Notre Dame Breaks Commencement Tradition Used to Justify Obama Honors in 2009
The University of Notre Dame’s apparent decision to break its tradition of honoring the sitting U.S. president as the university’s commencement speaker is good news if the amoral policy has been “abandoned forever,” but it raises new concerns about Notre Dame’s reasons for honoring pro-abortion President Obama in 2009, said The Cardinal Newman Society’s president in an interview this week.
The former governor of Indiana will receive an honorary degree and address the Class of 2017 instead of the expected invitee, President Donald Trump, whose policies especially on immigration are controversial within the university.
Notre Dame’s longstanding tradition of inviting U.S. presidents was the university’s justification for the highly divisive honors to President Obama eight years ago. More than 367,000 individuals signed the Newman Society’s petition opposing President Obama’s address and honorary degree, and 83 Catholic bishops publicly criticized the honor.
“We would be thrilled if this means that Notre Dame has abandoned forever its tradition of honoring U.S. presidents regardless of their moral positions and behavior,” said Newman Society President Patrick Reilly to the National Catholic Register. “A Catholic university should choose commencement speakers who are moral examples to their students.”
“Of course, by violating the tradition — which was Notre Dame’s only excuse for ignoring 83 bishops and honoring pro-abortion President Obama — the university has clearly acknowledged that the tradition was never as important as it claimed,” Reilly continued. “We have always maintained that the Obama scandal was motivated by political correctness and secular prestige.”
William Dempsey, chairman of The Sycamore Trust, a group of Notre Dame alumni concerned with the university’s Catholic identity, agreed saying that “the main significance of what has happened here is that it casts into bold relief the honoring of Obama.”
Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. noted that the Indiana native and former governor “served our state and now the nation with quiet earnestness, moral conviction and a dedication to the common good characteristic of true statesmen.”
Pence will be the first sitting Vice President of the United States to address the graduates during their commencement ceremony.