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In his column yesterday, E.J. Dionne documents what he calls “right-wing Catholics” showing themselves to be “more Catholic than the pope” in opposition to Notre Dame’s honoring of President Obama at Commencement next week.

He does this with a funny sleight-of-hand maneuver suggesting that an Obama-positive article published in a Vatican daily newspaper represents papal approval of Notre Dame’s decision and that U.S. Catholics who object are political partisans who have lost touch with the Church.

“Rank-and-file Catholics do not share in the conservatives’ gloominess” over Obama’s stance on life issues, Dionne writes. And “moderate and liberal Catholics” are now having to deal with the misguided “ferocity on the Catholic right.”

But there’s reason to believe Dionne’s assessment of “rank-and-file Catholics” speaks more of himself than the general population of American Catholics. Recent findings from Rasmussen Reports show “by a 60 percent to 25 percent margin, U.S. Catholics say the university should not award an honorary degree to the president.” What’s more, the report finds “52 percent of Americans nationwide say the University of Notre Dame should have followed guidelines set by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and refrained from awarding an honorary degree to President Obama.”

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