University of Notre Dame
What’s a tenured associate professor of government teaching at a Catholic university to do when he believes the institution isn’t really Catholic?
It’s pretty easy to say “Give up your tenure and go where you will find what you are looking for.” Sometimes, witness to one’s faith entails suffering.
Agreed. But, making that decision isn’t so simple when other considerations—like those of family, financial obligations (a mortgage, for example), and the like—must also be factored into the equation.
The situation presents an authentic ethical dilemma, one that confronted a former Associate Professor of Government at Georgetown University, Patrick Deneen.
In a letter published at Front Porch Republic, Deneen said with regard to Georgetown University:
…Georgetown increasingly and inevitably remakes itself in the image of its secular peers, ones that have no internal standard of what a university is for other than the aspiration of prestige for the sake of prestige, its ranking rather than its commitment to Truth. Its Catholic identity, which should inform every activity of the community, from curriculum to dorm life to faculty hiring, has increasingly been cordoned off to optional activities of Campus Ministry.
Describing his experience, Deneen wrote:
In the seven years since I joined the faculty at Georgetown, I have found myself often at odds with the trajectory and many decisions of the university. In 2006 I founded The Tocqueville Forum as a campus organization that would offer a different perspective, one centered on the moral underpinnings of liberal learning that are a precondition for the continued existence of liberal democracy, and one that would draw upon the deep wisdom contained in the Catholic humanistic tradition. I have been heartened and overjoyed to witness the great enthusiasm among a myriad of students for the programming and activities of the Forum. However, the program was not supported or recognized by the institution, and that seemed unlikely to change. While I did not seek that approval, I had hoped over the years that the program would be attractive to colleagues across disciplines on the faculty, and would be a rallying-point for those interested in reviving and defending classical liberal learning on campus. The Tocqueville Forum fostered a strong community of inquiry among a sizeable number of students, but I did not find that there was any such community formed around its mission, nor the likely prospect of one, among the more permanent members of the university. I have felt isolated and often lonely at the institution where I have devoted so many of my hours and my passion.
So, where is Professor Deneen headed?
The University of Notre Dame (UND).
However, Deneen appears not to be headed to South Bend blinded by all of the UND hype. He wrote:
I don’t doubt that there will be many battles at Our Lady’s University. But, there are at least some comrades-in-arms to share in the effort.
UND hired Deneen, he wrote, because they regard him as “someone who can be a significant contributor to its mission and identity, particularly the Catholic identity of the institution.”
Although considerations like these are not typically a criterion for hiring at Georgetown as Deneen noted, The Motley Monk would humbly suggest that even in those institutions where they are, there’s quite a distance between espousing those ideals and translating them to pedagogical lessons in every classroom, dorm, and student activity.
For Professor Deneen’s willingness to witness to the importance of an institution’s Catholic identity in name and in fact, The Motley Monk offers a “call out” and “both thumb up.”
To read Professor Deneen’s letter, click on the following link:
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The peaks of Notre Dame history are shrouded in the mists of war.
Father Hugh O’Donnell, President, Notre Dame-1941
I think it was in 1964 when I read my first book on the Civil War, The American Heritage Golden Book of the Civil War, and I immediately thereafter developed a life long passion for the subject. Over the intervening 47 years, I have read hundreds of books on the War. Truth to tell, more than a few of the books I have read on the Civil War have left me with a ho hum feeling, not telling me much that I haven’t read many, many times before. I am therefore always pleasantly surprised when a tome on the Late Unpleasantness can give me lots of new information, and such is the case with Notre Dame and the Civil War, by James M. Schmidt. Mr. Schmidt, knowing of my interest in US Catholic Chaplains in the military, was kind enough to send me a review copy, and I am glad that he did, as he has brought forth facts and new pieces of information about Notre Dame and the Civil War that I have not read elsewhere.
Many Protestant denominations in the country were ripped asunder North and South by the Civil War and the decades of turmoil leading up to it. Not so the Catholic Church in America. As a global Church, it was not unusual for Catholics to find themselves on different sides in civil wars or national conflicts, and there was never any threat to the unity of the Church in America. Individual Catholics fought bravely for both the Union and the Confederacy. The Catholics of Notre Dame, except for a few students from the South, were whole heartedly for the Union.
