.@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. 

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