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Notre Dame Valedictorian: Obama Practices Catholic Values

Posted by on May. 16, 2009 at 5:49 PM
Pam
  • 37 Replies

Notre Dame Valedictorian: Obama Practices Catholic Values


First Posted: 05-16-09 01:00 PM   |   Updated: 05-16-09 05:41 PM

Brennanbollman

The media focus on the controversy surrounding President Obama's upcoming Notre Dame speech might give the impression that Obama is not welcome at the university. Class valedictorian Brennan Bollman, the woman who will be sharing the stage with the president on Sunday, says that couldn't be further from the truth.

"This issue has not divided the campus by any means," says the Catholic, pro-life biology major who will be attending Harvard Medical School after graduation.

In an interview with the Huffington Post, Bollman stressed that her peers do not view the president's overall values as inconsistent with Catholicism. In fact, Bollman says Obama is practicing Catholic values in his administration. Like Jesus, Bollman says, Obama is trying to invite "everyone to the table."

Condemnation of Notre Dame's invitation has come from Catholic Church members as well as anti-abortion groups, who have pushed the message that Obama and his pro-choice policies are not welcome. These groups have drummed up a considerable amount of coverage despite their smaller numbers. On Friday, Alan Keyes, one of Obama's challengers in the 2004 Illinois Senate Race, was arrested (for the second time in one week) on campus during a protest with about forty anti-abortion activists. Photos of the arrest have made it on to national cable networks like MSNBC. (Disclosure: I went on MSNBC this morning to discuss the controversy.)

Some of the strongest words against the Notre Dame invitation came from Chicago's Cardinal Francis George, who accused Notre Dame of showing it "didn't understand what it means to be Catholic when they issued this invitation."

Bollman called Cardinal George's statement out of tune with Catholicism. "We know exactly what it is to be Catholic because we are inviting President Obama to speak to us." She said the University's President, Father Jenkins, had even sent a letter earlier in the week to all graduates affirming he's proud that campus dialogue had not "led to divisions."

Bollman stressed that even though the student body is overwhelmingly disconnected from the outside furor over Obama's visit, there is a healthy debate on campus. She explained that the debate is less about abortion and more about Obama's policies towards "advancing this human life" after it's born. Bollman, who voted for Obama, says she and many of her fellow students support the president because of the respect he has "given to human life through many of his policies." Bollman did point out one group, Notre Dame Response, that would be holding a peaceful demonstration during the commencement.

Abortion rights is an issue that the president has largely avoided in his young presidency. When asked about the Notre Dame controversy during his 100-day press conference in April, Obama said it was "moral and ethical issue," but one that was better decided by women than the government. Bollman brought up Obama's point during the press conference as a example of how he is not trying to be divisive when it comes to abortion, but rather he wants to look at the broader issue of unwanted pregnancy by bringing everyone to the table.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs revealed Friday that the president would acknowledge the controversy during his remarks at Notre Dame. "I think the president is somebody who has taught in a university setting, would understand that this is exactly the type of give and take that's had on college campuses all over the country," said Gibbs.

Bollam couldn't agree more. She said, "We're a Catholic university. We are supposed to -- by our nature -- engage all issues at their highest levels from people at all levels."

by on May. 16, 2009 at 5:49 PM
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Replies (1-10):
lilyrose73
by on May. 16, 2009 at 6:08 PM

Obama believes in women being allowed to kill their babies... are Catholics pro abortion now?  I wonder what the Pope would say about that.... 

Not to mention this quote, which is LOL HYSTERICAL and not even close to the truth....

Like Jesus, Bollman says, Obama is trying to invite "everyone to the table."

 

That quote deserves a sweet pea

 

rolling on floor

 

 

 

tericared
by on May. 16, 2009 at 6:54 PM

Bollman stressed that even though the student body is overwhelmingly disconnected from the outside furor over Obama's visit, there is a healthy debate on campus. She explained that the debate is less about abortion and more about Obama's policies towards "advancing this human life" after it's born. Bollman, who voted for Obama, says she and many of her fellow students support the president because of the respect he has "given to human life through many of his policies." Bollman did point out one group, Notre Dame Response, that would be holding a peaceful demonstration during the commencement.

