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Controversy Commences at Notre Dame Over Obama Speech

Newt Gingrich recently expressed his disapproval of Notre Dame's decision to host President Obama as the commencement speaker in less than 140 characters. He tweeted: "It is sad to see notre dame invite president obama to give the commencement address Since his policies are so anti catholic values."

Newt, the twice-divorced former speaker of the house who will become a Catholic this weekend, isn't the only person upset. Many at Notre Dame disapprove of Obama's stance on abortion and stem cell research. Others think the ceremony will turn into a circus and distract from the ceremony. Finally, some students and community members feel honored to host the president.

Are you surprised Obama's planned speech at Notre Dame is causing such a controversy?

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anonJL anonJL 8 years
Notre Dame is not a Jesuit school. See: http://nd.edu/aboutnd/profile/
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 8 years
Didn't Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Regan speak there too...are they Catholic? Just Asking.....I'm starting to doubt that beliefs are the only reason (real reason) some are being critical. Apparently the higher ups at the school think Obama is good enough to speak, and want to keep tradition which is imporant at any university alive!
bastylefilegirl bastylefilegirl 8 years
This is silly and Obama's policy on stem cell research is really specific and poses no harm to unborn children. I think the stance of some Notre Dame Alumi is suspect/ignorant at best. I'm sure in the past Notre Dame Alum haven't agreed with all the policies of the past presidents and this much of a rawkus wasn't made before their speeches. They need to grow up!
Grandpa Grandpa 8 years
if you are a student, and or a professor (particularly if you are a professor). Find a way to make your feelings known to the person doing the inviting, not the invitee. It frustrates the purpose of higher education, to declare some lines of thought or philosophy are not worth listening to. Could you imagine a hall where Justices Scalia and Ginsberg each laid out their judicial philosophy, and the took questions addressed to both of them. I feel like that newsman that got a "tingle" up his leg just anticipating such an event. :-)
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
Chaton- the campus and cathedral are sooo beautiful! It was so lovely there during the summer. I actually don't have problems with any of the students or professors boycotting and not attending the commencement, but I think it's odd that there is such outrage over having the current President of the United States giving a speech at commencement. It's not like he's some splinter radical holocaust denier or something. Which is a bad example come to think of it... What I hate is the attitude of a priest on a local radio show, that Obama shouldn't even speak there because it forces students to make a moral decision. Um, hello, they are adults in an academic setting. Asking them to make a moral decision seems like a pretty good idea to me, actually.
flutterpie flutterpie 8 years
i agree grandpa, scalia isnt my favorite person in the world but i would love to say that a supreme court justice came to my school and spoke. its sad that professors are teaching that the only opinion worth having is your own
Grandpa Grandpa 8 years
flutterpie, it never ceases to amazes me, how people in Academia who are supposed to cherish and encourage thoughts, and knowledge close their minds so quickly to views they disagree with. I remember when Justice Scalia was asked to address his daughters graduating class at Amherst. EVERY professor of that esteemed seat of higher learning, without exception boycotted his speech, and presentation of an honorary degree.
flutterpie flutterpie 8 years
whether you agree with him or not, who wouldnt be honored to have the president of the united states speak at your commencement, i mean its the freakin president! newts just jealous because he wanted to do it
chatondeneige chatondeneige 8 years
Snowbunny, I love Touchdown Jesus! One of my favorite parts of that beautiful campus. (Though the cathedral is probably my favorite part, visually) I didn't want to go to a school too far from home, so the Midwest wasn't an option, but sometimes I regret not going to Notre Dame.
em1282 em1282 8 years
...and he always has the right to speak up. Everyone does, which is great. Just saying I don't agree with him.
