The National Catholic Review
John M. D'Arcy
A pastoral reflection on the controversy at Notre Dame
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As summer plays itself out on the beautiful campus by the lake where the young Holy Cross priest, Edward Sorin, C.S.C., pitched his camp 177 years ago and began his great adventure, we must clarify the situation that so sundered the church last spring: What it is all about and what it is not about.

It is not about President Obama. He will do some good things as president and other things with which, as Catholics, we will strongly disagree. It is ever so among presidents, and most political leaders.

It is not about Democrats versus Republicans, nor was it a replay of the recent general election.

It is not about whether it is appropriate for the president of the United States to speak at Notre Dame or any great Catholic university on the pressing issues of the day. This is what universities do. No bishop should try to prevent that.

The response, so intense and widespread, is not about what this journal called “sectarian Catholicism.” Rather, the response of the faithful derives directly from the Gospel. In Matthew’s words, “Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good works, and glorify your heavenly Father” (5:13).

Public Witness

Does a Catholic university have the responsibility to give witness to the Catholic faith and to the consequences of that faith by its actions and decisions—especially by a decision to confer its highest honor? If not, what is the meaning of a life of faith? And how can a Catholic institution expect its students to live by faith in the difficult decisions that will confront them in a culture often opposed to the Gospel?

Pope Benedict XVI, himself a former university professor, made his position clear when he spoke to Catholic educators in Washington, D.C., on April 17, 2008:

Teachers and administrators, whether in universities or schools, have the duty and privilege to ensure that students receive instruction in Catholic doctrine and practice. This requires that public witness to the way of Christ, as found in the Gospel and upheld by the Church’s magisterium, shapes all aspects of an institution’s life, both inside and outside the classroom.

In its decision to give its highest honor to a president who has repeatedly opposed even the smallest legal protection of the child in the womb, did Notre Dame surrender the responsibility that Pope Benedict believes Catholic universities have to give public witness to the truths revealed by God and taught by the church?

Another serious question of witness and moral responsibility before the Notre Dame administration concerns its sponsorship over several years of a sad and immoral play, offensive to the dignity of women, which many call pornographic, and which an increasing number of Catholic universities have cancelled, “The Vagina Monologues,” by Eve Ensler.

Although he spoke eloquently about the importance of dialogue with the president of the United States, the president of Notre Dame chose not to dialogue with his bishop on these two matters, both pastoral and both with serious ramifications for the care of souls, which is the core responsibility of the local bishop. Both decisions were shared with me after they were made and, in the case of the honorary degree, after President Obama had accepted. For the past 24 years, it has been my privilege to serve as the bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. During this time, I have never interfered in the internal governance of Notre Dame or any other institution of higher learning within the diocese. However, as the teacher and shepherd in this diocese, it is my responsibility to encourage all institutions, including our beloved University of Notre Dame, to give public witness to the fullness of Catholic faith. The diocesan bishop must ask whether a Catholic institution compromises its obligation to give public witness by placing prestige over truth. The bishop must be concerned that Catholic institutions do not succumb to the secular culture, making decisions that appear to many, including ordinary Catholics, as a surrender to a culture opposed to the truth about life and love.

The Local Bishop

The failure to dialogue with the bishop brings a second series of questions. What is the relationship of the Catholic university to the local bishop? No relationship? Someone who occasionally offers Mass on campus? Someone who sits on the platform at graduation? Or is the bishop the teacher in the diocese, responsible for souls, including the souls of students—in this case, the students at Notre Dame? Does the responsibility of the bishop to teach, to govern and to sanctify end at the gate of the university? In the spirit of Ex Corde Ecclesiae, which places the primary responsibility on the institution, I am proposing these questions for the university.

Prof. John Cavadini has addressed the questions about the relationship of the university and the bishop in an especially insightful manner. He is chair of the theology department and an expert on the early church, with a special interest in St. Augustine. His remarks were a response to Father Jenkins’s rationale for presenting the play mentioned above.

The statement of our President [Father Jenkins] barely mentions the Church. It is as though the mere mention of a relationship with the Church has become so alien to our ways of thinking and so offensive to our quest for a disembodied “excellence” that it has become impolite to mention it at all. There is no Catholic identity apart from the affiliation with the Church. And again, I do not mean an imaginary Church we sometimes might wish existed, but the concrete, visible communion of “hierarchic and charismatic gifts,” “at once holy and always in need of purification,” in which “each bishop represents his own church and all of [the bishops] together with the Pope represent the whole Church...” (Lumen Gentium, Nos. 4, 8, 23).

The ancient Gnostic heresy developed an elitist intellectual tradition which eschewed connection to the “fleshly” church of the bishop and devalued or spiritualized the sacraments. Are we in danger of developing a gnosticized version of the “Catholic intellectual tradition,” one which floats free of any norming connection and so free of any concrete claim to Catholic identity?

The full letter can be found on the Web site of the Notre Dame student newspaper, The Observer: www.ndsmcobserver.com.

