Obama at Notre Dame

May 18, 2009

For all the raised voices (and a few arrests) over President Obama's appearance at the graduation ceremony of the University of Notre Dame Sunday, he was well received by the graduates and the audience, who gave the president repeated ovations. At one point early in the speech, hecklers shouted, but they were quieted. Obama spoke at length about the role of Notre Dame -- and of the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, its legendary former president, who was in the audience -- as an inspiring force in American society. Most of the criticism of Obama's appearance came from anti-abortion groups who said that the university was abandoning its Roman Catholic traditions by honoring a president who defends abortion rights. The Rev. John I. Jenkins, Notre Dame's president, noted the controversy in his introductory remarks, and explicitly said that the Catholic teachings differ from the president's views on abortion and stem cell research. But Father Jenkins praised Obama, and noted that he had accepted the invitation to Notre Dame even knowing that not all of his views are shared there. In his remarks, Obama noted the differences of views on abortion, but called for Americans to consider the views of those with whom they disagree on the issue. "Those who speak out against stem cell research may be rooted in admirable conviction about the sacredness of life, but so are the parents of a child with juvenile diabetes who are convinced that their son's or daughter's hardships can be relieved," he said. The text of Obama's address may be found here.

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