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Misrepresentation As “Civil Discourse” At Notre Dame

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Notre Dame President publicly misrepresents Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, a critic of his Laetare Medal award to Vice President Biden.


In a just published Commonweal interview, Father John I. Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, levels a wholly baseless charge against Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, one of the Church’s most respected and gifted leaders. Without any visible means of support, Father Jenkins claims that, in a recent talk at Notre Dame, Archbishop Chaput “presumed to know the consciences of Vice President Biden and Senator Kaine sufficiently to question the genuineness of their faith and condemn them personally.”

One would not expect a priest, president of Notre Dame or not, to arraign an archbishop publicly in this way even with good reason. It is a great deal worse when, as here, the priest has no reason whatever.

The pertinent facts are simple and unambiguous, though the sloppiness of the interviewer, John Gehring, requires more unraveling of two recent addresses by Archbishop Chaput than should be necessary. Let us get that out of the way first for the benefit of those who will read the addresses — and we hope all will, for they are outstanding.

In September, Archbishop Chaput gave the Tocqueville Lecture  at Notre Dame, which we featured in an earlier bulletin, and in October he addressed a bishops’ symposium on the campus. Mr. Gehring referred to only one of these, which he identified by quoting a passage unrelated to the matter at hand. That passage appears in the October speech.

Mr. Gehring said that, in this talk, Archbishop Chaput criticized Vice President Biden and Senator Kaine for their stance on abortion. He did not. He referred to them in a single sentence in relation to same-sex marriage.

It was in the September address that the Archbishop discussed Biden’s position on abortion. He did that in connection with the award to Biden of the Laetare Medal. He did not mention Senator Kaine.

Let us set aside this disarray and consider the matter as both Gehring and Father Jenkins rearranged the facts.

Mr. Gehring asked Father Jenkins what he thought of the Archbishop’s “suggestion” in a “recent speech” at Notre Dame that Vice President Biden and Senator Kaine “are Catholic in name only because of their position on abortion.”

Converting the “Catholic in name only” question into something considerably more damning, Father Jenkins, as we noted above, declared he was “baffled” at “how [the archbishop] can presume to know the consciences of Vice President Biden and Senator Kaine sufficiently to question the genuineness of their faith and condemn them personally.”

What is truly baffling is to figure out what Father Jenkins is talking about.

Here is all Archbishop Chaput said in pairing Biden and Kaine in the October address that Mr. Gehring cited:

We might reflect on what assimilation has actually gained for us when Vice President Biden conducts a gay marriage and Senator Kaine lectures us all on how the Church needs to change and what kind of new creature she needs to become.

Plainly, there is nothing there about “presuming to know their consciences” and “condemning them personally” for their positions on abortion or anything else.

Father Jenkins evidently had in mind what Archbishop Chaput said about Biden – though not Kaine – in his earlier address. Having said at the outset in connection with the presidential candidates, “Only God knows the human heart,” the archbishop moved toward the end to a discussion of the pre-eminent importance of the abortion issue. Here is what he said about the award of the Laetare Medal to Vice President Biden:

This is why so many Catholics – beginning, to his credit, with Bishop Rhoades – were so deeply troubled when Vice President Biden received the university’s Laetare Medal earlier this year. For the nation’s leading Catholic university to honor a Catholic public official who supports abortion rights and then goes on to conduct a same-sex civil marriage just weeks later is – to put it kindly – a contradiction of Notre Dame’s identity, It’s a baffling error of judgment. What matters isn’t the vice president’s personal decency or the university’s admirable intentions. The problem, and it’s a serious one, is one of public witness and the damage it causes both to the faithful and to the uninformed. I mention this no less to criticize than to encourage. (First set of italics supplied.)

Father Jenkins’s charge that this amounted to the archbishop’s “presuming to know” Biden’s conscience and “condemning [him] personally” is a transparent misrepresentation that is hard to chalk up to a simple mistake. This was not a verbal misstep in the course of an oral interview. The questions and answers were written.

