Ashamed of my alma mater

Published 11:59 pm Friday, March 27, 2009

In 2008, after my beloved Fighting Irish had just suffered through a 3-9 football season, I liked to joke that I was embarrassed to call myself an alumnus of the University of Notre Dame.

Back then, I was just being silly. But today, I can say with absolute sincerity that I am embarrassed to call myself an alumnus of the University of Notre Dame.

President Barack Obama has been selected to give the commencement address this year. This is a tradition at the university, which has invited new presidents to speak at the graduation.

Obama is not a friend to the Catholic dogma of respecting human life. One of his very first policy decisions, which he executed just days after taking office, calls for taxpayers to fund pro-abortion groups in other nations — also known as the “Mexico City policy.”

In February, Obama began to overturn pro-life conscience protections that allow for medical staff and institutions to refuse to perform abortions. And on March 9, he signed an executive order that will force taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research.

Yet, even despite these positions, I have no problem with Obama speaking at the university’s commencement. Part of the university experience is learning there are people in this world who do not think the same as you do.

My problem is that Obama will also receive an honorary laws degree from the university. This is where I draw the line.

I believe that extending an honorary degree — arguably the highest honor a university can give to a civilian — would be condoning Obama’s policies .

Some may ask why there was no outrage when Bush spoke in 2001? After all, he had just finished serving as the governor of Texas, a state where the death penalty is legal. Some also argue that the war in Iraq was an “unjust war,” running contrary to Catholic teaching.

These are good points, but it comes down to a matter of severity. Catholics believe that unborn life is the most precious and innocent of God’s creations.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law” (No. 2271).

I feel that my alma mater has compromised its values for the prestige of having a sitting president speak at its commencement. Yes, Obama is a celebrity and is the leader of the free world. But a man who with his policy views on one of the most basic of Catholic tenets should not be honored by one of the premier Catholic institutions in the nation.