Notre Dame’s Fr. Jenkins Wants to “Dialogue” When He Should Condemn
The declining reputation of the flagship Catholic university in the United States continues. Since Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. cozied up with the most pro-abortion President in United States history two years ago, the University–in the person of her President–has been an open apologist for the leader of a post-Christian and secularist United States and in no way an apologist for the unborn image of God or His Church. This is the “new Notre Dame.”
Now comes the Executive Branch of the same President of the United States, Barack Obama, to impose a mandate forcing Catholic institutions to provide coverage for contraceptives (some of which may be abortifacient). The Church’s institutions have one-year to comply with the directive. How kind. The other President, Fr. John I. Jenkins responded to the recent action:
This unnecessary intervention by the government into religion disregards our nation’s commitment to the rights of conscience and the longstanding work of religious groups to help build a more compassionate society and vibrant democracy. I find that profoundly troubling on many levels.
Moving forward, we call for a national dialogue among religious groups, government and the American people to reaffirm our country’s historic respect for freedom of conscience and defense of religious liberty.
I’m moved. So too is Project Sycamore Director Daniel Boland, Ph.D. In fact, he is so moved, that–as a representative of “Old Notre Dame”–he pens his own thoughts. We commend them to our readers:
Among his reasons for bestowing a Doctorate of Laws upon Mr. Obama during the May 2009 graduation ceremony, Fr. Jenkins stated that the University would have a “dialogue” with Mr. Obama, as if Notre Dame could — and would — influence the Obama pro-abortion record. Clearly, that dialogue between Mr. Obama and Notre Dame (if, in fact, it ever occurred) was, at best, a futile, naive endeavor from the outset. Indeed, Notre Dame’s actions at that time gave a warm and smiling facade to Mr. Obama’s ongoing record of hostility to, and disregard for, the rights of the unborn.
Now we see that the Obama Administration’s disregard for moral rights has been officially extended to religious institutions and individuals.
In his May 2009 speech at the University’s graduation, President Obama spoke of extending good will to others. He mentioned developing a sensible conscience clause based on “clear ethics and respect for women.” He spoke, to the applause of the assembly (including, to be sure, Frs. Hesburgh and Jenkins), of common ground about reducing abortions and unintended pregnancies, again to much applause. And, as he discussed abortion, he asked if it were not possible “…for us to join hands in common effort…?”
As if now answering his own question, it seems abundantly clear (as it has for years) that Mr. Obama’s reference to a “common effort” was — and remains — nothing but hollow political rhetoric. Clearly, Mr. Obama and members of his Administration have no authentic regard for the Catholic Church’s concern about abortion and other conscience issues.
What is troubling to some members of the Notre Dame community is that Fr. Jenkins’ response contains no forthright moral clarity (not to mention well-merited outrage). Fr. Jenkins merely seeks some sort of now-weary “dialogue,” even as Archbishop Dolan candidly states that, “In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.”
Sadly, Fr. Jenkins’ statement is noteworthy not for his readily seizing the moral high-ground, not for his intelligent expression of the Catholic moral principles involved, not for his proud and forceful articulation of Catholic social teaching. Rather, Fr. Jenkins’ statement is noteworthy for his total lack of any such prophetic commentary or moral energy. Fr. Jenkins offers no proud clarification of Catholic moral standards. He makes no forthright comments about the Obama Administration’s abuse of power. He does not even comment on the conflicting content of Mr. Obama’s Notre Dame speech and its impact on the University’s weakened reputation as (according to a now-outworn phrase) “…the place where the Church does its thinking.” Fr. Jenkins makes not even one reference to fundamental Christian morality. He is merely “deeply disappointed,” and mounts a call for still more dialogue.
One is moved to wonder just how much “dialogue” it takes to see and admit what is now, and has been for years, glaringly obvious.
In May 2009, Notre Dame bestowed upon Mr. Obama its highest academic accolades. Unquestionably, the University’s official approbation and enthusiastic inclusion of Mr. Obama into its ranks did a very great deal to psychologically legitimize and morally whitewash Mr. Obama’s position as the world’s most powerful spokesperson for moral equivalence and the leading agent for the furtherance of grave evil in our world. The message that Fr. Jenkins and his Administration then confidently sent to the world was that Mr. Obama is our President; his role as our President even trumps Notre Dame’s responsibility to stand as a strong moral exemplar in our society and to act forcefully in accord with the Mind of the Church for the rights of the unborn.
Some people will say that Fr. Jenkins is, for several reasons, being prudent and cautious in his brief response. But to other observers, Fr. Jenkins’ response is a tepid reaction to the Obama Administration’s duplicitous disregard for morality and personal conscience — and to the University’s role (even if unintentional, but nonetheless highly significant) in furthering Mr. Obama’s morally destructive agenda.
Some observers still hold that supporting such grave evil as abortion — even indirectly or obliquely, even with excuses of building dialogue and honoring political celebrities — is not the work of a truly Catholic institution. It is not the work one would ever expect of Notre Dame.
Given the grave nature and escalation of these issues, Notre Dame graduates once more wonder what has happened at the highest levels of University governance to diminish the prophetic clarity of the University’s Catholic mission and leadership.
Daniel M. Boland, PhD
The Wanderer Forum Foundation couldn’t agree more.
This article, Notre Dame’s Fr. Jenkins Wants to “Dialogue” When He Should Condemn is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
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