Why did Father Jenkins decide to level this charge? It is hard to believe it is unrelated to the Archbishop’s joining Notre Dame’s bishop, the Most Rev. Kevin Rhoades, in criticizing Father Jenkins’s Laetare Medal decision.

This is not an isolated instance even in this interview. In response to Mr. Gehring’s question to Father Jenkins about the honoring of President Obama in 2009 – “What did you learn?” – all Father Jenkins talked about was the “anger” and “vehemence” of some who were upset about his decision.

He was, after all, criticized by 83 cardinals, archbishops, and bishops. When has that ever happened at a Catholic university? It would be scarcely surprising, if regrettable, for some faithful Catholics to lose their tempers. What is both surprising and regrettable is that Father Jenkins had nothing to say in retrospect about the tsunami of episcopal criticism that his action triggered.

This brings to mind Father Jenkins’s support of the trespass prosecution of the “ND88,” the pro-life demonstrators at the 2009 commencement during which Obama was given an honorary degree. Images of a cassocked 88-year-old priest being dragged to a police wagon linger. It took two years of legal proceedings, during which we produced evidence that the Jenkins administration had a “catch and release” policy respecting pro-gay and anti-war trespassers, before Notre Dame finally had the cases dismissed.

It seems that Father Jenkins considers his criticism of the Archbishop to be the sort of “respectful engagement” he attributes to Pope Francis and that he promotes in his repeated calls for civil discourse. If so, it is a low bar as to tone and no bar at all as to substance.

We take no pleasure in this report. We would much rather praise than criticize, for Father Jenkins cannot avoid representing the entire Notre Dame family in his public pronouncements. But as we are, in a sense, Father Jenkins’s constituents, we believe we should not let an episode like this pass without comment. It is very hard to imagine Father Hesburgh’s publicly censuring an archbishop this way. We would be delighted to be able to report that Father Jenkins has reconsidered and retracted.

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48 Responses to “Misrepresentation As “Civil Discourse” At Notre Dame”

  1. Mark Napierkowski November 17, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Keep up the good work, all of you folks involved in the Sycamore Trust. You are a bright light for all of us!

  2. Dr. Massey’s uses the word “pusillanimous” to describe Fr. Christopher O’Toole. That word refers to someone who is “lacking in courage and resolution” and is used to identify a man who is marked by contemptible timidity. The personal application of that word to Fr. O’Toole is a gratuitous insult to Fr. O’Toole, whom I knew well. It would benefit Dr. Massey’s credibility if he would demonstrate greater self-restraint in his use of such words or, better still, avoid such needlessly demeaning references altogether.

  3. Bill Dotterweich '58 November 8, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    Good Grief. The exchanges between Bill Dempsey and this Massey guy (whoever he is) are entertaining but puzzling. I understand Bill’s point – – he is substantially defending the integrity of the Sycamore Society and its supporters. This Massey guy, however, seems to be spending such an inordinate amount of time “blogging” that he hazards the completion of his Aquinas project. I suggest a relaxing hobby to quiet the circulatory stress. Stamp collecting, perhaps. I understand that FDR found it very calming.

  4. Jenkins appears to not understand the doctrine of conscience in Catholicism. His statements about Chaput are simply silly.

  5. I am so sad to have watched Father Jenkins’s fall. He started out with such great promise, but has steadily fallen to now this new low, publicly making false accusations against an Archbishop. Archbishop Chaput understands Notre Dame’s unique mission much better than Father Jenkins does – read his Tocqueville Lecture and you’ll agree. Father Jenkins has devolved into a bitter, petty, vindictive little man. I am much more greatly saddened to see the damage he has done to Our Lady’s University. We sent all three of our kids there. I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone today.

    • Jack Hart, you said:

      “We sent all three of our kids there. I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone today.”

