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May 17th, 2009
10:27 AM ET

Religion, politics and protest: Obama at Notre Dame

The President of the United States will be the commencement speaker at the University of Notre Dame.

Despite President Barack Obama's popularity across the country, there is a deep divide around this south bend, Indiana campus about his planned visit.


His views on abortion and embryonic stem cell research are at the root. Or are they?

Fredricka Whitfield explores.

Filed under: Anchors • Fredricka Whitfield
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Michele

    Good Morning,
    I thought Bill Clinton spoke at Notre Dame when he was president and wasn't he pro-choice? Yet I don't remember this level of protest occurring. Do I have my facts straight?

    May 17, 2009 at 10:50 am |
  2. Al Sandoval

    Pres. Obama is doing more for people’s welfare and civil rights and demanding social justice for everyone, and is for a woman’s God given right of free will and the right to her own mind right or wrong and a hypocritical Catholic institution, that would honor former Presidents who were “anti-Catholics” otherwise known as “Protestants” who support the Death Penalty and the killing called War. How ironic. That’s ok, the Catholic Church didn’t believe Copernicus, Galileo and Newton either. Pres. Obama is not making choices for women; he is allowing them to make their own. We've advanced to the point where women can vote but they can't choose? Individuals are responsible for their own choices, right or wrong. After choosing, individuals must live with the consequence of their choices. Freewill is God given to both men and women.

    May 17, 2009 at 11:02 am |
  3. Stan

    The Catholics are being very hipocritical (as usual). If they are so "pro life" and so "anti birth control", why are they not rushing to China to "straighten out" the Chinese??? China has a population of 2 billion, and they restrict families to one child! Do they think that the Chinese give up sex after one child? The Catholics are very successful in Mexico. The Mexican population (good Catholics) cannot be supported economically so they have to come to the USA. Would this not be a good thing for the Chinese??? China's population could be 4 or 6 billion very quickly!!! Oh, I forgot, the Chinese don't send money to the Vatican!!! It's all about money with the Catholic church! The Catholic church is NOT concerned about protecting human life, they are concerned with creating more Catholics to support the Vatican. A big one way street! Does the Vatican do anything to support all the children being born because of their beliefs? No, more Catholics means more money to Rome!

    May 17, 2009 at 12:56 pm |
  4. William

    Speaking as a recovering Catholic I would like to say the following if saving a fetus which may or may not survive until birth anyway.

    f this is so important I would like to know where these self righteous “Right to lifers” are on adopting some or all of the 4,000 “unadoptable” children here in Texas.

    Why don’t they put action behind their rhetoric and live up to the true ideas of being a “Christian” by taking care of the children who are already here.

    May 17, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  5. Stephen Charchuk

    That Rev. Martin is what is wrong with religion.

    BTW, I was raised Catholic in a house that had been used as a Catholic Church and I think that it is ok for Obama to speak at Notre Dame at get a degree.....

    May 17, 2009 at 2:40 pm |
  6. Purple Spider

    President Jenkins of Notre Dame is behind this whole ordeal. This man must be mad at the world, to make such a decision. Obama should respect the religion of this school and it's doctrine and is not, regarding abortion. Above all, it is outrageous that this President should even receive an Hononary Degree – AND FOR WHAT ?????
    Wake up America – you are being had big time!!!!!

    May 17, 2009 at 2:41 pm |
  7. Barb

    If the Catholics are so outraged by the President speaking at the ceremony, why did Notre Dame ask him to speak? Of course he could have refused I guess, but that would have been more embarassing and caused more of an uproar than this is.

    May 17, 2009 at 2:45 pm |
  8. Stephen Charchuk

    Correction: Make that Arroyo.....

    May 17, 2009 at 2:47 pm |
  9. Marianne from Phila

    I was raised a catholic and work at a catholic hospital. The prolife movement and their support of the right wing are out of control. The pro-life movement has made this an issue. Most Catholics could care less. Mr Arroyo is anoying and is the embodiment of the prolife movement that is always at war with an enemy of their opinion. Mr Obama will make Americans proud by his message. I hope to see more mercy in the prolife movement with a focus on carring and compassion for women pregnant and seeking an abortion; fighting through legislation has decreased their ability to influence opinion.

    May 17, 2009 at 2:53 pm |
  10. Kathryn w. Kemp

    While we watched the potentially interesting Notre Dame commencement exercises, we were forced to two guests. I would have preferred hearing the valedictory address and the awards of the other honorary degrees. Sometimes the better strategy would be to shut up and listen–and allow the viewers to do the same.

    May 17, 2009 at 3:02 pm |
  11. dbrown

    There are Catholics who are Pro-Choice. This does not mean that they are pro-abortion. Are there students who will be graduating from Notre Dame today that support a Pro-Life position? If they do, should they not be given a degree because of their position in one area of their life. Is there a "don't ask, don't tell" muzzling of free speech at this learned institution?

