Matt C. Abbott
University of Notre Dame's new pro-life fund
By Matt C. Abbott
February 21, 2009

Some good news out of the University of Notre Dame...

From a news release:

    'A new fund has been established at Notre Dame, under the auspices of the Center for Ethics and Culture, called The Notre Dame Fund to Protect Human Life. Its purpose is to support right-to-life activities at both the student and university levels. For purposes of this fund, the phrase "human life" solely concerns human life in its earliest stages, from conception to the early days of infancy. While the sanctity of human life ought to be protected in all stages, these beginning stages are particularly vulnerable ones in our contemporary culture and represent points at which human dignity and human life are subject to the most egregious attacks.

    'The fund is an expendable fund, which means that money within the fund can be spent immediately as needed for purposes deemed worthwhile and within the scope of the purpose(s) and priorities of the fund. The official fund agreement is a part of the university's records and will be used as the guide for the committee to administer the funds in the future. The key provisions of that agreement are reproduced below.

    'Allocations from the new fund will be determined by a committee of five pro-life scholars, including the chair, David Solomon, director of the Center for Ethics and Culture. In addition to the chair, the initial committee members will be Daniel McInerny and Elizabeth Kirk (associate directors of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture), the Rev. Wilson Miscamble, CSC (professor of history), and O. Carter Snead (associate professor of law and former chief counsel for the President's Council on Bioethics). No fund expenditures shall be authorized which are disapproved by more than one member of the committee.

    'The main purpose of The Notre Dame Fund to Protect Human Life is to educate Notre Dame students in the rich intellectual tradition supporting the dignity of human life, specifically in its beginning stages, and to prepare those students — through personal witness, public service and prayer — to transform the culture into one in which every human life is respected. A secondary purpose of the fund will be to encourage relevant understanding, support and involvement among the administration and faculty; and to promote activities and projects that will enhance the university's institutional involvement and reputation as a leader in issues pertaining to the dignity and worth of human life in its beginning stages.

    'Consistent with said purposes, the fund could be used to support activities such as:

    • Transportation and other costs of student participation in the annual right-to-life march each January in Washington, D.C., as well as other off-campus seminars and conferences.

    • Expenses of the undergraduate and law school student right-to-life clubs for amounts in excess of what they receive independently.

    • Essay contests and other such academic competitions which encourage scholarly development of right-to-life issues.

    • Costs of speakers and seminars on the university campus, including publicity.

    • Faculty, student and intern research into issues regarding human life in its beginning stages, including participation in related conferences and seminars.

    • Center and university awards and prizes recognizing outstanding service in activities supporting human life in its beginning stages.

    • Development of relevant curricular offerings and programs.

    • Other related activities and events the committee deems important and relevant to the purpose of the fund.

    'Some have questioned why the fund limits its scope to activities involving the earliest stages of human life when there are a number of other life issues — poverty, hunger, genocide, war, capital punishment and so on.

    'There are two reasons for limiting the scope of the new fund. The first is focus. One initiative cannot solve all the problems in the world. Efforts of any project to define goals too broadly usually result in a lack of focus, endless committee discussions of priorities, and confusion among constituencies — including potential donors — as to the real goals of the project. The Notre Dame Fund to Protect Human Life has been constructed to clearly and narrowly define its purpose, i.e. the support of human life in its earliest stages, so that every fund donor will know exactly how his or her money will be spent.

    'The second reason the fund's purpose is narrowly defined is that most of the other life issues are already well served within the Notre Dame community. Faculty groups are active in issues involving capital punishment. The Center for Social Concerns involves students in a wide variety of educational and hands-on projects directed at the poor and underserved segments of the population. The ACE program trains teachers for service in inner city schools. The Hesburgh Peace Center addresses projects involving just and unjust wars and similar global concerns. The university is widely involved in projects in Africa and elsewhere to address endemic poverty and health issues.

    'Right-to-life issues, however, have generally received short shrift at Notre Dame. The student right-to-life club, while active and effective, receives little financial support or encouragement from the administration and finds it difficult to raise enough money each year to fund its full slate of activities. Except for a brief mention of the existence of the student club, there is nothing about right-to-life on the Notre Dame Web site. The freshman orientation program at Notre Dame is devoid of right-to-life information and encouragement to incoming students to get involved in right-to-life activities. Notre Dame has no university awards recognizing individual or group achievement in right-to-life issues.

    'The Notre Dame Fund to Protect Human Life is therefore specifically designed to fill this void at Notre Dame and to fund activities that will complete the Circle of Sanctity of Life commitment so central to an institution claiming Catholic character.

    'For more information about The Notre Dame Fund to Protect Human Life, please contact David Solomon or Elizabeth Kirk; University of Notre Dame, Center for Ethics and Culture, 1047 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556; telephone: 574-631-9656; e-mail: ndethics@[NO SPAM]'

James Todd of writes:

    'We recently launched a nationwide petition to withhold Communion from Speaker Pelosi, Vice President Biden and other prominent dissenting Catholics. I believe this is something you would support, and I would appreciate your help and in spreading the word about this petition.'

Click on this link to see the petition.

© Matt C. Abbott


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on HLN, MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 ‘Unsolved’ podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, Alex Shuman's 'Smoke Screen: Fake Priest' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He’s mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)


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