It could be argued that a Catholic university could legitimately invite a public figure who disagrees with church teaching to speak in a debate on issues of life and family. But, to invite President Obama to be a commencement speaker, and to award him an honorary degree while he was there, was a strange gesture for a Catholic university to make, to say the least. This is especially so when one considers the USCCB's 2004 statement on "Catholics in Political Life" which says:
"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."
Not surprisingly, Obama's remarks on the occasion, while full of words like "common ground", essentially asked Catholics and others with traditional Judeo-Christian values to set aside their consciences and follow his own moral views. (My response to his speech here.) Genuinlely conciliatory? I think not.
Those charges have now, two years later, been dropped, thanks to the efforts of the Thomas More Society, the president of which happens to be a Notre Dame graduate.
Thomas More Society’s Relentless Legal Pursuit Wins Justice for Pro-Life Activists at Notre Dame
WDNU News: Charges Dropped in Notre Dame Protest
LifeNews.com: Charges Dropped Against Notre Dame-Obama Speech Protestors
Tip of the Schoolmarm Ruler to: Joseph Bottum at CatholicVote.org.