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Bishop D’Arcy on “The Church and the University”

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NOTRE DAME, IN – In the current issue of America, Bishop John M. D’Arcy of Fort Wayne/South Bend exposes with eloquence and clarity the triple vices in Notre Dame’s paying tribute to President Obama, while Archbishop Quinn uses the Notre Dame tag line in order to present irrelevant remarks “originally prepared for the June meeting of the American bishops” that he did not deliver because of “circumstances.”

Bishop D’Arcy’s principal themes are these:

  1. In honoring “a president who has opposed even the smallest legal protection of a child in the womb,” as well as in sponsoring “The Vagina Monologues,” Notre Dame failed to fulfill the obligation of a Catholic university to give “public witness to the way of Christ,” in the words of Pope Benedict VI.
  2. In failing to discuss these matters with Notre Dame’s bishop even while speaking “eloquently about the importance of dialogue with the President,” Father Jenkins spurned any meaningful relationship with the Church. Is the local bishop merely “someone who occasionally offers Mass on campus” and “who sits on the platform at graduation,” or is he a “teacher responsible for the souls of students” whose voice should be heard? As the Chair of the Notre Dame Department of Theology put it: “It is as though the mere mention of a relationship with the Church has become so alien to our ways of thinking and so offensive to a disembodied ‘excellence’ that it has become impolite to mention it at all.”
  3. The Board of Trustees, in choosing “not to enter the conversation going all around them,” failed in their responsibilities. They “must understand the seriousness of the present moment.” “Spiritual and intellectual formation,” not mere “financial generosity,” are required of board members of a Catholic university.
  4. The ”true heroes” were the students and the faculty and others who stood with them in prayerful and respectful protest. They did so in consultation with, and encouragement from, their bishop. “Despite personal cost, they chose to give public witness to the Catholic faith contrary to the example of a powerful, international university.”

Read “The Church and the University”
by John M. D’Arcy

America published alongside Bishop D’ Arcy’s article one by retired Archbishop John R. Quinn. Do not read it thinking it will have anything to do with what Bishop D’ Arcy wrote or with what Notre Dame did.

Archbishop Quinn is out after those bishops who would deny Communion to pro-abortion politicians, or who would insist that Catholics ought to vote against them, or who, in his view, unduly subordinate other significant issues. He aims especially at those who use “intense language and tactics” and thereby fuel the “culture wars.”

One can agree or disagree in whole or in part with Archbishop Quinn and it will not matter, since none of it is involved here. The question is simply whether Notre Dame should have proffered honors to President Obama. It is safe to say no one expected it to do so; and if it had not, no one would have suggested that it was slighting issues of capital punishment or poverty or plunging into the culture wars or evidencing racial bias of anything of the sort. Archbishop Quinn, in his glancing references to Notre Dame, does not even hint the contrary.

Read “The Public Duty of Bishops”

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