Whither Notre Dame?
Tom O’Toole has an interesting post up at Renew America on the future of Notre Dame:
After a stellar version of the standard salad, chicken and potatoes lunch, Fr. Miscamble began his talk, entitled, “What is the Future for Notre Dame?” Indeed, it was a sad tale I’ve both heard and written about many times before, yet there was something poignant about hearing it in person from the person perhaps most responsible for the University’s counter-reformation. Although I’m sure Miscamble realized that for the most part he was singing to the choir that day, he warned the rest that, “[i]f you’ve come to hear some carefully prepared PR fluff, you’ve come to the wrong place.”
Father began his lecture going from the general to the specific, noting that Notre Dame was part of an amazing push in the nineteenth and early twentieth century in which the Church built a massive Catholic culture of dioceses, schools and hospitals, “all at a time when Catholics had neither the wealth nor education they do today.” After that ironic statement, Father flashed forward to the subtly diabolical 1967 “Land O’Lakes” document, which promoted scholarly dialogue at the expense of magisterial obedience. “After a series of seemingly insignificant decisions, Notre Dame found itself both confused and lacking confidence in its Catholic identity,” so much that Notre Dame president, Fr. John Jenkins, and the ND Board of Trustees. could go against the directives of the bishops and forsake Truth for prestige by honoring the radically pro-abortion Obama.
While not denying that Notre Dame is at the crossroads of returning to its Catholic roots or becoming another Vanderbilt or Duke, former religious universities that are now almost completely secular, Miscamble, after acknowledging some positive steps the University has taken since the Obama disaster (not the least of these being “Notre Dame’s suing of the Obama Administration over clauses in the Affordable Heath Care Act”) offered four practical ways to return from Land O’Lakes to Ex Corde Ecclesiae, John Paul II’s “Magna Carta” on how a Catholic university should operate.
Although my one through four list of ways to save Notre Dame all involve naming Fr. Miscamble as Notre Dame’s president (an online petition, anyone?), barring that miracle, Father’s outline is the way to reform. First, Miscamble says you need a clear articulation of your mission statement. Noting that Notre Dame’s is actually pretty good, Father adds that a mission statement is “meaningless unless it shapes the University,” as was clearly not the case with honoring Obama and allowing annual campus performances of The Vagina Monologues, which, in Fr. Jenkins’ own words, includes “graphic descriptions of homosexual, extramarital…and auto-erotic [sex, including] the seduction of a sixteen year old girl by an adult woman,” or as Miscamble would add “reduces women to their body parts.”
Second, the Catholicity of the faculty is of utmost importance. Indeed, the hiring of faculty both “ambivalent” and “openly hostile” to Notre Dame’s mission may be the University’s gravest mistake to date. On the other hand, the hiring done during Miscamble’s brief five-year term as Chair of the History Department show it is far from impossible to turn a faculty around.
Thirdly, the curriculum must be re-examined. Of course, Father acknowledges that curriculum is intimately tied to the faculty, because even the finest selection of Catholic core courses (I myself am pushing Notre Dame to add one on the novels of Ralph McInerny) unless taught by the right teachers, could do students more harm than good.
Finally, Notre Dame needs to re-explore its choices regarding student life. While praising the great availability of the sacraments at Notre Dame, including daily Masses in all the dorms, Father says Notre Dame must do more to distance itself from the partying, hook-up culture of secular universities, and providing entertainment choices such as The Vagina Monologues, or bands such as the one that ended their concert my freshman year with a rousing rendition of “Let’s Get Drunk and Screw,” just isn’t cutting it.
After a heartfelt round of applause, Miscamble gave way to his colleague, Fr. Robert Barron, narrator of the fine Catholicism TV documentaries and rector of Mundelein Seminary. Barron echoed many of Miscamble’s warnings, noting that between the “dumbed down, banners and balloons religion being taught in Catholic grade and high schools, and the Land O’Lakes Catholicism offered at many Catholic universities, Christ became just one of many options to follow, and Catholic theology was no longer at the center.” But “when Christ is no longer at the center, a center in which all other subjects find their meaning,” Barron noted that “something else will take His place.” Indeed, dialogue became god, and laws at many Catholic universities were no longer dictated by the Church but by the faculty or even the state, as Obama’s honorary degree of Law from Notre Dame sadly indicates.
Go here to read the rest. Any attempt to make Catholic colleges and universities Catholic again in this country has to start with the basic premise that contemporary liberalism is an aggressive, intolerant ideology and unremittingly hostile to Catholicism. Academia overwhelmingly has adopted contemporary liberalism as a substitute religion and that is the true faith held by most professors at most Catholic institutions of higher learning. Until this fact is recognized and addressed, everything else is mere window dressing.