It has been a great privilege and a source of joy to be associated with Notre Dame in the past 24 years as bishop. In so many ways, it is a splendid place. Part of this is because of the exemplary young men and women who come there from throughout the country. It is also because of its great spiritual traditions. The lines of young people preparing to receive the sacrament of reconciliation at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the Masses in the residence halls, the prayerful liturgy at the basilica and the service of so many young people before and after graduation in Catholic education and catechetics, and in service to the poor in this country and overseas, is a credit to the university and a source of great hope. The theology department has grown in academic excellence over the years, strengthened by the successful recruiting of professors outstanding in scholarship, in their knowledge of the tradition and in their own living of the Catholic faith. This growth is well known to Pope Benedict XVI. It is notable that a vast majority has been willing to seek and accept the mandatum from the local bishop.

Developments on Campus

Yet the questions about the relationship of the university as a whole to the church still stand, and what happened on campus leading up to and during the graduation is significant for the present debate about Catholic higher education. I released a statement on Good Friday, asking the Catholic people and others of good will not to attend demonstrations by those who had come avowedly to “create a circus.” I referred to appropriate and acceptable responses within the Notre Dame community led by students. Titled “ND Response,” and drawing a significant number of professors, these responses were marked by prayer and church teaching, and they were orderly.

This journal and others in the media, Catholic and secular, reporting from afar, failed to make a distinction between the extremists on the one hand, and students and those who joined them in the last 48 hours before graduation. This latter group responded with prayer and substantive disagreement. They cooperated with university authorities.

In this time of crisis at the university, these students and professors, with the instinct of faith, turned to the bishop for guidance, encouragement and prayer. This had nothing to do with John Michael D’Arcy. It was related to their understanding of the episcopal office—a place you should be able to count on for the truth, as Irenaeus contended in the second century when he encountered the Gnostics.

I attended the Baccalaureate Mass the day before graduation, for the 25th time, speaking after holy Communion, as I always do. Then I led an evening rosary at the Grotto with students, adults and a number of professors. We then went to a chapel on campus. It was packed for a whole night of prayer and eucharistic adoration.

It was my intention not to be on campus during graduation day. I had so informed Father Jenkins and the student leadership, with whom I was in touch nearly every day. This is the kind of deference and respect I have shown to the Notre Dame administration, to three Notre Dame presidents, over the years. I found it an increasingly sad time, and I was convinced that there were no winners, but I was wrong.

As graduation drew near, I knew I should be with the students. It was only right that the bishop be with them, for they were on the side of truth, and their demonstration was disciplined, rooted in prayer and substantive. I told the pro-life rally, several thousand people on a lovely May day, that they were the true heroes. Despite the personal costs to themselves and their families, they chose to give public witness to the Catholic faith contrary to the example of a powerful, international university, against which they were respectfully but firmly in disagreement. Among those in attendance were many who work daily at crisis pregnancy centers on behalf of life.

The Silent Board

In the midst of the crisis at Notre Dame, the board of trustees came to campus in April for their long-scheduled spring meeting. They said nothing. When the meeting was completed, they made no statement and gave no advice. In an age when transparency is urged as a way of life on and off campus, they chose not to enter the conversation going on all around them and shaking the university to its roots. We learned nothing about their discussions.

I firmly believe that the board of trustees must take up its responsibility afresh, with appropriate study and prayer. They also must understand the seriousness of the present moment. This requires spiritual and intellectual formation on the part of the men and women of industry, business and technology who make up the majority of the board. Financial generosity is no longer sufficient for membership on the boards of great universities, if indeed it ever was. The responsibility of university boards is great, and decisions must not be made by a few. Like bishops, they are asked to leave politics and ambition at the door, and make serious decisions before God. In the case of Notre Dame, they owe it to the Congregation of Holy Cross, which has turned this magnificent place over to a predominately lay board; they owe it to the students who have not yet come; they owe it to the intrepid missionary priest, Edward Sorin, C.S.C., and the Holy Cross religious who built this magnificent place out of the wilderness. They owe it to Mary, the Mother of God, who has always been honored here. Let us pray that they will take this responsibility with greater seriousness and in a truly Catholic spirit.

Critical Questions

As bishops, we must be teachers and pastors. In that spirit, I would respectfully put these questions to the Catholic universities in the diocese I serve and to other Catholic universities.

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?

Finally, a more fundamental question: Where will the great Catholic universities search for a guiding light in the years ahead? Will it be the Land O’Lakes Statement or Ex Corde Ecclesiae? The first comes from a frantic time, with finances as the driving force. Its understanding of freedom is defensive, absolutist and narrow. It never mentions Christ and barely mentions the truth. The second text, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, speaks constantly of truth and the pursuit of truth. It speaks of freedom in the broader, Catholic philosophical and theological tradition, as linked to the common good, to the rights of others and always subject to truth. Unlike Land O’Lakes, it is communal, reflective of the developments since Vatican II, and it speaks with a language enlightened by the Holy Spirit.

On these three questions, I respectfully submit, rests the future of Catholic higher education in this country and so much else.

For more on President Obama's appearance at Notre Dame see America's archive on the controversy.

Most Rev. John M. D’Arcy is the bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., in which the University of Notre Dame is located.

