Archbishop Nienstedt calls Obama "anti-Catholic," vows to pull support from Notre Dame

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has called President Obama an “anti-Catholic politician” and has condemned the University of Notre Dame for inviting Obama to speak at the school’s graduation in May. Archbishop John Nienstedt wrote to protest the invitation because of the president’s support for women’s abortion rights, embryonic stem cell research and civil unions for same-sex couples.

“I have just learned that you, as President of the University of Notre Dame, have invited President Barack Obama to be the graduation commencement speaker,” Nienstedt wrote in a letter to the Rev. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame. “I write to protest this egregious decision on your part. It is a travesty that the University of Notre Dame, considered by many to be a Catholic University, should give its public support to such an anti-Catholic politician.”

The letter, dated March 26, comes as conservative Roman Catholic groups press Notre Dame to cancel the president’s appearance over his positions on abortion and gay marriage. Nienstedt says that if Obama speaks at the school, Notre Dame will get no support from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Jenkins said the school is honored to have Obama speak after the president accepted the school’s invitation last week.

“The invitation of President Obama to be our Commencement speaker should in no way be taken as condoning or endorsing his positions on specific issues regarding the protection of life, such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research,” Jenkins told the Notre Dame Observer.

“We are not ignoring the critical issue of the protection of life,” said Jenkins. “On the contrary, we invited him because we care so much about those issues, and we hope … for this to be the basis of an engagement with him.

“You cannot change the world if you shun the people you want to persuade, and if you cannot persuade them … show respect for them and listen to them.”

Nienstedt’s full letter:

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.

President, University of Notre Dame

400 Main Building

Notre Dame, IN 46556

Dear Father Jenkins:

I have just learned that you, as President of the University of Notre Dame, have invited President Barack Obama to be the graduation commencement speaker at the University’s exercises on May 17, 2009. I was also informed that you will confer on the president an honorary doctor of laws degree, one of the highest honors bestowed by your institution.

I write to protest this egregious decision on your part. President Obama has been a pro-abortion legislator. He has indicated, especially since he took office, his deliberate disregard of the unborn by lifting the ban on embryonic stem cell research, by promoting the FOCA agenda and by his open support for gay rights throughout this country.

It is a travesty that the University of Notre Dame, considered by many to be a Catholic University, should give its public support to such an anti-Catholic politician.

I hope that you are able to reconsider this decision. If not, please do not expect me to support your University in the future.

Sincerely yours,

The Most Reverend John C. Nienstedt

Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis

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Did someone awaken Adolph Hitler?

Hate crimes are on the increase I wonder why? A man of the cloth to have hate is truly a crime. We are all GOD's children. President Obama was voted by the majority of We the People. Under the US Constitution the 14th amendment offers equal protection to all the people. If The Most Reverend John C. Nienstedt were elected by the members of the church would he have been elected? I feel that Archbishop Flynn should return to St. Paul. Peace be with you tormented soul ( Most Reverend?) LOVE & PEACE

Moving toward irrelevancy

It is sad to see the Archbishop so determined to whittle down the size of his "flock" that he was appointed to "shepherd". He seems so determined to define who can't be part of the church that one wonders if he ever heard the voice of Jesus say, "Whosoever will may come unto me."

Rev. Nienstedt

By all means Rev. you must make sure that gay people are kept in the closet and have no rights, they might start thinking that our Constitution gives them the same rights you have, if Gos loves ALL people aren't you supposed to follow his lead? I think Rev. Jenkins is the correct one in this situation.

Difference between Loving and Condoning


So many of these comments completely miss the point that there is a difference between loving a person and approving of everything which that person does. This is evident in something as simple as a parent disciplining a child. The parent disciplines the child because he/she loves the child and wants to protect the child from behaviors which really are harmful to the child. The parent does not discipline out of hate, but out of love.

 It is entirely possible to love and respect and accept a person, while at the same time calling that person to repent of his/her sins. Jesus did this all the time, as did the apostles. In fact, the very reason why Jesus and His apostles called people to repentance was that they loved them and wanted them to lead the best, most fulfilling life, both on earth and in the next life.

If abortion and homosexual acts really are evil, then it is an act of love to try to protect people from them. Of course, people disagree and argue a lot over whether abortion and homosexual acts are evil or not. But it is clear that Archbishop Niestedt believes that abortion and homosexual acts are evil, so it is completely incorrect to say that he acts out of hatred; He acts out of love, and the desire to protect people from what he sees as evil things.

The Inquisition is alive and well in Minnesota

The Archbishop’s letter indicates that, by standing for principles of individual choice and equality for all Americans, the Pres. Obama is “anti-Catholic”; using the same argument, by opposing individual freedom, equality for all and separation of Church and State, the Archbishop is anti-American. Perhaps Archbishop Nienstedt is wishing for a return to the good old days of Torquemada and the Inquisition, when dissent from Church dogma would have you, at the very least, banned from public life and, at worst, turned into kindling. Of course, as a true freedom-loving American, I do defend the Archbishop's right to live in the 15th century; I only ask in return that he respects my right to live in the 21st.

