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Notre Dame: Just Another Secular Institution?

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Reading the University of Notre Dame’s Mission Statement, the religious academic institution throws the word Catholic around frequently as if it meant something to the faculty and administration.

This statement speaks of the University of Notre Dame as a place of teaching and research, of scholarship and publication, of service and community. These components flow from three characteristics of Roman Catholicism that image Jesus Christ, his Gospel, and his Spirit. A sacramental vision encounters God in the whole of creation. In and through the visible world in which we live, we come to know and experience the invisible God. In mediation the Catholic vision perceives God not only present in but working through persons, events, and material things. There is an intelligibility and a coherence to all reality, discoverable through spirit, mind, and imagination. God’s grace prompts human activity to assist the world in creating justice grounded in love. God’s way to us comes as communion, through the communities in which men and women live. This community includes the many theological traditions, liturgies, and spiritualities that fashion the life of the Church. The emphasis on community in Catholicism explains why Notre Dame historically has fostered familial bonds in its institutional life.

A Catholic university draws its basic inspiration from Jesus Christ as the source of wisdom and from the conviction that in him all things can be brought to their completion. As a Catholic university, Notre Dame wishes to contribute to this educational mission.

How does this mission statement jive with pro-abortion policies? This is not the first time Notre Dame, a parochially-founded school has openly honored secular leaders who champion against Catholic dogma. The University of Notre Dame’s faculty has routinely offered and promoted anti-Catholic abortion, homosexual, and birth control information along with anti-Catholic organizations.

This is confirmed by the Sycamore Trust Organization in today’s press release:

In his second statement, Bishop D’Arcy firmly disposed of Father Jenkins’s palpably infirm contention that his action does not collide with the bishops’ statement. An argument that rests, as Father Jenkins’s does, on a supposed ambiguity in the title of a document rather than upon the plain words of the provision itself is simply an embarrassment. But that aside, Bishop D’Arcy points out that it is the local Ordinary who is to interpret episcopal documents – and it is the local Ordinary whom Father Jenkins pointedly avoided consulting. Instead, he inquired of an unnamed number of unnamed university presidents who told him of communications with an unnamed number of unnamed bishops.

The Obama episode, it should be noted, was foreshadowed by two events last year that we have previously described: First, fifty bishops moved their conference away from Notre Dame because Father Jenkins refused to cancel The Vagina Monologues, and then Dr. Marye Anne Fox, a leading proponent of embryonic stem cell research (and member of the ND Board), gave the Graduate School commencement speech and was awarded an honorary degree.

The importance of the “terrible breach between Notre Dame and the Church,” as Bishop D’Arcy described it, is highlighted by Pope John Paull II’s description in the foremost papal document on Catholic universities, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, of the necessary relationship between a Catholic university and its bishop and the Church:

“Every Catholic university has a relationship to the Church that is essential to its institutional identity. . . . [It] is to maintain communion with the universal Church and the Holy See; it is to be in close communion with the local bishop. Each bishop has the right and duty to watch over the preservation and strengthening of their Catholic character. This will be achieved if close personal and pastoral relationships exist between University and Church authorities characterized by close cooperation and dialogue. Bishops should be seen not as external agents but as participants in the life of the university.”

In what surely must be an unprecedented chorus of episcopal criticism of the action of a Catholic university, sixty-six bishops to date, including three Cardinals and several archbishops, have united in condemnation of this bestowal of honors on President Obama. Many have spoken in strikingly stern and worrisome terms. One, for instance, has indicated he would “discourage local students from attending” the University. The Confraternity of Catholic Clergy has joined the condemnation, while Fr. Jenkins has been praised by the Presidents of the Jesuits institutions who have led the secularization movement and who are attempting to persuade bishops to remain quiet.

Honorariums for secular leaders, especially anti-religious political leaders, need to stay in the secular realm. Catholic faculty administrations should remember their founding fathers’ reasoning for creating such parochial educational academies is so that Catholic doctrine could be fostered and taught to Catholic families. They are not secular institutions.

Honorariums are legacies that are used to promote one’s career and life’s work. When it is bestowed upon someone who’s life work is to advocate for the destruction of human life – what does that award say about the person or institution bestowing the honor?

Meditating about this difficult issue, I wondered if Reverend Jenkins thinks about the words he says during the Hail Mary?

“…and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.”

Does Jenkins truly believe the prayer? What part of the pregnancy phase was Jesus the fruit of Mary’s womb? Was it only in the last trimester? The middle trimester? The first few weeks when Jesus leapt in Mary’s womb as Mary visited her cousin, Elizabeth?

Obama would say no. Notre Dame, a Catholic university, is honoring a leader who denies Jesus in everything he does.

Previous posts on Sma’ Talk Wi’ T:
JMJ What Is Wrong With Notre Dame?


Written by smalltalkwitht

May 14, 2009 at 5:20 pm

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