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alan-keyes-guweb2_gonzaga_eduI ended my previous post, Storm brews over Notre Dame’s Commencement speaker choice, by saying the next one would have ‘a solution to this debacle’.

Well, here it is: invite Alan Keyes instead.  Dr Keyes, also a Harvard graduate, has an extensive curriculum vitae.  He is a devout Catholic and third-degree Knight of Columbus.  He upholds Catholic values and is very pro-life.  

Yes, he is unhappy with the University for extending an invitation to President Obama to be the principal speaker at their Commencement on May 17, but for moral, not political, reasons.  However, were alumni protests so great that the administration invited him to speak instead, he would probably seriously consider the offer.  (N.B.: I am not speaking on his behalf or saying he would accept!)  

This is a move which would please many devout alums and Catholics around the nation, not to mention Bishop D’Arcy and the Cardinal Newman Society. 

Dr Keyes would be the right man in the right place at the right time.  Not only could he discuss the big-ticket moral dilemmas of our time, but he could also share insights from his knowledge of Constitutional law and his experience as the American Ambassador to the United Nations Economic and Social Council. 

I don’t know how you uninvite someone like the President from speaking.  You probably don’t!  However, to put things right with the Catholic faithful in the US, Notre Dame really should ask Dr Keyes to be the main speaker at an event exploring Catholic values. 

Have a look at his blog and see what you think.

nd-flickr-imagesOn Thursday, March 20, the University of Notre Dame (ND) announced that President Obama would deliver their 164th Commencement address on May 17.  The University will also give him an honorary degree at that time. 

Notre Dame has a long history of inviting Presidents to speak, beginning with Dwight D Eisenhower in 1960.  However, alumni and pro-life supporters are unhappy about the University inviting a President whose views are opposed to Catholic teachings on abortion. 

Since then, Catholic Online reported that the switchboard was ‘overwhelmed’ on March 21.  Not one caller supported the University’s invitation.  Furthermore, the article states, ‘Voice mails of the University President, Vice-President, Provost, assistant-provost and PR director were all full by 10pm EST.’  It also says that the two alumni who own and operate — Marc Brammer, ND Class of ’74 and MBA’76 and Michael Voris ’83 — have voiced their disapproval.  They also support ‘encouraging protests and condemnation of the Obama visit’.

Meanwhile, the Cardinal Newman Society has started an online petition which they will send to the University president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.  The Cardinal Newman Society is dedicated to ‘renewing and strengthening Catholic identity at America’s 224 Catholic colleges and universities’. 

Catholics are also writing letters of protest to the Right Reverend John M D’Arcy, Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend.  They say that he is the only person who could realistically stop this from going ahead. 

To get an insider’s view, check out Tom O’Toole’s entry on Fighting Irish Thomas, including the comments.

From my personal perspective — and with apologies in advance to Tom O’Toole, the chaps at and their fellow alums —  the place has been CINO (Catholic/Christian in Name Only) for decades.   Although many people still consider it a hallowed institution — ‘the Catholic Harvard’ — it seems to revolve around football and money.  Most ND students don’t leave the place as better Catholics. That’s something they discover after graduation. 

Ironically, the two things I like about it are Latin Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and the rigorous screening of seminarians who wish to enter the Congregation of the Holy Cross.   

I know too much about life at the University to support it.  And, yes, I would discourage anyone from going there.  So, here’s my message to kids who are upset about not having made the cut for the 2009-10 freshman intake: don’t worry about it.  To the parents of those lucky kids: please don’t berate them. You can find alternative colleges and universities in The Newman Guide.  By the way, their Epilogue, which is all about ND, is a must-read.   

See my next post for a solution to this debacle.

j03626651Finally, an English politician who is unabashedly gung-ho about St George’s Day.  Thank you, Boris Johnson!  Let’s hope more mayors and city councils follow suit.  It’s about time we reclaimed our patron saint and, as Boris says, ‘celebrate the very best of everything English’. 

More to follow on April 23.

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