.@NotreDame president's silence on incendiary assault by students on students and others for upholding Church teaching continues to draw fire. #GoCatholicND Click To Tweet

The bewildering silence of the priest-president of Notre Dame in the face of a malignant and incendiary assault in word and image by Notre Dame students on fellow students and others for upholding Church teaching on homosexual sex and gender continues to draw fire. Laura Ingraham opened her recent TV interview of Bill Dempsey with this:

Given recent events at Notre Dame, many are wondering whether the Fighting Irisu are actually fighting faith — as in their own!

Here’s an update to our previous bulletin on this and other developments:

The Laura Ingraham Interview

The Laura Ingraham show aired on October 9. Bill wrote Father beforehand again inviting a statement. Again, no reply.

Alumni to Jenkins

In a letter to Father Jenkins after the interview directing him to a video of the show,  Bill noted that “Ms. Ingraham, a former law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas and no mean lawyer, underscored the gravity of the matter by displaying the terms of the Indiana criminal ‘intimidation statute’ that is implicated.”

The angry, provocative video, shown in full below, is still up. And go here for the libelous screed that the student publication The Observer recklessly published and that added Sycamore Trust to the targets.

It is instructive to recall that after the Obama episode Father Jenkins instigated a two-year trespass prosecution of pro-life demonstrators who strayed a few yards onto Notre Dame property.

In his letter Bill also reproduced for Father a representative, and especially compelling, letter that an alumnus had sent to Father but which, as with may others, he may not have read:

Dear Father Jenkins,

Please know that, as a parent of a current student and an alumnus, I find the recent assault on fundamental Catholic morality at Notre Dame unacceptable and look to you to affirm our Catholic moral tradition in a venue for which you have full responsibility. 

Your silence, in the current circumstances, amounts to an unambiguous endorsement of the assault on Catholic moral teaching.

The article below [the Sycamore Trust bulletin],  which describes the situation fully, is correct in every respect.

I cannot understand how you can remain silent in the face of such an aggressive assault on our tradition – a tradition to which the University claims fidelity – and remain faithful to your priestly and professional vocation.  One regrettable explanation is that you, in fact, personally dissent from the very moral teachings that the screed decries.  Other policies that you have endorsed (insurance benefits for same-sex spouses and LGBT student club and activities) give some support to that explanation.

As you should know from your training in moral theology, the Church’s teachings on the theology of the body cannot be separated from the remainder of the Church’s vision of the moral life, itself inextricable from the spiritual and intellectual life.  In the event of personal dissent, an even more serious question would arise as to how one who rejects such a central component of the Catholic tradition, in good conscience, can lead a university that avows fidelity to that tradition.

We are looking to the President of Notre Dame for leadership in promoting the Catholic moral, intellectual, and spiritual tradition, not for collaboration in the secular, and in many respects morally corrupt, tradition of your so-called peer (secular) institutions.

…Won’t you please serve as a hero (as did such courageous leaders as Cardinal O’Connor for young people in NYC) to the Catholic students of Notre Dame, including my own son, as they wrestle with the turbulent moral environment of contemporary society? 

Although I doubt that you will read my email personally, I would hope that someone under your authority will do so and will relay to you the substance of the thoughts of this parent and alumnus.

Parent, Class of 20**
Alumnus, Class of 19**

Fake news from Notre Dame

The announcement of Father Jenkins’s recent re-appointment as president includes this now risible passage:

Within the University and beyond, Father Jenkins has called for civil discourse … as a way to find common ground rather than demonize those with different opinions.

 Strike “Within the university,” surely.

And as to “beyond,” it is instructive to note that the announcement cites Father Jenkins’s 2011 speech at Emory University, in which he calls on people of faith to exercise “epistemic humility” on issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion because the Church may change its teachings. He cited the Church’s abandonment of the view that the sun revolved around the earth and that loans should not bear interest, as if there were some equivalence.

This bears on the possibility that, as the alumnus put it in his letter to Father Jenkins, 

One regrettable explanation [for your silence] is that you, in fact, personally dissent from the very moral teachings that the screed decries. 

Incivility to Alumni

Many alumni and others of the Notre Dame family have written Father Jenkins about his inaction. So have we. So far as we know, he has not replied to anyone.

