On Friday, the White House announced that President Barack Obama will be the commencement speaker at three universities this spring. One of those is Notre Dame. A press release from Notre Dame indicated that the President will also be awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree. LifeSite News reported yesterday that since the announcement, Notre Dame has been deluged with criticism from those who believe the invitation should be withdrawn because of Obama's pro-abortion positions. Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins says that the honorary degree "is not intended to condone or endorse his position on specific issues regarding life." Jenkins also commented: "You cannot change the world if you shun the people you want to persuade, and if you cannot persuade them show respect for them and listen to them."
The Cardinal Newman Society, however, is circulating an online petition that calls it "an outrage and a scandal that ... one of the premier Catholic universities in the United States, would bestow such an honor on President Obama given his clear support for policies and laws that directly contradict fundamental Catholic teachings on life and marriage." As of Monday evening, the CNS website said that there were over 46,000 signers on the petition. [Thanks to PewSitter for the lead.]
UPDATE: Bishop John D'Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend (where Notre Dame is located) says he will refuse to attend Notre Dame's commencement in protest of President Obama's policies on stem cell research and abortion. (Munice (IN) Star Press.) [Thanks to Scott Mange for the lead.]