Notre Dame Not Budging on Obama Invite

Bishop and Catholic group protest U. of Notre Dame's invitation to president.

ByABC News
March 25, 2009, 4:16 PM

March 26, 2009 -- Officials at the University of Notre Dame are standing firmly behind their decision to invite President Obama to deliver the university's commencement address, despite strong opposition from some vocal Catholics.

The university's invitation to the president to speak at the May 17 ceremony has prompted a northwest Indiana bishop to say he will boycott it and has sparked an online campaign from a Catholic advocacy group trying to get Obama uninvited.

The Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., the university's president, said in a statement that the invitation does not mean Notre Dame supports all of Obama's decisions and that it should not be taken as condoning or endorsing his positions on issues like abortion and embryonic stem cell research.

"Presidents from both parties have come to Notre Dame for decades to speak to our graduates -- and to our nation and world -- about a wide range of pressing issues -- from foreign policy to poverty, from societal transformation to social service. We are delighted that President Obama will follow in this long tradition of speaking from Notre Dame on issues of substance and significance," Jenkins said.

At issue are Obama's recent announcements on stem cell research and international family planning.

Earlier this month, Obama signed an executive order lifting a ban on the use of federal funding for research on new embryonic stem cell lines. He said that day he rejected the "false choice between sound science and moral values."

Three days after taking the oath of office, Obama lifted the Mexico City policy, allowing nongovernmental organizations that receive international family planning assistance through the U.S. government to provide or promote abortion as a method of family planning in other countries.

Dennis Brown, a spokesman for Notre Dame, told ABC News he doesn't foresee any circumstances where the university would rescind its invitation to Obama.