pictures of the standing President and an American flag in our house, and we say the Pledge each morning and pray for our leaders at family prayer at breakfast. Practically all the youngsters went on to serve in the military, and after their service onto civil service in the government sector. We’re proud of our flag, our country, our President, and our government. Where is that patriotism nowadays?? All you seem to hear nowadays is folks badmouthing EVERYTHING our country is about.

    Just some gentle thoughts for those who might be planning rather VOCAL (or otherwise) demonstrations….it is the PRESIDENT of the United States…there is going to be more security than you ever dreamed of. What may be arranged is a “separate” area for demonstrations like was arranged at the Salt Lake 2002 Olympics. Anyone attempting to make a scene or act “unappropriately” (and others will determine what that will be) will be promptly carried away by the “men in black”, and you will probably be detained and arrested. For graduates (and others) that will greatly affect your employment efforts and other future endeavors, especially if you plan careers in any type of local, state, or federal government work.

    With these thoughts, please plan your protests accordingly. For my part I will fast, pray, write letters, say the Rosary, for the conversion of the heart of Mr. Obama. And as one poster suggested, really uplift this to the Holy Spirit.

    Off to Mass and uplift you all in prayer–although it is a blizzard outside and treacherous driving and I just might not chance it.

  64. Jason Keener says:

    Notre Dame students and other Catholics should form a huge sidewalk demonstration that goes on for a couple of miles like is done with the Life Chain events. People could stand in silent witness with signs showing aborted children.

    At the very least, Obama’s motorcade should be made to drive through a sea of protesters to get to the graduation venue that day. Others attending the graduation should also see this witness. Many of them voted for Obama. I wish Notre Dame would organize something big and invite Catholics to come from all over.

  65. Girgadis says:


    I respectfully ask you this question. You say that the pro-life movement got a lot more attention in the old Operation Rescue Days. Aside from getting attention, what else was accomplished?

  66. Susan Peterson says:

    In normal times patriotism such as Sara speaks of is a virtue, although always secondary to one’s loyalty to the Faith and the Church. But when one’s country more and more commits itself to atrocities, then one has to exercise one’s patriotism towards the Kingdom of Heaven, not to any earthly country.
    I hate to say this, but the way Sara is speaking could be the words of a good German as Hitler came to power-legally- and began to take over. At what point do you decide that you have to abandon your patriotism, or cease to express it by loyalty to an unjust, nay, evil, government?
    DOES Mr. Obama deserve respect just because he was elected to the office of president? Is there anything he could do which would cause him to lose his right to that respect? Suppose he makes use of the bad economic situation to gather much more power to his office, and then subverts the constitution and the institutions of this country? We don’t have a guarantee from God that this country will always be free. We don’t have a guarantee that it will always be able to serve our country and also serve our God. So we have to give our loyalty only conditionally to any government.

    If I had my preference, the truly Catholics students present would not do anything “cheap” like try to wave signs, or wear T shirts. I think that when Mr. Obama begins to speak, they should all kneel down in their places and say the rosary silently. They should pray for our country, for the conversion of Mr. Obama and of other politicians, and of doctors who do abortions, and for pregnant women considering abortion; make it really a prayer. It would also be a witness which would be observed by the press and make an impression, especially if there were a considerable number of students who did this. (They need to agree together ahead of time whether to boycott the ceremony or, my preference, do something like this.) They would not be preventing him from speaking or trying to shout him down or drown him out, which I believe is rude when it is done to people I agree with, so I think we should not do it either. But they would show that all cannot go on as normal when someone who supports killing the unborn and has taken clear actions to pay for more of the unborn to be killed, is invited to speak .
    That is my opinion.
    Susan Peterson

  67. RC says:

    ND and the LoL colleges didn’t sell out for federal money, but for liberal respectability. Maybe they got some liberal foundation money out of it too, but the main thing is that they declared themselves independent of church supervision because they wanted to. They wanted liberal-style academic freedom more than they wanted to maintain their Catholic responsibilities and relationships.

    That having been said, I’d like to hear the grads boo vigorously when Mr. Obama is given his degree, and then leave the ceremony. It’s good that the actual degree ceremony is separate.

  68. supertradmom says:

    When Mario Cuomo came to ND many years ago, in 1984, there were peaceful demonstrations against his pro-abortion stand. Students who are pro-life should merely stay away. One can arrange to get the diploma from the Admin Office. Absence would speak louder than words.

  69. little gal says:

    There were two opinion pieces in the Chicago Tribune today on the ND affair-one by Kmiec and the other by Weigel.

    Here are the links:,0,7249210.story,0,1658251.story

  70. Joel L says:

    Everyone should go back and read Lee\’s post. The comments there are spot on! And like Paul Haley posted above, inside the stadium, the near perfect protest would be silence and the thumbing of Rosaries. Could you imagine!?

    All too often we feel helpless or powerless in this battle for life. Right now it is almost as if we have been handed a golden opportunity \”do something\” other than sending an envelope. Here, on a national stage, with the whole country unable to ignore us, we Catholics have an opportunity to make a point that cannot be ignored. Make that two points.