Even before the Civil War, as Mr. Schmidt brings out, Notre Dame students were preparing to fight. Two student military companies were organized in 1858, part of the craze for militia companies, well drilled, in fancy uniforms that swept the nation in the late Fifties. It was fun being a part time soldier: drills, nice uniforms, parades, pretty girls cheering on the side lines. Many of the students of course were soon to have first hand knowledge of darker aspects of military life.
Schmidt skillfully relates the fever to enlist in the Union army that swept through the students of Notre Dame after Fort Sumter. Along with their students, Notre Dame priests also served as chaplains. Most famous among them was of course Father William Corby, who marched and fought with the Irish Brigade and who gave them mass absolution on the second day at Gettysburg before they charged into battle. The book relates the adventures of Father Corby, but also relates the stories of other Notre Dame priests who served as chaplains, including Father Paul E. Gillen, Father James Dillon, Father Joseph C. Carrier and Father Peter P. Cooney, all of whom will be featured in posts in the future.
The Sisters of the Holy Cross of Notre Dame also got behind the war effort. Sixty of the Sisters would serve as nurses during the war. The role of Catholic Sisters as nurses in the Civil War is one of the great largely unsung stories of the War. Usually nursing Protestant soldiers, the Sisters, through their bravery, skill at nursing and simple charity and kindness, often turned fairly anti-Catholic men into friends of the Church and not a few converted to the Faith. Mr. Schmidt gives these heroic women their due.
By Charles E. Rice
Fr. Norman Weslin, O.S., at the complaint of Notre Dame, was arrested in May 2009 and charged as a criminal for peacefully entering the Notre Dame campus to offer his prayer of reparation for Notre Dame’s conferral of its highest honor on President Obama, the most relentlessly pro-abortion public official in the world. The University refuses to ask the St. Joseph County prosecutor to drop the charges against Fr. Weslin and the others arrested, still known as the ND 88 although one, Linda Schmidt, died of cancer this past March. Judge Michael P. Scopelitis, of St. Joseph Superior Court, recently issued two important orders in this case.
The first order denied the State’s motion to consolidate the cases of multiple defendants. That motion would have denied each separate defendant his right to a separate jury trial. The order did permit consolidation of the trials of twice-charged defendants on the separate offenses with which that defendant was charged; a defendant charged, for example, with trespass and disorderly conduct would therefore not have to appear for two trials. Judge Scopelitis also denied the prosecution’s attempt to force each defendant to return to South Bend for each proceeding in the case, which would have coerced the defendants to abandon their defense. Instead, the Judge permitted the defendants to participate by telephone in pre-trial conferences.
Hattip to Ignatius Insight. Father Norman Weslin, arrested at Notre Dame for protesting Obama Day, faces trial on October 1. Notre Dame has refused to drop the charges. Now that Father Jenkins is trying to get some pro-life street creds, perhaps a good place to start would be to drop the charges against Father Weslin.
An open letter from Dr. Charles E. Rice, Professor Emeritus of Notre Dame Law School, to Fr. John Jenkins, President of University of Notre Dame:
Open Letter to Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., President, University of Notre Dame
September 21, 2009
Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Indiana 46556
Dear Father Jenkins:
Professor Fred Freddoso has shared with me the response on Sept. 17th by Dr. Frances L. Shavers, Chief of Staff and Special Assistant to the President, to Fred’s email of that date to you asking that Notre Dame request dismissal of the charges against the persons arrested for trespass on the campus in relation to the honoring of President Obama at Commencement. Dr. Shavers responded on your behalf to Fred’s email because, as she said, “the next few days are rather hectic for [Fr. Jenkins].” I don’t want to add to the hectic burden of your schedule by sending you a personal message that could impose on an assistant the task of responding. I therefore take the liberty of addressing to you several concerns in the form of this open letter to which a response is neither required nor expected.
First, permit me to express my appreciation for the expressions of support for the pro-life cause in your September 16th “Letter concerning post-commencement initiatives.” I know, however, that in a matter as significant as this, you will appreciate and welcome a respectful but very candid expression of views. In my opinion, the positions you have taken are deficient in some respects.