      That hits close to home with me. My father was never so proud as the day my acceptance letter arrived from Notre Dame in the winter/spring of 1982. I have four children, the oldest of which has just entered his freshman year at the local state university. I actively discouraged him from attending or even applying to Notre Dame. I am doing the same for the other three. There’s no point at all for them to matriculate there, as their Catholic formation is more likely than not to be better served at strictly secular institutions. My father, now in his 80s, nods his head in affirmation and simply laments the degradation of ND with the words “that’s too bad.”

      Jack
      ’86

  6. The world is in a very sad state of affairs today. Good fighting evil at an all time high. There are none so blind as those who will not see.
    Pray deeply.

  7. Gerald J. Massey, Notre Dame BA '56. MA '60 (Princeton MA '62 PHD '64) October 31, 2016 at 11:24 pm

    How soon we forget! You say that “It is very hard to imagine Father Hesburgh’s publicly censuring an archbishop this way.” Not hard at all if you recall Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani’s efforts to suppress the volume THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN WORLD AFFAIRS (ND Press 1954) because it contained a liberal essay by the Jesuit theologian John Courtney Murray that displeased this reactionary Cardinal, whose motto was SEMPER IDEM and who was soon to be made head of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Ottaviani enlisted the aid of Christopher O’Toole, the Superior General of the CSC, in his sneak attack on academic freedom at ND; the pusillanimous O’Toole even issued orders prohibiting Murray from teaching or lecturing at CSC institutions. As I have written elsewhere, “Hesburgh and the ND Trustees advertised to the world their admiration and respect for Murray by conferring an honorary doctorate on the theologian at the next Notre Dame commencement, thereby giving Ottaviani and O’Toole a well-deserved digitus impudicus.” The judgment of Hesburgh and the ND Trustees was amply confirmed by Murray’s subsequent role in Vatican II.

    • Joe Schaefer '59 Universal City TX November 1, 2016 at 11:02 am

      Gerald, thank you for the enlightenment regarding Father Murray. By the way, I bought a copy of the book before Bro. Conan took it off the shelf! Is Mary your daughter or niece? I enjoyed meeting her at the Torch Club here in San Antonio. Joe Schaefer ’59 universal City TX

      • Gerald J. Massey, Notre Dame BA '56. MA '60 (Princeton MA '62 PHD '64) November 1, 2016 at 5:59 pm

        Thanks for your post, Joe. My daughter Mary told me about meeting you a few weeks ago. It’s a small world.

      • Gerald J. Massey, Notre Dame BA '56. MA '60 (Princeton MA '62 PHD '64) November 1, 2016 at 6:24 pm

        Joe, thanks for the friendly comment. Mary is my daughter. She told me about meeting you a few weeks ago. It truly is a small world. Best wishes, Jerry.

    • We said “it is very hard to imagine Father Hesburgh’s publicly censuring an archbishop IN THIS WAY,” that is, by way of an an accusation that an archbishop, or bishop or priest, for that matter, “presumed to know the consciences of [some public figure, or anyone, for that matter] sufficiently to question the genuineness of their faith and condemn them personally.” The instance cited by Dr. Massey in which Father Hesburgh may have signaled disagreement with prelates through the awarding of a honorary degree to someone they had penalized doesn’t come close. Had he publicly called his superior “pusillanimous,” as Dr. Massey does, the case would have been closer.

      • Gerald J. Massey, Notre Dame BA '56. MA '60 (Princeton MA '62 PHD '64) November 2, 2016 at 12:47 am

