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Notre Dame: 2 More Bishops and a College President

April 3rd, 2009
Cardinal Newman Society (

Your decision to provide President Obama with a national platform -- worse yet, to honor him with an honorary doctorate of law degree -- is truly tragic, and will have disastrous, long-lasting consequences.

MANASSAS, Va. (Cardinal Newman Society) - The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) petition at, calling on University of Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins to rescind the commencement invitation to President Barack Obama, has grown to more than 230,000 supporters as of early Thursday, April 2. Yesterday, two more US bishops and a Catholic College president joined the growing chorus of those opposing Notre Dame’s decision.

“The faithful Catholics praying in solidarity with the Notre Dame students this Sunday afternoon will be glad to have the moral and spiritual support of these Catholic leaders,” said CNS President Patrick Reilly.

The Cardinal Newman Society is encouraging Catholics to join their prayers to those of the students at on Sunday, April 5, at 2:40 p.m. as they pray the Holy Rosary for an end to the scandal at the University of Notre Dame.

In a public statement issued yesterday, Archbishop John Myers of the Archdiocese of Newark said, “When we extend honors to people who do not share our respect and reverence for life in all stages, and give them a prominent stage in our parishes, schools and other institutions, we unfortunately create the perception that we endorse their public positions on these issues. We cannot justify such actions, and the Bishops have stated so clearly and strongly.”

Archbishop Myers and several other U.S. bishops opposing the scandal at Notre Dame have either directly referenced or alluded to the 2004 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops statement, Catholics in Political Life, which stated, “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.”

Archbishop Eusebius Beltran of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, also made a clear and concise public statement yesterday on the Notre Dame scandal.“President Obama, by word and action, has approved of abortion and other atrocities against human life. Therefore he deserves no recognition at a Catholic institution,” the archbishop said. The growing list of 16 statements by U.S. bishops criticizing the decision of the University of Notre Dame to honor President Obama on the website.

In addition to the two archbishops, Father Robert Cook, president of Wyoming Catholic College, founded by former Cheyenne Bishop David Ricken in 2005, sent the following letter to Notre Dame regarding the commencement invitation to President Obama.

Rev. John Jenkins, CSC
University of Notre Dame
400 Main Building
Notre Dame, IN 46556

March 31, 2009

Dear Fr. Jenkins,

As President of Wyoming Catholic College, I share and understand the burden of leading an institution of Catholic higher education. These are difficult times in our culture, both morally and spiritually. Mother Church is counting on us to provide authentic Catholic formation to the young men and women who have chosen to entrust their education to our hands.

While I do not doubt your concern for the spiritual and academic welfare of your students, I must say that I am deeply disappointed by your decision to honor President Obama, and by your response both to the criticism of the American Catholic community and to that of your own Bishop.

Your decision to provide President Obama with a national platform -- worse yet, to honor him with an honorary doctorate of law degree -- is truly tragic, and will have disastrous, long-lasting consequences. As Bishop D’Arcy wrote in his statement, you are providing scandal to your students, your alumni, and to all those who look to Notre Dame as the model for Catholic higher education in the United States.

While President Obama may have “spoken eloquently and powerfully about race” and “has taken leadership of the country facing many challenges” with “intelligence, courage and honesty,” his pro-abortion agenda trumps it all. No authentically Catholic organization can rightly honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles, nor should they be given awards, honors, or platforms which would suggest support for their actions until they align themselves with the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.

As Catholic institutions, we are charged with the serious responsibility of maintaining our Catholic identity in the midst of ever-growing resistance from our society and our world. Wyoming Catholic College is proud to be one of the 21 Catholic colleges selected by the Cardinal Newman Society to appear in their “Catholic College Guide,” in the ranks of authentic, faithful Catholic Colleges.

We are committed to preserving that faithfulness above all else, for it is the key to our very existence as an institution. Furthermore, although our first commencement is two years away at Wyoming Catholic College, I can assure you that we will always adhere to the directives of the 2004 USCCB statement on honoring Catholic politicians. Violating this policy would not only jeopardize the reputation of our college, but more seriously, give scandal to our young Catholic graduates as they prepare to enter the world as living witnesses to the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Wyoming Catholic College Board of Directors and I implore you to reconsider your position, no matter how awkward that action may be. You, your administration, and your students remain in the prayers of the Wyoming Catholic College community.

In Christ, Rev. Robert Cook, President, Wyoming Catholic College, P.O. Box 750, Lander, WY 82520. 307.332.2930

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