    May 17, 2009 at 3:05 pm |
  12. lena

    With all the horrible crimes commited against children in todays world. Commited by birth parents or their coherts. Most of these children were unwanted, born into deplorable situations. I want to know how many of these right to life protesters have adopted or became foster parents to save the unwanted from their pain? Not many. For every person whom beleives that these children have a right to be born into a life of mental and phycial pain. And for them to not know love. I suggest, adopt as many as you can , give them what they need. Love them as they deserve. Turn your energy into a positive that you can see and they will feel...........................a chance at the life you fight so hard to uphold!

    May 17, 2009 at 3:10 pm |
  13. Jean-Charles Myrand

    I think Obama's speach was just perfecly balanced, But I dont get why many students from Notre Dame are still protesting abortion, it is last mesure option to choose, like in teen pregnancy were their to young for having a child. Also, Catholics should know that stem cells are being taken from umbilical cord and not from a embryon now.

    May 17, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  14. Ramona

    Your guest implied that Obama simply just changed the wording of his site to appease the right. As a woman who values her right to choose you make a false assumption about me and millions of women around. If I was faced with an unwanted pregancy that the logical decision would be to abort which is far from the truth. It would be a hard fought decision I would have to make. I believe that is my decision and mine alone to make. If I came up pregnant my decision more than likely would be to keep the baby because of my belief system and my belief system alone. At the end of the day I am responsible for my own action. I preferred to be Judged by my Maker as opposed to a Judge and Jury in a state court on a moral issue.

    May 17, 2009 at 4:35 pm |
  15. Purple Spider

    You don't want to post my first comment – here is another. Catholics are furious that Obama is trying to modify the church doctrine regarding Abortion – in otherwords, he is trying to tell the Catholics how to believe – yes there can be a common ground, but so far where is it?
    I am a Catholic and I resent Obama's attitude!!!! This freedom of speech and freedom of Religion is still supposed to exist and so far there has been no bill to shut the American people down!
    Again, I will say it again – the President of Notre Dame chose to make this decision of having Obama speak at Notre Dame and cause all of this chaos – he chose not to!

    May 17, 2009 at 4:44 pm |
  16. missy

    but gods free will does not have a knife in his hand , without the money or the doctor saying ok it is not hers to do unless our govt says ok
    so that is the difference we are assisting with these deaths
    shame to our people and to go to other countries and promote this is wrong
    i knew we were going to regret the decision of the young people in this one
    and we will never recover if we dont change our ways
    let him speak but i wont listen anymore to anyone of authority theres no shame in our country or any man standing for any goodf

    May 17, 2009 at 4:48 pm |
  17. Greg

    It is disappointing to see a small minority of Roman Catholics condemn President Obama's speaking at Notre Dame and stirring divisiveness in the USA.
    Religion and politics should always be kept separate.
    This is the same Roman Catholic Church that has allowed the continual sexual abuse of children by priests to spread throughout the world for centuries. Unfortunately, this evil is only coming to light in dempocratic countries such as Canada, the USA, and now Ireland.
    Roman Catholics should spend more time to eradicate this evil; and less time interfering with politics.

    May 17, 2009 at 4:58 pm |
  18. William

    Perhaps Pro-Choice and Pro-Gay Catholics should stop giving to the church hit them where it hurts them in the pocket book God does require money from man the church does.

    May 17, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  19. Stephen Charchuk

    Two things;

    1: Obana isn'tpro-abortion, he's Pro-Choice. Saying pro-abortion assumes that haing an abortion isthe only choice.

    2. The USA is not and has neer been a democracy. Its a Republic. There is a difference.

    May 17, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  20. linda

    If men would control their actions.....there would be fewer unwanted pregnancy's. They want to keep women....2nd class citizens...if they can get away with it. Yep!!!! And I'm Catholic.

    May 17, 2009 at 7:52 pm |
  21. Kristine from Menifee

    This topic is always going to bring conflict. No side can win. It is a very personnel choice. What we have to understand is just that, come half way, meet in the middle. respect one an other. When my husband and I found ourselves at one of the places they send you, if there's no where else to go. Our child was gone, but had to be removed. My husband was acousted by a pro life gentleman gave us a brochure showing us what our child would look like when we where done. It's different for every woman walking into a clinic. This was my choice and I am glad I have it. I don't want to live in a country that tells me what I can do with my body. Thank you

    May 17, 2009 at 8:00 pm |
  22. Kathleen Thornton

    Why continue to leave a comment? I've yet to have one appear so I guess Purple Spider (who appears quite frequently) must have more to say. Not more enlightened mind you but it must be more controversial. Anyway, this will be my last blog attempt. There has got to be some movie on TV tonight that I can watch rather than trying to make my voice heard here.

    May 17, 2009 at 9:25 pm |

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