In your Letter of Sept. 16th, you rightly praise the work of the Women’s Care Center (WCC) and of its superb leader, Ann Murphy Manion. I commend you on your statement that the WCC “and similar centers in other cities deserve the support of Notre Dame clubs and individuals.” Your praise of the WCC and similar efforts, however, overlooks a practical step that Notre Dame, as an institution, ought to take. That would be for you, on behalf of Notre Dame, to issue a standing invitation to the WCC to establish an office on the Notre Dame campus to serve students, faculty and staff if, in the judgment of the WCC, that would be desirable and effective. Such would give practical effect, right here at Notre Dame, to your words in support of the WCC and similar efforts.
Your Letter announced your formation of the Task Force on Supporting the Choice for Life. Rather than offer a detailed evaluation of my own, I note my agreement with the personal analysis of William Dempsey, ND ’52, President of the Sycamore Trust, calling attention to “the obviously deliberate exclusion from Task Force membership of anyone associated with the ND organizations that have been unashamedly and actively pro-life: the Center for Ethics & Culture and the ND Fund for the Protection of Human Life. Nor was the student representative chosen from the leadership of the student RTL organization or from anyone active in last year’s student alliance protesting the honoring of the President, ND Response. It is hard to resist the inference that this is as a move toward marginalizing the Center and the Fund, neither of which receives any University support the way it is…. Finally, it is unsettling but instructive that this announcement comes a day after Fr. Jenkins’ annual address to the faculty in which he described his goals for the year, which included increasing female and minority faculty representation but not a word about the most crucial problem facing the university, the loss of Catholic identity through the failure to hire enough Catholics to restore the predominance required by the Mission Statement. This is a striking falling away from [Fr. Jenkins’] wonderful inaugural address. The fact that ND did nothing to serve the pro-life cause until forced by the reaction to the Obama incident testifies to the fact that, without a predominance of committed Catholics on the faculty, any pro-life efforts launched under pressure will in time fade away. The risk, and surely it is real, is that this initiative and the publicity ND is generating about it will deflect attention from the fundamental problem besetting Notre Dame….But I return to where I began: A project that deliberately excludes from participation those who have courageously manned organizations standing against the faculty attitude toward the pro-life cause ought to be regarded with suspicion.”
My main concern in this letter arises from your statement in your Letter that “Each year on January 22, the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, the March for Life is held in Washington D.C. to call on the nation to defend the right to life. I plan to participate in that march. I invite other members of the Notre Dame Family to join me and I hope we can gather for a Mass for Life at that event.” I understand that Notre Dame students have invited you to participate with them in the March. The problem arises from an aftermath of Commencement. On this I refer back to Chief of Staff Shavers’ response to Professor Freddoso’s request that Notre Dame ask dismissal of the charges against those arrested. Dr. Shavers states that “these protesters were arrested for trespassing and not for expressing their pro-life position.” That is misleading. This is not an ordinary case of trespass to land such as would occur if a commuter walks across your lawn and flower bed as a short-cut to the train station. Notre Dame is ordinarily an open campus. Those 88 persons, 82 of whom are represented by Tom Dixon, ND ’84, ND Law School ’93, were arrested not because they were there, but because of who they were, why they were there and what they were saying. Other persons with pro-Obama signs were there but were not arrested and not disturbed. Serious legal and constitutional questions are involved, arising especially from the symbiotic relationship between the Notre Dame Security Police, who made the arrests, and the County Police. This letter is not a legal brief. Rather I merely note that it is disingenuous for Notre Dame to pretend that this is merely a routine trespass case. Continue reading
Father Richard McBrien, Professor of Theology at Notre Dame, boy that comes as a shock doesn’t it, doesn’t think much of eucharistic adoration. McBrien of course has been a fierce defender of the secular zeitgeist for decades, and has done his very best to wean generations of Catholics from anything in the Faith that would not pass muster at fashionable parties in academia.
For myself I love eucharistic adoration. I never have done it without feeling much closer to God. Since John Paul II also approved of it in his letter DOMINICAE CENAE, I guess I will just have to bear up under the strain of being thought backward by Professor McBrien. Father Z gives McBrien his patented fisking here.
You know, tenured dissenters like McBrien have a real problem on their hands in the age of the internet. It is very easy now for ordinary Catholics to have access to church teaching by a few clicks and read what John Paul II wrote:
“Adoration of Christ in this sacrament of love must also find expression in various forms of eucharistic devotion: personal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, Hours of Adoration, periods of exposition-short, prolonged and annual (Forty Hours)-eucharistic benediction, eucharistic processions, eucharistic congresses.”
