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Obama at Notre Dame: Catholics' Take

By Jennifer Agiesta
President Obama heads to South Bend, Indiana this Sunday to deliver the commencement address at Notre Dame University, and while his arrival in town may be met with strongly anti-abortion protesters, the broader Catholic community is more accepting of the president, and his position on legal abortion.

In a Quinnipiac University poll released yesterday, a third of Catholics (34 percent, 33 percent among white Catholics) said Notre Dame should rescind its invitation to Obama to deliver the commencement address at the storied school because his views on embryonic stem cell research and abortion diverge from the Church's positions.

But even among those Catholics who say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, views on Obama's visit to the university are about evenly split. Among Catholics with more restrictive views on abortion, 44 percent said the invitation should be pulled back, 48 percent felt it should stand, while among those with more liberal views, three-quarters said Obama should speak (74 percent).

Catholics who attend services at least weekly are also more apt to say the school should take back its invitation, 43 percent, than those who attend less frequently. But those frequent churchgoers are far more likely than other Catholics to say abortion should be illegal in mot cases - 66 percent vs. 24 percent among Catholics who attend mass less frequently. Overall, Catholics are about evenly divided on abortion: 50 percent said it should be legal in all or most cases, 44 percent feel it should be illegal in most situations. Just over half of Catholics in a new Gallup poll described themselves as "pro-life."

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Posted at 3:37 PM ET on May 15, 2009  | Category:  The Pollster
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Marcosol 7:
Exactly which text books are these that state that life begins at conception? I would like to read the evidence (if any) behind your comment.

In more broad terms, I would be interested to find out how many people who claim they are "pro-life" also support the war. I find that the majority of the people who support the war very oddly oppose abortion because "it is murder". How are these two view-points reconciled? Can they be?

Finally, I would like to remind everyone that the USA claims, very proudly, that it is a secular nation. Nearly every justification against abortion I have read so far stems from the bible. It is unconstitutional, and also unfair, to impose Christian ideology on non-Christians in the arena of jurisprudence.

Posted by: SomeGuy47 | May 19, 2009 4:42 AM

What abortion common ground is Obama talking about?

The science of embryology tells us that human beings develop rapidly after fertilization of the egg. In fact, since the heart of the fetus begins to beat by 24 days, virtually all abortions (other than "emergency contraception") stop a beating heart. In fact, since most abortion occur between 4-6 weeks, they also destroy a functioning brain.
Even modern embryology textbooks agree that human life begins at conception. Since abortion ends human life, one must ask the question whether abortion is justifiable homicide or murder. So which is the common ground for the murdered child in his mother's womb?

Posted by: marcosol7 | May 17, 2009 11:35 PM

Interesting that you seem to think I am a Catholic. The Bible is just a little more complicated than what they cover in CCD class. Try Romans 13 if you want to confirm in the New Testament God giving the power of capital punishment to the State.

Posted by: JakeD | May 17, 2009 10:40 PM

Jake D:

Interesting that you seemed to be mired in the Old Testament rather than in the "good news" of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Gospels of the New Testament. By the way - what version of the Ten Commandments did you learn in catechism class - I never heard that one about thou shall not murder....

You seem to have missed the point of my first post. I find many of aspects of Catholic Doctrine to be unacceptable, if not downright silly - just a couple of examples: the prohibiton against the use of the Pill to prevent conception, oppostion to stem cell research, the outrageousness of declaring Catholics who divorce and remarry to be adulterers; the prohibition against women serving as clergy, etc. But really, I must concede that my all time favorite teaching of Catholic Doctrine is limbo. I rest my case.

Posted by: TSTrainor1 | May 17, 2009 8:28 PM

Read Genesis 9.

Everyone else:

There's a new Obama / Notre Dame thread.

Posted by: JakeD | May 17, 2009 7:23 PM

Where is it stated in the Bible that executions are accepted by God? Look at Bush's track record on capital punishment while gov. of Texas. President Obama has been elected by the same people that are now having an issue with his stance on abortion and stem cell research. He is not a murderer. (see http://projects.washingtonpost.com/fallen/)
There were no WMDs! Just a way to put a record surplus budget into private hands. Durring this same time frame, the world has fallen into an economic crisis. Now more than ever you should expect to see a rise in abortions. Mr. Obama has tried to address the situation by focusing more on the underprivalidged as the church has done through out history. I am proud to be a Catholic who voted for Obama.

Posted by: elmeromeropapi | May 17, 2009 7:17 PM

That is "Thou shall not MURDER" (otherwise Gen. 9:6 is meaningless).

Posted by: JakeD | May 17, 2009 6:11 PM

Jake D:

How does "Thou shall not kill" work for you?

