Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Notre Dame and Hypocrysy

The following is the latest edition of the Sycamore Trust Bulletin.  It seems that Jenkins really is a tool of Satan, regardless of what he says. 

Jesus Is Lord!
Tim M

SOUTH BEND, IN — In this bulletin we discuss two events:
  • The first is Notre Dame’s protest of the government’s proposed regulation that would require the University to provide contraception and sterilization coverage in its employee health insurance policies. While Notre Dame's move is laudable, in important respects Fr. Jenkins’s statement is not.
  • The second is another violation by Notre Dame of the policy of the United States bishops against awarding honors to organizations violating fundamental Church teachings, in this instance an organization promoting contraception.
  • In addition, in our concluding “Notes” section we urge support of an important student project, this year’s Edith Stein Conference.
Notre Dame’s Protest of Mandatory Contraception Insurance Coverage
Pursuant to the “ObamaCare” legislation, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has proposed that employers be required to include contraception and sterilization coverage in their employee health insurance plans.
The conscience clause exemption is so narrowly drawn that it does not cover schools like Notre Dame nor a host of other Catholic service organizations.
Father Jenkins’s Statement – The Good News
The President of Catholic University, Dr. John Garvey (ND ’70), fired the opening salvo against this proposal in a widely publicized op-ed piece in the Washington Post.
Subsequently, Notre Dame joined CUA and the USCCB in filing official protests with HHS. In its excellent pleading, the USCCB presented the comprehensive constitutional, statutory, and regulatory argument against the proposed regulation.  Notre Dame’s supplemental protest was in the form of a letter from Fr. Jenkins to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius emphasizing the need for a broader conscience clause. Father Jenkins and Dr. Garvey also joined 18 other heads of Catholic service and other organizations in a widely publicized advertisement opposing the HHS proposal.
We add that Notre Dame Law School scholars Gerard V. Bradley and O. Carter Snead recently co-authored with professor Helen Avare of George Mason Law School a compelling analysis of the HHS proposal that contributes importantly to the literature on the subject.
This was a laudable step by Fr. Jenkins. It is gratifying to see the presidents of the bishops’ university and the nation’s flagship Catholic university, both Notre Dame men, stand side by side with America’s bishops in protest against this aggressive assault on Catholic institutions.
Father Jenkins’s action is especially notable because Notre Dame and CUA stand alone on this matter among the nation’s major Catholic universities and, for that matter, nearly alone among the nation’s 225 Catholic colleges and universities.
Another eighteen smaller schools joined the Cardinal Newman Society in filing protests, and there evidently were a few more last minute submissions. But the great majority of Catholic schools evidently remained silent.
Indeed, a number of them already provide contraception coverage, probably most if not almost all because of state laws. Boston College, for example, obeys state law but does not provide contraceptives in its on-campus dispensary.
While Father Jenkins has declared that Notre Dame will cancel its employee health insurance program if this regulation becomes law, evidently these other schools have decided that it is ethically permissible to comply with state laws on the ground — to use traditional moral theology categories — that this constitutes “mediate material cooperation” rather than “formal cooperation” with evil and is justified by a countervailing proportionate cause, i.e., the provision of health insurance to employees.
This obviously does not advance the conscience clause argument, but it does serve to underscore Father Jenkins’s admirable boldness in so aggressively supporting the Church’s teaching.
We wish the story could end here. Unhappily, it cannot.
Father Jenkins’s Statement – the Bad News
In his letter, Father Jenkins quite unnecessarily volunteered that he “stand[s] by his decision” to confer an honorary degree upon the President in 2009.
Father had said before that he would “do it again.” That is, he would again act in contravention of the policy of the country’s bishops prohibiting the honoring of persons who support abortion, an action that brought the condemnation of 83 cardinals, archbishops, and bishops, a tsunami of criticism from Catholics everywhere, and heated division among alumni.
