Faculty Site Promotes Material Hostile Catholic Character

NOTRE DAME, IN – Faculty group website recommends pro-abortion organizations, urges more lesbian and homosexual faculty, and provides other noteworthy insights.

An organization of women faculty at Notre Dame called ND Watch has a website that, while providing useful information for new women faculty members, also contains material hostile to the Catholic character of the University.

We provide links to three compilations of material taken from ND Watch:

  1. A series of extracts from the website, with particularly striking passages underlined;
  2. ND Watch’s list of useful websites for Women Faculty; and
  3. A list of the faculty members of the organization’s advisory committeewhich include the Chair of Economics, an Associate Dean of Arts and Letters, and professors from the departments of Theology, Romance Languages and Literature, English, Sociology, Film TV and Theater, and the Law School;

Here are some of the highlights of what you will find in these sources:

First, in terms of the crucial question of faculty composition, the most arresting passages are those in which the organization urges women to participate to the fullest in the hiring process in order to promote the hiring, not simply of more women, but of “more gay and lesbian faculty.”

Second, in terms of the identity-defining issue of abortion, ND Watch recommends as resources every major pro-abortion organization and some lesser ones besides.

Third, ND Watch urges women faculty to persuade their physicians to falsify prescriptions for contraceptives in order to secure payment by the University.

Fourth, according to the description of the Gender Studies program, issues respecting homosexuality are not taught from an orthodox Catholic perspective but rather from “secular and alternative Catholic” perspectives.

Finally, it is particularly disturbing that, while the organization is “unofficial,” what it says appears to carry implicit University approval. The organization’s website address bears a domain and uses the official Notre Dame favicon (i.e., an icon in the browser address bar), it uses the university’s electronic mailing list resources to communicate with its members, the materials are copyrighted by the University, and the University’s official website refers readers to the organization as a resource for new women faculty members in these words: “ND Watch is an independent collective that exists to inform, mentor, and support women faculty at the University of Notre Dame. New women faculty are routinely invited to join the group. (See What supports are there for women faculty?)

On Recruiting
“Your department will have to be very pro-active to recruit gay and lesbian scholars and artists.” “Take it upon yourself to contact the heads of special minority, women’s, and a gay and lesbian caucuses that operate inside your national Association.” “Probably the most important way to address gender problems (and the problems of ageism, racism and homophobia) at Notre Dame is to hire more women, minorities, gay and lesbian faculty.” And, after noting that Fr. Malloy refused to include sexual orientation in the school’s non- discrimination policy, ND Watch urges in effect that his decision be undermined department by department: “You can ask your department to…vote on its own informal departmental anti-discrimination statement.”

On The Program in Gender Studies 
In speaking of “political issues that are central at Notre Dame like…the treatment of gays, lesbians and other sexual minorities [and] sexual and reproductive health”: “Given the official position of Roman Catholicism on many of these issues, the program must draw largely on secular and alternative Catholic positions.” “The Gender Studies Program has always been a haven for GLBT students and faculty. “No one bothers you…about what books we teach or what films we show in our courses.”

On Notre Dame Health Services
Duplicity is urged in order to secure insurance payment for contraceptives. That is, doctors should be persuaded to characterize their prescription of contraceptives as related to treatment of reproductive dysfunctions rather than birth control so that the University will cover the cost. “If your doctor won’t work with you on this, you need to find another doctor.”

On Abortion
ND Watch’s list of resources includes the pro-abortion organizations Emily’s List, The National Organization for Women, The National Abortion and Reproductive Rights League, Planned Parenthood, and several more. New women faculty are advised, “You’ll want to be extremely discreet if you choose to have [an abortion].”

The Holy Cross Order, “fundamentalist” Catholics, and football take their hits. “Notre Dame retains a clerical social characte…Clerical attitudes are often manifested in… sexism or misogyny.” “Some of the Roman Catholics here have aligned themselves with fundamentalist segments of the Church.” And “the strong emphasis on athletics…in particular footbal…may be correlated with sexism or misogyny.” Still worse, “at universities where either sports or fraternities play a large role, there tend to be more rapes and more sexism”

These ND Watch materials bear upon issues of large importance to the Catholic character of Notre Dame. Moreover, with respect to abortion, ND Watch has presented Notre Dame with a challenge on a crucial, defining issue.

That challenge is both plain and readily met. It would be a simple matter for the University to disassociate itself from ND Watch by removing any reference to the organization in its materials and stopping it from using a domain and displaying a Notre Dame copyright on its website materials. If any other action is necessary to remove any implication of the University’s indifference to these objectionable statements, the University should of course take it.

We are asking that the University take such steps. We urge you to join us in prayer that it will do so immediately.

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