em1282 em1282 8 years
I'm not worried about his past divorces. Probably the manner in which he went about his divorces, yeah, but eh. Whatevs. I haven't been cheated on and served divorce papers while going through chemo. I also tend to think that stuff like that--being a decent human being and having some modicum of sympathy for the woman who most likely cooked a few of your meals and picked up your nasties from the floor and tossed them in the washer--doesn't necessarily go hand-in-hand with the Catholic faith, or any religious faith. I have plenty of athiest and non-religious/non-practicing friends who, uh, you know, have good hearts and do good things for the people around them. It's not that shocking or rare.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
I just wanted to point out that Notre Dame is not like the typical Jesuit university. I attended a Jesuit law school, and while there was a small church on campus, and a priest on call, the church's doctrine only extended as far as an emphasis on public interest law to fulfill the church's social justice mission. There was no religious element expected of the students at all. On the other hand, my boyfriend did summer research at Notre Dame, and when I visited him, the religious element is very prevalent on that campus. I have no doubt that there are some pro-choice, pro gay marriage groups on the campus, but the students are expected to espouse the beliefs of the Catholic Church. There are no co-ed dorms, there are strict rules about having the opposite sex visit, and yes, there is a giant touchdown Jesus on campus. The religious element is a *lot* stronger at Notre Dame, and unlike at my Jesuit law school, I believe students who choose to go there do so partly because of their beliefs. That being said, I do think the school was correct to invite Obama because he stands for many of Catholicism's social justice types of beliefs. I think it's sad that this religion is being pigeonholed by idiots like Gingrich as one that is primarily concerned with abortion and contraception. I mean, I would have been thrilled to have a popular president speak at my commencement! But I'm not Catholic or religious so...
moonlight-spice moonlight-spice 8 years
*applause for lilegwene* and thanks Grandpa for putting it in handy list form ;)
lilegwene lilegwene 8 years
A lot of people here don't seem to know the purpose of a Catholic university. It isn't so that every opinion is in exact alignment with the Church's beliefs, it is to provide students with the chance to learn/join the faith, grow through their faith, and experience the best schooling possible. It has never been a requirement, in any Catholic school, to be Catholic in order to attend. My mother-in-law, who is Jewish, attended a Catholic University. Similarly, my Arabic teacher, a Muslim woman who grew up in Egypt, went to a Catholic school. They were required to learn about Catholicism, but not to change their religion or take part in any Sacraments. As far as the order of the day, I see no problems with Obama speaking. Notre Dame invites every president to speak, it is a tradition. Plus, really... who wouldn't want to say that President Obama or President Bush was their commencement speaker? Even if you disagree with one or the other, they're presidents of our great country. A commencement speech is just a speech, it doesn't dictate what you are going to do with your life. Besides, most people get stuck with having someone talk who graduated from their university who they've never heard of. I was a little more or less fortunate, depending on how you look at it... I had Jerry Springer speak at mine. (He graduated from the same law school as me). Not only that, but I am sure there are discussions like this one going on at the Notre Dame campus, and these discussions can only help the students there come to decisions and realizations about what they believe. As far as people saying Newt Gingrich isn't the best person to speak up... sure he is! why doesn't he have the right? The first amendment gives him the right to voice his opinion, and that is simply what he is doing. If you're worried about his past divorces, don't be. He is a newcomer to the Catholic faith. His past is being judged and forgiven by God, and does not need to be judged by me or you.
em1282 em1282 8 years
His divorces aren't coming into play for me. His extreme douchiness, maybe, and the whole cheating on my wife thing and divorcing her while she was having toxins injected into her body to fight of a disease--yeah, that too, but overall--that falls under extreme douchiness.
em1282 em1282 8 years
Oops. Whilst *she* was in the middle of chemotherapy treatment. He's a total stickler for everything I believe in as a Catholic, that's for sure.
em1282 em1282 8 years
Such sage words from a dude who handed his wife divorce papers whilst in the middle of chemotherapy treatment. Keep spreadin' the love, Newt!
chatondeneige chatondeneige 8 years
Well said, Grandpa! (as always)
Grandpa Grandpa 8 years
The rest of us can at best make an educated guess.
