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Obama Notre Dame Speech: Cardinal George Rips Invitation As An 'Extreme Embarrassment' To Catholics (VIDEO)

05/03/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

UPDATE 4/3 Scroll Down To Watch Video Of George's Remarks

One of America's most prominent Catholics has joined the chorus slamming the University of Notre Dame for inviting President Obama to speak at the school's May 17 commencement.

Cardinal Francis George, the archbishop of Chicago, called Obama's planned appearance an "extreme embarrassment" to Catholics while speaking at a recent conference hosted by the archdiocese's Respect Life office in Rosemont, according to a video his remarks on lifesitenews.com.

"[T]he problem is in that you have a Catholic university - the flagship Catholic university - do something that brought extreme embarrassment to many, many people who are Catholic," George told the crowd. "So whatever else is clear, it is clear that Notre Dame didn't understand what it means to be Catholic when they issued this invitation."

Though Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush all spoke at Notre Dame graduation ceremonies and the school has an established tradition of having the current president speak at its commencement, extending the invitation to Obama, who is pro-choice and recently overturned the ban on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, has caused a fierce backlash among some Catholic groups.

At least 13 Bishops, including John D'Arcy, whose diocese includes Notre Dame, said they will boycott the ceremony, according to lifesitenews.com. Republican lawmakers who graduated from Notre Dame have also criticized Obama's appearance.

Notre Dame President the Rev. John Jenkins said that while the University disagrees with some of Obama's positions, it sees the commencement address as "a basis for further positive engagement." A school spokesman further supported Obama's appearance, telling the AP that he did not see any circumstances under which the school would rescind the invitation.

Cardinal George did not call on Notre Dame to disinvite Obama, but he urged Catholics "to do what you are supposed to be doing: to call, to email, to write letters, to express what's in your heart about this: the embarrassment, the difficulties."

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