Still, when Father Jenkins first reaffirmed his decision not a great deal had yet happened and he could be reported as believing that the event “had influenced the President for the better” without being ridiculed.
But subsequent events have surely laid to rest the fanciful notion that a brief visit to Notre Dame would change the views of this dedicated pro-abortion politician.
Thus, we have seen Obama’s repeal of the Bush/Reagan Mexico City policy and the consequent flow of taxpayer money to abortions overseas, new NIH embryonic stem cell research rules wiping out the Bush restrictions, and the narrowing of the conscience clause for medical care workers.
Nor is this all by any means. Observers have compiled a list of Administration initiatives “relentlessly attacking religious liberty” too long to reproduce here, but we should take note at least of how, at a recent fundraiser, the President “offered a flippant ‘darn tooting’ rejoinder to an audience member who called out support for his unyielding enforcement of the contraceptive mandate.”
And yet Father Jenkins insists again that it was right for Notre Dame to honor President Obama. This is deeply disappointing. It confirms Bishop D’Arcy’s charge that the University chose “prestige over truth,” for now there is no other explanation. More, it shows that, while Notre Dame stands with the bishops on the current issue, it will freely leave them again if it judges some secular interest to trump union with the Church.
But there is more. In an evident effort to unearth some benefit from the honoring of Obama, Fr. Jenkins argues that the Notre Dame community and the President had agreed upon, in the President’s words, “a sensible conscience clause” and that the Secretary’s proposal “is not the kind of ‘sensible’ approach the President had in mind.”
This salvage attempt is transparently infirm. The lack of content of the phrase “sensible conscience clause” is obvious. Both Democrats and Republicans want a sensible tax reform, a sensible environmental policy, a sensible deficit reduction program, and all else that is sensible. No doubt the Taliban would like a sensible peace accord. Why, then, all the discord?
But beyond this, Father Jenkins’s invocation of Obama’s statement is especially instructive because it focuses attention on what the President actually said and shows just how easily gulled were those who supported the honoring of Obama.
The paragraph in which Obama called for common ground — just what the audience was waiting for — was a masterpiece of clever drafting. He succeeded in drawing a burst of applause for his call for agreement on more extensive contraception and he limited his empty phrase “sensible conscience clause” to abortion and qualified it with an appeal to science and the “equality of women.” Thus:
So let us work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions, let’s reduce unintended pregnancies.  (Applause.)...Let’s honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded not only in sound science, but also in clear ethics, as well as respect for the equality of women. (Applause.)
What did the audience think Obama meant by “reducing unintended pregnancies”? Abstinence? It is the administration’s phrase for contraception, but it is in any case in plain English.
And so far as a “sensible conscience clause” for abortion is concerned, as we’ve noted the Administration has already narrowed the Bush regulation.
The fact is that Obama promised nothing. HHS may modify the regulation, but surely not because of Obama’s Notre Dame visit. The Administration might well elect not to become locked in litigation with the nation’s Catholic bishops and Catholic institutions over incursions into religious freedom during an election year. Oremus.
Indeed, it is Obama who might wonder why Notre Dame is turning on him now after the wave of applause that greeted his call for agreement on contraception.  He knew how weak Catholic support is for this Church teaching. Why should it be different at Notre Dame?
Reaction to Fr. Jenkins’s Statement at Notre Dame.
Why indeed?  The student newspaper The Observer deplored Fr. Jenkins’s “clinging” to this trace of Catholic identity. Notre Dame, The Observer declared, has to make up its mind whether it is an “educational institution that happens to be Catholic” – The Observer’s choice – or a “Catholic institution that happens to teach.”