Comments

Gabe | 8/28/2009 - 8:47am
I applauded Bishop D'Arcy for his words on this scandal at Notre Dame, in scripture one may read where evil will push against the gates of Heaven, metaphorically is this scandal any less of that push?  Has not the time come to ask those in charge of Notre Dame to step down from their positions begining with the President and Board of Trustees whose malfeasance has harmed the Catholic life.
Luanne Stewart | 8/28/2009 - 6:47am
Hooray for all the catholics who will stand up for truth. Be a catholic in spirit and in truth,not just in name only. I pray for boldness for all catholics who will lovingly
stand for life, above popularity.  Jesus wants us to love not the world and the things of the world. Don't compromise with Obama's liberal teachings or respect a man who
respects sin and  approves the killing of the unborn!!
Ask the Jesus you serve for boldness to be all you can be.
fnwchs | 8/28/2009 - 12:35am
D'Arcy's handling of the whole Obama affair has been excellent. He's made it clear he loves the University and is proud of many fantastic things it does and stands for.  At the same time, he's challenged the notion that Catholic universities operate independently of the Church.
My son graduated from ND this May, so I was there for the "event". D'Arcy was present for the Baccalaureate Mass and spoke at the end. Despite his disagreement with Jenkins, he didn't use the occasion to detract from the event and spoke very pastorally to the graduates. Having now let some time elapse, he is right to now take up the argument and right, I believe,  to insist that the bishop is more than a ceremonial dupe to add pomp and circumstance to ceremony.
Edward Higgins | 8/27/2009 - 11:44pm
Bravo, Bishop D'Arcy, and thank you for lifting my heart after that most discouraging and, I believe, scandalous action on the part of the Notre Dame Administration, which chose to give a special honor to President Obama, a man  who is so specifically and actively-one might say ferociously-opposed to a most basic Catholic teaching and a natural right of a person to be safe in its mother's womb and to be allowed to be born and continue its life.   I thank you for your clear statement of the role of witness to the truths of the Catholic faith that must paramount in the thinking and actions of the leaders of Catholic universities.  Everything else flows from this.
Mary O'Shea | 8/27/2009 - 11:29pm
If we don't value life - then nothing else really matters does it?
R.J. Walker | 8/27/2009 - 11:24pm
Dear Bishop D'Arcy,
May the Lord bless you.  You have restored my faith in the leadership of the one Holy Catholic Church.  A priest, a man, a university president, has lost his way.  He has been clouded by sectarian trappings to the point where he is blind to the truth of the Lord.  Blind to the sacred nature of divinely created life and to those who would attempt to denigrate the Creator.  I pray your eloquent words and teaching in this article find their way into Father Jenkins's heart.  I pray the grace of the Lord finds his soul and helps him return the university to the Catholic faith.
Diane Browne | 8/27/2009 - 9:51pm
Bishop D'Arcy has spoken what many of us feel.  Romans 8:28 states that "all things work for the good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose."  I pray for a revival in Catholic institutions of higher education as a result of the shameful decisions that were made at Notre Dame.
Brendan Ahearn | 8/27/2009 - 9:38pm
Facta non verba. Not until I see D'Arcy do something will I believe anything he says.
Mr. Paul Coffey | 8/27/2009 - 9:13pm
Hats off to Beth Ryan[42 Brava!!] and to Joe [51].  
And well done Excellency , but ,  I'm sure its not lost on you the wide divergence in critical comments herewith is a manifestation of the wretched job our Paul VI named bishops have done to teach , Rule and sanctify.  Rembert Weakland is the poster child for this set of Jean Jadot shepherd pretenders .....
Perhaps a firmer hand under the Rule mandatum would have caused much less embarrassment to Mother church and have helped the wayward see their errors. tough love , sort of...... I'm not second quessing and its easy to criticise from my easy chair after the fact and without any direct responsibility for the souls involved.
God bless and May God the Holy Ghost guide an support  Benedict XVI as he steers the Barque of Peter ; we need more J D'Arcys' -  I pray they not be frightend off by the wolves....
Mike Carroll ND '68 & '72 | 8/27/2009 - 8:49pm

I applaud and thank you for your intrepid initial stance regarding President Obama's involvement in ND's 2009 Commencement and your perseverance since then.

 

The leadership you so forthrightly exhibit in your role as an American Bishop is a most admirable characteristic and warmly welcomed by practicing Catholics in our country.