Palestinian People are defending themselves and their Land and their Homes against Israeli war crimes and Israeli war criminals, both military and civilian.

sweetie00
by on May. 16, 2009 at 7:06 PM

 Obama said it was "moral and ethical issue," but one that was better decided by women than the government

conniecabe
by on May. 16, 2009 at 9:38 PM

Thanks Pam for posting this. I really believe most Catholics are okay with Obama speaking at Notre Dame, they're just not getting the attention the vocal protesters are receiving.

 I want to know how many of the protestors pushing bloody dolls in strollers are actually Catholic? Or are they just radical anti-abortion rally-ers leaching on to this "scandal"to get the spotlight aimed at their cause?  I think I need to do some research to find out.

 

Anyway.....

I think this article by Thomas Reece also makes valid points:

Quote:

This year the controversy is over President Obama speaking at Notre Dame University May 17. Some have objected that this is a violation of the bishops' statement Catholics in Political Life. This is absurd.

According to Catholics in Political Life, "The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."

I would argue that having Obama as a commencement speaker and giving him an honorary degree does not violate Catholics in Political Life because:

  1. In his personal life, Obama has never acted in defiance of the fundamental moral principle that abortion is wrong.
  2. Publicly, Obama has never spoken out against the fundamental moral principle that abortion is wrong.
  3. He supports legal restrictions on third trimester abortions with a health-of-the-mother exemption.
  4. Although he does not believe that other abortions can be made illegal, he supports programs to reduce the number of abortions.
  5. Notre Dame is not honoring Obama because of his views on abortion but because he is President of the United States, as has been made clear by the Rev. John Jenkins, Notre Dame's president.

/snip/

How do I know that Notre Dame is not violating Catholics in Political Life? Because Notre Dame is doing nothing more than what has already been done by Cardinal Edward Egan of New York, who taught canon law and worked as a judge in the Tribunal of the Sacred Roman Rota, a church court based in the Vatican.

If Cardinal Egan can invite Obama to speak at the Al Smith dinner in October of 2008 when he was only a presidential candidate, then there is certainly nothing wrong with Notre Dame having the President speak at a commencement. Other pro-choice speakers at Al Smith dinners included Al Gore and Tony Blair (a Catholic). What is OK for a cardinal archbishop is certainly OK for a university. Or are bishops exempt from "Catholics in Political Life"?
/snip/

 If Catholic universities are afraid to have people on campus who challenge our views, then we are not training students to listen and think critically. We are admitting that our arguments are not convincing.

Finally, E.J. Dionne makes the case that the conservative Catholics are getting a lot of press time over this.  What isn't getting attention are the moderate/liberal Catholics who aren't upset:

 

Quote:

The objections of more conservative Catholics to the University of Notre Dame’s decision to invite President Obama to deliver this year’s commencement address and to receive an honorary degree have received a lot of attention. But the views of moderate and liberal Catholics haven't received nearly as much notice.

My friends at Commonweal, the liberal Catholic magazine (which -- full disclosure -- occasionally runs my column), recently had what I though was an excellent editorial on the issue. They defended the university for inviting Obama, noting that “university officials have made no secret of Notre Dame’s disagreement with the president about abortion and stem-cell research, and certainly the president and the public cannot be in doubt about the church’s opposition to his policies in those areas.” Commonweal added: “Honorary degrees signify an institution’s admiration for the accomplishments of the recipient. They do not signify blanket moral approbation.”

