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Bishop Sample's Statement about Notre Dame Scandal

April 7, 2009

Bishop Alexander Sample
Diocese of Marquette, Michigan

I would like to add my voice to that of many U.S. bishops who have expressed their disappointment and dismay over the University of Notre Dame’s decision to invite President Obama to be the commencement speaker at this year’s graduation ceremonies and to receive an honorary degree from the university.

President Obama has made it clear in his campaign rhetoric and in actions he has taken since becoming president that he intends to promote and expand the destruction of innocent human life. His reversal of the so-called “Mexico City Policy,” his approval of federal funding for destructive embryonic stem cell research, and his pledge to sign into law a resurrected Freedom of Choice Act, should it come to his desk, are all evidence of this.

Given these facts, it is unconscionable to me that a Catholic university would bestow such an honor upon an individual who is so completely out of step with the Catholic Church’s teaching on the need to protect innocent human life in its most vulnerable forms, even if that individual holds the highest office in the land.

Because this has the potential to cause grave scandal to the faithful and weaken our united Catholic efforts in defense of life, I have taken the step of writing to the president of the university, Fr. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., expressing my concerns and requesting the invitation be withdrawn.

In the mystery of the Incarnation, the Eternal Son of God was conceived in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. Holy Mary nurtured that fragile life within her, giving the world its Savior. It saddens me beyond words that the great university named after Our Lady would bestow distinction and honor on a politician who would seek to expand threats to such innocent human life.


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