President Obama will also receive an honorary doctorate from the South Bend, Ind., university along with 2,000 undergraduates, 420 master’s degree students and 200 law school graduates. He will be the ninth U.S. president to get such a degree and the sixth to give the commencement address.
Every president since Jimmy Carter - with the exception of Bill Clinton - has given a commencement address at Notre Dame. During the commencement, the university will award its Laetare Medal - given to someone who exemplifies the ideals of the Catholic Church - to former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glendon.
But it was the Obama invitation that brought an avalanche of reaction over the weekend, spurring Father Jenkins - who issued the Obama invitation - to defend himself Sunday to the Observer campus newspaper.
Sophomore Ben Linskey, the co-president of the College Libertarians who wrote a letter to the editor disagreeing with Father Jenkins, said an invitation conveys “tacit” support to the president’s positions.
“As students and Catholics we have a responsibility to critically evaluate our leadership and view government with a healthy dose of skepticism,” he said. “It just does not create a healthy environment at a Catholic university to have any president speaking. It creates division. If it was President Bush, people would be protesting the war and death penalty.”
Julia Duin is the Times’ religion editor. She has a master’s degree in religion from Trinity School for Ministry (an Episcopal seminary) and has covered the beat for three decades. Before coming to The Washington Times, she worked for five newspapers, including a stint as a religion writer for the Houston Chronicle and a year as city editor at the ...
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