If President Obama’s appearance at the Notre Dame commencement in 2009 sparked an unprecedented uproar among American Catholics, imagine what inviting President Trump to graduation might provoke.
That concern is making Notre Dame’s president, the Rev. John Jenkins, think twice about making a pitch for the incoming U.S. president to receive an honorary degree, an appearance that almost any school would normally covet — and one that the iconic Catholic university has been more successful than others in securing.
“I do think the elected leader of the nation should be listened to. And it would be good to have that person on the campus — whoever they are, whatever their views,” Jenkins told the student newspaper in an interview published Friday (Dec. 2).
“At the same time, the 2009 commencement was a bit of a political circus, and I think I’m conscious that that day is for graduates and their parents — and I don’t want to make the focus something else,” Jenkins told The Observer, the paper serving the South Bend, Ind., campus.
“My concern a little bit is that, should the new president come, it may be even more of a circus,” he added.
“Circus” may even be an understatement is describing the controversy over Jenkins’ decision to invite Obama to give the main commencement address in May 2009 and receive an honorary degree.