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Vatican notes Obamaís search for 'common ground'

VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican's official newspaper called President Obama's commencement speech at the University of Notre Dame May 17 part of his "search for common ground" with opponents of legalized abortion.

"The search for common ground: this seems to be the path chosen by the president of the United States, Barack Obama, to face the delicate question of abortion," said an unsigned article in the May 18 edition of L'Osservatore Romano.

Obama at Notre Dame: Incomplete Eloquence

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The presidents were there in splendid form; the bishops were not.

Three presidents stood upon the stage: Father Jenkins, the embodiment of academic integrity informed by faith; Father Hesburgh, Notre Dame’s president emeritus and civil rights champion, and Barack Obama, whose inauguration just months earlier was greeted with virtual national euphoria, but whose visit to campus was claimed to be “in defiance of church teaching.”

And the bishops? Sadly absent. Some, no doubt, honestly believed the President to be their antagonist. Most were silent. Notwithstanding repeated entreaties, the pastoral shepherds of the Church chose not to extend a simple pastoral blessing upon the graduates of the flagship Catholic university in America and their families.

God bless retired San Francisco Archbishop John Quinn, whose pension must be fully vested, since to my knowledge he alone conquered the intimidation of his peer group to praise President Obama for his “fine example of married life and the love and devotion to [his] children” as well as his “measured, thoughtful approach to issues of public concern. . . .”

Obama calls for understanding, respect in abortion debate

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President Barack Obama, speaking at Notre Dame University today, called for understanding on both sides of the abortion debate.

He told graduates at the South Bend, Indiana university that he knows the pro- and anti-abortion camps are "irreconcilable." But he says the debate must avoid "reducing those with differing views to caricature."

The following is a text of the president's speech as it was released by the White House May 17th

Thank you, Father Jenkins for that generous introduction. You are doing an outstanding job as president of this fine institution, and your continued and courageous commitment to honest, thoughtful dialogue is an inspiration to us all.

Good afternoon Father Hesburgh, Notre Dame trustees, faculty, family, friends, and the class of 2009. I am honored to be here today, and grateful to all of you for allowing me to be part of your graduation.
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Right wing warriors cause damage to the church

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Analysis
The images out of Notre Dame are similar to what transpired at Georgetown when President Obama spoke here: students were enthusiastic to hear from a president whose election was both a watershed moment in American history and a turn from the destructive and divisive politics of the recent past, while angry protesters at the gates denounced a betrayal of Georgetown's Catholic character.

If their apocalyptic shouts win no converts their cause, they are still quite successful in equating abortion with the sum total of Catholic concern about public life. The president had come to Georgetown to discuss his economic vision and policies. These were an enormous improvement over the market fundamentalism that has brought us to our current crisis and much closer to Catholic Social teaching, if not beyond critique. This central Catholic concern was once again obscured by what a colleague has called "the abortionification" of Catholicism.

Editorial: Partisanship and the pulpit

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Jesuit Fr. John Langan (see story) is an exceptionally clear thinker. He makes the necessary distinctions seem obvious.

“The bishops are certainly right to condemn the moral evil of abortion and to warn us against the individualism, selfishness and greed which have had such a devastating effect on American culture and family life as well as on our financial institutions,” Langan, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin professor of Catholic social thought at Georgetown University, told a Capitol Hill symposium last month. “But if they think they make their witness more credible and more effective by developing a quasi-excommunication of the Democratic Party [emphasis added] and by aligning themselves with politicians who think that combining pro-life slogans with American chauvinism and exercising American military power without regard to international criticism constitutes an adequate response to evil in the world, they are sadly mistaken.”

Langan hits the nail squarely.

Obama reveals task force to reduce abortions

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President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that he had formed a White House task force to work with pro-life and pro-choice groups to develop policies aimed at reducing the number of abortions in America.

He also sent a clear signal to his abortion critics that the Freedom of Choice Act, which would lift abortion restrictions and to which he offered support as a candidate for the presidency, is not a high legislative priority.

Pro-life groups, including many Catholic groups, have been critical of the Obama administration during its first 100 days for being insensitive to their causes.

The presidential task force remark marked the first time the Democratic president, who, during the campaign leading up to his election, had said he would work to reduce abortions, let it be known that such a group had been formed.

“I would like to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies that result in women feeling compelled to get an abortion, or at least considering getting an abortion,” the president said in a nationally televised press conference inside the White House, “particularly if we can reduce the number of teen pregnancies, which has started to spike up again.”

Mary Ann Glendon turns down Notre Dame medal

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WASHINGTON
Citing concerns about plans to honor President Barack Obama despite his views on "fundamental principles of justice" that are contrary to Catholic teaching, former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glendon has turned down the prestigious Laetare Medal from the University of Notre Dame.

In an April 27 letter to Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, Notre Dame's president, Glendon said she will not participate in May 17 commencement exercises during which the award was to have been presented.

The letter, posted on the blog of the magazine First Things, does not mention specific justice principles, but Glendon was critical of Notre Dame's decision to give Obama an honorary degree.

Obama supports legal abortion and his administration recently proposed new regulations that would allow the use of federal funds for embryonic stem-cell research. Both are in direct conflict with fundamental church teaching.

The Laetare Medal is presented annually to an American Catholic layperson for outstanding service to the Catholic Church and society.

Ave Maria U uses Notre Dame flap for financial gain

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Amid the uproar that has followed the University of Notre Dame’s invitation to President Barack Obama, mostly from conservative quarters in the church, opportunities even beyond point scoring have emerged.

Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Florida, for example, saw a possibility for financial gain. The university, founded in 2003 and pledging its fidelity to “magisterial teachings,” sent out a mailing attempting to lure Notre Dame alumni to send in contributions and make it their “new alma mater.”

Citing a U.S. bishops’ 2004 statement, “Catholics in Political Life,” the Ave Maria development office’s letter, while not specifically using the Notre Dame name, announces that a “A prominent pro-abortion U.S. politician will be honored by a Catholic University soon.”

The letter states that the invitation to Obama is a “contradiction” of the document on Catholics in political life. It reads: “Urgent! This Scandal Must be Stopped!” It then goes on to suggest a Ave Maria University donation.

Politics overshadow Day of Prayer events

WASHINGTON -- Every year between 2001 and 2008, former President Bush's calendar was cleared on the first Thursday in May to mark the National Day of Prayer in the White House East Room with prominent evangelicals.

Now the Obama White House is facing questions of inside-the-Beltway etiquette: Should Obama maintain the open door to conservative critics like James and Shirley Dobson, and if so, should they accept?

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