Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Charles E. Rice

4/2/2009 (7 years ago)

Notre Dame Observer (

The invitation should be withdrawn. It implies no personal animosity to suggest that Fr. Jenkins and the other Fellows and Trustees responsible for this fiasco should resign or be removed.

Incidentally, Professor Mary Ann Glendon, the Laetare Medal recipient, would make a better use of her time at the Grotto than as a warm-up or wind-up act at Commencement.

Incidentally, Professor Mary Ann Glendon, the Laetare Medal recipient, would make a better use of her time at the Grotto than as a warm-up or wind-up act at Commencement.


By Charles E. Rice

Notre Dame Observer (

4/2/2009 (7 years ago)

Published in College & University

NOTRE DAME (Catholic Online) - We publish in its entirety the excellent letter of Pro-Life champion, constitutional scholar and Notre Dame Law Professor Charles Rice which appeared in the Notre Dame Observer on March 31, 2009:

Professor Charles Rice

Notre Dame is not a public utility. It has no commitment to honor at its capstone ceremony every politician whom the political process deposits in the Oval Office. Nor is there an unbroken custom that, if a president is invited, it must be in his first year.

Our leaders had to know that their invitation to President Obama would imply a general commendation of the man and his policies. In the conflicts over those policies, our leaders have committed, in perception but also in fact, the name and prestige of Notre Dame to the side that is hostile to the imperatives of faith and reason affirmed by the Catholic Church. Our leaders are not only dismissive but also contemptuous toward the Church. The first thing Bishop D'Arcy knew about it was when he was told that Obama had accepted the invitation.

President Obama is a relentless advocate of unrestricted abortion, including the Freedom of Choice Act, which would abrogate all state laws restricting abortion. On his fourth day in office, he overturned the Mexico City Policy that forbade organizations receiving federal funds to perform or promote abortions in other countries. He has restored to the UN Population Fund (the funding that President Bush had stopped because of the Fund's support for forced abortions.) Obama opposes continued federal funding for pro-life pregnancy help centers. He opposes the Hyde Amendment which denies public funding for most abortions.

At the other end of life, the Stimulus Package foreshadows the rationing of health care for the elderly and unproductive. "[T]he Obama Administration," said Cardinal Francis George, "intends to remove a ... rule for the Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] that [protects] doctors, nurses and others ... who have objections in conscience to ... abortion and other killing procedures ... [S]uch ... would be the first step in moving our country from democracy to despotism." Not surprisingly, Obama's nominee for Secretary of HHS, Governor Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic, has a strongly pro-abortion record, including persistent vetoes of restrictions on late-term abortions. The abolition of conscience protection could spell the end of Catholic hospitals and drive Catholics out of much of the medical profession. That prospect raises our leaders' honoring of Obama to a new level of scandal and even betrayal.

The definitive "life" issue arises from Obama's authorization of HHS " to fund and conduct human embryonic stem cell research" (ESCR). Adult stem cells, derived from bone marrow and other sources, have been used successfully in relieving various injuries and medical conditions. Embryonic stem cells have never successfully treated a human patient for anything. But federal funding would make ESCR a profitable, if useless, industry.

No moral problems arise in the use of adult stem cells. But every embryo is a living human being. To remove the stem cells kills that embryo. It is, in moral terms, a murder.

ESCR can be performed on embryos left over from in vitro fertilization. The excuse that "they are going to die anyway" does not justify intentionally killing them any more than it would justify involuntary lethal experiments on condemned criminals.

ESCR can also be performed on embryos created by cloning. In cloning, the nucleus of a somatic cell, which is any cell of the body other than a sperm or egg cell, is inserted into an egg (ovum) cell from which the egg cell's nucleus has been removed. The egg is then electrically stimulated to react as if it had been fertilized by a sperm cell. The result is a one-cell zygote which divides and develops. For the first eight weeks it is called an embryo. The cloned embryo is genetically identical to the donor of the somatic cell.

Cloning can be reproductive, in which the embryo is implanted in a woman's womb and carried to term, or therapeutic, in which the embryo is killed by removal of the stem cells for use in research. Both types are condemned by Catholic teaching. See Dignitas Personae (2008), nos. 28-30.

"[W]e will ensure," Obama said, "that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction. It is dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society, or any society." He opened the door for the worse evil of therapeutic cloning. The Dickey Amendment, which has denied funds for "creation of a human embryo ... for research purposes" or for "research in which a human embryo is destroyed," is being removed. So the Obama Administration will fund the creation of new human beings by cloning for the purpose of killing them and using their stem cells for research. The experiments performed by Nazi doctors on concentration camp prisoners were unimaginative and primitive by comparison. Our leaders ought not to act like the "good Germans," who were submissive to their Fuhrer, by conferring Notre Dame's highest honors on the perpetrator of such an atrocity.

Apart from the "life" issues, our leaders were reckless to commit Notre Dame to Obama in the face of mounting and well-grounded opposition to other Obama policies, including his fiscal deficits and such a stunning expansion of executive power and of federal control over private entities and states that it amounts to a constitutional coup. Unmentioned in the background are the pending lawsuits - not yet decided on the merits by the Supreme Court - that raise serious questions as to Obama's eligibility for the office.

