President McGuire’s Commencement remarks, in which she commented on the controversy surrounding President Barack Obama speaking at the University of Notre Dame, were featured in the May 18 edition of the Washington Post.
Notre Dame Protesters Rebuked From Afar
In Graduation Talk, Trinity Washington President Decries ‘Religious Vigilantism’
By Tom Jackman, Washington Post Staff Writer, Monday, May 18, 2009, ©
The controversy surrounding the appearance of President Obama at the University of Notre Dame’s commencement ceremonies reverberated through at least one local Catholic graduation yesterday, with the president of Trinity Washington University denouncing the “religious vigilantism” of those who opposed Obama’s visit and calling their protests “an embarrassment to all Catholics.”
The remarks by Trinity President Patricia McGuire were among the speeches given at graduation ceremonies big and small across the region. The speakers included White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who addressed 5,000 George Washington University graduates on the Mall; federal appeals court Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, who was at the University of Virginia; and former NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw, at the College of William and Mary….
The protests and prayer vigils at Notre Dame inspired McGuire to devote nearly all of her speech to the uproar over an invitation by a Catholic institution to a president who is pro-choice on abortion.
Speaking on Trinity’s campus in Northeast Washington, McGuire said that “a half-century of progress for Catholic higher education is at risk of slipping back into those insular, parochial pre-Vatican II days” when academic freedom was not valued within the Catholic Church.
“The real scandal at Notre Dame today is not that the president of the United States is speaking at commencement,” McGuire said. “The real scandal is the misappropriation of sacred teachings for political ends. The real scandal is the spectacle of ostensibly Catholic mobs camping out at Notre Dame for the specific purpose of disrupting the commencement address of the nation’s first African American president. This ugly spectacle is an embarrassment to all Catholics. The face that Catholicism shows to our new president should be one marked with the sign of peace, not distorted in the snarl of hatred.”
McGuire continued, “The religious vigilantism apparent in the Notre Dame controversy arises from organizations that have no official standing with the church, but who are successful in gaining media coverage as if they were speaking for Catholicism. . . . They have established themselves as uber-guardians of a belief system we can hardly recognize. Theirs is a narrow faith devoted almost exclusively to one issue. They defend the rights of the unborn but have no charity toward the living. They mock social justice as a liberal mythology.”
McGuire’s remarks were met with applause from the audience of about 3,500, Trinity spokeswoman Ann Pauley said.
On the Mall, Emanuel stayed away from the controversy and discussed lessons he had learned in his tumultuous political career and in other parts of his life. …