But the most important point came in the last paragraph:

The church is not simply the prolife movement, and to the extent that every interaction between the church and our political system is held hostage to the demands of the most confrontational elements of that movement, the church’s social message, including its message about abortion, will be marginalized and ineffectual. The respect and honor owed the office of the president does not depend on any particular president’s merits.... That respect is, among other things, a powerful affirmation of the willingness of Americans to live together peacefully, despite profound disagreement. Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama is perhaps best understood in that light.


 

blondekosmic15
Report
I love the Fall. Chill in the air decorated w/ bronze leaves & holidays approaching~
Tuesday at 9:49 PM
by on May. 16, 2009 at 10:01 PM

 

Quoting lilyrose73:

Obama believes in women being allowed to kill their babies... are Catholics pro abortion now?  I wonder what the Pope would say about that.... 

Not to mention this quote, which is LOL HYSTERICAL and not even close to the truth....

Like Jesus, Bollman says, Obama is trying to invite "everyone to the table."

 

That quote deserves a sweet pea

 

rolling on floor

 

 

 


Miss Bollman reminds me of the Scribes n' Pharisees during the time of Christ. She's obviously caught up in the glitter & popularity of a President stepping on the stage @ her College. Jesus....when I return will I find anyone who truly loves me?! hmm....Miss Bollman?!

blondekosmic15
Report
I love the Fall. Chill in the air decorated w/ bronze leaves & holidays approaching~
Tuesday at 9:49 PM
by on May. 16, 2009 at 10:06 PM


Quoting sweetie00:

 Obama said it was "moral and ethical issue," but one that was better decided by women than the government


Your statement is ludicrous! Decided by a woman...give me a break! Barack Obama sure has wasted no time helping women to obtain an abortion by the stroke of pen...now has he?!?

blondekosmic15
Report
I love the Fall. Chill in the air decorated w/ bronze leaves & holidays approaching~
Tuesday at 9:49 PM
by on May. 16, 2009 at 10:18 PM

 

Quoting conniecabe:

Thanks Pam for posting this. I really believe most Catholics are okay with Obama speaking at Notre Dame, they're just not getting the attention the vocal protesters are receiving.

 I want to know how many of the protestors pushing bloody dolls in strollers are actually Catholic? Or are they just radical anti-abortion rally-ers leaching on to this "scandal"to get the spotlight aimed at their cause?  I think I need to do some research to find out.

It is truly disturbing that your primary concern is to find out who is really Catholic as opposed to asking God to bless & protect those beautiful ppl. who truly love God & will risk goin' to jail for the sake of defending precious human life! I am sickened by your heartless comments here connie.....these brave Christians are the Apostles of out time. Their reward will be very great in Heaven!

 

Anyway.....

I think this article by Thomas Reece also makes valid points:

Quote:

This year the controversy is over President Obama speaking at Notre Dame University May 17. Some have objected that this is a violation of the bishops' statement Catholics in Political Life. This is absurd.

According to Catholics in Political Life, "The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."

I would argue that having Obama as a commencement speaker and giving him an honorary degree does not violate Catholics in Political Life because:

  1. In his personal life, Obama has never acted in defiance of the fundamental moral principle that abortion is wrong.
  2. Publicly, Obama has never spoken out against the fundamental moral principle that abortion is wrong.
  3. He supports legal restrictions on third trimester abortions with a health-of-the-mother exemption.
  4. Although he does not believe that other abortions can be made illegal, he supports programs to reduce the number of abortions.
  5. Notre Dame is not honoring Obama because of his views on abortion but because he is President of the United States, as has been made clear by the Rev. John Jenkins, Notre Dame's president.

/snip/

How do I know that Notre Dame is not violating Catholics in Political Life? Because Notre Dame is doing nothing more than what has already been done by Cardinal Edward Egan of New York, who taught canon law and worked as a judge in the Tribunal of the Sacred Roman Rota, a church court based in the Vatican.

