Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York will deliver Notre Dame's commencement address on May 19, while also receiving an honorary degree. Dolan will speak four years after Notre Dame controversially invited pro-abortion President Barack Obama to speak and awarded him an honorary degree.
At that time--in 2009--then-Archbishop Dolan, while stressing "the need to engage with politicians and others who support abortion," said inviting Obama to speak and awarding him with an honorary degree "was a mistake and sent the wrong signal to students that the president is to be held up as a model." Many Bishops also expressed outrage then that Notre Dame would award an honorary degree and give a platform to someone in "defiance of our fundamental moral principles."
Dolan, who is also the current president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has also worked "to defend the religious liberty of individuals and institutions from the recent federal contraception mandate."
He reminded Obama of the importance of religious liberty while closing out the 2012 Al Smith dinner, saying, "A country which considers religious liberty our first and most cherished freedom, convinced that faith is not just limited to an hour of Sabbath worship, but affects everything we do and dream.” Obama and Mitt Romney had spoken before Dolan's remarks and were sitting next to him while he was speaking.
Notre Dame, along with more than a dozen plaintiffs, sued the Obama administration last year over the mandate that would have forced religious institutions to pay for birth control and other drugs that cause abortion in violation of their religious convictions.
Notre Dame president, Father John I. Jenkins, said Dolan is “a man of great intelligence and personal warmth, and a dedicated shepherd of the Church."
Pope Benedict XVI made Dolan a cardinal in 2012 and, according to the Catholic News Agency, Dolan is currently in Rome for the conclave to elect the next Pope.