This Sunday I will have the privilege of being with many of the pro-life students of Notre Dame University. Seniors who have decided not to take part in their graduation have invited me to lead them in prayer, in an alternate ceremony on another part of the campus, at the very hour that pro-abortion President Obama will speak and be honored by the University.
In standing with these students, I am standing with the true spirit of Notre Dame: a pro-life spirit, in harmony with human reason and Catholic Faith. The scandal that has been generated does not represent what Notre Dame is all about; it represents a radical betrayal of what Notre Dame is all about. I am encouraged by the pro-life activities of so many student groups on this campus – activities that are carried out all year round.
Hundreds of thousands of Catholics, hundreds of priests, and dozens of bishops have called upon Notre Dame to end this scandal by withdrawing its invitation to President Obama. The result of that demand is not in our control. But one final response to this scandal is fully in the control of each graduating senior: don’t show up. Don’t participate in an event which will only serve to obscure rather than highlight the Church’s pro-life teaching and the true spirit of Notre Dame. Instead, come to the Class of 2009 Vigil for Life. The seniors who do this are manifesting the real meaning of commencement: they are carrying out the witness to truth and service that their hard-earned degrees have prepared them to give in the world.
We shouldn’t at all be surprised that many others will fail to understand not only the courageous actions of these students, but also the concern voiced by so many across our nation. After all, the fact that many don’t have a problem with Barack Obama sitting in a place of honor at a Catholic Commencement is simply a corollary of the underlying problem that so many don’t have a problem with Barack Obama sitting in the White House. Our concern is not just that he is at odds with Catholic teaching. Our concern is that he is at odds with American teaching, and the very meaning of public service – which requires being able to tell the difference between serving the public and killing the public. He should neither be at Notre Dame nor in the White House.
Nearly a thousand priests and deacons have joined their voices to a statement that Priests for Life has written, and we invite more to sign up at www.priestsforlife.org/statement/notredame.aspx. Meanwhile, we invite all the faithful to join the Notre Dame students in a Rosary Campaign for reparation for this scandal, and for the conversion of the President and all who support legal child-killing. Please let us and the students know how many rosaries you pledge to pray this week; go to www.PrayerCampaign.org.
And finally – let every commencement ceremony include a prayer for those who would have graduated had they not been killed by abortion. It’s the least we can do!
Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life