The Root of the ND Problem

There is so much commentary about President Obama’s Notre Dame invitation on Catholic websites that little more can be said. It’s the “little more” that the Philosopher would like to contribute.

“Catholic” colleges have been giving awards to and inviting pro-abortion politicians, social activists, and media celebrities since Black Tuesday, January 22, 1973. Notre Dame’s Congregation of the Holy Cross Fathers and Brothers had handed their college over to a lay board as far back as 1967. “In the spirit of Vatican II,” explains the superior of the order, Father Hugh Cleary, in his March 22nd letter to President Obama.

Something else happened in 1967. In his book The Battle for the American Church (Revisited) Msgr. George Kelly explains: “Exemplifying inept Church ‘governance’ in the U.S. is the parlous spiritual state of Catholic higher education with few of the over 200 Catholic universities and colleges deserving of the label ‘Catholic.’ This has followed the 1967 so-called ‘Land O’Lakes’ declaration of independence from ecclesiastical control by U.S. Catholic university presidents.” The religious, who headed these colleges before 1967, not only were turning over their institutions to lay directors, but they also were officially declaring their independence from the authority of the Catholic Church. Notre Dame president, Father Hesburgh, who spearheaded the separation of “Catholic” colleges from ecclesiastical authority blatantly proclaimed the colleges that signed the declaration’s “true autonomy and academic freedom in the face of authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical.”

My take is that ND president, Father John Jenkins, is just following the same course as the college’s long time previous president, Father Hesburgh (1952-1987), who (no surprise), is still sprite enough at ninety-two to enthusiastically support both Jenkin’s invitation and the pro-abortion president’s election as well. In an interview with Notre Dame’s WNDU news station the day after Obama’s election victory, Hesburgh was euphoric over the Obama victory.

Hesburgh probably supports Father Jenkin’s being on the Board of Directors for an organization that promotes contraception and abortion in Africa. See our news post today on Millenium Promise. How does this fly with Jenkin’s insistence in his very measured public response to the conflict that both he and the university support the Church’s teaching on abortion?

When this controversy first hit the news I thought that if the Holy Cross Fathers had a strong superior that he could defuse the scandal quite readily if the dis-invitation of a sitting president would be too much of a challenge to Father Jenkins’ ego. All he would have to do is remove Jenkins and appoint a president for Notre Dame loyal to Jesus Christ and His Church. Then, that loyal Catholic president, could dis-invite President Obama on the grounds that Jenkins ought to have applied in never inviting him in the first place.

But Father Hugh Cleary is not that kind of superior. His pathetically long letter to President Obama, even though it was a good apologia on the gravity of the evil of abortion, was so flattering to its addressee that it was nauseating to read. Cleary tried to draw an analogy between ND inviting Obama, who is opposed to a certain moral truth, to speak to its graduates and Obama inviting the president of Iran, who is opposed to U.S. foreign policy, to speak to a joint session of Congress. That must have caused more than a chuckle in the White House because Cleary put the name of the previous president of Iran instead of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Hello. Or maybe someone tampered with the original letter?

Let’s see some action Father Cleary. Words like “teachable moment” mean nothing. And, for heavens sake, to tell this man, who has had connections with so many tough and shady characters “I believe, President Obama, as I am sure you do, that love makes the world go round,” is not the way to get his attention.

The Philosopher has put his two cents worth in.