And Notre Dame’s voice in Commonweal, Professor Cathleen Kaveny, confesses that she can’t figure out whether there are any “underlying philosophical justifications for conscience protections.” So much for Fr. Jenkins’s protest.
On the other hand, an editorial in the indispensable independent student publication The Irish Rover provides an admirably balanced perspective. While noting the troubling implications of Fr. Jenkins’s invocation of the Obama episode, the editorial concluded, “Fr. Jenkins’s letter is cause for gratitude” and “gives us hope that Notre Dame may take up its proper role as the nation’s leading Catholic university.”
So hope we all.
Notre Dame Honors a Pro-Contraception Organization.
Notre Dame’s post-Obama actions confirm Fr. Jenkins’s reaffirmation of Notre Dame’s willingness to act in opposition to the policy of the country’s bishops
Last year, as we have reported, honors were conferred on a major embryonic stem cell research player, General Electric.
And now we report that this year the University honored a promoter and provider of contraception services, Partners in Health (PIH).
In conferring the Notre Dame Award for International Human Development and Solidarity upon PIH, Fr. Jenkins said, “PIH represents in their work the work of Christ.”
While the “work of Christ” phrase is apt for PIH’s important health projects in impoverished countries, it hardly suits PIH’s extensive contraception program  (presumably including abortifacients).
PIH’s website explains:
Family planning is among the most effective tools for reducing maternal mortality. When women are counseled, educated, and provide with contraceptive options, they are more likely to delay childbearing, have fewer children, and reduce their risk for obstetrical complications....Family planning is an integral part of the model of comprehensive women’s health care....Each of ZL’s clinical sites has a full-time nurse trained in sex education and reproductive health counseling ZL has been offering free condoms and other contraceptive methods for over 15 years.”
We wrote to ask how the award to PIH could be squared with the bishops’ injunction that “Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.”  In his reply, the University spokesperson did not even mention that policy. He simply said that PIH’s contraception programs were “not at the core” of its mission.
Once again Notre Dame substitutes its own policy for that of the bishops. Whether or not its contraceptive programs are “core,” whatever that might mean, they are extensive and important. There is no exception in the bishops’ policy for organizations who conduct morally objectionable programs like these no matter what other praiseworthy projects they may sponsor. Nor, indeed, did the University spokesman suggest the contrary.
Thus, as Father Jenkins’s letter to Secretary Sebelius signals, the fissure between University and Church persists notwithstanding their alliance on the HHS proposal.
It gives us no pleasure to muffle praise of Father Jenkins’s action, but the alternative is to forgo a careful analysis of what he said in combination with what the University has done in favor of a burst of uncritical enthusiasm at any sign of hope for a renewal of Notre Dame’s Catholic identity. That is not our mission.
Special Note:  We urge you to join Sycamore Trust in donating to The Edith Stein Conference. The conference, which will be held at the University on February 10th and 11th,  is produced annually by the Identity Project of Notre Dame and is one of the most important student contributions to the Catholic identity of the University.
Instituted as a counter to The Vagina Monologues, the conference continues as a vital means of illumination of, and reflection upon, the authentically Catholic vision of issues of gender, sexuality, and vocation. It requires substantial contributions to enable it to enlist as participants outstanding faculty members and notable scholars, authors, and commentators from outside the University as it has in the past.
If you wish to help, make your tax-deductible check payable to “The University of Notre Dame - The Identity Project of Notre Dame” and send it to:
University of Notre Dame (The Identity Project of Notre Dame), Department of Development, 1100 Grace Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556
We suggest you also advise the students and us of your contribution by way of an e-mail to Renee Roden with a copy to George Heidkamp, our Secretary/Treasurer.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Another Notre Dame Debacle...What Else is New?

