Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Lou Holtz, Amy Barrett, and Father Jenkins

Partisan support of a pro-abortion anti-religious liberty Presidential ticket intensifies at @NotreDame while faculty splits on #AmyConeyBarrett nomination. #GoCatholicND Click To Tweet

In this bulletin we report on recent developments bearing on the appointment of Pete Buttigeig to the Notre Dame faculty; the reproof by Fr. Jenkins of Lou Holtz for his criticism of Joe Biden; voter education on campus; and a divided Notre Dame faculty on the Barrett nomination. And we propose again for your signature our Open Letter to Father Jenkins about the Biden/Holtz affair. 

Biden’s Stepped-Up Appeal to Catholic – and to Pro-Abortion –Voters

In the recent bulletin in which we discussed Father Jenkins’s admonishment of Lou Holtz for his criticism of Joe Biden’s claim to a robust Catholicism, we noted that Biden’s Catholic card “was played again and again at the Democratic convention. 

Now Biden is doubling down on his appeal both to opponents of the Church and to its supporters. 

For the former, in response to the question what he’d do if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Biden declared on October 5 : 

[T]he only responsible response to that would be to pass legislation to make Roe the law of the land. That’s what I would do.

Roe v. Wade, that is, with its license for abortions up to birth. 

For Catholic voters, though, a new TV ad campaign, designed to show Biden as “the clear moral choice,” portrays him in all the trappings of a devoted son of the Church.

The video opens with Biden speaking to a priest (the editor-in-chief of America magazine) as the camera segues to images of a bible, a rosary, Biden at Mass, with the Pope, joining hands in prayer, and addressing a congregation in front of an altar.

In a voiceover, Biden tells the priest: 

My father would say the cardinal sin of all sins is the abuse of power, whether it’s a man raising his hand to a woman, whether it is the government abusing its power, basic essential elements of what constitutes Catholicism.

A real interlocutor rather than a stage prop priest would have asked Biden why he does not consider the government’s facilitating the aborton of countless innocent lives inexpressibly worse than “a man raising his hand to a woman.” 

This effort by Biden to capitalize on his patently false claim that “I practice all the elements of my faith” was precisely the target of Lou Holtz’s denunciation and makes Father Jenkins’s reproof of Holtz ever more regrettable.

Notre Dame Faculty Fellow Pete Buttigeig joins Biden’s Transition Team

Since we last discussed Notre Dame’s employment of Pete Buttigeig as a Faculty Fellow, he has not only intensified his campaigning for Biden without any disclaimer by Father Jenkins but has now joined Biden’s transition team as a co-chair.

This is another #1 for Notre Dame – the first time the University has added to the faculty and the payroll a politician while he joins a campaign to subsidize abortion and to roll back the Trump regulation Notre Dame cites to keep from providing free abortifacients to students and employees. As Wall Street Journal columnist and Notre Dame alumnus Bill McGurn warns,

[T]oday’s Democratic Party is willing to use the full force of the federal bureaucracy to bring religious institutions to heel—no matter how genuinely Joe Biden may love his rosary beads.

One might think the President of the University would have something to say about Faculty Fellow Buttigeig’s campaigning at last, but not a word yet. 

Meanwhile on Campus

Various university units have organized a series of events to inform students about the election. 

“Balanced” is not the adjective that springs to mind. “Biased” is.

Two prominent political figures are featured: Pete Buttigeig and former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder, the Chair of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee and a member of Biden’s legal team.

Some of the sessions are “neutral,” e.g., a “Debate Watch,” “Voter Registration Day.” Of the remaining 14 programs,

  • Five, all titled “Building an Anti-Racist Vocabulary,” deal with various aspects of racism.
  • Two deal with “Racial and Social Injustice and Inequality” and “Movements for Justice.”
  • One focuses on “Evangelical Perspectives,” but none discuss Catholic perspectives, in particular the bishops’ guide to Catholic voters, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.” 

And none deal with the issue the bishops declare “preeminent,” abortion. 

Notre Dame Faculty Divided on Barrett Nomination

We are sorry, but not surprised, to report that 158 active and retired Notre Dame faculty have now publicly and strongly opposed Judge Barrett’s confirmation, while a somewhat overlapping group of 102 faculty have urged postponement until after the election. (There are 1386 active faculty.)

The “postponement” letter does not fault Barrett, but slams the Republicans and the President for advancing the nomination.

Only one active and four retired law school faculty joined.

The “opposition” letter, however, which no law school professor has joined, is harshly critical of President Trump and his selection of Judge Barrett. They abhor her “views” and fear she “wouldn’t protect the many people in society who are ignored, excluded, or treated unjustly.” 

In sharp contrast, 23 of Barrett’s tenured law school faculty colleagues (out of 32) lauded her nomination in a letter to the Senate Committee notwithstanding their “divergent views” about politics, “judicial methodology,” the President, and “the timing” of the nomination:

She is a brilliant teacher and scholar, and a warm and generous colleague. She possesses in abundance all the other qualities that shape extraordinary judges: discipline, intellect, wisdom, impeccable temperament, and above all, fundamental decency and humanity.

We say we are not surprised at the distaste for Judge Barrett’s “views” by the protesting faculty because we regard it as a reflection of the significant weakening of Catholic faculty representation in the colleges of the University other than the law school, a phenomenon we have often addressed. 

However Judge Barrett may rule as a Justice on questions of abortion, sex and gender, religious liberty and the like, her personal “views” are surely those of the Catholic Church. In contrast, the signatories’ model, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, was a formidable adversary of the Church on these fronts. 

For those who are interested, the sources above disclose the names of the faculty signatories of both the “withdrawal” and the “protest” letters up to the time of publication. We will update the lists in due course. 

Very Uncivil Discourse!

One of the Notre Dame faculty opposing Judge Barrett, Political Science Professor Eileen Hunt Botting, has attacked her in a breathtakingly nasty article, “Amy Barrett’s Fall From Grace.” You should read it in full to appreciate its sneering animus. Here are some representative snippets:

From the time Barrett joined the Notre Dame law school faculty, Botting wrote,  “she had been groomed to be the pro-life legal icon of Christian womanhood,” and “it was whispered around Notre Dame that she would eventually” be a Supreme Court Justice.  “All she had to do was wait patiently for her moment.”

When her moment came, “the corrosive love of power drove Barrett and her supporters to worship at the foot of a President who has cynically courted the pro-life lobby.”

But just as she “seemed to reach peak perfection as a Christian model of maternal concern for the lives of the born and the unborn . . . the rising hubris of Amy Coney Barrett tripped her up as she strode in her peach high heels into the right-wing debutante party of her dreams.”

Though she “entered the Rose Garden as the darling of the pro-life cause,” Botting wrote, “ she left with her powers of moral and legal judgment in serious question.”

Because she didn’t wear a face mask. “Can we trust [such] a judge” Botting asks rhetorically.



Both the lamentable faculty opposition to Barrett and the support in faculty and administration for a pro-abortion anti-religious Presidential ticket evidence a substantial weakening of Notre Dame’s Catholic identity. In our view, as a university Notre Dame should abstain from supporting a particular candidate or a party but should instead promote an informed and balanced examination of competing political policies, and as a Catholic university it should promote such examination in light of the principles set out in the bishops’ “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.” Notre Dame has failed badly on both counts to date.

Sign Our Open Letter!

To read our open letter to Father Jenkins and to add your signature, please click here.

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.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply