The Notre Dame Observer has this to say:
University President Fr. John Jenkins responded to criticism regarding the announcement of President Barack Obama as the 2009 Commencement speaker by clearly making a distinction between honoring the president and supporting his political views.Of course, the US Bishops have asked Catholic schools to not give "awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for actions which fundamentally contradict Catholic teaching."
Jenkins made it clear in an interview with The Observer Sunday the University does not "foresee circumstances" that would cause Notre Dame to rescind the president's invitation.
"We have invited the president and he's honored us by accepting," he said.
The White House and the University announced March 20 the president will speak at the May 17 Commencement ceremony, to take place in the Joyce Center. The Notre Dame appearance will be Obama's second commencement address as president; he will speak at Arizona State University on May 13 and the United States Naval Academy on May 22.
Notre Dame has a long-standing tradition of inviting the current U.S. president to speak at the University, Jenkins said.
"Presidents from both parties have come to Notre Dame for decades to speak to graduates about our nation and our world. They've given important addresses on international affairs, human rights, service, and we're delighted that President Obama is continuing that tradition," Jenkins said.
Some members of the Notre Dame community, and the larger national Catholic community have negatively responded to the announcement, launching campaigns to stop the president from visiting the University because of his stances on issues regarding the protection of life.
Jenkins made clear the University is not honoring the president for his stances on these issues, but for his leadership.
"The invitation of President Obama to be our Commencement speaker should in no way be taken as condoning or endorsing his positions on specific issues regarding the protection of life, such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research," Jenkins said.
These "crucial differences" in positions on the protection of life are not being ignored in extending the invitation to the president, Jenkins said, but rather can be used as a catalyst for dialogue.
*Notre Dame press release
*American Papist coverage
*Cardinal Newman Society petition against the visit.
*Ralph McInerny, a prof at NDU, argues that ND says NDU is no longer Catholic. I don't know about that, but they surely aren't strengthening their Catholic identity with this invite.