Recently I received an article from Dr. Dan Boland of The Sycamore Group that adds fuel to the fire about ND and it's lack of Catholicism.  This just brings home the point we've been trying to make for some time.  The original article comes from Judie Brown of the American Life League and this organization deserves your whole hearted support as they are in the forefront of the battle against Abortion.

Jesus Is Lord!
Tim M

The Article.

May 14, 2011
Notre Dame's fixation on dissent
By Judie Brown

A Catholic university, especially one as visible as Notre Dame, must pride itself on upholding the teachings and standards that all Catholics should follow. Our Mother's university is one that should be a beacon during dark and difficult times — drawing not only students, but other faithful Catholics, toward her. Notre Dame must be an example and a leader in everything done in her name. For, when a prominent Catholic university fails to be a witness to the Church's teachings, dissent and chaos are sure to follow. Read today's commentary for more about recent events at Notre Dame.

Every time I see a headline that contains the words "Notre Dame" I wince. I remember that awful experience two years ago involving President Obama, an honorary degree and a commencement address.

I also remember the 88 pro-life activists who were charged with illegal trespass and had to wait two years for the charges to be dropped by the university.

So when I read the latest news about Notre Dame honoring a charity health organization that promotes condoms and emergency contraception, I was not at all shocked. What else is new at this bastion of Catholic higher education that is perhaps best known for its denial that it is obligated to lead students to Christ and His teachings?

The Notre Dame Award for International Human Development and Solidarity is given in recognition of the work a particular charity has done in the field of human development. According to Notre Dame's press release,

    "PIH does an extraordinary job of integrating the head and the heart in the work of healing," says Rev. Robert A. Dowd, C.S.C., director of the Ford Family Program. "Their work represents the values that are at the core of Notre Dame's mission. We want to honor the work of PIH so that it might continue to inspire Notre Dame students, faculty, alumni and friends to contribute in their own way to the healing and peace that our world needs."
This is interesting to someone who understands the fundamental teachings of the Church and wonders what in the world Father Dowd and his cohorts were doing when researching PIH prior to choosing the organization to receive this award. Clearly nobody at Notre Dame gave a thought to the portion of the PIH web site entitled "Women's Health," which states,

    Family planning is among the most effective tools for reducing maternal mortality. When women are counseled, educated, and provided with contraceptive options, they are more likely to delay childbearing, have fewer children, and reduce their risk for obstetrical complications. Nevertheless, 50 percent of all pregnancies worldwide are unplanned or unwanted, accounting for nearly 300,000 new pregnancies every day.
It is clear that PIH has an agenda that is similar to that embraced by the philanthropy of groups like Planned Parenthood and its allies. Women's health questions, when associated with birth control and other "reproductive health" matters always lead to — at the very least — lip service in support of abortion. So why would Notre Dame provide such a prestigious award to PIH? That is a question that is perhaps best answered by those who have witnessed the trail of dissent that has become part of the fabric of Notre Dame's once proud history.

After the Obama debacle at Notre Dame, then Bishop John D'Arcy wrote an article for the Jesuit magazine, America, entitled, "The Church and the University," in which he set forth the challenge that each Catholic college and university must confront.

It's high time Father Jenkins and his confreres considered the critical questions His Excellency posed to them:

    Do you consider it a responsibility in your public statements, in your life as a university and in your actions, including your public awards, to give witness to the Catholic faith in all its fullness? What is your relationship to the church and, specifically, to the local bishop and his pastoral authority as defined by the Second Vatican Council?
Perhaps if Jenkins had asked himself these two questions first, the award to PIH — not to mention the appearance of president Obama — might never have occurred. But then again, maybe dissent from Catholic teaching has been the identifying characteristic of Notre Dame for more years than we care to think about.

What say you, Father Jenkins?

To inquire of Father Jenkins please contact him at this address:

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Notre Dame and Ebryonic Stem Cell Research......Well....Sort of.

I have been given the latest copy of the Bulletin from The Sycamore Trust.  It's very interesting reading so I have decided to post it in it's entirety.  For those wondering why I haven't posted in awhile, my wife died very recently and I haven't been in the right frame of mind to do anything constructive, but that will change soon....on to Notre Dame.

Jesus Is Lord!