        Sorry, but your claim that the little phrase “this way” (your text did not include the preposition “in”) made your meaning determinate is a huge stretch. You couldn’t even stick with it when you framed a hypothetical case in which Hesburgh publicly calls his religious superior pusillanimous. You say that then “the case would have been closer,” presumably meaning closer to the precise way Jenkins allegedly criticized Chaput. But to call O’Toole pusillanimous has nothing to do with alleging that the man can read hearts or consciences, so how is your hypothetical case closer?
        But let’s not quarrel about semantics. Let’s talk about something truly important to any university and—because of their checkered histories—possibly more important to Catholic universities than to secular ones. I refer to academic freedom. Like Cardinal Newman, Hesburgh recognized that without bonafide academic freedom, no Catholic university would be a true university. Hesburgh also recognized that the Catholic hierarchy—the bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and popes that you revere so highly—constituted the greatest and perpetual threat to academic freedom. Hesburgh thought that the only way to prevent the hierarchy from meddling in Catholic universities was to place these institutions beyond their reach, i.e., to turn them over to lay boards of trustees who owe the hierarchy no religious obedience.
        I fear that academic freedom at Notre Dame has recently been compromised by a serious violation of Prof. Wilson Miscamble’s right to speak out and publish. I refer to reports reaching me that Fr. Miscamble has informed friends and colleagues that he has not only been ordered to cease his Sycamore Trust activities (such as preparing and publishing lists of courses and professors deemed authentically Catholic) but has also been muzzled, i.e., ordered not to disclose who gave him this contemptible order. (These developments will send a chill up the spine of any advocate of academic freedom familiar with the Francis McMahon and the John Courtney Murray fiascos at Notre Dame.) In my opinion, academic freedom will not and cannot flourish at Notre Dame if professors who belong to religious orders can be told by their superiors what they can do, say, or publish. So I ask you now, what are you and the Sycamore Trust doing about this serious matter? (In candor, I add that I am unsympathetic to various elements of the program of the Trust—and to Miscamble’s role therein—in particular to the Trust’s goal of restoring to the hierarchy an internal role in the operation of Notre Dame of the sort once common in Catholic universities.)

        • I learn something new every day. To your hyperinsistence on “academic freedom,” I paraphrase a question I learned from His Holiness, Francis, “free for what?” But I’m guessing you don’t want to argue the true meaning of the word freedom, as that would be semantics?

          Imagine my surprise when I see the year of your graduation from ND (likely meaning you are now in your eighties?) and your list of impressive graduate degrees, and then discover from your response to Bill Dempsey that it’s still possible for someone with your credentials to turn out to be a first rate gaslighter.

          Fr. Miscamble has the right to speak and to write whatever he wishes, but instead, from his recent silence we are left to infer that he values obedience to his Order – you know that inconvenient thing known as a vow – more than the “freedom” to speak his mind on these matters. Ironic, yes, but a great, intolerable wrong? No. That you would view his obedience as something that needs to be fixed is stunning, yet amply explains the slippery slope that we’ve been on since 1954.

          Now that we’re at the bottom of the slope, where ND cannot even get the basics right with respect to having a modicum of respect for the Universal Magisterium, you are welcome of course to bathe in the heavy water of “academic freedom” for its own sake, worshiping it like a god, and to decry those with the philosophy of semper idem as reactionaries. But pray tell, when exactly in your pursuit of “academic freedom” over the past sixty years did you decide that defending the deposit of faith given to us 2,000 years ago was something that should be dispensed with at Notre Dame?

          • Gerald J. Massey, Notre Dame BA '56. MA '60 (Princeton MA '62 PHD '64) November 2, 2016 at 3:58 pm

            I too learned something today, viz. what gaslighting is. But I confess I had to go to the omniscient Internet, where I found the following explanation:

            Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of mental abuse in which information is twisted or spun, selectively omitted to favor the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity. (Wikipedia)

            Your comment has earned for you the dubious distinction of being the only person in my long life to accuse me of mental abuse. (One thing you were right about is my being an octogenarian, age 82.) That no part of the definition of gaslighting holds of me will likely give you no pause. Nor will the colossal non-sequitur in your final sentence.
            I am a professional philosopher. Perhaps you know that philosophers are bare-knuckle take-no-prisoners scrappers, but they’re much more civil in their exchanges than you and some of the devout Catholics who post on the Sycamore website are. So I close with a piece of advice: if you can’t be civil and moderately rational, stay out of the kitchen. Mr. William Dempsey manages to do both. Perhaps you could, too, if you made the effort.

