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Scranton Bishops Join Protest of Notre Dame Decision To Honor President Obama

Most Reverend Joseph F. Martino, D.D., Hist. E.D.
Bishop of Scranton

Most Reverend John M. Dougherty, D.D., V.G.
Auxiliary Bishop of Scranton

Published on the Diocese of Scranton website ( )
Scranton, PA

April 1, 2009

Reverend John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
University of Notre Dame
400 Main Building
Notre Dame, Indiana 46556

Dear Father Jenkins,

The numerous, repeated and extensive anti-life positions taken by President Obama merit his recognition as an unequalled, prominent proponent of the culture of death in our nation. Given her Catholic identity, the University of Notre Dame’s receiving the President as the 2009 commencement speaker and her bestowing on him an honorary doctorate are truly shameful, a scandal to the Church and a major blow to hundreds of thousands who have sacrificed to bring forth a culture of life in our midst.

As a Diocesan Bishop and his Auxiliary we cannot overstress our disapproval of these actions by the University.

Through its President, His Eminence Cardinal George, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops acted swiftly and consistently to engage President Obama on human life issues. Your reported comment that “I think if he is going to reconsider his views, I think Notre Dame is the best possible place to begin that process” demeans, we believe, the intelligent urgency exercised by the nation’s bishops in this matter.

Moreover, your argument that honoring President Obama by granting a degree to him “is not intended to condone or endorse his position on specific issues regarding life” is no more than a blatant rejection of United States Bishops’ assessment of what Catholic institutions do when they so act. Their 2004 statement is absolutely clear. “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

“Bishops have a particular responsibility to promote Catholic universities, and especially to promote and assist in the preservation and strengthening of their Catholic identity, including the protection of their Catholic identity in relation to civil authorities.” (Ex Corde Ecclesiae, no. 28) We are convinced that Notre Dame will one day very much regret rebuffing not only her own Bishop D’Arcy but also the USCCB’s efforts to fulfill their responsibilities in her regard.
Praying this conviction will prove untrue and that Notre Dame will immediately and resoundingly proclaim her Catholic identity in word and act, we are,

Sincerely yours in Our Lord,

Most Reverend Joseph F. Martino, D.D., Hist. E.D.
Bishop of Scranton

Most Reverend John M. Dougherty, D.D., V.G.
Auxiliary Bishop of Scranton

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