Grandpa Grandpa 8 years
There are three things that must be present before a "mortal sin" is indeed a "mortal sin" 1)As as moon pointed out "GRAVE and serious matter" 2) sufficient reflection,and 3) Full consent of the will. We literally spent months in Moral theology class 1/2 century ago going over , discussing, and analyzing those three points. The bottom line, only an omniscient being has the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities to make the final determination.
moonlight-spice moonlight-spice 8 years
"All knowledge begins with wonder, Steph. When you stop questioning, you pretty much stop learning. " Well Said Grandpa, I could not agree more.
moonlight-spice moonlight-spice 8 years
I went to a Catholic school until College, and in highschool we were told that much of what most catholic think is in the catechism is actually wrong. The religion teacher I had most of the time was taught at seminary so I feel pretty confident in my knowledge of Catholic teaching. It seems to me like most people are unaware as to just how complicated the designation of a mortal sin is. There are allowances for extreme emotional states, mental illness, etc. Conscience is actually a crucial factor as is awareness that a sin has been complicated. And then there is the fact that - as we frequently addressed in my morality class - certain teachings can conflict with others in specific situations. Morality is complicated which is why a mortal sin - the sort that damns you to hell - must be truly dire. Even the Catholic Church cannot ultimately judge it which is why there are so few excommunications today. The pope never excommunicated Kerry, it was individual bishops (and I believe a cardinal) who called for it. Now one of the important criteria for a mortal sin is that it is a sin of a "GRAVE and serious matter" but that is usually defined as a violation of the ten commandments, which would mean that it would have to be at least the person getting the abortion to be a mortal sin. I would like the citation of this declaration including the original language (for people may translate incorrectly. A public legislative stance for a person who IS REPRESENTING a constituency that includes people who are not Catholic is a complicated matter because if that person truly considers himself a representative they may be personally opposed to abortion but wish not to make it a legislative issue, trusting people to use their own consciences. Also let me clarify for people that there have only been two cases in history where what a Pope said was considered infallible. The Pope is a guide, but he is not always infallible. Church teachings are not decided by the Pope alone but in concert with the college of cardinals. There is room for dissent in the Catholic Church. At my school many girls argued in favor of pro-choice and not one teacher or nun said that they were going to hell. I consider myself a religious pluralist which includes my Catholic upbringing so I would be very open to attending a Catholic institution, particularly if Jesuit, because there is actual thought and inquiry, not just blind obedience. If the Pope says jump a catholic does not have to say "how high" And I would recommend people try to find the clip of Pope John Paul II (RIP) scolding Bush for his stances on capital punishment, the war in Iraq, and "aggressive interrogation critiques." It is difficult to be completely in line with church teaching, and since it is not infallible I don't understand the argument that people who believe in most of the teachings - especially the important ones-should cease to be members of the Catholic Church.
Grandpa Grandpa 8 years
All knowledge begins with wonder, Steph. When you stop questioning, you pretty much stop learning.
stephley stephley 8 years
"I wonder why a student that was so rabid pro choice that they would bother to demonstrate, or counter demonstrate would want to go to a Catholic university." G'pa, there seem to be a lot of Catholics, and their thoughts, that you aren't familiar with.
chatondeneige chatondeneige 8 years
That's hilarious, ste, because the pope, who outranks your parish priests last time I checked, was unhappy with it, so the Catholic Church (capital c, designating the organization, not a building - I know how most of this site's subscribers love their semantics) was unhappy with it. I'm always so interested in the priests you talk about. They're pro-abortion rights, they're pro-stemcell research, which is so interesting. It's almost like they don't even follow Catholic beliefs, so I wonder why they would choose to teach them. Grandpa is correct, a "grave sin" is considered the same as a mortal sin, as far as I know. As for this, it's quite a bit of hooplah over nothing. It's ridiculous that his divorces are even coming into play, and it's ridiculous to think that non-Christians shouldn't be allowed to speak at Christian convocation. I would say it's incredibly unlikely that Obama will encourage the listeners to espouse his beliefs in a commencement speech, and it's quite an honor to have PotUS on your campus. I just hope they let him use a teleprompter! ;)
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