Poll: Catholics OK with Obama speaking at Notre Dame

Catholics as a whole do not support calls by some in the Catholic community to revoke President Obama's invitation to deliver the commencement address Notre Dame on Sunday, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.

Catholics by a margin of 60-34 percent believe that the University should not rescind the invitation, according to the poll. The survey also found that U.S. voters believed the invitation should stand, but by a smaller margin of 56 - 31 percent.

"Neither Americans overall, nor Roman Catholic voters in particular, think Notre Dame should rescind its invitation to President Obama," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Some Catholics community were enraged when the University's announced that Obama would be delivering the commencement address, noting Obama's stance on issues, such as abortion rights and stem cell research, run counter to Church teachings.

"What is interesting and often forgotten about the abortion issue is that despite church teachings, Roman Catholics' views on abortion are pretty much the same as all Americans on the issue," Brown added. "As in many cases, the opposition to the President's invitation to Notre Dame comes from more outspoken members of the Catholic community, but does not represent the overall view of Catholics."

While many Catholics support the University's decision, some students at Notre Dame , as well as some members of Congress, are not as supportive.

A group of seniors announced that they will be skipping the ceremonies this Sunday to hold a pray protest during the President's visit.

In March when it was announced that Obama would deliver the commencement address, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) told The Hill: "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."

King added, "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."

Indiana Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly, who graduated from Notre Dame in 1977 and represents South Bend, where the university is located, on May 11 told the South Bend Tribune "We've been there at Notre Dame over 150 years...People have never changed Notre Dame, but Notre Dame's changed a lot of people."

Other lawmakers with ties to Notre Dame including Reps. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill), a Catholic who taught at Notre Dame who opposes abortion rights, and Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.), a Notre Dame graduate, have so far remained quiet on the issue.

- Michael M. Gleeson