Michael T. Carroll

Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Dr. Charlie Page | 8/27/2009 - 8:20pm
As someone who in part received a "Catholic education" I sent a couple of messages last Spring in opposition to the University of Notre Dame officials' plans to honor President Obama with an honorary doctorate.  I could accept the tradition of inviting sitting Presidents to speak at the University; but completely opposed his being recognized for his life's work to date.  Especially in that so much of that work has been in opposition to Life itself.  I thank Bishop D'Arcy for his strong support of the many students and alums who shared that view.  Most telling are his words in this article about an institution that "compromises its obligation to give public witness by placing prestige over truth."  I will never view Notre Dame in quite the same light again, but appreciate that there were those who did, and still do, believe that the University traded its honor to bestow an honor for recognition by the world.  It was a very bad trade. 
Chris B | 8/27/2009 - 7:00pm
Thank you, Bishop D'Arcy for your continued strong and wise leadership on this issue.  I'm so impressed with your courage and love for the Catholic Church and all that she stands for.  I live in a Diocese that also has a "Catholic" University.  It's sometimes very difficult to find what's "Catholic" about it and some even question whether or not it should be able to continue to be called a Catholic institution.  I pray that more and more Bishops - especially throughout these United States - will be graced with wisdom, courage, understanding, and other gifts of the Holy Spirit - to stand up, speak, and live the Truth!  Many thanks to you, Bishop D'Arcy, for upholding and teaching the Truth.  May God bless you abundantly!
John Rangel | 8/27/2009 - 6:47pm
Thank God for apostolic sheperds like Bishop John D'Arcy. The American Catholic church needs more strong spiritual and moral leaders within the episcopacy and pesbytery. I pray that other Bishops will speak out on the desperate need to proclaim the undiluted truth, Jesus Christ.
Paul Louisell | 8/27/2009 - 3:28pm
Thank you Bishop D'Arcy for turning the Notre Dame controversy into a teaching opportunity.  We so often let those moments pass without comment - to be lost forever.  Making Catholics aware of their historical and spiritual roots is more important now than ever before in my life-time.  It seems so easy to dismiss the Church as outdated; irrelevant; corrupt.  It is so easy for us to forget about the Church's origins; it's mission; and our role in bringing about that mission. 
Standing up for the Church's teaching on matters such as the sacredness of human life, from conception to natural death, should be part of every Catholic University's by-laws.  Any director who feels otherwise should be asked to resign.  Bishop D'Arcy gives me hope that there are Church leaders who take their role as teachers seriously, especially when doing so may be out of vogue with the popular sentiment.
PJOHNSON | 8/27/2009 - 3:22pm
Why didn't you protest Bush's appearance at Notre Dame?
Listen, all you sectarian Catholics out there.  Obama did not make abortion legal. The Supreme Court did that over thirty years ago.  There is nothing he can do to make any more or less legal than it already is.  That explains why "pro-life" Bush never (and couldn't) do anything to outlaw abortion.
Claire Reiss | 8/27/2009 - 3:12pm
Great thinking behind the article! Thanks!  God bless!
To solve a problem and also to prevent it from happening again needs a  major surgery!  Replace that piece of dead old tissue with a new tissue which will stands for God and His Truth at every turn without FEAR OR PRIDE, but with dignity and integrity that is worthy of the title ~ the Presiden of a Cathlic University which is named after Our Lady, Mary Most Holy Who is the Mother of God!  How deep and solid of an integrity one must have to be worthy of that title as the President of Her University ~ Notre Dame; Our Lady?
Time to wake up and to respond to the call: "Be thou hot or cold, thou art luke warm, I shall vomit thy out from my mouth!"  Stay Faithfully to our Baptism vow!
God bless our HOLY MOTHER THE Church!
GOD BLESS our Pope, all the bishops, priests and religious  that they will not give into TEMPTATION and that they be worthy of the Sacrifice of Our Lord to Whom they vowed to serve under  total obedience!
Paul J Cella, Jr | 8/27/2009 - 3:05pm
Thank God for Bishop D'Arcy!
Paul J. Cella, Jr.
ND class of 1966
Theresa Lynn Wilson | 8/27/2009 - 2:42pm
I am very thankful and fully support Bishop D'Arcy. Our country's moral decay has gone far beyond absurd. I applaud our Catholic leaders for standing for the Truth, and having the courage to speak out and lead us in the right direction in this time of darkness. Bishop D'Arcy is a shining light. I pray that all of our Catholic religious will also be shining lights in this time of darkness. May God bless Bishop D'Arcy and all our bishops, priests and religious.
Joan Moran | 8/27/2009 - 2:25pm
I think this issue should STILL be kept alive. The President of a Cathiolic College SHOULD bow to the Bishop's rule. I think the President of the college should be relieved of his position.
Charlotte Teel | 8/27/2009 - 2:13pm
Thank you, America, for publishing these inspiring and beautiful words of Bishop John D'Arcy.  They remind me of the Gospel reading at last Sunday's mass.  It is one of my favorites.  When Peter is asked if he, too, will leave Jesus, he says "Lord, where would I go, only you have the words of eternal life."  My heart if uplifted greatly by Bishop D'Arcy's and the attendees of the  alternate graduation's faithfulness to the words of eternal life.  I pray for those at Notre Dame who chose the alternate route which embraces the culture of death.
 
 
Mike | 8/27/2009 - 1:09pm
An excellent read, indeed.  Anytime you question your own resolve in this matter, remember that in America alone we've executed more than 40 million helpless infants.  For a university that wouldn't dare honor Hitler, it's a shame that they would honor Obama, the most pro-abortion president of all time.
Dr. Joe Zampogna | 8/27/2009 - 12:08pm
Dear Bishop D'Arcy,
     I have read your recent letter regarding N.D. with great interest and I applaud you.  As parents of a "double domer", we have held Our Lady's institution in high regard for many years.  However, in concert with your concerns, we have sent several letters to Fr. Jenkins and the Board of Trustees.  In past years, we were also "puzzled" when the late Senator Moynihan (a "catholic" pro-choicer) was granted the Laetare medal.  Although this, as well as other decisions by N.D., are in violation of catholic teachings,  the most recent invitation to the president has exceeded all boundries of the teachings of the magisterium.  It leaves us to question  the real motives of many "so-called" Caholic higher ed. institutions. 
     We are grateful for your stance on this issue and your enbending support of "ex corda ecclesia" as our true spiritual guiding light.  Thank you and may God bless you with many more years of good health.
                                              Sincerely,
 