    – We can make it clear to our clergy that we, the Catholics of this great nation will accept nothing less than the truth. Our protest can help those who need it, to have the courage to preach that truth.
    -We can also make it abundantly clear to our standing prsident, that we do NOT approve the actions he has taken and promised to take concerning the sanctity of life.

    Jason – I like your line of thinking as well. I live about 9 hours away from ND, but I am thinking a pilgrimage might be in order.

  71. Corleone says:

    Little Gal – thanks for the links. I had to hold back from wretching after reading Kmiec’s piece. Social justice? Please.

  72. Corleone says:

    Joel – Everyone should go back and read Lee’s post. The comments there are spot on! And like Paul Haley posted above, inside the stadium, the near perfect protest would be silence and the thumbing of Rosaries. Could you imagine!?

    No, I cannot imagine. Because this would NEVER HAPPEN. You don’t think there will be zealous, rauckus Obama cheerleaders bussed in from all over to make sure he gets the welcome he has been promised? Do you not think there is a student contingent on campus that not only idealises Obama but rejects Catholic principals outright and merely attends the University for its prestige?

    To think that those attending the ceremony are in any way a homogenous lot is beyond fanciful.

  73. mfg says:

    Fr. Z: So many great ideas! BO lives & dies by media coverage. I suggest all grads kneel and pray therosary–with a rosary in hand, of course–no applause (nothing!) before, after and during the talk and conferring of the honorary degree. How can security object to that? The trick is for all the grads to agree and there’s the rub. It would have been a no-brainer in my Catholic college back in the day! Your responders need to contact friendly student groups at ND (The Irish Rover, Pro-Life, Newman, Thomas More–there are many–these are the people who are the logical ones to bring this about through Catholic Action (remember?) We, your readers, can each contact our bishops–especialy in the midwest–and request they make a public statement. Also, please each write a letter to Bishop D’Arcy (Fort Wayne/South Bend) thanking him for his decision. I do not think the graduates turning their backs on the office of the President is ever a good idea. Just shows poor upbringing and will be spun by the media to bash Catholics. I wish the rest of the student body would just stay home. Rosaries, people, rosaries. AMDG. mfg

  74. kate says:

    I’m not a fan of the Marxist Abortion president and do not stand in awe of the rigged political chicanery that put him in the unholy office of maximum leader for the church of state worship.

    This invitation to speak is a slap in the face to the Church and was intended to be so. It is a statement that Notre Dame is no longer a Catholic institution, that the most pro-abortion politician ever to hold executive office now reigns supreme over ALL and baldly proclaims his intentions to spread the Culture of Death.

    Any true Catholic should RUN, not walk from this “university”. Any Catholic alumnus who contributes to this school is very nondiscerning.

  75. Jason Keener says:

    little gal,

    Thank you for posting those article links. Doug Kmiec’s article is seriously flawed. Kmiec basically argues that Catholics should make nice with Obama and overlook Obama’s stance on abortion for the good things he has supposedly done. What Kmiec fails to understand is that Obama has basically disqualified himself as a morally legitimate leader because he supports the so-called right of mothers to kill their own innocent children. Wake up, Americans! How can you support or give an award to a President who actually believes it is ok to kill innocent unborn Americans???? Unreal.

    Should German universities too have overlooked the Holocaust to give Hitler honorary degrees for his good architectural programs? No! There are certain things that render a person totally unfit for leadership or honorary degrees. Support for genocide, whether it be against the unborn or the Jews, is one of those things.

  76. Ricky Vines says:

    Can we say that all the stakeholders of ND have the right to protest this obscene decision? So, that will include the alumni and donors, the teaching staff, the students and others who wish to express solidarity with them, the parents, and the Church hierarchy and the faithful affected by this scandal. So, this changes the picture altogether; because, it is no longer about the commencement exercise of a few seniors; but, a symbolic defilement of Catholic mores facilitated by one of our own, Fr. Jenkins- who paid no consideration on the pastoral and practical implications of his actions. Fr. Jenkins messed up, so it is up to the rest of the stakeholders to make things right. And the consideration is no longer limited to the graduating class, but to the Church at large. Uninviting the abortion proponent is now the task of everyone. So, if we are to consider parameters then let us see it from that perspective.

  77. Bill in Texas says:

    The only resolution that will matter is if Fr. Jenkins disinvites President Obama. *Nobody cares what students think or do.* Least of all University administrations and politicians. The media will merely paint student activities in the most sensationalistic terms possible. If Obama speaks, no matter what the students do, the damage will be done.

    We can only hope that the bishops, cardinals, and the Pope himself will take all necessary and appropriate action to get Fr. Jenkins to clean up this mess he has made. If he doesn’t, then I hope that we see a new president at Notre Dame next year.

