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Archbishop Pilarczyk on Notre Dame

Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk
Archdiocese of Cincinnati, OH

April 20, 2009

Published on

Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk is supporting an Indiana bishop and a growing chorus of critics who oppose the choice of President Barack Obama as the University of Notre Dame’s commencement speaker.

The flap over Obama's selection began in March and is gaining momentum among Catholics and their leaders, who argue the president's support for abortion rights makes him an unacceptable choice for such an honor at one of the nation's leading Catholic universities.

Pilarczyk and others say it's inappropriate for the school to give Obama an honorary degree and to allow him to deliver the commencement address because his stance on abortion conflicts with the church's position.

“No one who has been a supporter of the anti-life mentality should be given honors or a forum,” archbishop spokesman Dan Andriacco said.

He said Pilarczyk supports the efforts of Bishop John D’Arcy, in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, who is boycotting Obama’s May 17 address at Notre Dame.

Pilarczyk spoke out on the issue when asked to do so by local organizations, such as Cincinnati Right to Life, and in support of an editorial in The Catholic Telegraph, the archdiocese's newspaper.

The editorial suggested Notre Dame had forsaken its Catholic identity for the prestige of a presidential visit. "Catholics have an obligation to 'call out' our brothers and sisters when their actions are morally questionable," the editorial states.

A conservative Catholic group, The Cardinal Newman Society, has joined the bishops' opposition to Obama's selection and is leading the charge to boycott his appearance at Notre Dame.

A web site dedicated to the campaign,, claims more than 324,000 people have signed a petition opposing Obama's selection as commencement speaker. The web site includes a cartoon that depicts Notre Dame's iconic "Touchdown Jesus" weeping as Obama delivers his address.

Those leading the opposition say the selection violates a U.S. bishops’ document that states “Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.”


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