“I believe it is wrong for Notre Dame to honor any “pro-choice” public official with the Laetare Medal, even if he/she has other positive accomplishments in public service…”

The Golden Dome with its statue of Mary is seen in a 2003 file photo atop the administration building of the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Ind. (CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Northwest Indiana Catholic) (Dec. 10, 2012)

The Golden Dome with its statue of Mary is seen in a 2003 file photo atop the administration building of the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Ind. (CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Northwest Indiana Catholic) (Dec. 10, 2012)

“We have a much more challenging mission than most universities. Most universities strive simply to be excellent educational institutions by the accepted standards of the profession. We do this at Notre Dame, and we have had great success. But we also foster and celebrate a distinctive mission to be a Catholic university, inspired and guided by a great spiritual tradition.”

~Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., President

Those words found on the Faith and Service section of the University of Notre Dame’s website.  They seem meaningless and empty in the wake of recent going-ons at the school.

Let’s start with their recent decision to ‘confer the Laetare Medal, an honor given to Catholics “in recognition of outstanding service to the Church and society,” upon Vice-President Joseph Biden at their 2016 commencement.’

The reaction has been swift and strong, and rightly so, as evidenced by this interview conducted by Thomas McKenna with Cardinal Raymond Burke over at Catholic Action:

Thomas McKenna:  Your Eminence, recently the University of Notre Dame announced that it was going to bestow their Laetare Medal which is presented “in recognition of outstanding service to the Church and society,” to Vice President Joseph Biden. Vice President Biden is on record consistently supporting abortion rights and same sex marriage. Recently Bishop Kevin Rhoades, the ordinary of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend where Notre Dame is located, released a public statement declaring:

“I believe it is wrong for Notre Dame to honor any “pro-choice” public official with the Laetare Medal, even if he/she has other positive accomplishments in public service, since direct abortion is gravely contrary to the natural law and violates a very fundamental principle of Catholic moral and social teaching: the inalienable right to life of every innocent human being from the moment of conception. I also question the propriety of honoring a public official who was a major spokesman for the redefinition of marriage. I disagree with awarding someone for ‘outstanding service to the Church and society’ who has not been faithful to this obligation.”

Does Your Eminence agree with the position taken by Bishop Rhoades and could you comment on it?

Cardinal Burke:  Bishop Rhoades is simply exercising his responsibility as a teacher of the faith and as a bishop who has the care of a prominent Catholic university in his diocese, and what he says is absolutely true and most commendable. I find it difficult to imagine that a Catholic university would assign its highest honor to any politician who favors abortion and who also advocates for the recognition of the sexual liaison of two people of the same sex as equal to marriage. It is even more difficult to imagine that the university would confer such an honor upon a Roman Catholic who supports these anti-life and anti-family policies and legislation. It is my hope that Notre Dame University will hear the voice of their shepherd, the successor of the Apostles in their midst, and change this gravely wrong and most scandalous decision.

Thomas McKenna:  The university of Notre Dame says that it is bestowing this award to honor Vice President Biden for his public service in politics and that they are not recognizing him for his positions regarding support for abortion and same-sex marriage. What would Your Eminence respond to this?

Cardinal Burke:  Well, we honor people for the integrity of their lives. Notwithstanding the fact that Vice President Biden may have sound views on other matters, his positions with regard to human life and marriage are contradictory to the natural moral law and obviously, therefore, to the teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ. So, as much as one may want to praise certain positions which he has taken, at the same time one must realize that other positions are in the most grievous violation of the moral law and therefore make him ineligible to receive such an award from a Catholic university.

There’s more at the link and it’s well worth the click over.

But wait… there’s more.

I’d love to state that this is the only ‘scandal’ taking place at this formerly prestigious Catholic institution.

Sadly, it is not:

Catholics celebrated the Feast of the Annunciation on Monday, when the Virgin Mary said “yes” to God and Christ was conceived in her womb through the power of the Holy Spirit. But at the University of Notre Dame, a number of students spent Monday night on campus listening to former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis describe the benefits for women of choosing abortion or using contraception.

During Mass on Monday, Pope Francis encouraged the faithful to open their hearts to God and to say “yes” to his message of salvation. “Mary’s ‘yes’ opens the door to Jesus’ ‘yes’: I have come to do Your will, this is the ‘yes’ that Jesus carries with him throughout his life, until the cross” he said. “Today,” he said, “is a beautiful day in which to thank God for showing us that path, but also for thinking about our lives.” The Feast was transferred to April 4 because it would have fallen on Good Friday.

Davis’ message ultimately taught students at the nation’s most recognizable Catholic university that saying “no” to God’s plan for the creation of life and to the Church’s teachings on human dignity can help women achieve worldly success.

Davis — who rose to stardom in the political world following her 2013 filibuster of pro-life legislation in Texas — ran the gamut of pro-abortion, anti-Catholic talking points during an event Monday hosted by the University of Notre Dame Department of Gender Studies. The department co-sponsored the event in coordination with the College Democrats of Notre Dame, the Progressive Student Alliance, Notre Dames, Women in Politics and bridgeND.

The Notre Dame Department of Gender Studies touted Davis’ abortion advocacy in a description of the event posted on the department’s website, calling her “a modern-day Texas heroine”…

G.K. Chesterton once wrote: “We do not want a church that will move with the world. We want a church that will move the world.”

Notre Dame, though not a church, is moving with the world.


Originally published at Brutally Honest.

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  • jim_m

    You presume that people in the academic community actually believe in the doctrine of the Catholic Church. While they may give lip service to that doctrine, they do not believe in it and they follow their own secular beliefs. It doesn’t matter if it is Notre Dame or Georgetown, The academic administrator that actually believe in religious doctrine is about as common as a unicorn.

