Bishop D'Arcy Calls Seniors "Heroes" For Affirming University's Catholic Identity and Pro-Life Mission
SOUTH BEND, Indiana, May 19, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Approximately 3000 people gathered on the South Quad of the University of Notre Dame's campus this past Sunday for a Mass, rally, and prayer vigil hosted by the student coalition ND Response.
The events - part of a reaction to Notre Dame's conferring of an honorary law degree to pro-abortion President Barack Obama at its commencement exercises - were intended to witness to the Catholic identity of the University and its foundationally pro-life mission.
Pro-life supporters and friends of Notre Dame travelled from as far away as Mexico, New York, California, and Florida to stand alongside the ND Response students on their graduation day.
Bishop John M. D'Arcy, who skipped the University's official graduation ceremony and unexpectedly attended the ND Response rally, publicly thanked the group for their constructive and respectful witness, calling them "heroes."
Bishop D'Arcy's words were accompanied by speeches from a number of Notre Dame alumni, faculty, and students who challenged Notre Dame to both maintain its Catholic character and live up to the pro-life teachings of the Church.
Speakers included David Solomon, W.P. and H.B. White Director of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics & Culture, and Chair of the steering committee for the Notre Dame Fund to Protect Human Life, who told those assembled:
"The leaders of this university have often claimed the mantle of those who speak truth to power. This phrase will no doubt be spoken more than once in the commencement exercises taking place not far from where we stand this afternoon.
"In the last few weeks, however, with the proposal to honor President Obama on this campus, those leaders have surely relinquished the right ever to use that phrase again. It is ...all of you who have struggled to speak authentic truth to the merciless power of the contemporary culture of death. The mantle of those who speak truth to power is now yours."
"What we have discovered since 1973 is that argument alone will not settle the abortion issue, at least not in the short run," he continued. "We are gathered here today, however, on the grounds of a great university whose history is inseparable from its commitment to a tradition - intellectual, moral and spiritual - that provides a perspective from which no human being is invisible. In this tradition, everyone counts. In this tradition, Down syndrome infants struggling in the womb are the equals of princes and potentates - even presidents." (Read the full speech: http://ndresponse.com/David%20Solomon.pdf
Wilson D. Miscamble, C.S.C., History professor at Notre Dame, also addressed the pro-life protesters. "University leaders assure the parents of incoming freshmen that Notre Dame won't be like those 'other' schools that merely associate themselves with a Catholic or Jesuit 'tradition'. No! - to the contrary - here at Notre Dame, their children will find an institution unashamedly Catholic and willing to embrace all the tenets of our faith," he said.
"Of late, that rhetoric seems to ring rather hollow. The words have not been matched by deeds.
"The honor extended to Barack Obama says very loudly that support for practically unlimited access to abortion - and approval for the destruction of embryonic life to harvest stem cells - are not major problems for those charged with leading Notre Dame. They seem easily trumped by other issues, and by the opportunity to welcome the president to our campus.
Miscamble concluded: "Bishop John D'Arcy, the great bishop of this diocese who so loves Notre Dame, said it well - Notre Dame chose 'prestige over truth.' How embarrassing for an institution dedicated to the pursuit of truth to settle for temporary attention over eternal honor." (Read the full speech: http://ndresponse.com/Father%20Miscamble.pdf)
Other speakers included Rev. John Raphael, SSJ (ND '89), principal of St. Augustine High School in New Orleans; Chris Godfrey (ND Law '93), Founder and President, Life Athletes; Lacy Dodd (ND'99) board member of Room at the Inn; and Elizabeth Naquin Borger (ND '78), past Chairman of the Board of the Women's Care Center in South Bend.
Following Sunday's rally, nearly 40 graduates who had decided to skip their commencement ceremony gathered in the University's Grotto for a prayer vigil and to listen to a meditation given by Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life. These students were joined at this vigil by over 800 people, including their parents, siblings, and families.
The text and video of the speeches and meditations given at Sunday's rally and prayer vigil are available on the ND Response website, http://www.NDResponse.com.