As an alumnus of the University of Notre Dame, I was very pleased to hear that the University has invited President Barack Obama to deliver the 2009 Commencement Address. I was in the room in 1985 when then-Gov. Mario Cuomo spoke at Washington Hall, presenting his views on abortion. I still have my copy of his embargoed talk.
I applauded the University then, and I applaud them now as they invite the President to address the graduates.
Some Catholic groups are not so happy. From The Observer online:
Several religious and pro-life groups nationwide are expressing outrage and threatening to protest in South Bend after the University announced President Barack Obama will deliver the 2009 Commencement address at Notre Dame’s graduation ceremony May 17.
Assistant Vice President for News and Information Dennis Brown told The Observer a rumor that University switchboards were overwhelmed with callers and had to be shut down Friday night is false – a claim made by a March 20 article on pewsitter.com.
Although many outside groups are protesting University President Fr. John Jenkins’ decision, The Observer reported in an Oct. 8, 2008 article that Obama led the student body with 52.6 percent of the vote in a mock election held by student government, in which 2,692 undergraduates and graduate students voted.
Further along in the article, we read, “A representative in the office of Cardinal Francis George, president of the USCCB, said Cardinal George declined to comment on the issue because Notre Dame is out of the organization’s jurisdiction.”
I’m sure the Bishop John D’Arcy of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese will weigh in. He’s a frequent critic of the University. But the University is doing the right thing.
I first met President Obama when he was running for the United States Senate, and was immediately convinced that he is a man of outstanding character and intellect. I consider him a man of tremendous compassion.
I’m very proud of my Alma Mater today. Three Cheers for Old Notre Dame!