Monday, April 27, 2009

Obama at Notre Dame: News Update - 4/27/2009

1. Former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glendon sent a letter to Notre Dame president Rev. John Jenkins declining her nomination for the university's prestigious Laetare Medal and expressing her opposition to Pres. Obama's presence at the university's commencement. She said: "[A]s a longtime consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award the president an honorary degree. ...It is with great sadness, therefore, that I have concluded that I cannot accept the Laetare Medal or participate in the May 17 graduation ceremony." (full text of Glendon's letter).

The White House responded to Glendon's decision, saying: "President Obama is disappointed by former Ambassador Mary Glendon’s decision, but he looks forward to delivering an inclusive and respectful speech at the Notre Dame graduation, a school with a rich history of fostering the exchange of ideas. While he is honored to have the support of millions of people of all faiths, he does not govern with the expectation that everyone sees eye to eye with him on every position, and the spirit of debate and healthy disagreement on important issues is part of what he loves about this country.”

2. Meanwhile, the Notre Dame Faculty Senate issued a statement of support for Pres. Jenkins: "The Faculty Senate affirms that the invitation to deliver the Commencement address and to receive an honorary degree reflects the University's tradition of honoring our nation's leaders and encouraging dialogue with them on issues important to the extended University community and to the nation...The Faculty Senate recognizes that President Obama holds positions that are consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church and positions that are inconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church and respects both those in the University community who support and those who oppose President Obama’s visit for reasons of faith or conscience...A number of outside groups have suggested that they would use the Commencement ceremonies to advance their positions...The Faculty Senate respectfully asks those groups to find other venues to convey their opinions to President Obama or to the University of Notre Dame." All but one of the approximately 45 members of the Faculty Senate voted for the resolution.

3. Around 53 Notre Dame faculty members signed a statement by The Indiana Conference of the AAUP: "The Indiana Conference of the American Association of University Professors expresses its support for University of Notre Dame President the Rev. John Jenkins in standing by the university's decision to invite President Barack Obama to speak at its May 17 commencement. We are concerned by the efforts of external groups to prevent President Obama or any other invited guest from speaking on campus..." (full text here)

4. LifeNews is reporting that Notre Dame alumni are withholding $8.2 million in donations to protest Obama's address and I suppose some might say that this validates Bishop Loverde's statement that the Obama invitation will be damaging to the university. I say that Rev. John Jenkins has something worth far more than $8.2 million: integrity and courage are priceless.

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