Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Colby Access Only)


Colby College. Religious Studies Dept.


Debra Campbell

Second Advisor

Carleen Mandolfo


This essay examines two events which produced the most varied Catholic discourse since President Obama’s election in 2008: his highly controversial commencement speech at Notre Dame in the summer of 2009, and the long and tumultuous road to health care reform during the first year and a half of his presidency. The dialogue surrounding his commencement speech at Notre Dame is worthy of analysis because it provides the opportunity to look at the relationship between a Catholic institution, local bishops, and the USCCB. The media attention given to the speech and surrounding controversy make it ripe for further analysis. The fight over health care reform is worthy of examining because of the Catholic Church’s strong stance on issues of life and its long history of providing health care in the United States. Additionally, the final health care reform law is a fairly moderate policy. The propositions in the reform package were pragmatic, not totally left wing or right wing, and therefore offered a great venue for Catholics to exchange views on how Catholic Social Teaching should shape health care in modern America. The middle of the road health care solution illuminates the Catholic dialogue on the issue and allows one to see the nuances in Catholic thought concerning the issue of health care.


Full-text download restricted to Colby College campus only.


Catholics, Barack Obama, University of Notre Dame, Healthcare Reform