Friday, August 26, 2011

Notre Dame...Again

Once again I am privileged to be able to post the bulletin from The Sycamore Group.  William Dempsey, Chairman of the Group has penned a sort of forward to the Bulletin.  I feel his observations are as noteworthy as the Bulletin itself. They are coming up next and then the Bulletin in its entirety. 
Jesus Is Lord!
Many of you will have seen the interview before, but I want to draw your attention to the video of Fr. Miscamble's electrifying talk at the student-sponsored rally in opposition to the honoring of President Obama.  Also, I want to add some personal comments.First, this time I offer with special emphasis, my suggestion that you consider posting comments, no matter how brief. Fr. Miscamble is a remarkably courageous man. All who love Notre Dame owe him a great deal. We ought to lift a chorus of encouragement.  I can tell you, as Father indicates, that the atmosphere at Notre Dame is hostile to those willing to speak out about what's happened to the Catholic identity of this precious institution. Notre Dame has become indistinguishable in many ways from a corporation -- Notre Dame, Inc. -- in which conformity is a prime virtue and omerta is the governing ethos.
Fr. Miscamble is very charitable in his response to the question: "Given your protests of some of what Father Jenkins has done as president, is it hard to live in community there?" But you may find it chilling to learn that he has been excluded from the community residence because, he was told, his "presence in the university community would make life difficult for others." Just what sort of religious community is this,anyway? Those of you who know Fr. Miscamble personally will especially appreciate what an incriminating move this was, however little Fr. Miscamble makes of it. Finally, I want to underscore the significance of the move by the Administration to oust David Solomon from the directorship of the Ethics & Policy Center. We will have more to say about this in the future, but in my view this is a decisive test of the Administration's seriousness of purpose on life issues. David is a towering pro-life figure at Notre Dame. He and his colleagues and associates have carried the pro-life flag at the University for years. Alone, so far as the Administration is concerned. And the admirers of his and his associates'  work at the Center on issues central to the Catholic intellectual tradition are legion. (We are proud to have one of those associates, Elizabeth Kirk, formerly second-in-command at the Center, on our board.)  But, like Fr. Miscamble, Dr. Solomon has spoken publicly of problems at the University and was a leading critic of the honoring of President Obama.
Fr. Miscamble can be excluded from community residential life; the administration can oust David from the Center he founded and has nourished. The Administration can co-opt and silence the Center. The promise of Project Guadalupe can be erased. But then the Administration's claim of a University that is "unambiguously pro-life" becomes so hollow as to be embarrassing.
I might add that it is not a question of David Solomon's being director-for-life. It would be entirely appropriate to provide for a transition of several years during which Dr. Solomon would work with a successor chosen through a process in which he played a major role. But there is nothing at all of that sort in prospect at the moment, it seems. Let us pray this may change.
The Bulletin:  Embedded Video in Bulletin

SOUTH BEND, IN — With this bulletin we provide to you “Saving Notre Dame’s Soul,” an extraordinary interview of Father Wilson Miscamble, C.S.C. by Kathyn Lopez of the National Catholic Reporter.
Father Miscamble, a former rector of Moreau Seminary and Chair of the History Department, has taught at the University for twenty-five years.  An award-winning author of three books on the Truman era, he is one of the University’s most distinguished scholars and popular teachers.
We introduce Fr. Miscamble  to you here in a special way through this video of highlights of his stirring leading address at the 2009 Rally on campus organized by students in opposition to the honoring of President Obama. Watch it and you will be certain to pay special attention to his interview.
We will not try to summarize the interview, for we  could not do it justice.  We will simply offer a few observations that may be helpful
The history of the secularization of religious schools shows that secularization comes with the loss by the faculty of its anchor in the founding religion. Father Miscamble has dealt with the radical erosion of the Catholic presence on the Notre Dame faculty in an illuminating article in America  that we have featured previously and that we commend to you again.
This phenomenon proceeds slowly and out of sight of alumni and others outside the university. Outward signs of religion remain. But at some point something quite unexpected may happen to disclose the hollowness of the university’s claims of robust religious identity.
At Notre Dame there have been a succession of such shocks over the past six years, among them Fr. Jenkin’s sanction of the student performance of the execrable Vagina Monologues and of the Queer Film Festival, the consequent moving by 50 bishops of their conference away from Notre Dame, and, most calamitous of all, the honoring of President Obama, the most pro-abortion president in history. 
This startling action in violation of an important policy of the bishops of the United States further widened the breach with Bishop John D’Arcy, which had opened with the Vagina Monologues, and brought upon Notre Dame the condemnation of 83 cardinals, archbishops, and bishops and countless Catholics nationwide.
In these circumstances, after the Obama disaster the question of Notre Dame’s pro-life stance has become a surrogate for the fundamental question of the University’s Catholic identity. It is, so to speak, the canary in the mine. More, it is a measure of the depth of the commitment of the Administration and the Fellows – particularly the six C.S.C. priests among the Fellows – to a defining moral teaching of the Church and hence to the Church itself.
Father Miscamble describes what the University has and has not done on the pro-life front before and since Obama and what it all means. As you will see, his account is an essential antidote to the University’s insistence that it really is “unambiguously pro-life” after all.
We highlight here only the point that Father Miscamble himself underscores as of surpassing importance and special urgency. It has to do with “Project Guadalupe,” the Center for Ethics and Culture, and the founder and leader of both, Dr. David Solomon.
We have termed Project Guadalupe “the most promising pro-life initiative in the history of the University” and the Center “an invaluable focal point for the exploration and exposition of the Catholic intellectual and moral tradition.” 
We leave to Fr. Miscamble’s interview, the organizations’ web sites, and our bulletin full descriptions of these organizations as well as of the Fund for the Protection of Human Life, which Dr. Solomon also heads.  Suffice it to say that these organizations under Dr. Solomon’s leadership have been the principal pro-life forces at the University for many years and that, with the launch this summer of Project Guadalupe with its Notre Dame Vita Institute, they hold the promise of making Notre Dame a formidable pro-life force in the future. 
While the University has provided no support to any of these efforts, one would think it would at least be grateful for the credit Dr. Solomon and his associates and supporters have brought to Notre Dame. Others outside the university honor his work. The national University Faculty for Life organization has recently conferred upon him its annual Smith Award.
However, Dr. Solomon has also been a persistent, knowledgeable, and persuasive critic of the secularization of the university. More, he rallied other faculty members to stand with him during his rousing talk at the student-sponsored 2009 Rally on the quad in opposition to the honoring of President Obama. (One of those was Bill Kirk, the only top University officer to participate, whose subsequent abrupt dismissal after 23 years of service we have chronicled earlier.)
The Administration is evidently less than pleased. Father Miscamble declares:
[T] he future of the institute is in question, as worries increase that the administration will penalize its leader, philosophy professor David Solomon, for the distinctive witness he and others who support the fund provide on campus....[H]e has been given indications that his tenure at the center will only continue through this year.
And, Father Miscamble adds, “just as he is getting Project Guadalupe firmly established.”
Finally, we hope you will forgive our elevating a subordinate remark by Fr. Miscamble to a more prominent position:
Alums must continue to make their views known to the administration, I especially encourage alums to keep informed about developments at Notre Dame by subscribing to the Sycamore Trust bulletins....Sycamore [has] done a great job of promoting the Catholic character and mission of Notre Dame by providing a sustained and deeply thoughtful monitoring of events there.

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