    • Commander_Chico

      The Church is still in overall control of ND and schools like Georgetown and BC. They can choose who gets medals and honorary degrees.

      If the Church wants to change opinion on abortion, they need to use their institutions. Exclusion and denial of platforms has been a very effective tactic for those in favor of gay rights and feminism.

      Chico’s position is that abortion could only be outlawed in tandem with generous prenatal care, welfare benefits, and subsidized adoption. That’s just a reality.

    • I expect, not presume, and though I want to disagree with the rest of what you say, the evidence suggests strongly that I cannot.

      It’s tragic. Too many Catholic institutions simply aren’t.

      • jim_m

        It’s not a bash on the institutions as much as it is on their leadership.

      • Ken in Camarillo

        This is what you expect when Jesuits are involved.

        • I’m not clear on your meaning… Notre Dame does not belong to the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (unlike say, Boston College or Georgetown)…

  • pennywit

    Data point to add to the discussion: American Catholics are generally more liberal on birth control and abortion than the church is.


    • And generally, more conservative than the Church on issues like the Death Penalty and Social Justice…

      So… what?

      • pennywit

        I think it adds some interesting information to your commentary. That’s it.

        • I think it confirms that Catholic Christians, and in this case, as your survey points out, American Catholics in general, are poorly catechized in the faith… are in essence… their own magisterium, believing in whatever they want to believe and not what the Church teaches…

          Underscoring how sad the state of affairs truly is.

          A related piece perhaps… crossing all Christian boundaries.

          • pennywit

            That comic shares a visual style with The Oatmeal, although the voice isn’t nearly as hard-edged.

            This individual comic is probably unsatisfying to a lot of folks. It depicts the various Jesus depictions (Lennon Jesus, Reagan Jesus, etc.) as false, but it doesn’t really say what conception is correct, aside from biblical titles. Overall, it suggests that Jesus (Christ, Redeemer, King of Kings, and so forth) is above mortal politics. I doubt that conservatives or liberals, Catholics or Protestants (all of whom, in my experience, project their own political views on religious doctrine) care for the idea that there ideas lack divine provenance.

            Or perhaps the author thinks it’s a blind men and the elephant situation.

          • I think, and perhaps I’m projecting, as you state, my own views/perspective on to Him, that there’s no harder-edge than Christ’s hard-edge…


            Appreciate the exchange.

          • pennywit

            I’m trying to keep things respectful. Speaking of the elephant, consider this tweet from Matt Walsh:


            Between his tweet and the toon you shared, I think there are a couple worthwhile questions:

            1) What are the core teachings of faith, and what are the non-core teachings?
            2) Can reasonable individuals differ on the non-core teachings?
            3) If reasonable individuals differ on core teachings and what constitutes a core teaching, can at least agree both of them are touching the same elephant?

            And it’s also interesting what people perceive as a “core teaching.” Matt Walsh here seems to think that gay rights and abortion are core teachings. But 2,000 years ago (according to Wikipedia), Christianity parted ways with the Jewish faith in part because Christian leaders disagreed over the application of certain Jewish laws, including circumcision.

          • 1) Are you asking about faith in general? Or Christian faith? From a Catholic belief or understanding, I think it’s fair to suggest that core beliefs are best summarized in the Creeds (Apostle’s and Nicene). Of course, much flows from that core and that would include concepts or precepts having to do with the dignity and worth of every human being (because they’re made in the image and likeness of God).

            2) I would think so… assuming they agree that in fact, it’s non-core… non-core by definition meaning not essential.

            3) Tough question. I would be hard-pressed to think that a person is Christian if he dismisses any part of the Creeds already referenced. You then get into the question of whether or not Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same God… covered partly here.

          • pennywit

            A pantheist would say that everybody’s touching the same elephant, although I personally, wouldn’t go that far. I’ve seen some interesting approaches to ecumenism. I’ve been to Christmas Eve services at an Episcopal church, where the minister basically said, “If you’ve been baptized in any Christian denomination, please feel free to come take communion.” Meanwhile, as I understand it, Catholics are fairly strict about who may take communion in non-emergency situations.

            I’m noodling with all of this in light of the story you posted and Matt Walsh’s tweet. There seems to be one group of people who say, “OK, those people over there disagree with me on this issue, but they’re Christians who disagree with me. They’re my co-religionsists.” And then there’s another group that says, “Those ‘Christians’ disagree with me on XYZ issue. Therefore, they’re not true Christians.”

            I also have a close friend who’s very liberal politically. He’s also Catholic. We have a fairly comfortable dialogue on religious issues, so I asked him why he stays with the Catholic Church instead of finding a church that is more in accord with his views. He stays with the Catholic church partly because of tradition — it’s where he and his family have existing for several generations, partly because he supports the church’s doctrine and charity efforts, and partly because he hopes to change the church’s stance (or at least his congregation’s attitude) on other issues from within.

            This whole thing is not merely a Christian division. In the Islamic world, there is an ongoing conflict over terrorism, wherein Muslims who support terrorist attacks against the West, and Muslims who oppose those attacks, equally condemn the other group of Muslims as “not Muslim.” And Saudi Arabia’s nascent women’s rights movement (there is one, believe it or not) is framed almost entirely as a religious issue.

          • You didn’t ask me any questions in that response, which I found interesting… but if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to answer the question you posed to your politically liberal Catholic friend by referring to this post I put up at my place and here at Wizbang back in June…

            Peace Pennywit…

          • pennywit

            Hi, Rick. Sometimes I ask questions. Sometimes I make statements. And sometimes I crack ludicrous puns.

          • Keep on being you, thanks again for the exchange.

          • pennywit

            (If you’re curious about my own religious orientation, by the way, I’m agnostic with strong deist tendencies).