High Hopes for Notre Dame under Jenkins Dashed

According to a Chicago Tribune story April 5, the University of Notre Dame’s new President, Rev. John I. Jenkins, opted not to ban performances of the “Monalogues” at Notre Dame, and to allow the homosexual film festival to continue unabated, even though these sordid activities fly in the face of Catholic moral teachings.

Father Jenkins’ Betrayal

Jenkins’ decision, the Tribune says, despite earlier hints that he might cancel these events, will allow them to continue with follow-up panel discussions in which the Catholic viewpoint may be entertained, where appropriate. The head of America’s most prestigious Catholic University seems to think that having this trash on campus allows the university to foster genuine debate by presenting challenging viewpoints in a balanced way.

Renaming “The Queer Film Festival” the “Gay and Lesbian Film: Filmmakers, Narratives, Spectatorships,” makes this smut show okay. Up until this latest betrayal there seemed to be some hope that Jenkins would be the a breath of fresh air Notre Dame desperately needed after more than forty years of decline, but that hope is dashed in light of this recent development.

This is a shame, since Notre Dame had the potential for leadership in a movement toward regaining the moral high ground and rekindlng a Cathoolic presence in the field of higher education. But just as orthodox Catholics were betrayed by Frs. Hesburgh and Malloy, so now they are betrayed by Fr. Jenkins, who not only supports the play and film festival, but will allow a new play on contraception, abortion and sexual assault on campus.

Notre Dame Still Catholic?

Jenkins seems content to allow these shows to go on, so long as the University does not appear to be endorseing them, and that words like “festival” and “celebration” are avoided in their promotion. Fr. Jenkins does not deny that this smut is “contrary to or inconsistent with the fundamental values of a Catholic univeristy,” but will permit it nevertheless.

The Tribune article says Jenkins received many comments from both sides, some even from the Catholic Hierarchy, but having heard from both sides, he applies the theory that if you’re caught between the horns of a dilemma it doesn’t really matter which horn you pick, so long as you can manufacture a plausibly reason for picking it. In this matter it seems the wrong choice is justified under the umbrella of “academic freedom.” Good or bad, moral or immoral, Catholic or anti-Catholic are equally acceptable.

Patrick Reilly of the Cardilnal Newman Society says he’s disappointed that Jenkins allowed special events that conflict with Catholic values to be presented at Notre Dame, and he fears Jenkins is willing to abandon the Catholic identity of Notre Dame.

Time To Give Up on Notre Dame

On our part, we have attempted to check Notre Dame’s bad decisions for over thirty years through letters, pickets, leaflets, flying planes over the stadium, invading talks and classes, thorough debates, addresses, and pleas. We have been apprehended by the campus police, ordered off the campus, threatened with arrest and denied permission to present our message.

And though Notre Dame has been a part of my life since I attended my cousin’s ordination in Sacred Heart Church when I was six years old, attended college and taught there, it seems it is now time to say good-bye to Old Notre Dame and turn to some of these new colleges and universities that seem to be serious about teaching the truth. A person can stand just so much betrayal.

We feel sad abut Notre Dame. In “A Man for All Seasons,” Thomas More turns to the traitor, Richard Rich, and reminds him that a man should not risk the loss of his soul “even to gain the whole world,” then chides Richard rhetorically, “But for Wales?” We might ask Fr. Jenkins, “But for Academic Freedom?”

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