If Cardinal Egan can invite Obama to speak at the Al Smith dinner in October of 2008 when he was only a presidential candidate, then there is certainly nothing wrong with Notre Dame having the President speak at a commencement. Other pro-choice speakers at Al Smith dinners included Al Gore and Tony Blair (a Catholic). What is OK for a cardinal archbishop is certainly OK for a university. Or are bishops exempt from "Catholics in Political Life"?
/snip/

 If Catholic universities are afraid to have people on campus who challenge our views, then we are not training students to listen and think critically. We are admitting that our arguments are not convincing.

Finally, E.J. Dionne makes the case that the conservative Catholics are getting a lot of press time over this.  What isn't getting attention are the moderate/liberal Catholics who aren't upset:

 

Quote:

The objections of more conservative Catholics to the University of Notre Dame’s decision to invite President Obama to deliver this year’s commencement address and to receive an honorary degree have received a lot of attention. But the views of moderate and liberal Catholics haven't received nearly as much notice.

My friends at Commonweal, the liberal Catholic magazine (which -- full disclosure -- occasionally runs my column), recently had what I though was an excellent editorial on the issue. They defended the university for inviting Obama, noting that “university officials have made no secret of Notre Dame’s disagreement with the president about abortion and stem-cell research, and certainly the president and the public cannot be in doubt about the church’s opposition to his policies in those areas.” Commonweal added: “Honorary degrees signify an institution’s admiration for the accomplishments of the recipient. They do not signify blanket moral approbation.”

But the most important point came in the last paragraph:

The church is not simply the prolife movement, and to the extent that every interaction between the church and our political system is held hostage to the demands of the most confrontational elements of that movement, the church’s social message, including its message about abortion, will be marginalized and ineffectual. The respect and honor owed the office of the president does not depend on any particular president’s merits.... That respect is, among other things, a powerful affirmation of the willingness of Americans to live together peacefully, despite profound disagreement. Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama is perhaps best understood in that light.


 


You should be ashamed of yourself connie...you are Catholic?????? Every abortion performed due to the passing of any bill which Obama contributed to is crucifying Our Lord over & over under his administration. You are listening to the voices in opposition to Church teaching. The Virgin Mary has warned many times.....obey the Priests & Bishops who are in union w/ the Pope...your salvation depends on it! You are criticizing the prolifers for defending precious human life as Jesus & the Apostles would eagerly do when defending the very life God has created...whose side on you on? Certainly not Our Lord's! You should be praising them not ridiculing them as you continuously do!  I have posted several sites in reference to the Pope...the countless Bishops who are in union w/ the Holy Father concerning this issue but you still deem it necessary to side w/ the devil. Satan is behind every abortion committed & Barack Obama is a viable tool for the devil. America better wake up!

            

sweetie00
by on May. 16, 2009 at 10:21 PM


Quoting blondekosmic15:

 

Quoting sweetie00:

 Obama said it was "moral and ethical issue," but one that was better decided by women than the government


Your statement is ludicrous! Decided by a woman...give me a break! Barack Obama sure has wasted no time helping women to obtain an abortion by the stroke of pen...now has he?!?

Thank God! Have you figured out how to work that phone yet?

blondekosmic15
Report
I love the Fall. Chill in the air decorated w/ bronze leaves & holidays approaching~
Tuesday at 9:49 PM
by on May. 16, 2009 at 10:26 PM


Quoting sweetie00:

 

Quoting blondekosmic15:

 

Quoting sweetie00:

 Obama said it was "moral and ethical issue," but one that was better decided by women than the government


Your statement is ludicrous! Decided by a woman...give me a break! Barack Obama sure has wasted no time helping women to obtain an abortion by the stroke of pen...now has he?!?

Thank God! Have you figured out how to work that phone yet?

Interesting how you mention God but than turn around & support the killing of the very lil' baby he has created in a mother's womb! I don't believe God is smiling down on you sweetie!

blondekosmic15
Report
I love the Fall. Chill in the air decorated w/ bronze leaves & holidays approaching~
Tuesday at 9:49 PM
by on May. 16, 2009 at 10:26 PM

Pro-Life Activists Converge on Notre Dame to Protest Obama Speech

Hundreds of pro-life activists from across the country are arriving by the busload at Notre Dame with one purpose in mind: to protest President Obama.

