Hardline lobbyists in the USA have launched a campaign to try to stop one of the country's leading Catholic universities from having President Barack Obama as a campus speaker.
Beth Dahlman of social justice network Faithful America says: "Since President Obama announced he would be speaking at Notre Dame's commencement this year, conservative groups have been mobilizing against Notre Dame, collecting hundreds of thousands of petition signatures against them and going on a Fox News media blitz. Some are even calling for bishops to revoke its Catholic status."
She adds: "While it's obvious that President Obama has deep disagreements with the Catholic Church on some important issues, shutting down the conversation is not the way forward."
The University of Notre Dame (http://nd.edu/ ), founded in 1842 by Fr Edward F. Sorin, CSC, of the Congregation of Holy Cross, is an independent, national Catholic university located in Notre Dame, Indiana.
Notre Dame is rated among the nation’s top 25 institutions of higher learning in surveys conducted by US News & World Report, Princeton Review, Time, Kiplinger’s and Kaplan/Newsweek.
For decades, Presidents of both political parties have been invited to Notre Dame for this occasion to engage in rigorous discourse about the most pressing issues of the day.
Presidents have touched on such issues as international affairs, peace building, poverty, and human rights. Through this invitation, Notre Dame President Fr John Jenkins argues that he is honouring the best of our nation's democratic and religious values.
It is also being pointed out that millions of US Catholics voted for Obama, and that his central policy platforms accord with many aspects of Catholic social teaching.
Faithful America says it is is joining with Catholics United "to show that people of all faiths value dialogue and debate" and has launched a petition in support of the University.