Judie Brown
May 14, 2011
Notre Dame's fixation on dissent
By Judie Brown

A Catholic university, especially one as visible as Notre Dame, must pride itself on upholding the teachings and standards that all Catholics should follow. Our Mother's university is one that should be a beacon during dark and difficult times — drawing not only students, but other faithful Catholics, toward her. Notre Dame must be an example and a leader in everything done in her name. For, when a prominent Catholic university fails to be a witness to the Church's teachings, dissent and chaos are sure to follow. Read today's commentary for more about recent events at Notre Dame.

Every time I see a headline that contains the words "Notre Dame" I wince. I remember that awful experience two years ago involving President Obama, an honorary degree and a commencement address.

I also remember the 88 pro-life activists who were charged with illegal trespass and had to wait two years for the charges to be dropped by the university.

So when I read the latest news about Notre Dame honoring a charity health organization that promotes condoms and emergency contraception, I was not at all shocked. What else is new at this bastion of Catholic higher education that is perhaps best known for its denial that it is obligated to lead students to Christ and His teachings?

The Notre Dame Award for International Human Development and Solidarity is given in recognition of the work a particular charity has done in the field of human development. According to Notre Dame's press release,

    "PIH does an extraordinary job of integrating the head and the heart in the work of healing," says Rev. Robert A. Dowd, C.S.C., director of the Ford Family Program. "Their work represents the values that are at the core of Notre Dame's mission. We want to honor the work of PIH so that it might continue to inspire Notre Dame students, faculty, alumni and friends to contribute in their own way to the healing and peace that our world needs."

This is interesting to someone who understands the fundamental teachings of the Church and wonders what in the world Father Dowd and his cohorts were doing when researching PIH prior to choosing the organization to receive this award. Clearly nobody at Notre Dame gave a thought to the portion of the PIH web site entitled "Women's Health," which states,

    Family planning is among the most effective tools for reducing maternal mortality. When women are counseled, educated, and provided with contraceptive options, they are more likely to delay childbearing, have fewer children, and reduce their risk for obstetrical complications. Nevertheless, 50 percent of all pregnancies worldwide are unplanned or unwanted, accounting for nearly 300,000 new pregnancies every day.

It is clear that PIH has an agenda that is similar to that embraced by the philanthropy of groups like Planned Parenthood and its allies. Women's health questions, when associated with birth control and other "reproductive health" matters always lead to — at the very least — lip service in support of abortion. So why would Notre Dame provide such a prestigious award to PIH? That is a question that is perhaps best answered by those who have witnessed the trail of dissent that has become part of the fabric of Notre Dame's once proud history.

After the Obama debacle at Notre Dame, then Bishop John D'Arcy wrote an article for the Jesuit magazine, America, entitled, "The Church and the University," in which he set forth the challenge that each Catholic college and university must confront.

It's high time Father Jenkins and his confreres considered the critical questions His Excellency posed to them:

    Do you consider it a responsibility in your public statements, in your life as a university and in your actions, including your public awards, to give witness to the Catholic faith in all its fullness?

    What is your relationship to the church and, specifically, to the local bishop and his pastoral authority as defined by the Second Vatican Council?

Perhaps if Jenkins had asked himself these two questions first, the award to PIH — not to mention the appearance of president Obama — might never have occurred. But then again, maybe dissent from Catholic teaching has been the identifying characteristic of Notre Dame for more years than we care to think about.

What say you, Father Jenkins?

To inquire of Father Jenkins please contact him at this address:

http://president.nd.edu/contact-us/.

© Judie Brown

 

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Judie Brown

Judie Brown is president and co-founder of American Life League, the nation's largest grassroots pro-life educational organization... (more)

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