SOUTH BEND, IN — In the recent bulletin in which we disclosed the departure from the Notre Dame Board of Trustees of a prominent proponent of embryonic stem cell research (hereafter “ESCR”), Dr. Mary Anne Fox, we said we would examine the University's record respecting this research in a future bulletin. That is what we will do now.
In sum, while we are pleased to report some praiseworthy developments, on the whole Notre Dame's record is not that of a truly Catholic university.
In our prior bulletin we wondered whether anything had happened that might have prompted Dr. Fox to leave the board after almost a decade. She left without a trace — nothing in the news bulletin announcing other changes in the board when she left, no expression of gratitude by the University for her long service, not a word from her. And in telling us that it would “have nothing to add” to its confirmation of Dr. Fox's departure, the University made clear that its silence was deliberate.
It seems unlikely that the University induced Dr. Fox to stand down. Twice elected to the board, she is a nationally prominent educator who was the 2008 Notre Dame graduate school commencement speaker and the recipient of a Notre Dame honorary degree.
But the situation has changed recently. Notre Dame's post-Obama damage control efforts have included the formal adoption of pro-life policy and the highlighting of the University's opposition to ESCR. More, the splendid Fighting to Restore Vision video shown during one of last year's televised football games gave Notre Dame's policy the widest possible publicity.
This accomplished portrayal of Notre Dame's adult stem cell research under the direction of Dr. David Hyde included a forthright declaration of the University's ethical opposition to ESCR — and accordingly by unmistakable implication its opposition to Dr. Fox's prized projects.
This was followed early this past summer by an impressive stem cell conference at Notre Dame organized by two of Notre Dame's leaders in the examination of all aspects of stem cell research, Dr. Phillip Sloan, Professor Emeritus, Program of Liberal Studies, and Professor Carter Snead of the Law School. The conference drew leading experts from across the country.
Would Dr. Fox want to continue on the Board in the face of this ethical censure of the type of research that she champions? If Dr. Fox was in fact influenced by these considerations, the episode would illustrate a likely, if unintended, benefit of the University's intensive effort to burnish its tarnished image. University publications and spokespersons now regularly testify to the University's allegedly robust Catholic identity. While these claims are true around the edges but false at the core because of the radical erosion of the Catholic faculty presence, they may very well discourage scholars with prestigious credentials but no wish to teach at a genuinely Catholic school from accepting invitations from Notre Dame. Oremus!
We turn now to the dark side. What we have reported is very good. But what we now report is much worse.
In terms of Catholic identity, the fundamental question is whether Notre Dame sets its opposition to ESCR aside when it collides with secular interests it deems more important. The praiseworthy activities that we have listed tell us nothing about that. The following items do.
  • The honoring of President Obama in 2009 remains a pre-eminent example of Notre Dame's placing secular values above pro-life values.
The episode cannot be discounted. Father Jenkins has said he "would do it again" and Chairman Notebaert's reaction to the lacerating criticism of 83 cardinals, archbishops and bishops was a no-quarter-given apologia in America.
It is worth pausing to mark Mr. Notebaert's view that bishops have no business criticizing Notre Dame. He disdains even to mention the tsunami of episcopal criticism except to say he was "saddened" that Bishop D'Arcy had not deferred to the university presidents' Land O'Lakes declaration of "true the face of authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical." Under Mr. Notebaert's version of Land O'Lakes, evidently Bishop D'Arcy invaded Notre Dame's "autonomy" simply by speaking out.
There could be no plainer rejection of Ex Corde Ecclesiae's description of the relationship between school and bishop that should prevail: "Bishops have a particular promote and assist in the preservation and strengthening of [the university's] Catholic identity," and "even when they do not enter directly into the internal governance of the University, [they] should be seen not as external agents but as participants in the life of the Catholic University."
  • Father Jenkins's announced goal of becoming a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU) is decisive: Once again, Notre Dame places academic prestige above Catholic identity.
The AAU, composed of 61 of the top research universities of the country, pursues aggressively its policy of promoting ESCR and therapeutic cloning. Thus, as Professor Gerald Bradley of the Law School has put it:
    Notre Dame's central academic aspiration has nothing to do with Catholicism. It is the Association of 62 American research schools — none of them Catholic — that Notre Dame is desperate to join.
