An Open Letter to Fr. John Jenkins
University of Notre Dame
Dear Fr. Jenkins,We are writing this letter to you in hopes that you can clear something up for us.
We are two Catholic women who reside in the State of Colorado. We made tragic mistakes in our younger years by having abortions. We came to the University of Notre Dame last Friday, May 8, to witness to the harm caused to us by our “choice.” We held signs that say “I Regret My Abortion”. We also gave our testimonies and prayed the Rosary with other Catholics who supported us.
We did this in hopes of saving young women years of pain, shame and guilt. We did this because college aged women have the most abortions. We did this because we wanted these young women to know that women deserve better than abortion and that women can achieve the things that they want without having their babies killed. We did this because we believe in the fundamental right to life of all human beings who are created in the image and likeness of God which is a dogmatic teaching of the Catholic Church.
We have both attended Project Rachel and Rachel’s Vineyard retreats – both Catholic healing programs for those suffering from abortion. We then joined “The Silent No More Awareness campaign”, a program sponsored by a Catholic Priest – Fr. Frank Pavone.
In all of these programs we were taught about the acceptance and mercy of God and our fellow Catholics. Also, in these programs we were encouraged to seek the counsel of a Catholic Priest – that they would help us to find redemption in the sacrament of reconciliation. We were also encouraged to share our stories so that the Catholic community and the greater community at large could hear first hand of the devastating effects of abortion.
While speaking these truths on Friday we were issued a Trespass Notice by security officers hired by the University that in part states “The University has the right to tell us that we are not wanted on University property.”
Imagine our shock after receiving this notice and being barred from speaking further, we were arrested and thrown in jail. We spent the day in a holding cell until we posted a $250 bond. As we now understand things, we are awaiting news as to whether the charges against us will be misdemeanor trespassing or a felony. This happened all because we wanted the students to know through our stories how devastating abortion is to women.
We are confused, Fr. Jenkins. Why would a Catholic University bar Catholic women from speaking the truth about a fundamental Catholic teaching, under the signage of a healing program that is sponsored by a Catholic priest, while praying the Rosary? Yet, the University would welcome, honor and have a person speak at Commencement who is virulently opposed to this same fundamental Catholic teaching?
Fr. Jenkins can you please explain this to us?
We look forward to your response.
Jane Brennan, MS
Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests For Life writes:
My Day at Notre Dame-
There was an eerie stillness and silence across the Notre Dame campus as my colleagues, a few of the seniors and I walked across the campus very early on the morning of Commencement Day. It was the calm before the storm of what we knew was an historic day. I started with a national Fox News interview along with Fr. Richard McBrien. We were asked our views of the Commencement. My message was: Everyone can imagine people they would protest speaking at a commencement: an avowed racist, anti-Semite, or advocate of terrorism. So the failure to object to one who is unwilling to call for an end to abortion is the failure to see that abortion is as bad or worse than those other evils. We have to stop trivializing abortion. Moreover, the university gave the President an honorary law degree. Law exists to protect human rights; but this president has admitted that he doesn’t know when a child receives human rights. How can he defend human rights when he doesn’t know who has them? After speaking to various media, I greeted people on campus who were coming from all over the country to stand with the courageous students who boycotted their own commencement and invited me to lead them in an alternate ceremony. After I greeted and blessed the demonstrators who were at the campus entrance, and concelebrated a special Mass for Life, I led the Class of 2009 Vigil for Life. We meditated on the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, on the victory of life over death, and on the fact that Jesus is King over every nation, over the courts, the Congress, and the White House. As I gave the students and their families reflections on these truths, the current occupant of the White House was calling the graduates to have “open minds, open hearts” and a spirit of dialogue. Now dialogue with our opponents on this issue is something we at Priests for Life specialize in. I maintain friendships with abortion advocates and practicing abortionists. The clarity of our own convictions never means we despise, demonize, or shut out other people. And yes, we are willing to collaborate with others in morally legitimate ways to reduce the numbers of abortions. But the President’s remarks had a glaring omission. While willing to dialogue and to promote adoption, he gave no indication of any willingness to protect the children in the womb. And that’s the crux of the issue. In his remarks, he referred to the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision that outlawed segregation. Certainly, his call for open minds does not include openness to reconsider the segregation issue. There’s a right answer to it, period. So it is with the protection of the unborn. And as quiet again descended on campus at the end of the day, I reflected… Open minds, yes, but for the purpose of eventually firmly closing upon the truth! And isn’t that supposed to be the purpose of Catholic universities?
