Jesus Is Lord!
Personal Letter to Rev. John Jenkins, CSC
President, University of Notre Dame
My Dear Fr. Jenkins:
As we all know, the HHS Mandates released several weeks ago by the Obama Administration seek to marginalize the legal freedoms and moral principles of our beloved Church. In unparalleled fashion, Mr. Obama also seeks to facilitate the schism which has rent the American Catholic community in two. But it gets worse.
Today (March 17) we learn that an additional moral challenge has been thrust upon us by the Obama Administration. The Health and Human Services Department has added the further demand that college student health care plans will be treated like employees’ plans — making them subject to the same mandate the Obama administration put in place that has upset pro-life groups for its violation of religious liberties and fundamental Catholic morality. Now Notre Dame must also include our undergraduates.
I have written you before, but I am prompted to do so again. With many others, I have already asked you to come forward and speak as a Catholic priest and as President of our University. I have before urged you to add your voice and influence to the chorus of faithful Bishops, priests, religious and laity which has arisen in a unified defense of the Church's God-given, Constitutionally-guaranteed right to moral self-definition and to the free exercise of our Catholic religion.
Incidentally, when I say "our Catholic religion," I refer to the Catholic religion as defined by the Magisterium of the Church -- the Catholic Bishops in union with our Holy Father. I do not include persons whose disdain for fundamental Catholic theology is apparent; e.g. persons such as Notre Dame faculty member Dr. Gary Guttman, whose contempt for the hierarchy and Church tradition is simply stunning.
Several weeks ago, I did receive a computerized response from your office, the same response you sent to many others. Rather than address the grave issues we Catholics now face, your response avoided the issues. It merely reminded us that you had been briefly praised by Cardinal Dolan. The response attempted to inflate the Cardinal's comment into an indication that your leadership was vigorous, timely and forthright. But this distasteful stretch of the Cardinal's words served only as an embarrassment to you and to the University, adding further emphases to the fact that your defense of the Church was barely discernible. Since then, the American Church has heard nothing from you.
That computerized response added no luster to you or to the University. It did not stamp you as an involved and dedicated leader with uncompromising fortitude and timely courage. It was not the action of a moral exemplar whose first priority is for the good of the Church.
In fact, in light of all that has since happened, your response only underscores the additional questions of why you continue to prolong your silence, why you delay, why you avoid any statement, why you refuse to act.
All Catholics are now compelled to confront the present crises which Mr. Obama has ignited. As we do so, we must always be aware that the aggressive confrontation which Mr. Obama has chosen is a delicate and dangerous form of human interaction. As we respond, we Catholics (unlike our enemies) must choose to walk a cautious line between fact and emotion, between fairness and excess, between reasoned expression of principle and careless, rash judgment, between moral tradition and secular expediency, between the demands of Christian virtue and the crass, unprincipled tactics of morally indifferent politicians such as Mr. Obama who possesses great power and influence.
We Catholics must walk that delicate line between Charity and prudence on the one hand, and the demands of truth and rational evidence on the other. We are called upon to be leaven within a culture of death led by Mr. Obama and his followers who are dedicated to preventing and destroying life and exploiting the unborn even in the form of embryonic stem cell research.
We Catholics are, at times, inspired -- even required -- to stand up in public for our moral values and to articulate clearly those principles which our enemies despise and are doing their best to eradicate. That is what our Faith now requires of us all, laity and clergy. Nothing has ever been as clear as is this challenge to us all.
So, once again I ask that you finally step forward as befits the President of the most prominent Catholic institution in America.
Your prolonged silence in this and other prominent instances stands in stark and worrisome contrast to the unqualified, pro-abortion statements made by several Notre Dame faculty members.
We who respect the Catholic Faith and the University's historic Catholic traditions cannot but be deeply concerned that pro-abortion statements have been made by several Notre Dame faculty members. Academic freedom is a valid consideration, to be sure, but even academic freedom is not without its proper limits. It is commonly agreed that academic freedom should allow a professor (or student) to speak only within the recognized limits of her/his professional expertise. Academic freedom is not -- not -- a license to attack an opponent at will or permission to make outrageous comments which strike at the heart of an organization's fundamental principles. Academic freedom does not preclude a response from those whose ethical values or moral beliefs are thus disparaged, such as a response from you or your spokesperson.