  78. Hoss says:

    Let me see now. One of the Church’s most expensive institutions is going to have America’s most pro abortion president come and speak. Isn’t that like asking Arais, or Pelegias, or Martin Luther to a dinner. But with this difference: As confused as those guys were, this President is about to commit mass murder on a grand scale fith FOCA, stem cell research, etc. And we should be outraged that a major expensive Catholic University is sucking up to him! How about not sending any money, donations or anything to Notre Dame? How about showing this Catholic Institution for once that we are not going to take it anymore? You can’t ride both sides of the “life” issue fence. You are a Catholic Institution or not! Lets take the money away from Notre Dame and any other Church institution that is no longer Catholic. I’m not afraid to say it and speak out about it.

  79. William Radovich says:

    Father Z: I think it would be “infra dignitatem Christiani” for the students not to protest against President Obama for his stance on abortion. [I suspect that you think I meant that there shouldn’t be protests. If that is what you think I said, you might read the top entry again.] Who could care less if they are deemed “asses” or not except perhaps Wormwood or Screwtape? We know what they feel about abortion and human beings on the menu. If the President is to come to the commencement (I wish not!)then this is an opportunity to stand up for the truth. Don’t let this opportunity pass for fear of offending Him, no one else.

  80. Donna Procher says:

    Lee: “Think of a student led Rosary Procession on campus every evening until graduation; of Notre Dame grads and Catholics in rosary pilgrimages every Saturday morning to Marian shrines in all the major cities and towns of this nation, a protest that lifts its eyes to Heaven for relief.It would bring down Heavenly intervention, and at this point we need nothing less.”

    I have read all the comments. Lee is right. Protests, quiet or public would be a one-day wonder. This is Our Lady’s school. A lengthy public witness of faith would be filled with power. This is not to mention the potential impact it would have on the 44th president of the US.

  81. Dino says:

    Two thoughts:
    How many people can remember anything worthwhile ever said at a graduation ceremony? It is not necessary to attend one of these things to receive a diploma…I attended only my junior college graduation, in fact, I was surprised to receive in the mail an honorary doctorate that didn’t think was deserved.

    What if the local bishop provided an alternate ceremony, maybe featuring an address by the papal delegate to the United States, or a respected Cardinal?

  82. I think some of you didn’t bother to read what I wrote at the top.

    I didn’t say that there shouldn’t be protests.


  83. Joel L says:

    Corleone – “To think that those attending the ceremony are in any way a homogenous lot is beyond fanciful.”

    I respect what you are saying and I agree with your point.

    Therefore I would add a third point to my earlier comment;

    – We can make it clear to our our fellow citizens and Catholic laity that we, (or at least some of) the Catholics of this great nation will accept nothing less than the truth. Our protest can help them find the courage to know, love, and serve The Truth.

  84. Joel L says:

    Not protest but \”actions\”

  85. Rose says:

    I hope I am being straighforward, not harsh.

    With respect, I think only a protest that happens during the commencement ceremony will be an effective protest. Anything outside of the commencement ceremony, because of the presence of the Secret Service, will not be show up on the media. Some suggestions for protesting inside the ceremony:
    1. Instead of applauding after the address, hold your Rosaries high up in the air and say the Memorare out loud. Check that the Secret Service will not confiscate rosaries (the ladies can carry them in their purses or wear them as nceklaces.)
    2. Just receive your diploma quietly but instead of bowing or whatever is normal in the procedure, offer your Rosary with a protest note to Fr. Jenkins as you pass him on the platform- tell him personally how he has spoiled your commencement day and that you are disappointed in him as priest and teacher.
    3. Walk out immediately after getting your diploma and join the other students and families outside and process to the Grotto with your diplomas and your Rosaries-your family will have had the opportunity of seeing you take your diploma.
    4. Do not buy the yearbook or if you have a chance of writing in the yearbook-say something about how you believe President Obama should not have been given the honours he is being given by ND. Do a separate yearbook of those going to the Grotto.

    For those of you participating in the protest, get your reference letters ahead of time. You never know how vindictive the faculty might be.

    After commencement, work hard on getting Notre Dame’s Catholic college status revoked. Stopping the donations is a good idea but will not work (I speak from experience)but taking the Catholic name off the institution will pull the plug on the large donations. Why? Because big donors are either true believers or are establishment types who enjoy the prestige or the affiliation with a prestigious institution (even if they are secretive about their philanthropy). Without the Catholic label, Notre Dame will be much less prestigious.

  86. Kelly says:


    Thanks for that link. Very interesting.

  87. Br. Andre says:

    As everyone discusses the most appropriate response, I find it frustrating that most people are ignoring the annual Eucharistic Procession on April 26th. This procession has four main intentions:

    1. To honor Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament
    2. To pray for a Culture of Life
    3. To pray for the three sponsoring institutions (ND, SMC, HCC)
    4. To pray for an increase in vocations

    Think of how powerful it would be if everyone who is upset would come and PRAY. The final Benediction is given from the very steps of the Golden Dome! Maybe people should take some other action in addition to this, but this to me seems like the very minimum that every concerned Catholic should do. I’m not suggesting that the procession become a political statement either. But the Eucharist is the most powerful force in the world. We need to use the spiritual tools given to us.

  88. Agents of Evil-6
    Notre Dame-0 F

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