Notre Dame’s Betrayal


By Patrick J. Reilly
president, Cardinal Newman Society

In recent weeks, liberal pundits have rallied to the defense of the University of Notre Dame, which plans to honor President Barack Obama with an honorary law degree on Sunday. The award has been protested by 74 Catholic bishops and more than 360,000 Catholics signing The Cardinal Newman Society‘s petition at

Washington Post Columnist E.J. Dionne suggests that “the Catholic right’s over-the-top response is rooted at least as much in Republican and conservative politics as in concern over the abortion question.” Fox News Channel’s Alan Colmes complains, “So while Obama speaks about bringing people together, and the plurality of religious practices that make a great nation, it’s some of those who oppose him who use religion to divide.”

Catholic groups and publications that have fawned over Obama and other pro-choice politicians–like Catholics United, Catholic Democrats, National Catholic Reporter and the Jesuits’ America magazine–also hypocritically accuse Notre Dame’s critics of political motives. But these voices of the left are guilty of exactly what they have accused faithful Catholics of doing: abusing religion to score political points.

They consistently describe the Notre Dame controversy in reference to politics, but it is not about politics. It is about a Catholic university’s betrayal of the Catholic bishops and lack of consideration for Catholic moral teaching. It is precisely about putting faith ahead of politics and secular prestige.

The individuals responsible for creating this debacle are the president of Notre Dame, Father John Jenkins, and the university’s trustees–not President Obama, not Notre Dame’s critics, and certainly not the dozens of outraged bishops.

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