Notre Dame Articulates Pro-Life Stance After Obama Row

After receiving wide criticism for presenting President Obama with an honorary degree last year, the University of Notre Dame on Thursday issued a statement affirming the sanctity of human life.

"Consistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church on such issues as abortion, research involving human embryos, euthanasia, the death penalty, and other related life issues, the University of Notre Dame recognizes and upholds the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death," the institutional statement reads.

Notre Dame is a premier Catholic University in Indiana that came under fire when it invited Obama to address graduates at last May's commencement ceremony and further honored the president.

Catholic leaders opposed the decision to confer an honorary degree to a pro-choice individual, especially Obama who had just overturned a policy that banned U.S. taxpayer money from going to international groups that perform or promote abortions.

More than 300,000 people protested the visit in an online petition.

Despite the widespread outcry, Notre Dame president the Rev. John Jenkins chose not to rescind the invitation and said the invitation should not be understood as condoning or endorsing Obama's positions on abortion.

In January, the university's Task Force on Supporting the Choice for Life recommended to Jenkins the formulation and adoption of a statement expressing commitment to the defense of human life in all its stages.

"I am grateful to the task force for recommending the creation of these documents and helping us compose them," Jenkins said, according to the university.

"The statement articulates what always has been the case: that Notre Dame fully embraces Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life," he underscored. "The new principles provide standards for the University and its representatives in making determinations on giving in a way consonant with our beliefs."