Statement on Notre Dame Controversy
Bishop Paul S. Loverde
Diocese of Arlington, VA
The Catholic bishops of the United States, in their 2004
statement on ‘Catholics in Political Life,’ directed that ‘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.’ It is clear that the
Church’s teachings with regard to abortion and the sanctity of human life are
among the ‘fundamental moral principles’ referred to by the bishops.
While he has been in office only a few short months, President Obama’s actions
with respect to life issues already have been a source of grave concern to
Catholics. You can read my statements on these issues, including the lifting of
the Mexico City policy, funding for embryonic stem cell research and the
proposed removal of conscience protections for health care workers, at
www.arlingtondiocese.com. I share your dismay that Notre Dame, contrary to the
direction provided by the bishops, has chosen to extend to him an invitation
which – despite the University’s statements to the contrary – undoubtedly will
be viewed by many as approbation of his policies.
If Notre Dame were hosting the President as a participant in a dialogue that
included a full presentation of the Church’s position regarding the primacy of
life, then the University’s action would be more understandable. However, given
the unique national prominence of Notre Dame among Catholic universities, the
decision by a few administrators to give him a platform and honor on
Commencement Day will be damaging to the Church, to the pro-life cause and,
ultimately, to the university itself.
This situation underscores the need for Catholics to be united and speak with
one voice in our respect for all human life; otherwise, we project confusion and
uncertainty on this most basic of issues.
More from our