Below is a response to an email I received recently from the Notre Dame Alumni Association. They were explaining that recent emails that many alumni had received were not in fact from them, but from someone who made it appear like the letter was from the University. I used the opportunity to share with them my thoughts and I have enclosed their "form letter" response to my email.
I very much appreciate your email and the work you do. However, I am most concerned with the situation which brought on the emails in question. I have always been a loyal Notre Dame alum, and get great joy out of recommending the college to high school students and donors alike. The decision to offer President Obama a Honorary Degree is most disturbing. I realize the University's desire to engage world leaders in dialogue regardless of their views, and also recognize the importance of doing so. However, the presentation of a honorary degree connotes honor, and I am left speechless as how one could honor a man who promotes the killing of children and intrinsic evil. I realize that there is much good that President Obama has done so far, but also wonder if the university would ever invite and honor a world leader from another nation who did many good things, but oversaw genocide? Would the university ever honor a speaker who was racist? sexist? I know the answer would be no, as it should be. I am left dumbfounded that the same high standard you have always held has been ignored for children. The University has always been a source of great pride for me, but I must be honest, this decision has caused me great pain. I will not be protesting, I will not publicly denounce the University, but I will be profoundly saddened of what has come about. I am currently a seminarian and cannot tell you strongly enough how much of a beating the University's name and reputation is taking out here in the trenches.
I still love Notre Dame and always will. I will remain always loyal. However, know that there are many more of us out here then you will ever know, who quietly and loyally mourn the direction the University has taken. Please encourage Father Jenkins and the administration to do something to respond to the pleas of Alum like myself. No doubt you have had to deal with many crazy people responding, and for this I am most sorry. But know the vast majority of us are quietly disappointed in the University. Mary Ann Glendon had it right when she responded with class and dignity, avoiding trashing the school in the process. My hope is that Father Jenkins and the University can equally find a way to respond with class and dignity which affirms the value of all human life, and says that as Catholics we do not bestow honors to those who openly and passionately advocate for the destruction of human life, and the allowance of intrinsic evil.
Andrew Nelson, 02'
Sorry for the delayed response.
Thank you for your message. I respect the strong convictions and beliefs you hold regarding this issue.
Please know that I both hear and understand your criticism to the invitation to President Obama and take it to heart. We will relay your concerns to Father Jenkins’ office.
I believe one of my main responsibilities is to keep the lines of communication open for all parties, and I hope you agree.
Again, thank you for your love and concern for Notre Dame.
For Notre Dame,
Chuck Lennon ’61, ’62 M.A.
Executive Director, Notre Dame Alumni Association