Some have received the all-purpose standby from Ann Firth, his chief of staff, that would, we expect, be sent to someone proposing the Golden Dome be painted green:

Thank you for your comments and for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.  Please know that we will read your message carefully, and we appreciate hearing from you.

One alumnus, doubtless reflecting the reaction of many, asked Ms. Firth:

Who, exactly, is the individual who “will read your message carefully”?

He continued: 

As a senior alumnus and father of three adult children graduates from Notre Dame, rather than simply being the recipient of a generic, computer generated, boiler plate message from your email server, I feel that I am entitled to the courtesy of a dedicated and serious response to my equally serious concerns about Father Jenkins’ apparent lack of an appropriate response to the vicious, personal attacks on individuals who express the fundamental truths of our Catholic Faith.

The problem, plainly enough, is that there is no explanation that will bear scrutiny.

Conclusion and Action Alert

Father Jenkins is charged with leading a university whose stated mission includes “encourag[ing] a way of living consonant with a Christian community.” How, really, can this obligation can be squared with Father’s passivity even as the angry and inflammatory video continues to spew hatred throughout the Internet world? 

If you think Father Jenkins is in serious default and have not yet told him so, we urge you do so now by writing him at both and president@nd.eduWe would appreciate receiving copies of correspondence at

Leave a Reply

 Let us know what you think about the issues we’ve raised in this bulletin in the comments below. And help to spread the word by sharing this bulletin with others who care about Notre Dame’s Catholic identity. 

Every Penny Helps!

If you are like us and want to see an authentic Catholic renewal at Notre Dame, please consider lending a hand by making a donation to Sycamore Trust.


20 Responses to “BULLIES 3, NOTRE DAME 0”

  1. James Shapiro


  2. james Shapiro '52 November 18, 2019 at 4:31 pm

    Any credit Trump gets for being pro-life is offset by the his racist actions, constant lies, support of white nationalists, keeping children in cages etc. His pro-life position is totally political to gain evangelical support. Everything he does has Donald Trump’s benefit at its motivation. The next person Sycamore will be supporting is Atty Gen Barr who is equally corrupt and unfortunately claims to be a catholic as he lies each day.

  3. from Paul Barry, posted at his request:

    My best friend from boyhood who would eventually be the best man at my wedding 46 years ago was thrown out of Notre Dame over a few beers found in his room at St. Edwards Hall. To ask what kind of disciplinary environment exists in 2019 on the Notre Dame campus would likely invite me being branded as a naïve dupe. But, what is crystal clear is that the case of unlawful beers in a Notre Dame dorm more than half a century ago is many light years away in contrast to recent campus civil disorder that simply must not be tolerated for the good of all on campus and for the scandal this situation affords the sworn, modern day enemies of the Catholic Church that abound. The entire Notre Dame family looks to the leadership of Notre Dame to properly and firmly respond, however the university sees fit, but a fit response it must be, to the recent toxic news reported from the Notre Dame campus. Individuals crossing the line from civil discourse to civil unrest must be immediately identified and immediately thrown out of school . . . and that action is not a lack of tolerance. Call it disciplinary tradition at Notre Dame or call it law or call it common sense. Academic institutions today often appear to lack basic common sense. Much more is expected from Notre Dame.

  4. I would invite you to read the information on this Website:

    Let’s pray for the intercession of Our Lady for the preservation of our beloved Alma Mater as an authentic Catholic institution.

  5. I was sickened by the possibility that Neil Connelly,s remark, supra, regarding Fr. Jenkins’ “support for abortion” could possibly have any basis in reality! I have not researched the matter, but if true, such would be squarely within the jurisdiction of the Bishop, along with his other defaults in matters of faith and it is to be expected that some proceeding under Canon Law, possibly resulting in some substantial incentive or other for Fr. Jenkins to “take down this wall” would come into play, no?

    George Wenz x’61

  6. Richard Creedon, ND '62 October 26, 2019 at 9:47 am

    Several years ago, we decided to not give ANY more money directly to ND. Rather we give to Ave Maria University which PROUDLY follows the teachings of the Catholic Church.

    A sort of partial mea culpa: I still love ND and do still donate to the Congregation of Holy Cross. Most our CSC priests are still true to the Mission. Praise God and thank God !

