Notre dame commencement 2009 address backlash

May 18th, 2009 - 1:16 am ICT by John Le Fevre  

Rev. John Jenkins US President Barrack Obama was greeted by hundreds of protesting anti-abortionists when he visited University of Notre Dame for the annual commencement ceremony today.

The protesters, many of whom were waving placards with slogans such as “Obama = Abortion” and others showing images of aborted fetuses, gathered at the prestigious Indiana university to protests the President’s stance on abortion and stem-cell research.

On Saturday more than 100 protesters gathered at the university with 23 storming onto the campus before 19 were arrested for trespassing and four charged with resisting law enforcement.

The decision by the private, devoutly Catholic university to invite the President and confer an honorary law degree on him has angered alumni and benefactors with more than $14 million in donations pledged to be blocked by the university’s staunch Catholic supporter base.

Notre Dame has a long tradition of conferring honorary degrees to sitting US presidents and today’s attendance by America’s 44th president at the commencement ceremony where 2,000 students were set to graduate was following in that tradition.

Critics of the university’s president, Rev. John Jenkins, claim that given the strong Catholic identity of the university and President Obama’s support for pro-choice and stem-cell research, the university should have broken with tradition this year and not have invited him.

Some of the schools graduating students were also angered by the President’s attendance with a group of devout Catholics boycotting the ceremony in protest.

However, a poll by Quinnipiac University earlier in the week showed that 56 percent of US voters, including 60 percent of Catholics, believed Notre Dame should not have rescinded its invitation.

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