I’ve been playing mental tennis with myself over the past three weeks, as to whether to write about the tempest in a teapot raised by some over President Barack Obama being the commencement speaker at my alma mater, the University of Notre Dame.
Understand one thing. Like most “Domers,” I carry a life-long love for that special place. Because of that, I finally decided to step up to the plate.
First, I consider it an honor for the University to have any American president deliver its commencement speech.
If you knew me at all, you would know that I have been as fierce a critic of former President George W. Bush as there is, particularly after he decided to attack a nation that had nothing to do with 9-11. The irresponsibility of that decision and the havoc it has wreaked upon our soldiers and marines, as well as hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people is in my mind, inexcusable.
That said, he was the president of the country, and had I attended the graduation ceremony where he spoke at Notre Dame, I would have remained respectfully silent, no matter how much I may have seethed inside.
Now, with Barack Obama scheduled to deliver this year’s commencement address, a number of conservative Catholics have banded together to attempt to stop this from happening. The good news is, they have not and will not succeed. For this, I heartily congratulate President John Jenkins, C.S.C., for having the strength of character to resist these pressures.
One of my dearest friends and former classmate’s opinion differs greatly from mine, which is okay. He feels this was the act of a university president who lives in fear of the faculty. My thoughts, were that true, is that I would far rather have him in fear of the faculty than the alumni! I believe neither assumption carries much water.
Upon peeling back the layers of the onion, one sees several agendas other than the fact that President Obama’s beliefs on stem cell research and a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices are at odds with church theology. I’m not sure too many personal beliefs of past presidents would dovetail perfectly with those of conservative Catholics, and I’d be wary if they did.