  7. Jesus earned us; Matt 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

  8. Fr. Jenkins time as President of Notre Dame is way past the expiration date. He has clearly wanted to “fundamentally transform” the university. Sound familiar? Regardless of his views, his cowardly silence in the attack on free speech is despicable. Enough!

    Kevin McNamara, ‘69

  9. Well done, Bill. Your continued determination and example is an inspiration to us. Your character and nobility are remarkable.
    Thank you.

    • Paul D. Fuchs, M.D. October 26, 2019 at 4:38 am

      Agree completely, Frank. For Notre Dame to rekindle and then sustain its Catholic character, someone with the integrity, passion for the truth, and courage like Bill is necessary to lead the University. Where is that individual to be found? Despite the University’s many new gaudy buildings, burgeoning endowment, and success in the secular world, thank you, Bill, for continuing to shine a bright light on the unvarnished truth of our darkened and despoiled campus.

  10. It is very interesting that Fr. Jenkins relies on epistemology, as he chides others to enter his realm of justified belief. What he is saying is that morality and moral theology only has temporal justification. It can change at any time, just as our knowledge of the universe and the laws of science change. Consequently, natural law, faith and morals are subjugated to the whims and idiosyncrasies of those who have the correct “epistemic humility” to recognize that the Word is made flesh really means the Word possibly, maybe, was made flesh. This can change at any time. Is this way we as Catholics should practice the Faith expressed in the Word of God and the reality of the Word made Flesh in the Holy Eucharist?

    So, you can see why “epistemic humility” justifies his silent consent to violence: it satiates the moral equivalency he espouses.

    Ed Smith, 1970, 1973

  11. Fr. Jenkins is an embarrassment to Notre Dame. His support for abortion should have compelled his dismissal by the Board of Trustees. Alumni should refuse to donate to ND as long as Jenkins is associated with our Alma mater.

  12. steve martinek '71, '74 October 25, 2019 at 6:56 pm

    James Shapiro defames Bill Dempsey when he asserts that Bill is a supporter of former President Obama.

  13. Norm Bezbnoksa (parent of ND grad '98) October 25, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    Father Jenkins would do well to recall the words of Christ in Revelation 3:16:” But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, not hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth.”.

  14. Harassing Fr Jenkins and going on TV with a supporter of the most vile president in US history does not advance the issue and harms the university. It is an issue that should be addressed with the ND board of trustees.

    • Jim, a worthy thought in the abstract, but not in light of experience. We have never in 14 years received a response from the board of trustees to any of the messages we have sent. In the present case, the trustees all received our initial bulletin, as they do each and every one. As usual, the board gives Fr Jenkins free rein. It is Father Jenkins whose actions harm the university. It is a dreary day when his actions cannot be disclosed without damage to the university. The purpose of disclosure, of course, is to induce correction and to deter further damaging action in the future. If Fr Jenkins had responded to our first letter, there would have been no TV or the other media attention this episode has received. As to your view, as I understand it, that no one should appear on Ms. Ingraham’s program because she supports “the most vile president in US history,” I suggest that such tendentious talk does not, to borrow your phrase, “advance the issue.”

    • Posted at request of David Sponseller: To James Shapiro

      Your condemnation of Donald Trump runs along the same vein as that of many confused bishops and other Catholics who give him no credit for being the most pro-life president in history and for defending the conscience rights of all health care workers. My years on campus at mid-20th century were the holiest of my life. Would that students today could say the same! Fr. Hesburgh’s Land O’Lakes ‘mutiny’ did lasting harm. I long ago transfered my financial support from ND to orthodox schools like Christendom and the newer Ave Maria in Florida. All faithful Catholics should do likewise.

  15. To Katherine Adam’s,

    No need for the logical fallacy response – straw man implied – as no one asserted otherwise about Ms. Firth.

  16. Father Jenkins has not responded to any respective criticism in years – and, yes, we all get the same polite wave off from Ms Firth. I guess the only weapon left is The Hail Mary – and the Checkbook.

  17. Katherine Adams October 25, 2019 at 5:35 pm

    Just want to let it be known that Ann Firth is a fine person and a good Christian.

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