Religion News Service | February 27, 2015
Late Thursday night (Feb. 26), America lost one of its great heroes, the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, the longtime president of the University of Notre Dame. He was 97.
My first real encounter with Hesburgh was during my first few months at the White House. President Obama had accepted an invitation to deliver the commencement address at Notre Dame in May 2009, and a politically conservative Catholic campaign was launched to attack the president and pressure Notre Dame into rescinding its invite — and his honorary degree — because of the president’s support of abortion rights.
Hesburgh believed providing space for different viewpoints was a testament to one’s confidence in their beliefs. This affected both his views about the nature of Catholic higher education, and his response to the controversy surrounding the president’s appearance at Notre Dame