Thursday, May 14, 2009

Obama at Notre Dame: News Update - 5/14/2009

Three days away from the famous or infamous (depending on your perspective) commencement speech by President Barack Obama to Notre Dame's 2009 graduating class, here is the latest news:

1. Petition in Support of Obama at Notre Dame: If you want to sign a petition supporting Notre Dame president Rev. John Jenkins' decision to invite President Obama, go to http://www.wesupportnotredame.org/. The petition, which is being sponsored by Notre Dame Alums in Support of Fr. Jenkins, Faithful America, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and Catholics United, has garnered 35,520 signatures to date.

2. In the opposing camp: We are now at 76 bishops on record opposing Obama's appearance. I'm not sure how many bishops we have in the U.S. but when I started to count from the list on the USCCB Web site, I reached 76 before leaving the letter "C". Draw your own conclusions.

Also today, the Cardinal Newman Society delivered the first 300,000 signatures on their anti-Obama petition to Rev. Jenkins.

3. Show me the money: WNDU reports that all this protest activity is costing beaucoups bucks:
...A spokesperson for the [Center for Bio-Ethical Reform] says the plane [that is flying those pro-life banners over the university] costs about $350/hour to fly-- and with about 19 days of flights, several times a day-- that's costing about $20,000.

And we're told it costs about $500/day to drive each of those billboard trucks for CBR. For security reasons, officials wouldn't disclose how many trucks they have.

...Activist Randall Terry says his group, Stop Obama Notre Dame, spent well over $50,000 and funds are now starting to run low.

...Terry says his biggest expense was $38,000 for mailing letters to alumni. He spent another $10,000 to rent an e-mail list for 1.4 million people. Terry also says thousands of dollars have been spent on press release mailings.

Imagine all the babies' lives that would have been saved had those dollars been given to a charity. Randall Terry's $50,000 alone could have vaccinated 190,200 children against measles -- one of the leading causes of infant and child deaths in Third World countries (based on UNICEF's calculation of $39.45/150 units of vaccine).

And speaking of money, the amount of donations being withheld from Notre Dame as part of the Replace Jenkins campaign now stands at $14 million.

4. Prayer Vigil: The student group Notre Dame Response has received permission from the university to hold a peaceful prayer vigil to coincide with Commencement for those students who want to boycott the graduation exercises to protest Obama's presence. Details are available at http://ndresponse.com/commencement.html

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