(CNSNews.com) – As controversy brews over the University of Notre Dame's decision to invite President Barack Obama to give this year’s commencement speech, the bishop there says he will not attend the event and is calling on Catholics to pray to “Our Lady” to intercede for the school “named in her honor” that it might reject worldly “prestige” for eternal “truth.”
“Notre Dame” is French for “Our Lady,” one of the titles Catholics give to Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. The University of Notre Dame is an independent Catholic college.
In a statement released Tuesday, Bp. John M. D’Arcy -- who presides over the diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., which includes Notre Dame – explained why he is boycotting the Obama commencement, emphasizing Obama’s pro-abortion policies and “long-stated unwillingness to hold human life as sacred.”
The bishop also reminded Catholics that Wednesday, Mar. 25, is the Annunciation of our Lord to the Virgin Mary – the day that Catholics celebrate the angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary and her consent to be the mother of God’s son.
It is Catholic teaching that Jesus entered the world in Mary’s womb at the annunciation. At that moment, Jesus became incarnate.
“Tomorrow, we celebrate as Catholics the moment when our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, became a child in the womb of His most holy Mother,” wrote Bp. D’Arcy in his statement. “Let us ask Our Lady to intercede for the university named in her honor, that it may recommit itself to the primacy of truth over prestige.”
While the controversy continues, Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins defended his decision, telling the school’s campus newspaper, The Observer, on Sunday, “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.”
“We are not ignoring the critical issue of the protection of life,” said Jenkins. “On the contrary, we invited him because we care so much about those issues, and we hope … for this to be the basis of an engagement with him.”
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