                                              Dr. Joe Z.
Norman Beznoska Jr. | 8/27/2009 - 11:21am
Would that our Church, had more MEN like Bishop John D'Arcy of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese, and fewer like Reverend John Jenkins,President of Notre Dame and John J. DeGioia, President of Georgetown. While both university presidents reveled in selling their Universities collective "souls" to the Poster Boy for Abortion, Barack Obama, Bishop D'Arcy and a Catholic luminary, Maryann Glendon, thankfully refused to share the same platform with NARAL and Planned Parenthood's best friend; Obama. A man who has consistently demonstrated his lack of concern for human life.
America refers to me, the good Bishop, Maryann Glendon and all others who put our Faith and Catholic values first, as "sectarian catholics". No, quite the opposite is true, America. As a Jesuit edcuated man, St. Ignatius HS and John Carroll university, I try to live by Ignatius of Loyola's and the Jesuits Credo: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.
Did Notre Dame, with its Vagina Monologues and red carpet treatment of Obama, give glory and honor to God and Our Lady, the university's namesake? And, did Georgetown cowering before Obama and covering up the Corpus of Jesus Christ, lest they offend "the One", give glory to God by their cowardly actions? The answer is painfully obvious.
 
 
Jacob | 8/27/2009 - 10:34am
Bishop D'Arcy continues to lead us toward truth in humble manner.  His great insight always leads me back to the fact that the Church holds the Truth, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  When I am tempted to use it as a weapon, his humility teaches me that the way to convict people of these truths is through love.  This man of great depth has shown us all what it means to sacrafice for Christ throughout this issue with Notre Dame.  Thank you for your leadership Bishop D'Arcy.  I pray that your influence touches as many people as possible.
william vlasic | 8/26/2009 - 11:06pm
A first class hyposcrite this phony bishop like most american bishops and priests are cowards and hypocrites. Where was he disipining and correcting his flock before Obama profaned a once Catholic institution built and maintained by the sacrifice and hard work of genuine Catholics who buildt a Catholic school for the glorification  of Our Lady. Since the land o lakes confrence these  vile iimposters whether priests like that phony Fr. Ted and his successors and all the bishops since then are all tainted with that evil that Pope St. Pius X called modernism. They speak truth and lies at the same time and you see their fruits. Their perverted catholicsm with it's perverted protestant mass. Their students might be impressive to the outside world but will they be pleasing to God? Those same students who cheer the evil Obama with mindless chants like "Yes we can" but who don't even know the words of "Hail Marie" and with this ignorance they will giggle claiming it as a badge of honour in the secular world.
 
RON DIRKS MR | 8/26/2009 - 10:15pm

"Although he spoke eloquently about the importance of dialogue with the president of the United States, the president of Notre Dame chose not to dialogue with his bishop on these two matters, both pastoral and both with serious ramifications for the care of souls, which is the core responsibility of the local bishop." Bishop D'Arcy, America Magazine, 8/31/09.

Is the reported failure to dialogue with his Bishop evidence of a problem that the president of Notre Dame has with his own ecclesiastical authority? If it is important for him to dialogue with the president of the United States then it is important for him to dialogue with his local ordinary! Especially concerning his responsibility for determining appropriate public Catholic witness on the campus of a noted Catholic university.

To whom does the president of Notre Dame look for practical guidance in these matters?  Let's hope he does not just take his own counsel - we are told in this article that his board gave no public direction. Bishop D'Arcy asks the all important question, "What is the relationship of the Catholic university to the local bishop?" 

Dr. Charles F. Keller | 8/26/2009 - 9:19pm

There is an unfortunate tendency among many to prefer to be "right rather than effective".  Once one has decided that the other is wrong, no further interaction is required.  This mentality is perhaps encapsulated in the title of a country and western song critical of this attitude: "Jesus loves me but He can't stand you".  To some this is the fallacy of the uproar over Notre Dame's inviting President Obama to give a commencement address.  Your two articles in the America by bishops John M. D'Arcy ad John R. Quinn deal with this very conundrum-when is "witnessing" counter to Christ's directive to love above all else.

Condemnation of an agreed-upon evil such as abortion calls those condemning to task for not being consistent.  For did not John Paul II, of happy memory, tell President Bush twice that the Iraq war was immoral?  Yet what did the bishops say about that or the untold human misery this war has cost?

To me the inviting of a standing president to give a commencement address at a Catholic college is more than rhetorical since my beloved Benedictine college, Saint Vincent, invited President Bush to give their commencement address.  Many at the college felt this inappropriate because they claimed he did not emulate Benedictine virtues.  This culminated in an hour-long student debate shown nationally on CSPAN.  As a result President Bush was invited on the Benedictine principle of "hospitality" which welcomes anyone who comes to the monastery.  A good principle, but did those same people, who espoused it  then, apply it to President Obama?

And so I tend to agree with Bishop Quinn, Pope John Paul II,  and Vatican II's Christus Dominus (No. 13).  We had an opportunity for dialogue with one we disagree with on this issue but agree with on many issues of social justice.  We still have that opportunity.  Let's hope Obama's visit to Notre Dame will be the start of a determined effort to gain mutual understanding of how to prosecute reverence for all life rather than self-ly condemning our president and letting it go at that.  As John Paul said: "The goal of the Church is to make of the adversary a brother."

