A number of events over the past decade have raised serious doubts in the minds of many about whether Notre Dame retains a vibrant Catholic identity. Those events began with the Vagina Monologues and the Queer Film festival and have included, to name a few, the University’s honoring of President Obama in opposition to the policy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and in defiance of its own bishop, overturning long-standing policy by granting official status to a gay student organization, appointing to the board of trustees a pro-abortion alumnus publicly opposed to the school’s religious liberty claim in its lawsuit against the Obamacare abortifacient/contraceptive mandate, and according spousal benefits to “married” homosexual and lesbian employees. At the root of all of this is the dramatic shrinking of the Catholic faculty. While the school’s Mission Statement declares that its Catholic identity “depends upon the continuing presence of a predominant number of Catholic intellectuals” on the faculty, the erosion of Catholic faculty has been so great that this test is no longer met. Thus, measured by its own standard, Notre Dame has lost the Catholic identity that it nonetheless continues to proclaim.
Still, many of the school’s Catholic underpinnings remain, and it could over time regain its footing if those in governance were to act promptly and decisively. The time is opportune for alumni and others of the Notre Dame family to express both their intense concern and their support of actions designed to strengthen Notre Dame’s Catholic identity.