Posted by: TSTrainor1 | May 17, 2009 4:57 PM

The audacity of DOPE and his teleprompter containing instructions from his globalist evil handlers at the world bank!

I am so sick of this nazi and his 'ein reich, ein fuhrer' speeches that I wish his mother had had the good sense to abort him.

How disgusting to see him telling a CATHOLIC audience that HE is going to change the CLIMATE, something only God and nature can do.

Honestly, this man is scarier and scarier every day.

Posted by: username | May 17, 2009 4:33 PM

Please cite to ANY Church teaching that it is a sin requiring forgiveness.

Posted by: JakeD | May 17, 2009 4:02 PM

JakeD:
If you are speaking about "justifiable homicide" as in war. There can be no question that war is evil - but human beings are fallable creatures and we are capable of committing horrendous acts. Killing during war is still a mortal sin for which each individual must seek forgiveness.

If by "justifiable homicide" you mean this in the legal sense, as in killing another human being whose actions threaten to end your life, then the action of the victim is based upon a deep seated and understandable human instinct to preserve one's own life. Nonetheless, in this instance "justifiable homicide" is a great tragedy, for which, again, we must seek forgiveness.

Posted by: TSTrainor1 | May 17, 2009 11:21 AM

Is Notre Dame a university or a parochial school? The fact that this is even an issue makes me think it is the latter instead of the former.

Posted by: ctakim | May 17, 2009 10:06 AM

If Obmama has not yet learned the difference between a Venal sin and a Mortal sin....he might want to find out before he opens his yap.

Posted by: dottydo | May 16, 2009 8:06 PM

I hope that Notre Dame can convert Barry Soreto, but it is a little hard, since he will be doing all the talking.

The right venue there might have been a town hall meeting.

This is quite probalby Obama's worst mistake, but his NPD sociopath's profile cannot fathom anything else.

He will try to be very very charming...like the devil.


Posted by: dottydo | May 16, 2009 7:24 PM

TSTrainor:

What's your position on "justifiable homicide" in the defense of others?

Posted by: JakeD | May 16, 2009 7:09 PM

Whitneymsr asks in her post: "Where has the Church gone?" I attended parochial school for 12 years and a Jesuit college for 4, and ask myself this question all the time. I personally do not know anyone who is anti-life. Abortion is always a sad and tragic decision for any woman to make - but I will never support the government's right to become involved in the most intimate and personal decison made by an individual. Never. The church's stand on birth control and its derogatory attitude toward women in general is NOT pro-life. Pro-life means supporting life in all ways: opposing torture, war, the death penalty, extending love and respect to homosexuals, and yes, rejecting abortion on moral grounds. It also extends to supporting social justice in all its manifestations: support for social programs that help the poor, equality for all individuals, proper education of our children, forgiveness and support to people who are divorced, opposing racisim, and welcoming back into the Catholic community the hundreds of thousands of Catholics who have been alientated by the rigidness of antiquated doctrine. Like a language that does not evolve, Catholic doctrine will become more and more meaningless to, and out of touch with the lives of Catholics everywhere. As many shunned Catholics will tell you: "I did not leave my Church, my Church left me." For the first time in many, many years I see a President who exemplifies, in his actions and through his principles, the moral teachings of all Christian religions, including those of the Catholic church that shaped my life. As a Catholic who has been excoriated by the decades of the Church's myopic focus on abortion to the detriment of all other moral teachings, the invitation by Notre Dame to President Obama, and the Pope's silence regarding the "controversy," is a breath of fresh air, and the first sign of vitality, from an otherwise stale and rigid religion. This event gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, we will see the change in the Church that is long overdue.

Posted by: TSTrainor1 | May 16, 2009 6:49 PM

sklairj2:

It is incomprehensible that some think an innocent fetus is worth less than a convicted double murderer. Some people are so selfish. I hope it is the biggest protest he's ever seen tomorrow.

Posted by: JakeD | May 16, 2009 3:37 PM

HOW ABOUT HAVING "REV. WRIGHT" SPEAK AT NOTRE DAME...Obamas mentor and for 20 years was taught "religion" by that hateful, anti American speaker. Makes as much sense as having Obama speak at a Catholic U.

Posted by: sklairj1 | May 16, 2009 1:14 PM

Someone posted how Bush had executed prisoners who had committed horrific crimes...How do you equate that with an innocent baby killed right before it is totally viable, at the mother's will...IT'S KILLING...Thousands of people looking for adoptive babies, cannot find them..They are all dead..To allow Obama to speak at a Catholic, The Catholic, University, is appalling and disgusting...His policies are way over the top as is the new Pres. of the University, Jenkins...who does not practice his religion, much less be a priest! Go way.....Jenkins...and Obama.

