Outraged Catholics seek to stop Obama’s Notre Dame speech; fight shows big divide in church

A campaign by outraged Roman Catholics to keep President Barack Obama from delivering the commencement address at Notre Dame shows that the gulf between the church and backers of abortion rights remains deep. Yet the effort to get the school to rescind its invitation to Obama also highlights a political disconnect between the conservative Catholic hierarchy and millions of U.S. Catholic voters. Since the White House announced in March that Obama had accepted Notre Dame’s invitation to speak May 17, more than 358,000 people have signed an online petition demanding that the university take back the offer. The Cardinal Newman Society, an advocacy group for Catholic colleges that circulated the position, said the invitation violated a 2004 bishops’ mandate that stated, “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.”