Father John Jenkins Obama Scandal
Although the subject of President Obama being honored by Notre Dame has quickly cooled in the fast-paced blogging universe- I wanted to weigh in with some comments because I think it is important to hold the President to account on some of the promises he made in his speech, and to offer some ideas for how Catholic universities should approach such political intersections in the future.
Professor Douglas Kmiec recently gave a “reflection” over President Obama’s speech at the University of Notre Dame last week. No surprises there. It appears that Kmiec is still campaigning to be Ambassador to the Holy See. But this was not his point here. We might call that a “background fact.”
Still obsessed with statistics and raw data, he noted that the President received the vote of 54% of self-identified Catholics on November 4, 2008 in the presidential election and that more than two-thirds of Catholics supports the Obama Administration. Why? Social justice–which includes a litany of issues that we terribly are far behind on because of “conservative partisans” who wish to keep Catholics in a “one-issue pocket,” which, in turn explains the “neglect” of social justice matters in “far too many parishes.”
Obama at Notre Dame: Incomplete Eloquence by Prof. Douglas Kmiec
The presidents were there in splendid form; the bishops were not.
Three presidents stood upon the stage: Father Jenkins, the embodiment of academic integrity informed by faith; Father Hesburgh, Notre Dame’s president emeritus and civil rights champion, and Barack Obama, whose inauguration just months earlier was greeted with virtual national euphoria, but whose visit to campus was claimed to be “in defiance of church teaching.”
And the bishops? Sadly absent. Some, no doubt, honestly believed the President to be their antagonist. Most were silent. Notwithstanding repeated entreaties, the pastoral shepherds of the Church chose not to extend a simple pastoral blessing upon the graduates of the flagship Catholic university in America and their families.
Hattip to Hot Air. Notre Dame’s reaction to the stunning Glendon withdrawal:
“We are, of course, disappointed that Professor Glendon has made this decision. It is our intention to award the Laetare Medal to another deserving recipient, and we will make that announcement as soon as possible.”
Now who could Jenkins get at the last moment? Hmmm, someone on board with Obama, doesn’t mind ticking off the bishops, nominally Catholic, nominally pro-life. I have it! The perfect candidate for Jenkins is here.
As Brendan noted a while back, the Notre Dame controversy, “has all the staying power of an inebriated relative after a dinner party.” I’m loathe to post on it again, but there has been a fairly significant development: Harvard Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon has decided not to attend the graduation or accept the Laetare Medal. Here, via First Things is the text of her letter to Father Jenkins:
April 27, 2009
The Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
University of Notre Dame
Dear Father Jenkins,
When you informed me in December 2008 that I had been selected to receive Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, I was profoundly moved. I treasure the memory of receiving an honorary degree from Notre Dame in 1996, and I have always felt honored that the commencement speech I gave that year was included in the anthology of Notre Dame’s most memorable commencement speeches. So I immediately began working on an acceptance speech that I hoped would be worthy of the occasion, of the honor of the medal, and of your students and faculty.
The University of Notre Dame student paper The Observer has a piece by Dr. Charles Rice, emeritus professor of law at the University, asked that ND President Fr. John Jenkins resign.
“The invitation should be withdrawn. It implies no personal animosity to suggest that Fr. Jenkins and the other Fellows and Trustees responsible for this fiasco should resign or be removed.”
We’ve had multiple bishops and two cardinals reproach Notre Dame’s decision to invite pro-abortion President Obama. Now we have an esteemed professor requesting President Fr. Jenkins resign his position as president of Notre Dame for inviting President Obama and creating this scandal.
For the story click here.
(Biretta Tip: Patrick Madrid)
Here is the text of Bishop Olmsted’s letter to President Jenkins (h/t American Papist):
While I am disappointed by President Jenkin’s decision to invite President Obama to speak at commencement, particularly the decision to confer an honorary law degree, I have several questions about this letter:
Salvete AC readers!
Here are today’s Top Picks in the Catholic world:
1. The great Cardinal Pell offered his thoughts on the future of liturgical development by stating that ad orientem will be mandatory so as to move away the priest as the center of worship back to Jesus Himself, ie, both the priest and the congregation should be facing towards God. In addition, when the priest turns away towards the congregation, there should be a crucifix in between he and the congregation so as to maintain the center of worship God and not the priest. What a wonderful and great Cardinal that Australia has! Let us pray for more such strong leaders of the Church worldwide and especially here in America. Ora pro nobis!
For the article click here.
2. Sister Janet Ferns, a nun who has worked in Nigeria and Zambia, has explained what most condoms are used for by the locals in Africa… to fish with.
For the link click here.
Bishop John M. D’Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend is planning to release a statement tomorrow, March 24, on the intention of Notre Dame to pay homage to Obama on May 17, 2009. Assuming that the Bishop condemns the visit this would not be his first clash with the powers that be at Notre Dame. On February 24, 2004 he condemned the annual presentation at Notre Dame of the Vagina Monologues. Notre Dame ignored him, and, under President Jenkins, the department sponsored Vagina Monologues performances continue, with his about face on that issue indicating Jenkins’ complete lack of willingness to defend Catholic teaching and morality. On April 30, 2006 and again on March 2008, Bishop D’Arcy released statements about the ongoing performances of the Vagina Monologues, highlighting his intense disagreement with Jenkins. The Bishop has also condemned the “Queer Film Festival” sponsored by Notre Dame.