Special Delivery: Names of 300,000 Petitioners Sent to Notre Dame Officials

April 30, 2009 - 8:08 AM
More than 334,000 people have now signed a petition opposing the University of Notre Dame's decision to honor President Barack Obama at the school's commencement, and most of those names – the first 300,000 -- are now on their way to university officials, a Catholic advocacy group announced on Wednesday.
(CNSNews.com) – More than 334,000 people have now signed a petition opposing the University of Notre Dame’s decision to honor President Barack Obama at the school’s commencement, and most of those names – the first 300,000 -- are now on their way to university officials, a Catholic advocacy group announced on Wednesday.
 
The Cardinal Newman Society, the group that organized the online petition drive, said it took more than 24 hours to prepare and print more than 64,000 sheets of paper, double sided, which were then bound in notebooks and sent via FedEx to Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins as well as to individual members of the Notre Dame Board of Trustees and the Board of Fellows, the school’s two governing bodies.
 
The board of trustees is holding its spring meeting at the school on May 1.
 
The petition calls it “an outrage and a scandal” that Notre Dame, a Catholic university, “would bestow such an honor on President Obama given his clear support for policies and laws that directly contradict fundamental Catholic teachings on life and marriage.”
 
Obama supports abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and homosexual civil unions.
 
We prayerfully implore you to halt this travesty immediately,” the petition says.
 
The Cardinal Newman Society, a group dedicated to strengthening Catholic identity at the nation’s 224 Catholic colleges and universities, wants Notre Dame to withdraw its invitation to Obama.

The first 300,000 petition signatures were delivered to Notre Dame board members, Father John Jenkins, and others on Wednesday, Apr. 29, 2009. (Photo courtesy of the Cardinal Newman Society)

“Only the Notre Dame Trustees and Fellows have direct authority over Father Jenkins, so their meetings on Friday are our best hope for an end to this scandal,” said Patrick J. Reilly, president of The Cardinal Newman Society, in a message on the group’s Web site.
 
“It is critical for all of us to pray that the Trustees and Fellows charged with safeguarding Notre Dame’s Catholic identity will heed the 50 bishops and hundreds of thousands of faithful Catholics urging Notre Dame to withdraw its invitation to President Obama,” Reilly added.
 
Fr. Jenkins has so far refused to abandon his decision to award an honorary degree to President Obama.
 
Adam Wilson, a spokesman for The Cardinal Newman Society, told CNSNews.com that “everyone at the meeting is going to receive their own copy” of the petition and signatures, as well as a personal letter.
 
Notre Dame did not respond to a CNSNews.com inquiry on whether the Obama controversy would be part of the agenda at Friday’s board meeting.
 
However, Wilson said there is a good possibility that the subject will come up:  “We don’t know any official discussion [concerning Obama] that is to take place,” Wilson told CNSNews.com, “but I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t discuss this, since it’s the biggest thing that is going on with Notre Dame and the news media right now.”
 
According to Notre Dame’s charter, "The essential character of the University as a Catholic institution of higher learning shall at all times be maintained, it being the stated intention and desire of the present Fellows of the University that the University shall retain in perpetuity its identity as such an institution."
 
The Cardinal Newman Society said copies of the signed petition also are being delivered  to church officials in Rome, to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and to Bishop John D’Arcy of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese, in which the University of Notre Dame is located.
 
D’Arcy says that Fr. Jenkins has given “a flawed justification” for extending the invitation to Obama.