Critic of Obama honorary degree named bishop of Notre Dame’s diocese
November 16, 2009
The new bishop of the Indiana diocese in which the University of Notre Dame is located is a critic of the university’s decision to award President Barack Obama an honorary degree. Bishop Kevin Rhoades, the one-time rector of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., had served as bishop of his native Diocese of Harrisburg since 2004 before being transferred to the Diocese of Fort Wayne - South Bend on November 14.
Bishop Rhoades, who recently declared a diocean Marian year and has a strong track record of attracting vocations to the priesthood, issued a statement in March condemning the Obama administration’s decision to fund embryonic stem cell research. After the University of Notre Dame decided to award President Obama an honorary degree, Paul Schenk-- the pro-life activist whom Bishop Rhoades named head of his diocesan pro-life office-- wrote:
Bishop Rhoades also supports those who exercise their freedom of conscience and speech to express their opposition to the university’s decision to have President Obama as commencement speaker and honoree. In fact, Bishop Rhoades has written to the president of the university to express his disagreement with the university’s action … It is Bishop Rhoades’ hope and prayer that all the institutions that bear the name “Catholic” will affirm the Church’s teachings, expose the culture of death and build up the Culture of Life.
“I think that's now in the past,” Bishop Rhoades said about the controversy upon his transfer to Indiana. “Let's move to the future. I love Notre Dame. I want to have a close personal and pastoral relationship. It's such a strong place.”
Father John Trigilio, president of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, paid tribute to Bishop Rhoades in a November 14 blog posting.
Bishop Rhoades and Fr. Ray LaVoie (Vocation Director) brought our seminary census to over 45, beating the archdiocese of Philadelphia for the first time ever … During his short five years here in our diocese, we have seen a stable and permanent Extraordinary Form parish (Mater Ecclesiae) erected under the care of the Fraternity of Saint Peter; lots of vocations to the priesthood; restoration of the permanent diaconate. When the Cathedral was renovated, Bishop Rhoades insisted the Tabernacle be restored to its proper place in the middle and center of the sanctuary.
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