As nineteen protestors -- including an 80 year-old priest -- were arrested through the day on tresspassing charges, no mention of the controversy surrounding President Obama's appearance at tomorrow's graduation was made during this afternoon's Baccalaureate Mass for the Class of 2009 and some 12,000 of their family and friends.
While both Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop John D'Arcy, who's boycotting tomorrow's ceremonies over the Obama invite, and university president Fr John Jenkins CSC were on the stage for the annual liturgy, no mention of the flap was made. Following the Mass, however, a crowd of some 150 joined the bishop for a candlelight vigil to pray both for a greater respect for life and an increased sense of ecclesial identity on the part of Catholic universities.
What's more, while over 70 American bishops have publicly registered their disapproval of the university's conferral of an honorary doctorate on the Commander-in-Chief, Pope Benedict's most recent high-profile appointee on these shores joined those speaking out in these last hours.
In an interview with his new charge's paper of record, Archbishop-elect Robert Carlson of St Louis said that "whatever process [Notre Dame] used" in selecting Obama "was flawed," and that "when this is finally over, that we're going to have to sit down and have a heart-to-heart discussion about what is its future" as a Catholic institution.
Meanwhile, in-church supporters of the President's appearance at the nation's "flagship" Catholic university took out a full-page ad in the Golden Dome's local paper earlier today to welcome Obama to South Bend, and the senior class chose a "deeply moved" Jenkins, himself an alum, as this year's "class fellow" -- an annual honor given to "a member of the Notre Dame community who has had a significant impact on the graduating class."
Beginning at 2pm local time (1800GMT) tomorrow, the commencement exercises will be streamed via the university's site. More, as always, as it happens.