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The Numbers Are In: Catholics Support President Obama’s Agenda and Want to See Him Speak at Notre Dame

May 15, 2009

Washington DC – Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, issued the following statement about President Barack Obama’s Commencement Speech at Notre Dame on Sunday.

“As President Obama steps up to the podium on Sunday, he will do so knowing that, despite some outspoken protesters, Catholics support Notre Dame’s invitation to him. A poll of Catholics by the Pew Research Center showed that, of those expressing an opinion, 64 percent favor the invitation.

“These numbers are not surprising considering that the majority of Catholics voted for candidate Obama in November, and continue to support his policies six months on. They are happy and proud that he has accepted this invitation to speak at the pre-eminent Catholic university in the United States. Indeed many have expressed serious reservations about the protests by ultraconservative opponents.

“These opponents, lead by self-promoting individuals like Randall Terry and Frank Pavone, and marginal, single-issue organizations like the Cardinal Newman Society and the Catholic League, are concerned about the success of President Obama. He has started to take the heat out of the abortion debate by focusing on the needs of women and their families and proposing policies that will reduce the need for abortion. Ultraconservative antichoice campaigners want to wage a permanent war over abortion marked by bloviating rhetoric and overblown speechifying. But America wants to move away from such language and towards policies that respect the right of women and their families to make decisions about the issues that affect their lives.
“So, when President Obama speaks to the new graduates, he should do so with every confidence that Catholics will be interested in what he has to say and support him being there. The 54 percent of Catholics who voted for him in the 2008 election did not do so unthinkingly. They did so knowing that the Obama administration would work to promote the policies that they themselves support, around health care, social justice and minimizing the impact of the economic crisis on those it has hurt most.”