Becoming Pro-Choice at Notre Dame


In our last bulletin we described the alarming abandonment of pro-life convictions by Notre Dame students, the evidence of  pro-choice faculty sentiment,  and the open dissent from Church teaching by prominent Notre Dame professors. But we promised better news the next time. So here it is: The March for Life


Notre Dame participation in the recent March for Life was impressive.  Led by Father Jenkins and 40 faculty and staff, some 380 students from Notre Dame, St. Mary’s and Holy Cross marched and attended the liturgies and related events.  This was the largest contingent ever.

Fr. John Jenkins

The Fund for the Protection of Human Life again provided substantial financial assistance to the student Right to Life club, as did the newly created office of the Coordinator for Life Initiatives. In addition, the Fund continued its practice of encouraging faculty and staff to attend by offering an expense allowance.

The March itself, and especially the striking number of enthusiastic youth who gathered in worship and prayerful petition, was inspiring testimony to the vibrancy and growing strength of pro-life forces.

Father Jenkins’s participation again this year — the only two times for a Notre Dame president in the 37 years of the March —was recommended by the task force he appointed   in the wake of the calamitous Obama episode. Our hope is that this welcome practice will continue.

While the March is an important demonstration that often leaves an indelible mark on participants, it is at the same time a single event engaging a relatively small and largely transitory group. We turn now to two developments that, while not as “camera-friendly,” involve important structural changes of broader reach.

Project Guadalupe

Project Guadalupe is, we believe, the most promising pro-life initiative in the history of the University. It is a project of the Fund for the Protection of Human Life (the “Fund”), which in turn has its home within the Center for Ethics and Culture.

Under the leadership of its founder, Dr. David Solomon, and his associates, the Center has become an invaluable focal point for the exploration and exposition of the Catholic intellectual and moral tradition. We invite you to see for yourself by examining its Mission Statement and a sampling of its programs.

As to the Fund, it is past time for recognizing the alumnus without whose support and leadership it would not exist: Bill Dotterweich (’58), together with his wife Peggy.  Almost alone, Bill and Peggy funded the student Right to Life club for years. The Fund is an extension of their continuing benefaction. Alumni, students, the University, and the pro-life community are deeply in their debt.

The Fund’s mission is a model of what a Catholic university should be doing, Its purposes are:

  • “To educate Notre Dame students in the rich intellectual tradition supporting the dignity of human life, specifically in its beginning stages.”
  • “To prepare those students…to transform the culture into one in which every human life is respected. “
  • “To promote activities and projects which will enhance the University’s institutional involvement and reputation as a leader in issues pertaining to the dignity and worth of human life in its beginning stages.”

The Fund aims, in addition and importantly, “To encourage relevant understanding, support and involvement among the administration and faculty.”

The pro-life scholars who are the administrators of the Fund  (David Solomon (chair), Rev. Wilson Miscamble,  Elizabeth Kirk, Daniel Philpott, and O. Carter Snead) designed  Project Guadalupe in response to the urgent call by the country’s bishops for Catholic institutions to make an “unprecedented effort to restore respect and legal protection for every human life.”

We invite you to examine Project Guadalupe’s website to see its exciting and ambitious program. Its aim is to train future pro-life leaders through a summer institute, a graduate program, and internships. It also hopes to have an impact on course offerings. It will work toward the goal of insuring that all Notre Dame students are prepared intellectually to understand and defend Church teaching on life issues.

One of the first Project Guadalupe projects, the Vita Institute, will be launched shortly. Its first two-week program will be held on the Notre Dame campus this June from the 12th to the 24th.  Leading pro-life scholars from law, philosophy, theology, biology and the social sciences will explore the pro-life position from an interdisciplinary perspective loyal to the Church’s teaching.

The Institute is open to 30 college graduates of any age. Its organizers hope participants will include both recent graduates and mid-career professionals from law, medicine and other fields.   The Institute will also offer rich social and liturgical opportunities for its participants.   The application deadline is April 1st . Information about applying can be found on the Fund’s website

Instructions for contributing are provided on the websites of both the Center and the Fund. Gifts to either are tax-deductible and qualify for the football pool.

Notre Dame Faculty & Staff for Life

ND Faculty at the March for Life 2010

Professor Daniel Philpott, Dean Peter
Kilpatrick & Fr. Wilson Miscamble.

Father Wilson Miscamble, C.S.C., has organized a Notre Dame chapter of University Faculty for Life   The officers of the local chapter in addition to Father Miscamble as President are Dr. Daniel Philpott, Vice President, and Dr. Walter Nicgorski, Secretary.

Father Miscamble has also been elected to the board of the national organization, which will hold its annual convention at Notre Dame this coming June.

In our previous bulletin we suggested a possible link between the alarming deterioration in the pro-life views of Notre Dame students and the pro-choice views of faculty. The new pro-life faculty organization will strengthen a competing faculty influence. As Father Miscamble says:

I think students will gain encouragement and support for their own efforts when they see that their faculty who might be a little bit older are still deeply committed to this cause. What I see occurring is indeed a close and cooperative relationship between the University Faculty for Life and the Notre Dame Right to Life, the student organization involved in the pro-life cause.

As Dr. Philpott notes, the University’s strong commitment to social justice should involve a strong pro-life commitment::

Notre Dame is a university that has a strong commitment to teaching social justice in the classroom, And the killing of the unborn is the largest human rights violation in the world today.

Hopefully the developments we have described in this bulletin may move the University closer to an embrace of the pro-life cause as whole-hearted as its embrace of other human rights causes.

One way we will know will be if the University begins “teaching” Church doctrine on life issues  “in the classroom,” as it does social justice issues.  As we have noted, there is today no required unit of instruction on life issues, and our last bulletin highlighted the advocacy of anti-life positions by members of the faculty.  Is it any wonder, then, that so many students become pro-choice during their time at Notre Dame?
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