Notre Dame Breaks Tradition, Won’t Commit to Inviting Trump to Graduation

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by Christine Niles  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  December 8, 2016   

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. (ChurchMilitant.com) - The University of Notre Dame is refusing to commit to inviting Donald Trump to give the commencement speech at next year's graduation.

Breaking a 56-year-old tradition that began with President Dwight Eisenhower delivering the university's first presidential commencement address in 1960, Fr. John Jenkins, president of the Catholic university, is expressing hesitation over extending an invitation to the president-elect.

"I do think the elected leader of the nation should be listened to," he told the Notre Dame Observer last week. "And it would be good to have that person on the campus — whoever they are, whatever their views. At the same time, the 2009 commencement was a bit of a political circus, and I think I'm conscious that that day is for graduates and their parents — and I don't want to make the focus something else."

Notre Dame was roundly criticized by Catholics for inviting President Obama to give the commencement speech in 2009, with more than 250,000 signing a petition asking Fr. Jenkins to rescind the invitation, and 83 U.S. bishops publicly opposing the university's actions. Harvard professor Mary Ann Glendon, who was offered Notre Dame's prestigious Laetare Medal, declined the honor because she refused to share a stage with the pro-abortion president.

"My concern a little bit is that, should the new president come, it may be even more of a circus," Fr. Jenkins commented.

He went on to lament the divisiveness of the election season. "I think with the degree of animosity, the meanness of the rhetoric in the election, there was a lack of real discussion between the two opposing parties," he said. "It does seem we have hit a peak or a sort of high point in terms of that animosity, that vitriol in public discussion."

Notre Dame has not been exempt from the "vitriol in public discussion." Days after the election, the faculty from Notre Dame, St. Mary's and Holy Cross College published a letter in the Notre Dame Observer accusing Trump of his "racist, sexist, elitist, Islamophobic, xenophobic, misogynistic, anti-Semitic and homophobic" rhetoric.

"We know that you, like many of us, are reeling over the result of the presidential election," the letter opened. "You may be fearful of the very real dangers that may be ahead, not only for you but for your family members."

It continued:

Some of you might feel even more silenced than you have already felt, perhaps wondering if the classmate sitting next to you, your professor, or people in your residence hall actually support the views of the candidate who received the most electoral college votes in the election. who, in the course of the campaign, unapologetically made comments that were racist, sexist, elitist, Islamophobic, xenophobic, misogynistic, anti-Semitic and homophobic.

"Please know that you are not alone," the letter assured students. "We the Notre Dame, Saint Mary's and Holy Cross College faculty and staff embrace you and stand in solidarity with you against hate. We offer you our support and love."

In response, Professor Emeritus in Humanities Michael J. Crowe, who had refused to sign the faculty letter, republished it verbatim except for the midsection, which he reworked.

Some of you might feel even more silenced than you have already felt, perhaps wondering if the classmate sitting next to you, your professor, or people in your residence hall actually support the views of the candidate who received the most votes in the election, who, in the course of the campaign, unapologetically made comments supportive of aborting babies right up to the moment of their birth, who advocates continuing funding of an organization that not only does hundreds of thousands of abortions, but also sells body parts from the abortions they perform. This is also a candidate who openly advocates forcing all Americans, including those who see abortion as murder, to give financial support for abortions and would like to force medical professionals who object to performing abortions to be removed from hospital staffs.

The only other U.S. president not invited to offer the commencement address at Notre Dame has been Bill Clinton because of his pro-abortion stance.

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