Posted by: sklairj1 | May 16, 2009 1:12 PM

Once President Obama announces that he hopes to see Notre Dame in the BCS Championship Game in January, they'll all be giving him a standing ovation and the controversy will be over!!!

Posted by: benighse | May 16, 2009 11:24 AM

An addition: The poll spoken to in the article is just another bogus poll, begging the question. 34% Catholics responded to rescind the invitation, but the % of those who would rerscind the honorary degree and statements of the "greatness" of this man is another issue. I, like many Catholics who've thought this thing through, am open to him going to the University. Let him say what he desires. I am however, insulted by the honor to be bestowed.

Posted by: acolumbus | May 16, 2009 10:35 AM

Wrong is wrong. Disgrace is disgrace. No ammount of "intelligent discourse" regards "academic freedom" can change that. We will have to suffer through statements on how wonderful an institution Notre Dame is, and how he too would love to see no abortions, but.... The standard mantra similar to our own Catholic weaklings kerry, Biden, Kennedy, etc. who are "personally opposed", yet blatently abandon the defenseless. For those Catholics who can't see through this insult, I include you in my prayers.

yard80197; No, Catholics do not "have it backwards". Where did you get the notion that the wrongness of abortion wasn't taught to us from the pulpit?? How do you think most of us developed our (passionate) positions? By telling us NOT to teach morality to others, you're telling us to dispense with the first Spiritual work of Mercy, which is to "admonish sinners". Good luck on editing the Spiritual Works of Mercy. BTW we will always have flaws until we become inhuman. (Jesus knew this) Bless you my friend.

Posted by: acolumbus | May 16, 2009 10:23 AM

DutchPointer:

What do you think the abortion rate is in Saudi Arabia?

Posted by: JakeD | May 16, 2009 8:57 AM

Worldwide overseen the statistics show that where abortion is a restricted legal right of choice, the number of abortions are significantly decreased and pregnant teenagers don't die by the complications of illegal bungling.
Nobody is pro-abortion. It's always a stopgap.
If you are pro-death it is very smart to be and stay anti-abortionist, but at least you can clean up your poultry house.

Posted by: DutchPointer | May 16, 2009 1:43 AM

schweiger7,
In the United States our Governors are not dictators.
The rules that the polled vote of the people wanted as law in that State, is the rule of the law there.

Death Penalty was the standing law, and the people in that State wanted it that way.

Posted by: dottydo | May 15, 2009 11:16 PM

yard80197,

Do you think that Muslims would mind too much if I go to a Mosque, wearing my regular attire, and sitting anywhere and with whom I wanted to?

There is a decorum with each religion that has long generational respect.

Why not just accept the fact that Presidents have long been careful to make sure that graduation is about the kids.
They usually decline if there is a hint of controversy about their appearance.

The security alone is most unpleasant around a Presidential appearance, and incredibly expensive for taxpayers.

If the flack had begun early, it is not a campaign speech, so act accordingly and decline with a polite excuse of being called upon with Presidential duty at another location.

2 wars is a good excuse to cancel all appearances ,to save the public from expense and irritation of security measures.

Waiting for a crisis pitch is only bad form that Obama thinks is success. He has NPD sociopathic profile , ahe can't help it, and his sickness shows.

Posted by: dottydo | May 15, 2009 11:11 PM

I find it amusing that when Notre Dame bestowed an honorary degree to President George W. Bush in May of 2001, none of the pro-life students had a problem with it even though as Governor of Texas, Bush had signed 147 death warrants. In fact, Pope John Paul II had personally appealed to Bush to commute these death sentences to life in prison. Isn’t the right to life absolute? Why the hypocrisy?

Posted by: schweiger7 | May 15, 2009 10:14 PM

It's quite remarkable, isn't it? The Bishops and Archbishops pontificating on the morality of abortion while conveniently forgetting the entrenched and profligate abuse of children by their clergy - which they systemically covered up all the way to the Vatican. Hypocrisy has attained a new high. Pedophilia, concealed under a clerical collar, has reemerged waving a new banner. Oh, joy.

Posted by: whessert | May 15, 2009 8:51 PM

the Catholics have it backwards. Of course abortion in most cases is an abomination. The Catholics need to preach it to their own flock from the pulpit. Catholics should concentrate on making everyone else Catholic before they start preaching morality to non-Catholics. Once all 6 billion people on earth become Catholic, then the Catholic Church can preach outside the pulpit. And how would they convince the world to become catholic? perhaps by good example? Until that happens, all this is hypocrisy. BTW anyone realize that the Muslims are also anti-abortion?