Thank HotAir for this: American Thinker, Paul Shoichta’s “How Notre Dame Drifted Away from the Catholic Church”
Today, to the disgust and apparent surprise of many Catholic bishops and laity, the University of Notre Dame, once the pride of Catholic intellectual life in America, will behave in a very un-Catholic way by honoring, as commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient, POTUS Barack Obama, one of America’s most extreme advocates of abortion.
This surprise is hard to understand. The old Latin proverb nemo repente turpissimus can be translated as “nobody becomes very evil overnight.” Even Judas served a lengthy apprenticeship as an embezzler before moving on to greater betrayals. In a similar manner, I contend that the invitation to Obama was merely a milestone of a drift away from the Catholic Church that Notre Dame started decades ago.
Read How It Happened here
The Last Straw?
So, with a majority of Catholics and Notre Dame students having voted for Obama, inviting the POTUS to the 2009 commencement seemed like a safe and harmless move. It might even result in some lavish federal grants by the sort of mutual back-scratching (known as the “Chicago Way”) that Obama has been trained in. A few pro-lifers or conservatives would protest but they would be ignored by the media and soon forgotten.
Then the protests flooded in. 68 of the 273 American bishops protested and/or boycotted the event. The announced Laetare Medalist, law professor and former ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, refused the award in protest . Newspapers gave feature coverage of the protests and even cartoonists satirized the irony of the event. Alumni pledged to rescind over $8,000,000 in donations. A coalition of eleven student groups, called ND Response, organized a program of on-campus protests to coincide with the commencement. Even the public tide has turned, a majority now disapproving of Notre Dame’s action. Notre Dame President Jenkins and his advisors must be wondering what hit them.
And we might wonder too. Considering the notorious indifference of most lay Catholics about abortion and the equally notorious pusillanimity of U.S. bishops, what has caused this sudden surge of resentment? It isn’t because of the Catholic laity as a whole; according to a recent poll, a majority of American Catholics don’t know, don’t care, or don’t disapprove of the Obama invitation.
One possibility, unfortunately a likely one, is that this is just a flash in the pan. The commencement and the protests will be over, the bishops will take no further action, the incident will be forgotten, pro-abortion politicians will have been reassured that they have noting to fear from the Catholic vote, and Notre Dame will go on as before.
This is the part of Obama’s speech at the Notre Dame commencement that I found interesting:
“But as you leave here today, remember the lessons of Cardinal Bernardin, of Father Hesburgh, of movements for change both large and small. Remember that each of us, endowed with the dignity possessed by all children of God, has the grace to recognize ourselves in one another; to understand that we all seek the same love of family and the same fulfillment of a life well-lived.“
Who, indeed, do we recognize in the disturbing graphic image of an aborted child, if not ourselves? Unfortunately, this poor one and the millions of other unknowns will never know “love of family” or “fulfillment of a life well-lived” to quote President Obama. Known but to God, they witness to the cold reality of a heart-dead age, that now scoffs at those who protest the dying of the unborn. The sensitivities of this Age are roused not by the reality of abortion, flesh and blood, but by images that witness to the loss of generations. In truth, the unborn are born, but not in the way that God intended. They are born, burned by saline, curated, crushed. They come forth without breath or cry. We see and hear them always before us in our future reckoning.
President Obama makes pretty speeches that belie the horror underlying benign sounding words such as Choice.
For pithy Michelle Malkin has the pithiest summation by Greg Mueller.