Of course Pope Benedict’s views are well known and are set forth here. When we have such easy access to the words of Peter, it is much harder for Catholics to be bamboozled by flim-flam artists like McBrien seeking to distort the teaching of the Church in service of their personal agendas. The modern world provides many challenges to the Church, but I think in the long run the internet may become a great advantage to the magisterium of Holy Mother Church.
Hattip to reader Rick Lugari. The USCCB* has issued this statement of support for Bishop John D’Arcy, the Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend:
“The bishops of the United States express our appreciation and support for our brother bishop, the Most Reverend John D’Arcy. We affirm his pastoral concern for Notre Dame University, his solicitude for its Catholic identity, and his loving care for all those the Lord has given him to sanctify, to teach and to shepherd.”
* United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
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.
Nat Hentoff’s characteristically blunt and ‘no b.s.’ columns used to be one of chief attractions of the Village Voice, before they made the foolish mistake of letting him go. Politically he’s not one you can apply a label to — in 2003 he supported the removal of Saddam Hussein’s murderous dictatorship on humanitarian grounds, but as a supporter of the First Amendment and civil liberties, harshly criticized the more excessive measures taken by the Bush administration.
Unapologetically pro-life, he is a staunch opponent of the death penalty and abortion (the latter apparently causing some tension with his liberal colleagues at the Voice) and vigorously opposed the court-ordered murder of Terry Schiavo.
Not surprisingly, he established a rapport with the feisty John Cardinal O’Connor, about whom he wrote an appreciative biography.
A self-described “member of the Proud and Ancient Order of Stiff-Necked Jewish Atheists,” he is also one who might merit the attribution: “on the side of the angels.”
Now, he takes aim at President Obama’s faux-support for “dialogue” at Notre Dame:
For consideration: an excerpt from President Barack Obama’s commencement speech at Notre Dame:
The soldier and the lawyer may both love this country with equal passion, and yet reach very different conclusions on the specific steps needed to protect us from harm. The gay activist and the evangelical pastor may both deplore the ravages of HIV/AIDS, but find themselves unable to bridge the cultural divide that might unite their efforts. Those who speak out against stem cell research may be rooted in an admirable conviction about the sacredness of life, but so are the parents of a child with juvenile diabetes who are convinced that their son’s or daughter’s hardships can be relieved.
The question, then — the question then is how do we work through these conflicts? Is it possible for us to join hands in common effort? As citizens of a vibrant and varied democracy, how do we engage in vigorous debate? How does each of us remain firm in our principles, and fight for what we consider right, without, as Father John said, demonizing those with just as strongly held convictions on the other side?
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.
Since the Notre Dame controversy has all the staying power of an inebriated relative after a dinner party, I’ll attempt one more brief comment on it.
It is a disappointment to me, though hardly a surprising one, that just about everyone in the Catholic blogsphere who advocated voting for Obama in the first place (or sympathized with those who did) now find so much to object to in those Catholics (including quite a few bishops — all who have address the topic to my knowledge) who are upset at Obama being made the commencement speaker for Notre Dame and awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
The argument, which was made frequently enough during the election, was that while Obama was far from perfect (and, we were always assured, the speaker was indeed deeply troubled by his positions on abortion) he was the better of two distinctly poor alternatives available on the ballot.
If such was one’s true position, I disagree, but with a fair amount of respect. Sometimes both options available are very bad, and choosing the lesser of two evils is quite the judgment call.
Catholic Democrats come to the defense of their leader in regard to Georgetown and Notre Dame and run into a buzzsaw named Father Z here.
Update: Good analysis of why Catholic Democrats and other Obama-philes are so concerned about the fallout from Notre Dame is given here by the always readable Damian Thompson across the pond at his blog Holy Smoke.
One of the main defenses of Jenkins in regard to Obama Day on May 17, 2009 at Notre Dame is as follows: “However misguided some might consider our actions, it is in the spirit of providing a basis for dialogue that we invited President Obama.”
It is therefore richly ironic that Jenkins refuses to meet with pro-life Notre Dame students opposed to the Obama homage:
Our old friend and Obama-phile Doug Kmiec, a subject of a few posts on this blog: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, has come out with a column in defense of the Notre Dame decision to honor Obama on May 17, filled with Obama fawning that would disgrace any self-respecting canine. Father Z here does the task of fisking the rubbish so I don’t have to.