In a surprise move intended to placate Catholics on the far right, the University of Notre Dame has decided to award an honorary doctorate in history to the Right Reverend Bishop Williamson, of the Society of St. Pius X.
Bishop Williamson's award comes as a result of Fr. Jenkins hope to expand and invigorate on-campus dialogue with various groups that do not necessarily view the world through the same lenses the Vatican uses.
Unfortunately, many orthodox Catholics are now up in arms about this second invitation, but Fr. Jenkins, head of UD, refused to be dissuaded.
"We have invited the bishop and he's honored us by accepting," he said
The SSPX and the University announced today the president will speak at the May 17 Commencement ceremony, to take place in the Joyce Center. The Notre Dame appearance will be Bishop Williamson's first commencement address since he remarked publicly that he didn't think all that many Jews had actually been gassed.
Jenkins made it clear in an interview with The Observer Sunday the University does not "foresee circumstances" that would cause Notre Dame to rescind the invitation.
"Bishops with all sorts of views have come to Notre Dame for decades to speak to graduates about our nation and our world. They've given important addresses on international affairs, human rights, service, and we're delighted that Bishop Williamson is continuing that tradition," Jenkins said.
Some members of the Notre Dame community, and the larger national Catholic community have negatively responded to the announcement, launching new campaigns to stop the bishop from visiting the University because of his stances on issues regarding the destruction of the Jews.
Jenkins made clear the University is not honoring the president for his stances on these issues, but for his leadership.
"The invitation of Bishop Williamson to share a podium with President Obama as a Commencement speaker should in no way be taken as condoning or endorsing the positions of either one on specific issues regarding the protection of life, Jewish or Gentile," Jenkins said.
These "crucial differences" in positions on the protection of life are not being ignored in extending the invitation to the president, Jenkins said, but rather can be used as a catalyst for dialogue. "There isn't really any difference between their positions," said Jenkins, "The opportunity for continuing dialogue cannot be overlooked."