          • Dr. Massey, is the phrase “if you can’t be civil and moderately rational…” intended to make me doubt my own perception and sanity?

            Or should I accept your claim “That no part of the definition of gaslighting holds of me…” ipse dixit?

            I hereby humbly, civilly, and hopefully rationally note that your reply lacks any actual substantive reply to my questions:

            1) free for what?
            2) why should academic freedom be pursued at all costs at Notre Dame, when those costs include abdication of the defense of the deposit of faith?

            While I’m at it, I add one more moderately civil question (viz. your initial rebuke of Bill Dempsey): why should the Sycamore Trust, in the name of academic freedom, “do something” about Fr. Miscamble’s obedience to his Superior?

            As just an average Joe, I am curious why a professional philosopher would not be interested in discussion of these questions.

          • Gerald J. Massey, Notre Dame BA '56. MA '60 (Princeton MA '62 PHD '64) November 3, 2016 at 11:27 am

            You correctly note that I did not respond to your two questions, nor do I have any intention of responding to the third question in your present remarks. Please understand that, insofar as possible, I limit my intellectual exchanges to men and women who are at least moderately civil and rational. By my lights, you fall short on both counts.

        • I cannot say I understand your points, Dr. Massey, so I will simply restate the question and leave it to our readers;

          We said it is hard to imagine Father Hesburgh’s “censuring an archbishop this way,” that is, by accusing him of questioning the genuineness of someone else’s faith and condemning him personally. You disagree. You say Father Hesburgh in substance did just that by conferring an honorary degree upon a person who had been censored by a cardinal and Father Hesburgh’s provincial. We said the cases are not remotely analogous.

          Readers, you decide.

          As to the Father Miscamble episode, you ask what Sycamore Trust is doing about it. I presume you know we have reported it, as we have other events which disclose the atmosphere of soft intimidation that exists at the university and that, with you, we deplore. Since no one at the university answers to us, we have pretty much exhausted the possibilities, unfortunately.

          I should perhaps comment on your acknowledgement that you are “unsympathetic to various elements of the program of the Trust—and to Miscamble’s role therein—in particular to the Trust’s goal of restoring to the hierarchy an internal role in the operation of Notre Dame of the sort once common in Catholic universities.”

          We welcome informed criticism, but I have no idea where you might have gotten the notion that a goal of ours is to restore juridical authority of the hierarchy over Notre Dame. We have been quite clear in our website and bulletins about our goals. This is not one of them. I am surprised you think it is.

          Our readers should perhaps have the benefit of a fuller statement of your views about the “insecurely pious and the piously insecure” Sycamore Trust and Father Miscamble. I quote from your address to the Class of 1956:

          “Another internal Catholic threat to academic freedom at Notre Dame comes from what I will characterize as the insecurely pious and the piously insecure. Composed of a small but active assortment of laymen, laywomen, and clerics, this group seeks inter alia to put the hierarchy squarely back into Catholic universities, precisely the place where they do not belong. In effect, these pious activists seek to return Notre Dame to what they romanticize to be its glorious pre-Hesburgh days. But only overheated imaginations could transform the unrelieved academic mediocrity of pre-Hesburgh Notre Dame into something wonderful and glorious. From what I have read and learned, the Sycamore Trust stands at the forefront of this movement, with the Rev. Wilson Miscamble, CSC as a principal leader.”

          I leave it to those who have followed our work and that of Father Miscamble to judge the fairness and accuracy of your description.

