As America’s premier Catholic university and football franchise, Notre Dame University had grabbed headlines over the last few weeks with its controversial choice to have President Barack Obama deliver the 2009 commencement address and and receive an honorary law degree. However, other less high profile Catholic colleges are not without controversy in their commencement choices this year. Some critics accuse these traditionally less recognized colleges with simply following after Notre Dame in an attempt to get attention, but college officials insist they are merely fulfilling their mission of maintaining a vibrantly Catholic and intellectual environment. A sampling:
Perhaps no announcement could have caused greater feelings of betrayal within orthodox Catholic circles that Franciscan University of Steubenville’s announcement that law professor, former Reagan administration official, and prominent Obama supporter Douglas Kmiec will be delivering their commencement address and receiving an honorary PhD in theology this year. Kmiec will speak on the Catholic intellectual life and its intersection with public life.
Catholic League president Bill Donohue said, “I am shocked and deeply saddened that a mindless shill for the most pro-abortion president in history has been invited to speak at what had generally been recognized as one of the most orthodox and pro-life universities in the nation.” Catholic journalist Ross Douthat, often recognized for his moderation on political issues, was asked for a balancing comment, but simply responded, “I think mindless shill is probably a pretty good description of what we have with Doug.”
FUS president Fr. Terence Henry, TOR dismissed outrage saying that the invite was in keeping with the Franciscan tradition,