Notre Dame – the name itself evokes an image in almost everyone. For some it is the stalwart institution of American Catholicism. It evokes that image in only a minority now. Most obedient Catholics have looked with askance at the University for many years.
Most of you know that Fr. Jenkins had aroused much angst by inviting President Barak Obama to give this year’s commencement speech and gifting him with an honorary degree for his trouble.
I guess I’m scratching my head wondering why anybody is surprised. If you were to stumble upon this story with no background information you might think this was a surprising anomaly. It is not.
As far back as 1967 Notre Dame signed the “Land O’Lakes Statement” declaring that “To perform its teaching and research functions effectively, the Catholic university must have a true autonomy and academic freedom in the face of the authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical, external to the academic community itself.” Even more disturbing from my perspective is the claim that “theological investigation today must serve the ecumenical goals of collaboration and unity.” A quick review of the signers reveals that most have long since given up on any sense of Catholic identity. One simply cannot be authentically Catholic absent humble submission to the hierarchy or by valuing ecumenical collaboration above truth.
Since the implementation of the 1983 Code of Canon law all professor of theology at colleges and universities have been required to sign a mandatum which states: “"I hereby declare my role and responsibility as a teacher of a theological discipline within the full communion of the Church. As a teacher of a theological discipline, therefore, I am committed to teach authentic Catholic doctrine and to refrain from putting forth as Catholic teaching anything contrary to the Church's magisterium.”
Notre Dame won’t say if their professors have signed; Bishop D’Arcy has apparently not sought enforcement and at least two of ND’s theology professors, including Father Richard McBrien (whose presence at the University is independently problematic) have publically gone on record as refusing to sign.
If you are surprised that Fr. Jenkins invited the most pro-abortion President in history to speak at commencement then you just haven’t been paying attention.