          • Dr. Massey, in the interests of accuracy, permit me to correct and supplement your account of Father Hesburgh and the John Courtney Murray episode. It was Father Cavanaugh, not Father Hesburgh, who conferred the honorary degree upon Father Murray in 1951, when Cavanaugh was still president. Father Hesburgh did confer an honorary degree in 1959 upon one of the parties – Cardinal Ottaviani, the censor of Father Murray. The facts, then, seem to suggest an effort by Father Hesburgh to please, perhaps to placate, this powerful cardinal

            It is also inaccurate to say that, in the interest of academic freedom, Father Hesburgh turned Notre Dame over to a lay board of trustees. He did not. He turned it over to a board of Fellows, half of whom must be priests of the Order, as must the president. The lay-majority board has only such authority as the Fellows delegate. Those who blame or praise, as the case may be, the board for the secularization of Notre Dame miss the mark. Those responsible, whether by action or inaction, have been largely the priests of the Order who have been Fellows or presidents. The juridical chain of authority remains largely, though not entirely, as it was before Father Hesburgh’s reorganization, i.e., the priest-president and the CSC Fellows under the authority of the provincial, the provincial under the superior general, and the superior general under the Pope. The bishop never had authority over Notre Dame except to the extent that he could lift the faculties of priests within his jurisdiction, as he can today.

          • Gerald J. Massey, Notre Dame BA '56. MA '60 (Princeton MA '62 PHD '64) November 3, 2016 at 6:18 pm

            I appreciate your efforts to correct and supplement my account of Hesburgh and the John Courtney Murray episode, so I revisited pp. 221-227 of the chapter entitled ACADEMIC FREEDOM in Hesburgh’s 1990 autobiography GOD, COUNTRY, NOTRE DAME wherein Hesburgh discusses in some detail what he refers to as “the Murray imbroglio”. Since it was based largely on Hesburgh’s autobiography, I was not surprised to find that my account of this imbroglio matched Hesburgh’s. In particular, Hesburgh says of the clash with Ottaviani and O’Toole that “we … let everyone know where we stood” by conferring an honorary doctorate on Murray the spring following the Ottaviani/O’Toole suppression of the ND volume containing Murray’s essay (p. 226). So it was Hesburgh, not his predecessor Cavanaugh, who awarded Murray the honorary degree. (I think it unlikely that both ND presidents awarded honorary doctorates to Murray in the span of just a few years.)
            You say that the facts seem to suggest that Hesburgh also awarded an honorary doctorate to Ottaviani in 1959 in order “to please, perhaps to placate, this powerful cardinal.” There is no mention of such a degree conferral in his autobiography, but Hesburgh does describe a visit to Notre Dame by a geriatric Ottaviani many years after the Murray imbroglio, a visit that induced Hesburgh to say that the cardinal was a much more complex man than he had given him credit for being (p. 227).
            You claim that it is “inaccurate to say (as I did indeed suggest) that, in the interest of academic freedom, Father Hesburgh turned Notre Dame over to a lay board of trustees.” You say “He did not. He turned it over to a board of Fellows, half of whom must be priests of the Order, as must the president. The lay-majority board has only such authority as the Fellows delegate.” Well, your linguistic beef is with Hesburgh, not me. Pages 172-178 of his autobiography contain a detailed account of the process ND underwent in what Hesburgh calls turning “control of the university over to a lay board of trustees” (p. 171). The ND governance system is modeled on Harvard’s, viz., “a small board of fellows and a much larger board of trustees” (p. 174). I’ve never heard anyone suggest that Harvard’s trustees function as mere lackeys of Harvard’s fellows, nor do I think it at all accurate to say that ND’s lay trustees function as lackeys of its fellows, and they certainly don’t function as lackeys of the clerical half of these fellows. It is sobering to recall Hesburgh’s ringing declaration that “of all the accomplishments during the thirty-five years of my presidency of Notre Dame … the greatest change made during my administration was turning the university over to lay control” (p. 178). I may be wrong, of course, but I get the impression that you unconsciously exaggerate the power of the clerical bloc of the board of fellows because you place primary blame on CSC priests for what you decry as the secularization of Notre Dame.

          • http://www.archives.nd.edu/alumnus/vol_0037/vol_0037_issue_0003.pdf

            See page 21, the caption below the photo. Ottaviani did not receive an honorary degree, but “became and honorary alumnus.”