Rev. Thomas Langley | 8/26/2009 - 8:40pm
Mr. Shcaeffer wrote the following about Newt Gingrich and the anti-health care mobs, but perhaps it applies here as well:
They can't compute that their
white man-led conservative revolution is dead. They can't reconcile
their idea of themselves with the fact that white men like them don't
run the country any more - and never will again. To them the
black president is leading a column of the "other" into their promised
land. Gays, immigrants, blacks, progressives, even a female Hispanic
appointed to the Supreme Court... for them this is the Apocalypse.

from http://www.alternet.org/story/141833/
John David | 8/26/2009 - 8:34pm
Joe Kash, you missed my point entirely. When I said gender, it was seperate from the abortion issue. I was referring to women's roll in the Church and the willingness of the Bishops to promote the teachings of The Church concerning that issue as well as the issue of abortion. Yet, they seem reluctant to promote the Church's teaching of other issues. I wanted to point out that there is, indeed, a fullness to The Catholic Church and her teachings. But, despite the Bishop mentioning this fullness, I don't often see them oftten addressing it. I don't see them putting much effort to educate the Catholic layity about the social teachings of The Church, let along insist they follow them. I just don't think it is right to trumpet the fullness of the teachings of The Church when, more often than not, only selected teachings seem to be of concern.
FR J VANDAMME | 8/26/2009 - 8:19pm
Since the 12th century when religious orders formed universities, these universities, then and before and since, did not permit the local bishop control. One shameful episode occured with the Galileo case from which the Church still suffers.
Cardinal Ratzinger was asked if the Holy Spirit was involved in the selection of a new pope. He said, "No, but he will be involved if things get out of hand." He was elected. Bishops are appointed as satraps by more powerful people like Spellman of NY or O'Connell of Boston. It has nothing to do with their academic qualifications or spiritual life. The appointment of bishops is purely political.
Bishop D'Arcy whines about being excluded from the decision making process of a university. He holds no academic appointment, and, he has no jurisdiction over the University of Notre Dame. Rather than being involved in a rich kids' school the good bishop should be involved in the soup kitchens of his Diocese. He should be campaigning that the poor have universal health care according to Gospel directives.
Margaret Wolford | 8/26/2009 - 7:09pm
My overall impression of Bishop D'Arcy's article is that he feels snubbed by Fr. Jenkins.  As far as dialogue goes, when someone is wielding their power and dictating what the other must do, there is no dialogue...only monologue and threats.  Perhaps when the bishops stand up as 'loudly' for all human rights and when they finally admit their culpability in the sex scandals, we might come to value what they 'teach.'
JOSEPH BOVA MR/MRS | 8/26/2009 - 6:24pm

Bishop, you lament in this public statement that the Board of Trustees has essentially shirked it's responsibilities. Yet you also reiterate that you, your office, are the teachers in the Diocese.

What I don't see any bishops talking about is why YOU haven't been effective teachers. Why are you not taking responsibility? You need to focus on why you have failed as teachers.

