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Bishop ‘more alarmed’ by ‘venomous’ rhetoric than by Notre Dame Obama invitation

Catholic World News - March 31, 2009

Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg has written that he is “more alarmed” by the “uncivil” and “venomous” rhetoric of opponents of the University of Notre Dame’s decision to award President Barack Obama an honorary degree than he is by the decision itself. Bishop Lynch writes:

Notre Dame University has created quite a stir by announcing that at the Spring Commencement ceremony they have invited President Barack Obama to give the graduation address and receive an honorary doctor of laws degree. It is a very prestigious platform to offer a President who is leading the battle for an expansion of abortion rights which may ultimately end up being unparalleled in recent history. Early “markers” are not encouraging in this regard but hope needs to spring eternal and while Notre Dame may have acted way too early and too generously, I am more alarmed that the rhetoric being employed is so uncivil and venomous that it weakens the case we place before our fellow citizens, alienates young college-age students who believe the older generation is behaving like an angry child and they do not wish to be any part of that, and ill-serves the cause of life.

Bishop Lynch adds:

Notre Dame has in the past and continues to give this local Church fine, professional and very Catholic women and men who both know and live out their faith. Most of them I know are ardently pro-life and like myself are probably disappointed with their alma mater. They and I will choose to convey our sadness to the Board of Trustees and Administration in a calm and dignified manner. I am especially sad for Bishop John D’Arcy, bishop of the diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend in which Notre Dame is located. For almost two decades he has supported the University and loved the University, even when he felt it necessary to correct the University privately which I can assure you he did. Now in the waning days of his tenure as bishop there, he is told of the invitation shortly before its public announcement and in words clearly laced with pain has had to announce that he will choose not attend the final commencement of his time as bishop. What sadness for this good man as well.

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