          • Joe Schaefer '59 Universal City TX November 3, 2016 at 7:48 pm

            Here are the facts concerning Fr. John Courtney Murray and Cardinal Ottaviani as gleaned from the Notre Dame Archives. Fr. Murray was awarded a LLD at the January 1951 Commencement and was a speaker. Fr. Cavanaugh made the presentation. Cardinal Ottaviani was a special guest of the University on June 5 and 6 and was presented the honorary LLD at a special service on Saturday morning June 6. He was on the stage at the stadium at my Commencement on June 7. I saw him!

        • Joe Schaefer '59 Universal City TX November 2, 2016 at 11:09 pm

          So, what to do about Ex Corde Ecclesiae? Ignore it?

        • Dr. Massey, I know what Father Hesburgh said. You are not the first to rely upon it. For my part, when possible I try to check sources, especially when I am dealing with self-serving statements of persons who, however admirable in some respects, are not renowned for their modesty. We are especially scrupulous in our bulletins to get the facts right.

          I provided the dates of the two honorary degrees in question, to Murray and to Ottoviani, so that you could verify what I said. If you wish to do it now, here is the university site with a link to the entire list:

          http://commencement.nd.edu/historical-information/honorary-degrees/

          For shortcuts:

          Here is a screen shot of the award to Ottoviani with the date (1959) and Hesburgh listed as president.

          https://www.dropbox.com/s/m3k5nhntbqr3db3/Screenshot%202016-11-03%2020.45.25.png?dl=0

          And here is a screen shot of the award to Murray, with the date (1951) and Cavanaugh listed as president.

          https://www.dropbox.com/s/5rgrik3lw4hriu1/Screenshot%202016-11-03%2020.47.42.png?dl=0

          As to Hesbugh’s turning control over to a majority lay board, the Statutes of the university show what he did rather than what he says he did. My description is absolutely correct. You can find the statutes here:

          https://www.nd.edu/assets/docs/statutes.pdf

          Here are key provisions:

          “I. There is hereby created a body whose members shall be known as “the Fellows of the University of Notre Dame du Lac” (“the Fellows”) who shall have and exercise all power and authority granted by that certain Act of the legislature of the State of Indiana approved on January 15, 1844 (as amended by Acts of said legislature approved January 13, 1845, March 8, 1873, and March 11, 1937) (herein sometimes referred to as the Chartering Act, as amended) to the Founding Group and to their successors and associates in office for the governance of the University.

          “A. Except to the extent that the Fellows shall delegate authority to the Board of Trustees, they shall exercise the powers and authority granted to them by the Chartering Act, as amended, and by the applicable laws of the State of Indiana.
          B. The Fellows shall elect the Trustees of the University for the purpose, in the manner and at the times specified in the Bylaws of the University. The Fellows by at least a two-thirds (2/3) vote of all the Fellows then in office shall have the power to remove any Trustee when in their judgment the welfare of the University so requires and provided such removal has been first recommended by the Board of Trustees in the manner specified in the Bylaws.
          C. The Fellows shall adopt and amend the Bylaws of the University, provided at least two-thirds (2/3) of the Fellows then in office concur in each and every such action.
          D. No sale or transfer of a substantial part of the physical properties of the University shall be made without the concurrence of at least two-thirds (2/3) of the Fellows then in office.
          E. The essential character of the University as a Catholic institution of higher learning shall at all times be maintained, it being the stated intention and desire of the present Fellows of the University that the University shall retain in perpetuity its identity as such an institution.

          I will not repeat what I have already said about this and simply ask the reader to hold me only to my words and not to your interpretation of them, e.g., that I said or suggested the trustees were “lackeys.”