From: Catholic News Agency Saying that Notre Dame is acting as if it is not a member of the local Church in its response to the controversy, Catholic commentator George Weigel has charged that “political operators” in the Obama administration are trying to divide Catholics from their bishops by co-opting Catholic intellectuals and their institutions. In his May 13 column in the Denver Catholic Register, Weigel noted Boston College theology professor Fr. Kenneth Himes’ charge that there is a “political game” going on in the dispute over the University of Notre Dame’s commencement invitation to President Barack Obama. Fr. Hines had commented in a Boston Globe story about former Ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glendon’s decision to decline Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal. He granted that some “well-meaning people” think Notre Dame has given away its Catholic identity. However, he also warned of a “political game” which results in demonizing those who disagree with you, questioning their integrity and character, and branding them as “moral poison.” “Some people have simply reduced Catholicism to the abortion issue, and consequently, they have simply launched a crusade to bar anything from Catholic institutions that smacks of any sort of open conversation,” he said in the Boston Globe. Responding to Fr. Himes, Weigel said if Fr. Hines was referring to the leading critics of President Obama’s Notre Dame honors, the priest was “perilously close” to committing calumny. “Yes, there are self-serving nuts in the forest, some of whom have seized the Obama/Notre Dame issue for their own purposes,” Weigel said. “But why does Father Himes waste time bashing fringe crazies? Why not engage the arguments of the serious critics?” Weigel cited as one such critic Notre Dame graduate Prof. Russell Hittinger, a professor of Catholic Studies at the University of Tulsa. Hittinger has said that Notre Dame has adopted a “purely American low-church” position of institutional autonomy by acting as if its local bishop is not worthy of attention. The Obama controversy, Hittinger said, has nothing to do with academic freedom or ecclesiastical supervision but is “ecclesiological all the way down.” “What Church is Notre Dame ‘in,’ if any?” Hittinger asked. “Notre Dame is speaking and acting as though it were not a member of the local Church, let alone Rome.” Weigel said this comment was “exactly right,” alleging that the actual “political game” is being played by “very smart political operators” in the Obama administration. He charged that these operators, noting the presidential election results, have sensed the possibility of “driving a Catholic News Agency wedge through the Catholic community in America, dividing Catholics from their bishops and thus securing the majority Catholic vote.” Weigel said they are targeting Catholic intellectuals and their institutions and journals, which he described as “the soft underbelly” of Catholic resistance to the Obama administration’s “radical agenda.” “It’s a clever move on the political chessboard, and barring extraordinary actions from the bishops, it will likely meet with considerable success,” Weigel continued. He closed by again reiterating the question: “Just what Church are Notre Dame and its supporters ‘in,’ anyway?”
America won’t change until it sees abortion, not just talks about it. Center for Bioethical Reform has plans for these days of commencement controversy at Notre Dame.
Today the Center for Bio Ethical Reform (CBR) begins its 20th day of operations of the Obama Awareness Campaign in South Bend, IN. For three full weeks CBR has been forcing students, faculty, and trustees to see what America’s abortion President means to unborn children. CBR’s tow banner airplane and billboard trucks have educated students, faculty, and the community by forcing them to see abortion differently. Now, when abortion is mentioned in South Bend it is no longer an abstraction called “choice” but a dismembered baby killed by abortion.
On Sunday, CBR’s abortion planes, billboard trucks, and handheld signs will be part of a massive protest along Angela Boulevard and near the main gate of the University of Notre Dame.
Center for Bio Ethical Reform What:
Ruin Notre Dame’s commencement speech using banner airplanes (weather permitting), billboard trucks, and handheld signs
The sky above Notre Dame, Angela Blvd. and Route 31 (also nearby main gate to Notre Dame)
Saturday, May 16 from 10:00 am – 2PM.
Sunday, May 17, 10:00 am – 12 Noon (Temporary Flight Restriction from 12 – 5PM)
Elizabeth Lev, daughter of Mary Ann Glendon has responded to this written by Kaitlyn Riely at Politics Daily. Riely,speaking of Mary Ann Glendon, the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, says:
“But Glendon has been trained in diplomacy. Shouldn’t being in the same place and engaging someone of an opposing view be right up her alley? Wouldn’t the better decision be to use her platform — or at least her proximity — to persuade Obama to change his views? Her diplomatic style seems to be less suited for U.S.-Vatican relations and more for U.S.-Cuba relations.”