  • The University's failure to include a unit of instruction on life issues in a required course is a major abdication of responsibility. The Catholic identity of a university depends first of all on who teaches and what is taught, not on academic conferences or research or marches and the like, valuable though they may be. As we have often noted, while at Notre Dame students fall away from Church teaching on abortion in alarming numbers — 31% pro-choice when they enter, 42% when they leave. The situation almost certainly is at least as grim respecting ESCR.
  • Dissent by faculty moral theologians and the weakness of Catholic presence on the College of Science faculty exacerbates the problem.
As we have reported previously, two of the University's most prominent faculty members have publicly dissented from the Church's teaching on both abortion and ESCR. The University cannot control what they say, but a Catholic university might at least request that they disassociate themselves from the school when they oppose Church and school policy on such important issues.
Of far greater practical concern is the alarming decline of Catholic representation on the science faculty. The “check-the-box” percentage has plummeted from 48% in 1998 to 37% in 2007, the last year before the University decided to stop disclosing these data. Since this number must be discounted to account for non-practicing and dissenting Catholics, and since scientists as a group are overwhelmingly in favor of embryonic stem cell research, the University's policy may not be widely endorsed when the stem cell issue comes up in the classroom.
The new Dean Dr. Gregory Crawford, is an excellent choice by all accounts. He faces a formidable challenge.
Prior to the award, General Electric had embarked upon a major and highly publicized ESCR project. As the Wall Street Journal reported:
The agreement marks the first time that a company of GE's stature and size has announced a business venture involving the controversial field of embryonic stem cells.
Why did Notre Dame again repudiate the bishops' policy? It acted, the University told us, “[i]n appreciation for the company's longstanding support of our Executive MBA programs through the enrollment in recent years of 14 GE employees in our Chicago and South Bend programs.” But, we were assured, the University has “made it clear that [it] fully support[s] all aspects of Church teaching on the sanctity of human life.”
It evidently takes increasingly less for Notre Dame to subordinate that support to secular concerns.
But to be fair about it, GE has done a good deal more for Notre Dame. It is the No. 1 recruiter of Notre Dame MBA graduates; a partner in the Business School's MBA Intertern Intensive program; a significant donor to the University; and until recently the owner of, and still a major stakeholder in, NBC, from whom Notre Dame reaps colossal football television revenues.
GE's Chairman and CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, the 2007 Notre Dame commencement speaker and “proud new employer of 25 Irish '07 graduates,” effused:
I like recruiting Notre Dame students, and I like televising your games.
  • There is an ironic footnote to the GE story. While the University honors GE and accepts its donations despite its involvement in ESCR, it appears it will not invest its money in GE because of that involvement.
Since the University has represented that it follows the investment policy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and since that policy forbids investing in companies that engage in ESCR, we asked whether Notre Dame invests in GE.
The University spokesperson replied, understandably, that as a matter of policy the University does “not discuss individual companies,” but he assured us that Notre Dame "compl[ies] with the USCCB.” Since the USCCB’s policy is plain, we take this to mean that Notre Dame does not invest in GE.
Perhaps Scott Malpass, Notre Dame’s eminently successful chief investment officer, should be put in charge of awards and honors.
In short, there is cause for dismay but not despair. The University's professed pro-life policy is severely compromised by its actions. Would it ever join an organization that promoted racial discrimination? Would it ever honor a person or company that did? Would it not leap into action if it learned that large numbers of students turned toward racial discrimination while at Notre Dame?
Still, the laudable efforts of a group of dedicated faculty, the University's clear statement of is opposition to embryonic stem cell research and its support of adult stem cell research, and the singular football video episode — a truly counter-cultural Notre Dame for a change — afford grounds for hope.
Finally, as we have noted, an upcoming crucial test of the depth of the Administration's commitment to the pro-life cause will be whether it forces Dr. David Solomon out as director of the Center for Ethics & Policy, a possibility described by Father Wilson Miscamble in the interview that we discussed in a recent bulletin. Under Dr. Solomon's leadership, the Center and the Fund for the Protection of Human Life have been the principal driving forces at Notre Dame for pro-life thought and action. Dr.Solomon was a leading critic of the honoring of President Obama. His dismissal would carry an obvious message to the a pro-life community already thoroughly disillusioned by the Obama episode.