'When you give food to the hungry, they call you a saint. But when you ask why the hungry have no food, they call you a communist.' Helder Càmera, Archbishop of Recife, Brazil.

With Ratzinger as Pope, I

With Ratzinger as Pope, I guess it's not surprising that the most reactionary types are thriving in the Church and making these sorts of statements. Good to see it reported on..... Alan Muller

Alan Muller

Archbishop Nienstedt and the Constituiton

The Archbishop again intrudes into politics as he did before the last election. Attacking the President of the United States for endorsing 21st century science is ludicrous. Calling the President of the United States an "anti-Catholic politician" shows a churlish lack of respect for this country and its government. This is approaching treason. There appears to be a serious lack of understanding of the US Constitution in St. Paul with Sheriff Fletcher, Susan Gaertner, John Choi and now the Archbishop woefully or deliberately ignorant of its key provisions. It appears we need some remedial training for these ill informed people. There are many fine constitutional scholars at William Mitchell and the president himself is a constitutional law professor. Strange that the German Catholic hierarchy supported Hitler in his war against Jews, gays, gypsies and the rest of the world.The Archbishop can rail all he wants from his many pulpits, he can order Notre Dame around, he can even retry Galileo. If he continues this reckless behavior in political involvement I suggest a review of the tax exempt status granted his church and an audit of the use of church funds for lobbying and electoral involvement.

if all Catholics were as intolerant as this guy, our bishop!

It would be impossible for me to continue in my commitment to returning to my childhood faith if this Archbishop was representative of all Catholics. Thank goodness I know plenty Catholic Clergy who have open minds and open hearts.

Yet nothing said of Professor Robert Delahunty at St Thomas.

When petitions where gathered by many Catholics calling for Prof Delahunty to be fired because he wrote the legal memos that torture was appropriate, the Archdiocese was silent. And if Obama is anti-Catholic, then all of those who are in the military and who support the Military must also be Anti-Catholic because their job is to kill. But this Archbishop seems to have more allegence to neo-con beliefs than to the works of Christ. When I moved here I was so moved that this Archdiocese was of Peace and Social Justice.. but now it is of exclusion, hate, and ignorance. I can no longer be a part of it, and calling my church today to ask I no longer be registered with them. I am sure Christ could understand

military job

For you to say the military's job is to kill is to call them killers.  Our military, which I was once a part of, has the difficult job of protecting and defending those freedoms, which you presumably enjoy each day.  You and many others who chastise Archbishop Nienstedt for his decision to "call-out" Notre Dame for there poor decision should be ashamed and could use a lesson in Roman Catholicism.  Perhaps you would do well to convert to a protestant where the rules are bent to make YOUR life more comfortable and convenient.  Thank you Archbishop for sticking to OUR sacred traditions.

Our archbishop

In his letter to the president of Notre Dame our esteemed bishop forgot to list contraceptives. Think sensibly now....abortion? One of the world's great problems is overpopluation. I can be raped, coerced, or dying of a pregnancy-related cause but I can't get an abortion. It isn't my body to control because the church calls the shots. Stem cells? How many thousands are there? What happens to them? They will be destroyed...but for heaven's sake (!!!) don't use them to help those with debilitating or fatal illnesses. Gay rights? With so many gay men in the priesthood today this isn't an issue for them as they can't get married anyway. At least not yet. This is the issue that is most un-Christlike. I thought Christ welcomed all his creatures, at least that's what I was told by those nuns all those years ago. Besides, why should you care who anyone marries, since it's really none of your business.

Bishop Nienstedt

I'm sure the Archbishop is too busy clearing out his own closet to be reading these comments, but if any of his flock read these, ask him if he would like to be part of my new Face Book page. It could be fun.

Bishop Nienstedt

Bishop Nienstedt, Excellent letter. Although, you did forget to mention Obama's support for public funding of contraceptives. Continue to remind politicians and people that they are responsible to God for their public actions. Ignore the Godless liberal rants on here whom seem to want governmet without Christian conscious. Besides, this decision has nothing to do with seperation of church and state as it has to do with CATHOLIC bishops dealing with CATHOLIC university behavior. God Bless you Bishop Nienstedt and keeping preaching the Truth!

Bishop Nienstedt

I completely agree with RMV's comments above.  Bishop Nienstedt, if you should read this, keep up the good fight, may God and all His saints be with you.  You make me very, very proud to be a Catholic.


"You cannot change the world if you shun the people you want to persuade, and if you cannot persuade them ... show respect for them and listen to them."


This is total BS, you don't give honorary doctorates to people you are trying to "persuade" you give honorary doctorate to people who you think are already doing things right.  BTW that assinine comment at the top: Being catholic is all about following the Authority granted to the church by Jesus Christ Son of God.  The Catholic church doesn't bend to the whims of the people, that not the point.  The point is that people follow the Church, not vice versa.

Also, just because all people are created equal doesn't mean that everyone is on eual moral ground - hence why you site Adolf Hitler who didn't even kill as many people as abortion does every year.

You are greatly misled.