By Joshua Rhett Miller

FOXNews.com

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Hundreds of pro-life activists from across the country are converging on Notre Dame's bucolic campus with one purpose in mind: to protest President Obama.

The university's decision to invite the president, who supports abortion rights, to deliver the commencement address Sunday and to award him an honorary degree has brought protesters to South Bend, Ind., by the busload with their protest signs, some displaying the message "Obama = Abortion" and others showing images of aborted fetuses.

As more than 2,000 students prepare for their graduation ceremony, members of the Pro-Life Action League and Citizens for a Pro-Life Society said they'll congregate at 10:30 a.m. Sunday just off-campus in opposition to the president's support of abortion rights and embryonic stem-cell research.

"I'm going to Notre Dame to be a witness to the truth," Mary Sullivan, a member of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, told FOXNews.com. "As a Catholic, this is not what the church teaches and it slaps in the face of what Catholics believe. We don't believe in using fetuses to supposedly find cures for diseases."

Sullivan, who lives in the Detroit suburb Southfield, Mich., will board a 56-seat bus in Ann Arbor along with her husband and two neighbors to make the trip to South Bend. Another bus, meanwhile, will leave from Detroit.

"My purpose of going is I will pray and meditate," Sullivan said. "And I will pray that people will hear the truth and understand what's going on here. We're trying to change hearts and get people to understand that this truly is intrinsic evil."

Judy Parran, an organizer for the group, said a third bus is currently being procured due to increasing demand. Several priests and nuns are expected to be on board, she said.

"The calls just keep on coming," Parran told FOXNews.com. "I just got an e-mail from a couple of people who aren't even Catholic."

Corrina Gura, an organizer for the Pro-Life Action League, said their group will send a total of four buses -- approximately 220 people.

"A lot of people have told us they're driving separately as well," she said. "People are asking if we're adding other buses."

Pro-Life Action League members also will begin their civil disobedience effort off-campus and then join the Citizens for a Pro-Life Society at the prayer vigil on campus to coincide with the commencement ceremony. Additional arrests are possible, if not expected.

"We're going have graphic pictures of abortion and what abortion does to babies and we'll also have signs that will say 'Obama = Abortion' and 'Shame on Notre Dame,'" Gura said.

Citizens for a Pro-Life Society will be carrying signs ranging from the "very graphic to very simple," Parran told FOXNews.com.

The two groups' approach will differ drastically from that of ND Response, a coalition of student groups that plan to voice their opposition to President Obama with peaceful protest and no graphic signs, beginning with an all-night vigil late Saturday and another vigil on Sunday.

And despite calls from ND Response for the two groups to hold orderly demonstrations, some protesters haven't gotten the message and plan on being escorted off campus in handcuffs.

One of those dissidents is Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in all 50 states in 1973. McCorvey, a born-again Christian who runs Roe No More Ministry in Dallas, flew to South Bend, Ind., on Friday.

"I'm coming because I want to show Mr. Obama that I'm not in favor his pro-abortion stance," McCorvey told FOXNews.com prior to boarding a connecting flight in Cincinnati, Ohio. "I'm a peaceful protester, but if they come and take me away, they'll just come and take me away."

McCorvey said she's especially excited for a meditation to be held by the Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, during Obama's commencement address and the candlelit vigil led by Rev. John D'Arcy, bishop of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese who will not attend Sunday's graduation, in protest of the president.

"Hopefully we can convince Mr. Obama that he should be standing on the right side, and that's the side for life," she said. "I'm pro-life now, I'm not afraid."

Asked what she'd say to President Obama if given the opportunity, McCorvey replied, "I can't talk like that anymore. I'm a Christian."

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/05/16/pro-life-activists-converge-notre-dame-protest-obama-speech/

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