In a way I feel bad for the students and parents of the Notre Dame graduating class of 2009. Their day became overshadowed by a decision that would forever change the face of the University. On the other hand, perhaps they will someday remember that this was a turning point for real authentic change to all Catholic Universities. This can be additional reason to celebrate. Perhaps something good will come of Fr. Jenkins decision. Until we see the outcome, graduates will remember this day as one of mixed signals from their University President. If Fr. Jenkins didn't want to attract attention to his school or to the remaining Catholic Universities in America then he should have thought twice about giving an honorary degree to a president that would spark a Church controversy. If major policy changes come cracking down on Catholic Universities, then there is only one person to blame (or give credit to) - the decision maker, President of Notre Dame Father Jenkins.
It would have been okay to invite the president to speak, but not to glorify him with a rare honorary degree. Why couldn't Father Jenkins compromise and say, "we'll extend the invitation to Obama to deliver the commencement address, but it would be prudent not to exalt the pro-abortion president with an honorary degree"? What could have possibly compelled the man to dig in his heels with arms crossed over his chest and say "this is my playground - Church teaching falls in line after what I think"?
Then I suppose that maybe Fr. Jenkins really does believe that Obama has the magic touch. That maybe gay marriage, embryonic stem cell research, abortion, medical conscientious objection, and denial of parental notification of abortions are A-OK. That maybe his statements stating that he disagrees with Obama's positions were really just contrived, for-show declarations so he can keep his Catholic job.
This is mere speculation and Father Jenkins did say the words that he disagreed with Obama's positions on life issues. However actions speak louder than words. Father Jenkins' actions today of elevating and aggrandizing a staunch offender of the Catholic Church, by its mere symbolic act of paying a special mark of recognition to him (without citing any accomplishments or tangible reasons why he actually deserved the elevation), seem to trump any wording he may have used to downplay his decision.
This charade may have ended, but I anticipate there will be a response from the Vatican or the US Catholic Conference of Bishops that will change some major policies in all American Catholic Universities. Let's hope some good can finally come out of this debacle.