Update on Notre Dame Scandal
by: Sara Merlene-Kluth
For years they've been planning for this moment. But on May 17, 2009, a group of enthusiastic Notre Dame graduates will see their special day marred by scandal. For the commencement speech at their graduation from America's flagship Catholic University will be given by a man who is one of America's most strident promoters of abortion on demand and embryonic stem-cell research. In fact President Barak Obama was invited by Father John I. Jenkins, the Catholic University’s president, not only to give the commencement speech but to receive an honorary Doctor of Law degree!
Since the invitation has been made public, Father Jenkins has been publicly decried by not only student groups, alumni and donors but also by a growing list of Bishops, Archbishops and Cardinals. Websites have popped up overnight collecting names for petitions and making sure that faithful Catholics have the contact information to send personal messages to Father Jenkins. Websites such as www.notredamescandal.com, organized by The Cardinal Newman Society and www.ReplaceJenkins.com are keeping the public informed.
WWW.NotredameScandal.com has to date collected over 347,000 electronic signatures and forwarded them to Father Jenkins. They continue to collect the signatures and encourage people to personally send letters and e-mails to him to express their sentiments. The Cardinal Newman Society is dedicated to helping Catholic universities stay true to the 2004 U.S. Bishops’ document on “Catholics in Political Life” that states: “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”
www.ReplaceJenkins.com announced that their online effort has urged alumni and donors to Notre Dame to withhold donations. On Monday, April 20, 2009 they reported that they have personally confirmed over $8.2 million in withheld contribution. They have also received over 900 pledges from alumni and donors to withhold future donations.
ReplaceJenkins.com spokesperson David DiFranco, who graduated in 1995, said: “We knew many donors and alums were unhappy with the decision to honor a pro-abortion president, but we never expected this large of a response. We can hardly keep up, and this is only the beginning. We can only imagine what fundraisers at the university are experiencing, but understandably not reporting.”
WWW.ProjectSycamore.com is the self-appointed alumni watchdog for Notre Dame which recently protested Father Jenkins allowing the production of “Vagina Monologues” on campus has also begun a petition for alumni. Their online invitation states: “We wish to express our astonished dismay at, and deep disappointment in, the decision to invite President Barack Obama to deliver this year’s Commencement Address and to confer upon him an honorary degree.”
Bishop John M. D’Arcy, in whose diocese Notre Dame is located, stated on April 21, 2009 that his office had received “over 3,300 messages of shock, dismay and outrage” over the plans to have President Obama, “and they are still coming in.” Bishop D’Arcy has announced that he plans on boycotting the May 17th, commencement. He has pledged to “work with Father Jenkins and all at Notre Dame to heal the terrible breach which has taken place between Notre Dame and the church.”
Bishop Robert Finn from the diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph, MO addressed the scandal in his keynote address for the 2009 Gospel of Life Convention at St. Thomas Aquinas High School, “I suspect that, since Notre Dame will need a scapegoat for this debacle, and Fr. Jenkins will probably lose his job, at this point perhaps he ought to determine to lose it for doing something right instead of something wrong.” For a full listing of all the Bishops' statements, please click here!
In the midst of all the controversy on April 27, one courageous person stepped forward to refuse to accept the Laetare Medal, which is the highest honor given by Notre Dame in recognition of distinguished service to Church and Society. Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard University, former U.S. Vatican ambassador, member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, and Pro-Life Champion, formally declined to receive the Medal.
In her letter released to the press Ambassador Glendon states: “It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision – in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. Bishops – to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice….It is with great sadness, therefore, that I have concluded that I cannot accept the Laetare medal or participate in the May 17 graduation ceremony.” To read her letter in full, please click here.
Even during the election process it was apparent that Barack Obama was a pro-choice candidate intent on breaking down any progress that the Pro-Life movement had made; however, it has becoming increasingly evident that President Obama has expanded his scope to overturning pro-life laws around the world - a fact that was confirmed by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in a House Foreign Affairs Committee on April 23, 2009.
Clinton confirmed that the Obama administration's definition of "reproductive health" includes abortion, and that, "We are now an Administration that will protect the rights of women, including their rights to reproductive health care." To view the entire interview with Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gEA97EnxE4.
More than thirty Bishops have made public statements to this effect and the list continues to grow. To make your voice heard please click here for more information on signing the petition and obtain the address to send Father Jenkins a personal letter.
In the middle of this terrible breach are students who have sacrificed, studied and trusted that they would in the end receive an excellent education at one of the nation’s most prestigious Catholic universities, only to have the crowning moment of their hard work and study marred by this mask of death, this scandal. Announcements have been sent; parents have made graduation plans, travel plans and paid a very high price in tuition and their own personal sacrifice to send their children to the esteemed college. What has occurred is a betrayal of trust on the part of Father Jenkins and the board of trustees.
To see the full list of Bishops protesting, please click here.
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