Notre Dame professors come to Obama’s defense


President Barack Obama and Rev. John I. Jenkins speak before the 164th commencement ceremonies at University of Notre Dame on May 17, 2009, in South Bend, Ind. Obama received an honorary law degree from the university during the commencement.


Jeff Haynes

A group of 131 Notre Dame professors are calling on Catholic Bishop Daniel Jenky to recant comments he made comparing President Barack Obama’s policies to those of Hitler and Stalin, Reuters reported.

In a letter addressed to Notre Dame’s president and chairman, they said Jenky should “renounce loudly and publicly this destructive analogy.”

“Jenky’s comments demonstrate ignorance of history, insensitivity to victims of genocide and absence of judgment,” the letter said, according to Reuters.

Jenky made the comments during his homily on April 15 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, Ill.

“Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services, and health care,” Jenky told parishioners, the Chicago Tribune reported.

He said Obama, “with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda — now seems intent on following a similar path."

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The Anti-Defamation League, a watchdog for anti-Semitism, also demanded Jenky apologize, the Tribune said.

The message is “outrageous, offensive and completely over the top,” said Lonnie Nasatir, a representative of the league.

The Notre Dame professors, from differing fields, said Jenky should resign from the board of trustees and board of fellows at Notre Dame if he doesn’t denounce the comments, the South Bend Tribune reported.

They also called on Notre Dame to distance itself from Jenky, a graduate of the Catholic university at South Bend, Ind.

A statement from Notre Dame said the school doesn’t comment on the personal views of board members, but added those views don’t necessarily reflect the school.

“Thirteen million people died during the Holocaust and Bishop Jenky is saying that Obama is on a similar path here. I find that a horrible analogy,” said sociology professor Richard Williams, who signed the letter.

“Because you disagree, you compare him to Hitler, Stalin and Roman emperors? I think it’s extremely unfortunate language,” he told the Tribune

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