Phyllis White | 8/26/2009 - 3:51pm
Thank you Bishop D'Arcy for your clarity, fortitude, truth and compassion.  May God bless you.
Monica | 8/26/2009 - 3:49pm
I applaud Bishop D'Arcy for this article.  During his time as Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend he has demonstrated remarkable leadership and strength, especially in issues of morality.  I have witnessed first-hand the love and passion he has for my alma mater and firmly agree that it is due to the work of the passionate student body of Notre Dame that the Catholicity of the University has remained intact.  Fr. Jenkins and the Notre Dame board of directors should heed the wise words of a remarkable Bishop and leader instead of giving way to the secular beliefs of the academic world.  Notre Dame's first priority, as with all Catholic institutions of higher education, is to be a witness to the truth of the Gospel.
Monica N.
ND Class of '08
Joe Kash | 8/26/2009 - 2:53pm
John David says:  "Give witness of the Catholic faith in all its fullness" all to often tends to be reserved for issues of sex and gender.
Abortion has nothing to do with sex and gender.  Both male and female humans are killed in abortion.  This is about the most basic human right!
Vincent | 8/26/2009 - 2:38pm
"In terms of academic freedom, it is proper that Catholic institutions distance themselves from the control of the local bishop."
Sorry, but that's not what the Church teaches in Ex Corde Ecclesia.  If Notre Dame wants to be a Catholic institution it needs to follow the Catholic Church.  And what the Catcholic Church teaches is that universities are not to "distance themselves from the control of the local bishop."  This is simple logic.
Nancy Danielson | 8/26/2009 - 12:23pm
According to our Founding Fathers, the fundamental, unalienable, Right to Life that is endowed to all Mankind by our Creator, is a universal Truth that should be protected.
James Kuehn | 8/26/2009 - 12:00pm
Bishop John Quinn misses the point.  Bishop John D'Arcy in his article in the same issue of America addresses the whole matter more correctly.  A Catholic university that wishes to be called Catholic must "witness to the Catholic faith".  If it does not it does not deserve the privilege of being called Catholic.  The Land of Lakes Agreement in which major Catholic Universities desired to distance themselves from the influence of the Catholic faith in their desire for independence and academic freedom has done great damage to the Catholic character of these Universities.  Unless this movement is reveresed Notre Dame and other Catholic universities will cease to be beacons of Catholic moral teaching.  There is no conflict between moral truth and academic freedom. 
William Watts | 8/26/2009 - 10:28am
Bishop D'Arcy has allowed Notre Dame to continue to advertise itself as a Catholic university, thus misleading thousands of Catholic parents about the kind of education their children would receive at the school. He has allowed the situation to proceed well past the time when action was appropriate, and has continued to talk when action on his part was called for.
Bishop D'Arcy exemplifies the absence of leadership in the Catholic Church in America. The USCCB is "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic" while our beloved Church sinks from neglect and mismanagement.
John J Hagen,OSA, PhD | 8/26/2009 - 10:27am
"All praise and all thanksgiving" be to Bishop D'Arcy for his courage in expressing the truth and the reality about what has been called 'Notre Dame Shame.'  The Bishop's is an  intelligent, rational and at several places scholarly laying out of the truth about the relationship between a Catholic University and the Catholic Church.  Congratulations to Bishop D'Arcy for a wholly reasonable and persuasive setting forth of these perennial truths about Church and school.  Would that every president and board member of every Catholic institution of higher education in the United States might read and study and discuss the implications of this document for the institutions they lead.  Doing so might well put Catholic education in the prominent place it should hold in the public square in the rising debate between religion and secular culture.
                                              John J. Hagen,OSA 
Mrs. C. | 8/26/2009 - 10:22am
Thank you Bishop D'Arcy for your beautiful and thought provoking article.  I was saddened about Mr. Jenkins, President of Notre Dame for his arrogance when asked about inviting Mr Obama to the University.  As a priest and leader- he needs to know what a terrible example he set for youth, especially Catholics thoughout the world.  I pray and continue to pray for an awakening to the teachings of Christ at the University and would strongly urge you Bishop to continue to stand up and shepherd all sheep in your diocese.  You are doing a beautiful job and I thank God for you.  Thank you for being the light shining for all of us Catholics. 
Clair Redding | 8/26/2009 - 10:07am
I don't know Bishop D'Arcy, but, after reading his statement, I respect him highly.  He was placed in a very difficult situation and treated it with thoughtful and balanced consideration. At the time,I was against Notre Dame having the president on campus, but was able to appreciate the point of view of Father Jenkins also. Bishop D'Arcy's statement doesn't solve the problem,  but it does give the Church a strong, unwavering voice in the search for ,and defense of, the truth. In my opinion, He has, by his words and actions, been true to his responsibility as the bishop on the spot. 
F. Kevin Koob | 8/26/2009 - 8:15am
[size= 7.5pt; color: black; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif"]Dear Bishop D'Arcy,[/size]
[size= 7.5pt; color: black; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif"]As I read your declaration or challenge to Notre Dame University and for that matter, all Roman Catholic educational institutions, I intuitively recognized the power of your simple Truth plainly stated for all ...[/size]
[size= 7.5pt; color: black; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif"] "What shall it be for you friend - God or mammon?" [/size]
[size= 7.5pt; color: black; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif"]Thank you for standing in the breach.  Thank you for carrying the standard and pointing the way forward away from the brink of religious and cultural dissolution. [/size]
[size= 7.5pt; color: black; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif"]Roman Catholics in the United States  may very well be celebrating the Mass in catacombs in twenty years but at least we know  that we have Sheppards who will state the Truth in a persistent and gentle yet unflinching manner in the traditon and voice of the first Apostle of Jesus Christ.[/size]
[size= 7.5pt; color: black; font-family: "Verdana","sans-serif"; mso-fareast-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-bidi-font-family: 'Times New Roman'; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA]Respectfully[/size]
F. Kevin Koob  
Beth Ryan | 8/26/2009 - 6:13am
