Notre Dame’s Obama Award OK with Most Catholics

By Michelle Boorstein There is a vocal and influential constituency of American Catholics who disapprove of the University of Notre … Continued

By Michelle Boorstein

There is a vocal and influential constituency of American Catholics who disapprove of the University of Notre Dame’s decision to invite President Obama to speak at the Catholic university and receive an honorary degree in mid-May. But almost twice as many Catholics approve of the invite — not a total shock since the majority of American Catholic voters cast ballots for the president.

Catholics upset with Notre Dame for giving Obama (a supporter of abortion rights and embryonic stem-cell research) what many see as American Catholicism’s highest award have been slamming Notre Dame since the honor was announced.

Some of the most vociferous opponents have already set up camp at the school, launched a campaign, and cheered when Mary Ann Glendon — the most recent U.S. ambassador to the Vatican — announced earlier this week that she was turning down another award at Notre Dame in protest of the Obama honor.

But a poll released yesterday by the Pew Forum of Religion and Public Life shows 50 percent of Catholics saying they approve of the Notre Dame award to Obama, while 22 percent say they disapprove. Twenty-two percent said they didn’t know. That’s pretty similar to the views of Americans overall on the issue — 48 percent of the general public said they approved, 25 percent disapproved and 27 percent said they didn’t know.

In recent years American Catholics have come to mirror the general American population more and more. Another recent survey by Pew showed that more than two-thirds of Catholics approve of Obama’s job performance, about the same as the population in general. Only 33 percent of white, evangelical Protestants feel the same way. Meanwhile, 96 percent of black Protestants support the president’s performance.

However, authors of the poll note that there is a gap in the Notre Dame controversy that persists in so many arenas — between more and less observant Catholics. Among white, non-Hispanic Catholics who attend church weekly or more often, approval of the decision plummets to 37 percent. Forty-five percent said the decision was wrong. Among those who attend “less often,” 56 percent support the invite while 23 percent oppose it.

Pew’s poll also shows that weekly attending white Catholics are now noticeably more negative toward Obama’s performance compared with earlier this year. In fact, a plurality of this group (45%) now disapproves of the job Obama is doing, more than double the figure in February (20%).

Written by

  • johnw4

    The Media is big on polls. Well Obama

  • jcarabin

    Does anyone remember sadder days for Catholic higher education? How can we bring back the spirit of inviting persons of other persusasions to teach, study, dialogue with us? I celebrate my Cathoic University’s approach i.e. inviting and hiring Rabbis, Muslims, nonbelievers to be with us. I can remember when we received calls saying, “We heard you were planning to have a study on such and such. We would like to join you.” And they did. I still remember my first agnostic lecturer,and the gratitude he expressed for “welcome and tender kindess” upon the death of his father. I still think this is what a Catholic university should do. And I ask what kind of a university the Obama objectors attended, or if they did afterall.

  • arosscpa

    As you know, Ms. Boorstein, the RCC is not now, nor has ever been, a democracy or a republic. If 99% of the survey supported ND’s award to Obama, then each one in that group would be wrong/in error.The CC is ruled by Scripture, Tradition, and the hierarchy’s Magisterium. The US bishops (the US Magisterium) have established the canonical law making decisions such as that of ND’s impermissable under the document entitled “Catholics in Public Life,” 2004.) Fifty bishops have taken the time, to date, to write statements affirming that the ND BOD and Fr. Jenkins have deliberately violated this legislation, which is subject to no public interpretation other than that of the US bishops and the Vatican.The results of the survey will not prevent Fr. Jenkins’ removal and transfer, the demand that a number of boards members resign, or, in the alternative, Bishop D’Arcy removing the Catholic identity of ND per canonical act.

  • usapdx

    The PEW report is worth reading even though it is long. The bishops could learn a thing or two from it let alone other religions. On the catholic membership, how many know or agree with the teachings of the church and or whould be baptized by choice if they had the chance? As time goes by and the world cannot produce proper amount food or drinking water for the people of the world, will any of the catholic church teachings change? With our president invited to NOTRE DAME, he must be treated as our president for we are a goverment of the people, by the people and for the people and is NOTRE DAME’s guest. Bear in mind that most of the people of the world are good people and beleive in the same GOD but in different ways.