Our leaders act in what they think is the best interest of Notre Dame. But that is no excuse. The invitation should be withdrawn. It implies no personal animosity to suggest that Fr. Jenkins and the other Fellows and Trustees responsible for this fiasco should resign or be removed.

What would be a proper response? On-site demonstrations would be counterproductive. You can petition or write to our leaders. But the appeal should be made instead to a higher authority. An alumnus has suggested that students, faculty, staff and friends of Notre Dame ought to - and we will - pray a continuous Rosary of reparation at the Grotto during the time of Commencement, from two to four on Sunday, May 17th. This would not interfere with Commencement which is on the other side of campus. It would not be a demonstration or protest. No signs, marches, or disruption. Just peaceful prayer, in silence or aloud, by individuals and families. If you can't make it to the Grotto, pray the Rosary during that time wherever you are. Incidentally, Professor Mary Ann Glendon, the Laetare Medal recipient, would make a better use of her time at the Grotto than as a warm-up or wind-up act at Commencement.

Parking is limited, but you can park off campus and walk to the Grotto. There should be no objection by Notre Dame officials to students, faculty, staff and friends of Notre Dame peacefully going to the Grotto to pray. It makes no difference how many show up. The objective is simply a union of prayer to make reparation and to petition Notre Dame, Our Lady, for Notre Dame, our University.


More College & University

BREAKING: UCLA on lockdown after shooting on campus Watch

Image of UCLA is on lockdown.


The UCLA campus has been put on lockdown after reports of a shooter in the university's Boelter Hall were released via social media. Police reported a shooting on the UCLA campus, issuing a tweet to say that the school's Westwood campus was on lockdown following a ... continue reading

Christian students in U.S. not allowed to speak to other students without permits Watch

Image of Christian liberties denied at North Carolina State University (Wikipedia).


In a move reminiscent of the early 1900s, North Carolina State University segregated a student Christian group from the rest of the student population. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Grace Christian Life is a registered student Christian group on NC State's ... continue reading

Benedict XVI Centre approved by Holy See, but what will they be doing there? Watch

Image of The center will focus on religion and social sciences (CDJ).


St. Mary's University in Twickenham, London has been formally approved to name one of their buildings after Benedict XVI. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to its website, St. Mary's University will name one of their buildings the Benedict XVI Centre for ... continue reading

Alarming University campaign threatens First Amendment rights Watch

Image of The University of Portland asks students to report discrimination, interactions of intolerance and incidents of discomfort (Stefan Redel/


The University of Portland recently launched a "Speak Up" campaign designed to put an end to discrimination, intolerance and "incidents of discomfort." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The University's Speak Up website specifies inclusion is a top priority - one ... continue reading

Comparing some students to 'Catholic jihadis,' Mount St. Mary University president comes under fire Watch

Image of Mount St. Mary University President Simon Newman said in a memo,

By Adelaide Mena and Matt Hadro, CNA News

Amid uproar over comparing struggling students to bunnies that should be drowned or shot, Mount St. Mary's University president is now under fire for criticizing expressions of the Catholic faith at the school. Emmitsburg, Md. (CNA) - Already facing turmoil, the ... continue reading

The fight for religious liberty: How one Catholic college deals with threats Watch

Image of

By Matt Hadro (CNA/EWTN News)

The future of religious freedom in the United States will one day be in the care of today's college students, so one Catholic college is working to equip them for that struggle. Washington D.C., (CNA/EWTN News) - Wyoming Catholic College is trying to form a "community ... continue reading

4 reasons Catholic education needs your help this year Watch

Image of Are America's Catholic schools being attacked? (Wordpress)


The Catholic education system is coming under attack by a plethora of policies designed to make the hiring process, acceptance of anti-Christian viewpoints, transgender issues and Catholic identity concerns. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Cardinal Newman ... continue reading

Catholic identity or education: Are the top Catholic universities falsely rated by secular standards? Watch

Image of


A list of the top 40 traditional Catholic and Jesuit colleges in America was created, but were they rated fairly? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Newsmax revealed their top forty Catholic and Jesuit colleges in America, but what were their standards?The United ... continue reading

Becoming Divine Mercy: A Mission of Mercy Watch

Image of

By Jessie Tappel, Communications Director at Divine Mercy University

God, the source of all mercy, provides us with an experience so great that we have no choice but to reflect it to our own brother and sister. Mercy calls for an outward response, which is made clear in the examples of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. You can ... continue reading

UST Breaks Ground on New Center for Science and Health Professions Watch

Image of

By Darnell Miller - University of St. Thomas

The University of St. Thomas, a member of the world-renowned Texas Medical Center, broke ground on a new Center for Science and Health Professions on Nov. 12, 2015. The new facility, containing more than 100,000 square-feet of modern lab space and classrooms, will meet ... continue reading

All College & University News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Hebrews 6:10-20
10 God would not be so unjust as to forget all you have done, the love ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 111:1-2, 4-5, 9-10
1 Alleluia! I give thanks to Yahweh with all my heart, in the ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 2:23-28
23 It happened that one Sabbath day he was taking a walk through the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 17th, 2017 Image

St. Anthony the Abbot
January 17: Two Greek philosophers ventured out into the ... Read More