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President Obama, Notre Dame and an Honor Declined

"It is a disaster when only one kind of truth prevails at the expense of another. If only one kind of truth prevails -- the abstract and technical truth of science -- then nothing stands in the way of a demeaning of and a destruction of human life for what appear to be reasonable, short-term goals.

"It's no accident, I think, that German science, great as it was, ended in the destruction of a Holocaust. The novelist likes to irritate people by pointing this out."

One needn't be a dedicated pro-lifer to understand the consternation Obama's invitation has caused. He is more radical than all previous presidents on the life issue, with his loosening of federal funding for abortion and embryonic stem cell research, as well as his campaign promise to pass the Freedom of Choice Act.

To his credit, Obama has left some Bush-era restrictions in place on embryonic stem cell research. Under new guidelines, federal funding may be used for research only on surplus embryos from fertility clinics, not on cells or embryos created just for research.

Nevertheless, his abortion stance is in direct conflict with Catholic teaching. And no place symbolizes Catholics in America quite the way Notre Dame does.

Offering this backdrop and extending the school's imprimatur to Obama constitutes a wink and a nod to abortion. Why not throw a pig roast in Mecca? That was Glendon's point. By her symbolic gesture of self-denial, she demonstrates that faith is an act, not a motto.

Obama might consider following Glendon's lead. Although he supports choice, the president also recognizes the moral complexity of those decisions. Out of respect for pro-life Catholics and their beloved institution, he should politely bow out.

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