Notre Dame Dilemma


Do you remember March 20, 2009?

That was the day the University of Notre Dame announced they would honor newly-elected President Obama as their Commencement speaker.

Under intense pressure, Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins called the invitation a “catalyst for dialogue.” He noted that Presidents of both political parties had spoken in the past, and that the invitation was in no way an endorsement of President Obama’s well known hostility to Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life.

Will Notre Dame continue their tradition and invite President Trump?

We understand the Notre Dame Board of Trustees met earlier this month. It is fair to assume that decisions have likely been made regarding speaking invitations for their upcoming Commencement.

However, in the weeks following the election last year, Fr. Jenkins signaled a retreat from the decades-old tradition of inviting the new President. He told reporters he was concerned an invitation to President-elect Trump would turn into a ‘political circus,’ perhaps far worse than the controversy that erupted in 2009.

Would they have worried about a ‘circus’ had Hillary Clinton been elected?

While Catholics today continue to debate how to best balance the economic and security interests of the country with immigration policy, the Trump administration has encouraged Catholics with pledges to work to defend the sanctity of life, restore protections for religious liberty (including for Notre Dame) and to be a voice for workers and families left behind by our globalized economy.

As a prestigious Catholic university, Notre Dame can help bridge the growing divide in America — and our Church. Recall what Fr. Jenkins said in 2009: “The world today is torn by division and fixed on its differences. Differences must be acknowledged and sometimes even cherished…”

If Obama was ok, why not Trump?

No doubt political forces are conspiring to sabotage an invitation to President Trump. While Catholics supported Donald Trump last November, many of his opponents remain as hostile as ever. Meanwhile, true dialogue and debate are being shut down on many college campuses.

Notre Dame is not Berkeley. Notre Dame can and should be different.

We note that a petition is already circulating urging Fr. Jenkins and Notre Dame to invite Trump.

Perhaps Notre Dame staff is already on the phone with the White House logistics team.

Or not.

Our Take: A ‘catalyst for dialogue’ in 2017 is exactly what is needed.

Last month Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput seemed to agree saying:

“Notre Dame takes pride in its tradition of welcoming to campus U.S. presidents from both parties and with very different views… In that light, the invitation [to Trump]would certainly make sense and might be fruitful in unforeseen ways. God writes straight with crooked lines.”

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of


About Author is a lay-led movement of committed Catholics who are passionate about living out the truths proclaimed by Christ and His Church in the modern world. We are joined in this mission by many individuals of other faith traditions (and no faith tradition) because the common good we seek is universal to all men and women of goodwill. As patriotic Americans, we believe that life, faith, and freedom are precious rights, and that the family is the foundational unit of society.


  1. Graduation Day belongs to the graduating seniors, those receiving advanced degrees, and their families. Inviting Donald Trump would surely turn things into a three-ring circus. Would the CV lads like to see that happen? No, I didn’t think so!

    Here’s a better idea: Why not ask the graduating students whom to invite as commencement speaker? Problem solved!

    A final comment: I see no reason why UND’s commencement ceremony should be a vehicle to advance CV’s right-wing social and political agendas.

    • The University disgraced itself when it invited the most pro-abortion president in history, Obama. That year I cancelled by financial commitment to ND and have no intention of reinstating it until a Catholic president resumes the presidency of ND

  2. Dennis Dumovich on

    ND needs to invite President Trump!
    Don’t cave to the threats from the left. Stand up for what’s right for once.

  3. Invite Trump to speak. Don’t be weak. The left is counting on you
    Being weak. Trump is Pro life. Our youth needs to see this man & his
    Strength. Show courage & don’t give in to the liberals.

  4. You say “If Obama was ok, why not Trump? ” Well, there is a difference and it ain’t pretty. Trump and Clinton attended the annual Al Smith Dinner in NYC. She was presidential by remembering to acknowledge the good works of Catholic Charities, the Pope and Cardinal Dolan. Trump was his same old ridiculous self. As Giuliani watched from the back Trump trashed Clinton to a series of loud boos. He is a sick man according to several psychiatrists’ recent assessments. Remembering 2009?

    I do remember O’s inauguration in January 2009. That moment was highlighted by one Senate leader who welcomed O by saying McConnell’s “primary mission was to see that President Obama was a one term president. McConnell failed miserably! He did succeed in creating the party of NO. He challenged his weak minions to “reject any and all Obama legislation”. O was forced to use Executive Orders in order to combat Senator Puff NO. McConnell did one more unconstitutional trick by blocking O SCOTUS nomination Judge Merrick Garland who has no Liberal judicial record.

    Maybe we will see the party rise up and banish this weak leader.

    • President Obama was an enemy of the Church.

      His administration sued an order of nuns to compel them to provide contraception.

      There sure IS a difference, and you’re right-it “ain’t pretty”.

  5. Tim Danielson on

    I just read this post today (March 3rd). By now my post is dated, VP Pence has been invited. Three thoughts on that 1. I think he is an excellent choice. 2. However, that being said, I know it was a John Jenkins copout to invite him instead of President Trump. 3. I guess we have more liberal alumni than I had realized, because on FaceBook they were all complaining about VP Pence.

  6. The University disgraced itself by having Obama speak. I cancelled my financial commitment to ND that year and will not reinstate it until a faithful Catholic takes over as University president

  7. obama stood for so many things the church would be against . we get away from Gods words and church teaching and then we wonder why things are so scewed up

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