Reponse by Elizabeth Lev, Mary Ann Glendon’s daughter:
“The Laetare Medal is the highest honor conferred on Catholics in the United States. For a Catholic, it has greater prestige than a Nobel Prize for a scientist or an Academy Award for an actor, as the award is given for career-long achievement, for “staying the course” in the words of St. Paul. It doesn’t just showcase a single discovery or film role.
To renounce it, therefore, is not the lightest of matters. Professor Glendon has spent a month thinking, consulting, and given her deep faith, praying about this decision. (This, for those of you who don’t know, means asking God to help one put aside one’s own personal concerns and act in the way that will produce the greatest good). (Kaitlyn) Riely’s dismissive “thanks, no thanks” rendering of her decision, while pithy, is reductive.
Professor Glendon was to have been honored for not only for her scholarship, but for her second career, her pro-bono work — ranging from the civil rights movement of the 1960s to the great civil rights issues of the present day — namely, the defense of human life from conception to natural death. Her concerns range from the aging and dying population to the unborn to the well-being and dignity of every life, regardless of race, religion, or economic status. Her outstanding work in this field has earned her the respect of the most brilliant minds of the international community, regardless of whether they agree with her position. So again, to see her merely as “strongly anti-abortion” instead of as a tireless defender of the dignity of life, is to reveal not only a lack of understanding of the subject’s work, but also the writer’s real interest in this question.
Furthermore, during his first 100 days in office, President Obama has worked tirelessly to undermine Professor Glendon’s lifetime of work; he is funding abortion out of the bailout package and planning to suppress the protection of conscience for health care workers.
Your notion that her “training in diplomacy” might somehow ease this situation does not take into account that she has a five-minute acceptance speech and he will have a lengthy commencement speech. There is no “engaging” here. Diplomacy generally teaches that if you have a rapier and your opponent has a missile launcher, try not to engage.
That Professor Glendon “did not like that Notre Dame was claiming her speech would serve to balance the event” is again facile and simplistic. What is there to like in being the deflector screen for inviting a profoundly divisive figure to give the commencement speech? What is likeable about a Catholic University named for the most important woman in Christianity exploiting a woman who has already dedicated her life to protecting the Church’s teaching by turning her into a warm-up act for a grotesque twist on a reality show?
Finally, after 50 Catholic bishops condemned the university for its direct defiance in honoring a man in open conflict with the Church’s teaching, it is right that Professor Glendon let her silence speak louder than her five-minute allotment of words would have.Readers might be wondering how I know all this. Well, for one I am her daughter, but more to the point, I read her letter with the careful consideration it deserves.”
Elizabeth Lev is an art historian and writer based in Rome, where all of her three children were born… more
Michelle Malkin sums up Obama’s first 100
Thank You, Jesus! I could kiss her, Mary Ann Glendon that is! This morning she dropped some hot coals on the head of Notre Dame’s President, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
(Mary Ann Glendon is Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. A member of the editorial and advisory board of First Things, she served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican from 2007 to 2009.)
First, as a longtime consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award the president an honorary degree. This, as you must know, was in disregard of the U.S. bishops’ express request of 2004 that Catholic institutions “should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles” and that such persons “should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” That request, which in no way seeks to control or interfere with an institution’s freedom to invite and engage in serious debate with whomever it wishes, seems to me so reasonable that I am at a loss to understand why a Catholic university should disrespect it.
Then I learned that “talking points” issued by Notre Dame in response to widespread criticism of its decision included two statements implying that my acceptance speech would somehow balance the event:
• “President Obama won’t be doing all the talking. Mary Ann Glendon, the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, will be speaking as the recipient of the Laetare Medal.”
• “We think having the president come to Notre Dame, see our graduates, meet our leaders, and hear a talk from Mary Ann Glendon is a good thing for the president and for the causes we care about.”
A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. 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.
Finally, with recent news reports that other Catholic schools are similarly choosing to disregard the bishops’ guidelines, I am concerned that Notre Dame’s example could have an unfortunate ripple effect.
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.
In order to avoid the inevitable speculation about the reasons for my decision, I will release this letter to the press, but I do not plan to make any further comment on the matter at this time.
Ed Morrissey notes Notre Dame has lost their “token pro-lifer”. He also has a nice photo of the lady after my own heart.