POLITICS
04/24/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Obama Commencement Address 2009: Notre Dame

The Hill reports that Republican lawmakers who attended Notre Dame have now joined critics of the school's decision to invite President Obama to speak at commencement and offer him an honorary degree.

"It would be appropriate for Notre Dame to invite the president of the United States to deliver the commencement address, provided that the university made it absolutely clear how strongly it disagreed with President Obama's stand on abortion," [Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.)]said.

"It is wrong, however, for Notre Dame to award President Obama an honorary degree, because this will be seen as tacit acceptance of the president's abortion views, which are so antithetical to Catholic moral teaching on the sanctity and value of human life."

Tougher words came from Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.).

"It's an extreme disappointment," said Lungren, whose father, two brothers, son and three nieces also graduated from Notre Dame. [...]

Republican Rep. Mark Souder (Ind.), another Notre Dame alumnus, also voiced concern over this year's speaker.

Souder said it is "an honor" for a president to visit the university -- but pointed to abortion and even Obama's views on school vouchers as affronts to the Catholic faith.

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President Obama will address the graduates of Notre Dame, a private university in South Bend, Indiana, on May 17. The speech has become controversial, as a Roman Catholic Bishop has said he will boycott the speech because of the president's stances on abortion and stem cell research.

From the AP:

Bishop John D'Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend said Tuesday that Obama's recent decision to federally fund embryonic stem cell research brought the U.S. government for the first time "into supporting direct destruction of innocent human life."

Obama has said the policy will ease human suffering.

Notre Dame says it doesn't support all of Obama's positions but does not plan to rescind the invitation.

Anti-abortion groups are organizing protests and petitioning the school to rescind their invitation.