These outspoken pro-abortion Notre Dame faculty persons have expressed their support for abortion and their gratuitous disdain for the Magisterium. They have done so time and again without a single word from you or from members of your Administration. This customary silence on your part offends even the most liberal understanding of academic freedom and even suggests your official indifference to blatant moral insults to the Church -- but there is more.
We also recall your firm opposition to the pro-life actions of the ND88. We recall your support -- for more than two years -- for the prosecution of these pro-life persons, and we recall misleading comments made by University spokespersons in an attempt to exonerate other demonstrators.
We recall your energetic but utterly confounding defense of an appointee to the University's Board of Trustees when her financial support for several pro-abortion agencies was discovered. We recall the swift and generous defense of this appointment which was also promulgated by Mr. Richard Notebaert, Chairman of the University Fellows. You and Mr. Notebaert were quick to officially defend this person but did not extend the same concern to the morally-admirable pro-life actions of the ND88.
One cannot help but wonder what priorities do indeed take precedent.
We further recall your adulation of Mr. Obama when you awarded him an honorary Doctorate. We recall your recurring statement (inexplicably repeated several times over the past two years) that you would again grant Mr. Obama the same honor; this, despite what you now know of his aggressive pro-abortion, anti-Catholic behavior.
Many people are caught in nagging wonderment as to why you would proceed with such energy in areas involving the defense of -- or, worse, the open celebration of -- pro-abortion politicians, spokespersons, lawmakers, faculty members and donors whilst hesitating for so long to speak in proud unity with Catholics who defend the Church and the unborn (including those who defend the moral rights of embryonic stem cells).
Finally, I recognize that as I discuss these issues, my comments may strike some people as "judgmental." Being judgmental in this time of secularist political correctness has become taboo (although one would certainly not think so by the anti-magisterial/pro-abortion comments of faculty persons such as Dr. Guttman). Indeed, one often hears the politically correct dictum that one is not supposed to say anything judgmental.
I believe this dictum is both logically inane and morally absurd, especially for a believing and informed Catholic. This dictum attempts to deny -- even stigmatize -- the fact that the ability and the responsibility to make proper and informed moral judgments are incumbent on every intelligent Catholic. We are blessed with the intellectual power to discern good from evil and sin from virtue, to determine what is moral from what is immoral. We are required to define right from wrong. We are urged by the Gospel to offer our neighbor the grace of fraternal correction. We are commanded to offer one another encouragement to timely and proper moral action.
Sometimes making and articulating such judgments is an awkward process; human beings are involved, human dignity is at stake. At the same instant, it is morally untenable that we should look away when evidence insists that we should speak. It is good to risk offending another person -- especially recalcitrant and resolved evildoers -- when a Higher Good is involved. Prudence should not becloud responsibility nor temperance rationalize denial.
Moreover, obvious facts (even unpleasant ones) and reasoned conclusions are responsibilities of the morally involved Catholic. Standing up for our Faith does not allow passivity or appeasement, dalliance or equivocation.
There are times when keeping the peace is less charitable, less just, less important than moving the Church to militant action. Now is such a time.
There are times when moral principles are so clear that we must -- we simply must -- act as moral exemplars. Now is such a time.
There is a point beyond which even Charity no longer allows us to remain silent, tolerant or passive. Now is such a time.
Indeed, there are times when Charity demands that we speak with conviction and without hesitation. Now is such a time.
When we are pushed beyond the margins of human law and the demands of divine law, then morality and sound reason require action, lest we slip into collusion by omission and avoidance. After a certain period, reasonable tolerance and charitable restraint become destructive if we who know better still remain silent.
Now is surely such a time.
Many Catholic leaders -- even Catholic teenagers and many Notre Dame faculty and students -- openly speak in unison against the Obama Administration's attempts to neuter and overwhelm the Church. Your continued silence and unseemly absence from the public forum now reflect ungracious timidity, not timely commitment. Your hesitation suggests you are unwilling to exert the power and influence of your office as President of a great University. It is as if you deliberately resist the prophetic responsibility which your office as President of Notre Dame thrusts upon you.
With prayerful urgency, I call upon you one last time: wait no longer. Come forward. Now is the appointed time.
Daniel M. Boland, PhDND Class of 1956