The University of Notre Dame’s choice of President Barack Obama as commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient at the university’s May 17 graduation has been a topic for columns in secular and Catholic publications alike.
In the April 19 edition of Our Sunday Visitor Greg Erlandson, OSV’s president and publisher, said the controversy “gives us a chance to tackle issues of identity, authority and academic freedom.”
The March 29 issue of the Chicago Tribune included columns with opposing points of view on the commencement controversy. George Wiegel, a senior fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, called the university’s decision “an egregious error” while Douglas Kmiec, a law professor at Pepperdine University praised Notre Dame for being “an inviting place of common ground.”
A Los Angeles times editorial said that by resisting pressure to rescind Obama’s invitation, Notre Dame has “kept faith with both its religious and its academic missions.”
Kenneth Woodward, contributing editor at Newsweek, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed piece that as a graduate of Notre Dame and someone who is “adamantly pro-life,” he did not think the invitation meant the university was “signaling its approval” of Obama’s policies.
Syndicated columnist Mark Shields, also a Notre Dame alum, took this view: “I believe that Notre Dame will be good for President Obama and that President Obama will be good for Notre Dame. They both will benefit from the visit.”