Cardinal clarifies 'embarrassment' remarks

April 3, 2009 The cardinal has joined critics who say the president should not be the commencement day speaker at the Catholic university because of his stance on abortion.

Three Notre Dame alums from three different generations living in the Chicago area reacted Friday to the cardinal's remarks last Saturday, regarding his opposition to President Obama being invited to deliver this year's commencement address.

"I was disappointed in the cardinal," alum Wheeler Coleman said.

"I believe the university is incorrect in doing what they're doing," said Giles Korzeneck, who also attended the school.

"I disagree with the severity of the remarks," said alum Katy Murphy.

The uproar, which has been building for days, began when Francis Cardinal George spoke at a pro-life conference last week and said that Notre Dame's decision to host the president, in light of his views on abortion and embryonic stem-cell research, was "an extreme embarrassment" to Catholics.

"Whatever else is clear, it is clear that Notre Dame didn't understand what it means to be Catholic when they issued this invitation," said the cardinal.

Wheeler Coleman is a graduate of the business school at Notre Dame, and he is also active in Catholic Charities. He disagrees with the cardinal.

"As Catholics and Christians across the world, we need to embrace people, in spite of policy, in spite of disagreement," he said.

On the other side, Chicago Board of Trade CTA Giles Korzenecki and 2006 graduate Katy Murphy said:

"As a father of two beautiful adopted kids, I feel strongly that it sends the wrong message to the young kids of America," said Korzenecki.

"Now that it's been done, I appreciate that Notre Dame has a long history. In the way they explained their position. I respect that," Murphy said.

Seeking to clarify his earlier remarks, Cardinal Francis George said while speaking to a crowd at DePaul University Friday that he meant no offense.

"No decision can be totally unilateral by any institution that calls itself Catholic. Everyone is going to feel involved," the cardinal said.

Cardinal Francis George is the 15th bishop to come out against the invitation, but he said he doesn't expect Notre Dame to disinvite the president, something he reiterated Friday.

Meanwhile, Mayor Daley added his voice to the chorus, speaking as the father of a Notre Dame alum.

"They have speakers at all universities. This is not about political correctness. This is the president of the United States. Anybody would want the president of the United States to speak," Daley said.

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