Notre Dame Students Walk Out on VP Mike Pence

Leftist students protest Pence’s conservative politics

by Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D. • ChurchMilitant • May 21, 2017

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Students staged a walk-out Sunday during the University of Notre Dame’s commencement address given by Vice President Mike Pence. According to the group staging the walk-out, We StaND For, students were protesting Pence’s policies with regard to the LGBT agenda, religious minorities and immigrants, among other things.

“During his time as governor of the state of Indiana and now as a Vice-President, Pence has targeted the civil rights protections of members of LBGT+ community, rejected the Syrian refugee resettlement program, supported an unconstitutional ban of religious minorities, and fought against sanctuary cities,” said the student group in a statement explaining the walk-out. “All of these policies have marginalized our vulnerable sisters and brothers for their religion, skin color, or sexual orientation.”

According to Bryan Ricketts, one of the student organizers, approximately 1,700 alumni signed a letter objecting to the university’s decision to invite Pence to give the commencement speech.

The walk-out took place shortly after Pence took to the podium, with about 100 students standing up and filing out, to loud booing from the audience. Ignoring the protest, Pence thanked the university and the graduates, and went on to encourage the administration to protect free speech.

“This university is a vanguard of the freedom of expression and the free exchange of ideas at a time, sadly, when free speech and civility are waning on campuses across America,” he remarked.

Pence went on to talk about the importance of preserving religious liberty. “Just as Notre Dame has stood strong to protect its religious liberty, I’m proud that this president just took steps to ensure that this university and the Little Sisters of the Poor could not be forced to violate their consciences to fully participate in American civic life,” he said, referring to Trump’s executive order providing relief for faith-based entities from being forced to participate in contraception coverage for employees.

Immediately after the president signed the order, Tom Price, HHS Secretary, vowed to act “in short order [to] safeguard the deeply held religious beliefs of Americans who provide health insurance to their employees.”

Pence also praised the president’s earlier speech in Saudi Arabia, where Trump “spoke out against religious persecution of all people of all faiths and on the world stage he condemned, in his words, the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews and the slaughter of Christians.”

Notre Dame broke a 56-year tradition by refusing to invite the sitting president to give the graduation speech. Caving to liberal students’ demands, President John Jenkins — who invited radically pro-abortion President Barack Obama in 2009 to be commencement speaker and awarded him an honorary law degree — invited Pence instead.

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  1. The Notre Dame students have the right to protest political speakers, just as they should have when a far more offensive speaker like Obama was selected for the commencement address. Whatever their PC reasons were for walking out on Pence, should Notre Dame bestow the honor of the commencement podium to someone who has walked away from the Catholic Church? Are we really expected to believe there were no Catholic laymen or women who are faithful to the Catholic faith who could have been selected as the commencement speaker for 2017? Mike Pence may be a skilled Republican leader and an admirable conservative political figure but he needs to return to his Catholic faith. If Father Jenkins were still a believing Catholic it is his duty to tell fallen-away Catholics to return to the faith and the true Mass. That’s the real scandal of Notre Dame’s commencement.

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