It is increasingly clear that in following Christ we follow a path that divides us from mainstream American culture.  This is not to be confused with hatred or intolerance.  It is our responsibility as Catholic Christians to to consider the question "Is this really the will of God?" in all things.  In saying "yes" to the will of God, we learn humility, we understand better the meaning of sacrificial love.  Many of us say "yes" to the world, yes to prestige, yes to power, yes to self-acclaim, popularity.  These "yeses" makes our lives seem easier because we fit into the culture seamlessly.  But what of Christ, who taught us to pray that the will of the Father be done?  What of Mary, whose "yes" to God is the best example we have of living both the joy and the pain of a counter-cultural life?  Many thanks to Bishop D'Arcy for his loving response to what occurred at Notre Dame, for explaining his own actions and for encouraging us to give public witness to our faith.
Guy J. Di Spigno,Ph.D. | 8/26/2009 - 3:55am
It is about time that AMERICA, at last give Bishop D'Arcy a forum to speak.  Where were they and President's of Jesuit Universities during the controversy?  Most at the time appeard to openly support Jenkins, while the rest seemed quite comfortable taking no stand for fear of offending thier fifth vow of alligence to the DNC and Obama.
GCoughran ND'91 | 8/26/2009 - 1:50am
Janice McCarthy and her liberal cousins are what is wrong with our country and our university's board.  They believe (or want us to believe) that every ill in the world was created by George Bush.  They seldom bother to do any research or have the slightest inkling of history.  They blame the collapse of the world economy on Bush rather than the misrun government GSEs, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  They try to deny the failure and bankruptcy of government-run Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, yet ask us to trust their government to take over and run our private industries and healthcare.  They disregard all mention of Iraq's nuclear program.  550 metric tons of concentrated uranium were indeed removed from Iraq by U.S. and Canadian forces.  Dan McKinnon's book "Bullseye Iraq" written in 1988, years before Desert Storm, documents Saddam's attempts to create the "Muslim bomb."  But this is not my point.  The good bishop speaks the truth which the McCarthyites cannot stand to contemplate.  So they look to blame others, whether it's Geo. Bush, or people who disagree with Obama's funding of abortions with our tax dollars, calling them "racists" (rather than discuss the Catholic argument that funding abortions in Mexico with US tax dollars has nothing to do with skin color).   They compare miscarriage with abortion, saying it is God's will and thus the Almighty condones abortion.  Their logic is flawed, their view of reality skewed, their knowledge of history scant, and their hope for America pure socialism.  I can only pray that whatever socialist professors corrupted Janice McCarthy's mind, they are no longer at ND or in the board room.  Unfortunately we know at least one sits in the university president's chair. On her last point, as much as we'd all like a cradle to grave stipend that would pay for our every desire and need in life, no country can afford such nor owes such life of luxury to its citizenry.  Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.  The rest is up to us, not our brethren citizens.
Mr. H | 8/25/2009 - 11:40pm
Thank you, Bishop D'Arcy for your continued strong and wise leadership on this issue.
I am a Notre Dame alumnus (1991), and I fully support your efforts and the efforts of all those who opposed Notre Dame's decision to honor President Obama.
I am no longer supporting the University financially and will redirect my support to more worthy institutions. 
In response to a recent fundraising letter I received from Notre Dame, I sent back the following letter:
http://allhands-ondeck.blogspot.com/2009/08/correspondence-letter-to-notre-dame.html
nancy weber | 8/25/2009 - 11:25pm
Francis: Bush was to have been awarded a doctor of laws degree according to a Yahoo search under "Bush Notre Dame graduation" per Notre Dame's press release which preceeded the graduation. CNN confirmed this. End of story. Generally honorary degrees are awarded in an "academic field" close to the honoree's work. So a doctor of laws is often awarded to those in government; a writer will usually be given an honorary doctorate in "letters".   
Jim H | 8/25/2009 - 11:12pm
Mr. Van Damme
How dare you imply that racism is the reason that the US Bishops' criticised Notre Dame for honoring the President.  Are you able to read their minds and hearts? What proof do you have?  Are you really arguing that criticism of President Obama = racism?
Such personal attacks do not serve your argument well.  In my experience such attacks are used as a substitute when one cannot argue one's case using persuasive arguments and facts.
You also might want to check the facts you do use.  The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan started after President Bush spoke at Notre Dame.   So, I am not sure what the point is.
Furthermore, Catholic teaching makes a distiction between capital punishment and abortion.  There may be circumstances in which capital punishment is morally justified.  And, there can be legitimate discussion and disagreement about the use of capital punishment.  On the other hand, the Church teaches that abortion is intriniscally evil - never permissable under any circumstance.
So, when we examine the facts, we have to conclude that the Bush invitation has little relevance, if any, to the Obama controversy.
You also seem to be arguing to oppose the President's health reform plan means that one is opposed to health reform in general.  This assertion is untrue and unfair.
The disagreement on the health plan is mostly about means, not ends.  A massive $1.6 trillion government take over of the health care industry is not the only way to reform health care.  Pre-existing conditions, portability, and universality, all can be addressed via other means.
Robert ND 81 | 8/25/2009 - 10:56pm
Open response to Bishop D'Arcy:
Notre Dame Fellows are responsible for maintaining it's Catholicity.  Please refer to this site: 
http://www.nd.edu/leadership/fellows/
Where the following charter statement states:
Ensure that the University maintains its essential character as a Catholic institution of higher learning;
The ND Fellows are:

  • Rev. E. William Beauchamp, C.S.C.

  • William M. Goodyear

  • Enrique Hernandez, Jr.

  • Rev. Peter A. Jarret, C.S.C.

  • Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.

  • The Most Rev. Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C., D.D.

  • Diana Lewis

  • Patrick F. McCartan

  • Terrence J. McGlinn

  • Richard C. Notebaert

  • Rev. Timothy R. Scully, C.S.C.

  • Rev. David T. Tyson, C.S.C.


Searching the political contributions of the 6 laity in this group using http://www.opensecrets.org/, you'll find a high number of political contributions to pro-abortion candidates from California to Pennsylvania, but most in the Chicago area.  
It confuses me that an amateur could find this out in a couple of hours and we've not seen this elsewhere. Where are the truth seeking journalists asking these individuals to reconcile their public responsibility to Notre Dame and their public support for an intrinsic evil without precedence?
In spite of the roaring silence from the laity, and the deafening retreat by the USCCB, Bishop, you have articulated the better questions.   It is my sincere hope that you might address them personally to ALL the ND Fellows.
Thank you, Your Excellency.

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