  • EPaulImhof

    Who is kidding whom? If Pope Benedict XVI. had any chance to mediate peace in the Holy Land conservative American Bishops blew it. A pontiff not even able or willing to assure the popular U.S.President peaceful reception on the Notre Dame campus doesn’t enjoy much credibility abroad. He is more likely to compound strife in wartornj Israel and Palestine than resolve pressing problems.

  • coloradodog

    The 22% figure is representative of Limbaugh’s delusional 27% who spend their time bashing Obama.

  • cprferry

    Among Catholics that attend Mass weekly, the poll numbers show they disapprove of Notre Dame’s decision to honor Obama. 45% view it as wrong to honor Obama, 37% believe he should be honored. Among Catholics that attend Mass less frequently, 56% believe Obama should be honored and 23% disapprove.Not every one can attend Mass regularly despite every Sunday being a day of obligation, but it is a great opportunity to keep up to date with the current Church’ teaching. Those that can not attend Mass can keep up to date by reaching out to their parish priests, their local bishops (who are members of the Magisterium, the teaching authority of the Church and inherited directly from the apostles), and the Catechism.

  • dxfaro

    “One, holy, catholic and apostolic church?” Yeah, right!The Catholic world is all atwitter about the upcoming visit and speech by President Obama on the campus of Notre Dame. What is new about opposition to a President on the South Bend campus? There has not been a single president in my lifetime from either of our major political parties whose policies and practices were fully in line with all of the teachings of the Catholic Church. Whether President Reagan or President Clinton, previous speeches generated debate but with much less heat on either side of the aisle. The protestors did not line up to get arrested in South Bend when President George W. Bush visited. Yet this was the same candidate in 2000 who made an infamous public appearance at Bob Jones University — a place that the media characterizes as well known for its racist history and for the fact that its leaders denounced the Catholic Church as a “satanic counterfeit.” Three years later, the Vatican was at the forefront of institutions pressing President Bush not to invade Iraq. Yet these incidents did not prompt the Pope to roll up the welcome mat when President Bush travelled to Italy in 2004, 2007 and 2008 and had meetings with the Pope at the Vatican. The hospitality was returned when Benedict XVI came to America and called on the President at the White House. According to one media report in, although aligned with church positions on abortion and embryonic stem cell research, the Bush presidency was not without its Catholic critics: John Carr, a top public policy director for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, called the Bush administration’s legacy a tale of two policies. “The best of the Bush administration can be seen in their work in development assistance on HIV/AIDS in Africa,” says Carr. “In domestic policy, the conservatism trumps the compassion.”But that did not stop the US and Vatican leaders from meeting face to face and talking. This week, our Church readings will show us how St. Peter embraced the Gentiles and did not condemn them or prohibit them from entering into the church. Let’s hope our leaders always keep out the welcome mat for each other no matter what their differences. Change may not come from isolation. However, dialogue may bring about change. That is where prayer comes in. Protest. Yes, by all means. Isolate? No, by all means.

  • rmkraus

    I think that Bishop Wenski and other Catholic Bishops should not fault Notre Dame for inviting President Obama to speak at the school.And I think that Pope John Paul II would not be too critical of Notre Dame either.What bugs me a lot though is this. Newspaper guys call on Father Thomas Reese, almost exclusively, for input on these stories about Catholic Church matteres. Why? Because they know that Father Reese is liberal and that what Father Reese says will cause a flap, and that’s exactly what newspaper guys want in their story. And, frankly, I also think that Father Reese likes it that way.SincerelyRMK, Akron

  • prudencerussell

    Mary Ann Glendon….you can altogether get out of the Catholic Faith, no one, specially myself, will give a hoot. YOU HYPOCRITE.

  • prudencerussell

    For all you CATHOLICS that think that you are “HOLIER THAN THOU” – Think again. And for all Christians who think that they are following the Christian way of a holy life..dang! you must be God to think you are. What do you really think what God ask of us? Does anyone knows?

  • treeplanter

    I’m an adult Catholic convert with “liberal” views. I’d call myself a prolife Democrat. The bishops and organizations protesting ND’s invitation to Obama are a bunch of embarassing hypocrits. They give my Church a bad name. I wish these facist right wing Catholics would just cool it.