Posted by: yard80197 | May 15, 2009 8:47 PM

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Posted by: JakeD | May 15, 2009 7:48 PM

toritto:

As I told you before, even Michael was a blessing from God.

Posted by: JakeD | May 15, 2009 7:44 PM

My wife and I had a profoundly retarded son - he never spoke a word or walked - he never sat up - he never looked at me - for all I knew he was deaf and blind as well. I could only wish he had Downs!
Every meal he ever ate we fed him. Every diaper he ever wore we changed him. Every foot he ever moved from where he was lying we carried him. Every time he went to bed we carried him upstairs. Every morning we carried him downstairs.
We became a test marketing project for Depends adult diapers - we got 'em free and had to let the manufacturer know what we thought of them.
He lived to be ten years old. We did nothing but worry about what was going to happen to him. Then one day he simply woke up and died.
My wife gave ten years of her life caring for Michael. We got no help from any government agency except our local school for handicapped kids. No medicare ; no medicaid; no state assistance. You see I "made too much money" - what a joke that was.
Michael is gone now. So is my wife. She never went to church. She was not a believer. If there is a God in his heaven then she is sitting under a massive oak watching her perfect 10 year old son play with his 12 year old brother (yes - we lost two boys to birth defects) in the green grass under a sunny sky with a cool breeze moving through his hair mop - "Mommy look at me!! Look at my kite!!" and she will wave and smile.
There was no Catholic priest at her funeral - a local female Methodist minister who knew my wife, a woman who never went to church, as woman who lived Christian values in her daily life , spoke at her funeral. I will not forget her kindness. She spoke without being asked of how this woman made a lunch hour appointment for an abortion and changed her own mind at the last minute and went on to have two fine daughters. My wife was glad she had a choice.
Talk is cheap. It’s a lot easier talk about having a kid like Mike than to be the parents. Too many of you fine religious folk feel so good about yourselves for being “pro-life”, then you smile and go on to your next “Fellowship” meeting or casserole supper.
My wife and I didn’t know Michael was going to have such severe disabilities and that he would be total care for his entire live. Technology is much improved today. If you knew a Michael was coming YOUR way, would you at least want a choice? Would you want your daughter to have a choice?
No one should have to bear a Michael at age 30 if they don’t want to.......that’s choice.

Those who advocate the opposite should be prepared to urge society to provide care for that child for its entire life, even if you have to raise taxes. It’s the cost of being pro-life. Think of that the next time you see two old people pushing an adult retarded child in a wheel chair in the mall.

Posted by: toritto | May 15, 2009 7:42 PM

By TOM COYNE, Associated Press Writer Tom Coyne, Associated Press Writer

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Former Republican presidential hopeful Alan Keyes, a Roman Catholic priest and 19 others were arrested Friday after marching onto the University of Notre Dame campus to protest President Barack Obama's planned commencement speech.

The arrests marked the third straight Friday that protesters have been detained. They are angry about the school's decision to give Obama, who supports abortion rights and embryonic stem-cell research, an honorary degree and have him speak at Sunday's commencement.

"Notre Dame is arresting a priest," the Rev. Norman Weslin, founder of the Lambs of Christ abortion protest group, said as Notre Dame security personnel put plastic restraints on his wrists Friday. "Why are you arresting a priest for trying to stop the killing of a baby? You've got it all backward."

Posted by: JakeD | May 15, 2009 7:11 PM

Notre Dame is among the best schools in the US. However, even without president Obama, you should concentrate solving the problem of child molesters & pedophiles otherwise leave abortion issues for ladies to decide after all if we teach our children more about moral values, issues such as abortion and homosexuality will be past tense!!

Posted by: sirrhinorocks | May 15, 2009 7:09 PM

How can the religion of child molesters & pedophiles be upset at abortion rights. Oh, I almost forgot, your ranks were blessed in March by Newt Gingrich, he joined the Catholic church, don't they frown on divorce or did Gingrich get a free pass on all of his.

Posted by: wasaUFO | May 15, 2009 6:04 PM

Notre Dame should stand up for their beliefs regardless of who is going to speak there. GOD is greater than all, yes, even President Obama!

The President's views should be discussed. Perhaps this will be his opportunity to rethink his pro-abortion stance. He could even change his mind!

I look forward to hearing of the event. I hope there is respectful discussion that leads more people to a pro-life view.

Posted by: JBfromFL | May 15, 2009 5:42 PM

"University of Notre Dame" is correct. Notre Dame University is another school entirely. I'm really surprised the Washington Post can't get that major detail correct. One google search is all that takes.

Posted by: nicolion | May 15, 2009 5:39 PM

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