          • Gerald J. Massey, Notre Dame BA '56. MA '60 (Princeton MA '62 PHD '64) November 4, 2016 at 12:08 am

            I am truly shocked to learn that Fr. Hesburgh’s account in his autobiography of the alleged award of an honorary doctorate to John Courtney Murray during Hesburgh’s presidency is not only false (as I have now learned via this website, it was awarded to Murray by Hesburgh’s predecessor John Cavanaugh) but, as Mr. Dempsey rightly puts it, falsified in a self-serving way. It makes Hesburgh look like a heroic university leader who not only stands up fearlessly against hierarchical encroachments on academic freedom but even gives the interlopers a figurative digitus impudicus.
            I had myself noticed two small—but to me troubling—items that didn’t mesh well with Hesburgh’s account of his claimed refusal to execute O’Toole’s order to remove from circulation the ND Press volume containing Murray’s essay . As I read Hesburgh’s account, it seemed to me that after being scolded by O’Toole for being “uncooperative,” Hesburgh non-heroically caved in by then proposing what he called a “compromise,” viz., not to print more copies of the book when the present supply had run out. The other item concerns the reason Hesburgh appears to give for why Murray’s essay had infuriated Ottaviani, viz., that Murray maintained (against the conservative principle that truth has rights that error does not possess) that abstractions like truth and error have no rights; only human persons have rights, one of which is the right to one’s own opinions. What concerned me was that I could not locate this sentiment in my reading of Murray’s essay, which nevertheless contained more than enough liberal thought to upset a conservative cardinal like Ottaviani. Perhaps, I thought, I had read the essay too superficially.
            So, as I said, I’m shocked. Until now, I have read Hesburgh’s autobiography as a straightforward and truthful account of a great and honest man’s long life. It saddens me to say that I can no longer approach it in this way.

          • Dr. Massey, I did not say that Father Hesburgh “falsified” his account of the Murray episode, only that the account was incorrect. He was executive vice president when the honorary degree was conferred on Murray and very close to Father Cavanaugh. Surely they consulted on the matter. I am confident Father Hesburgh did not deliberately deceive but rather simply misremembered. It is one thing for famous people to put the best light on what they do and quite another for them to lie about it.

            Your assertion about Father Hesburgh’s restructuring of the university on account of his dark view of the hierarchy stands on a different footing than your reliance on what he wrote about the Murray affair. As I pointed out, it is simply incorrect to say, as you did, that Father Hesburgh put Notre Dame “beyond the reach” of religious authorities. In his book upon which you rely, he accurately described the makeup of the board of Fellows and its full authority and the requirement that the president be a priest of the Order. It is this authority structure that is embodied formally in the governing statutory sections that I quoted. I have no “beef” with his shorthand reference to “lay control” in an account that accurately describes where final authority and responsibility lies. It lies, as I said, primarily, though not exclusively, with the Congregation of Holy Cross.

            Beyond this, in his book Father Hesburgh contradicts your assertion that he reorganized the university because he “recognized that the Catholic hierarchy—the bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and popes that you revere so highly—constituted the greatest and perpetual threat to academic freedom.” He wrote: “The strongest supporters of independent Catholic universities in America are the American Catholic hierarchy. . . . The few times when members of the American hierarchy have tried to interfere with us were times when they were told to do so by Rome.”

            We are far afield here. On what I take to be your general point that Father Hesburgh was more solicitous of academic freedom than Father Jenkins, I quite agree. But I have pointed to the factual miscues in your discussion of Father Hesburgh in part because they are adumbrate your misrepresentation of the goal of Sycamore Trust as “restoring to the hierarchy an internal role in the operation of Notre Dame of the sort once common in Catholic universities.” There is not one snippet of support in our mission statement or bulletins for your assertion. More, this was not a factual error in a blog comment but a considered criticism in both your address to your Notre Dame classmates and your copyrighted elaboration of that address.

            I leave to our readers a judgment as to whether your characterization of Sycamore supporters, evidently including Father Miscamble as well as other unidentified “clerics,” as the “insecurely pious and the piously insecure” meets the test of discourse that is “at least moderately civil” which you cited in declining to respond to Mr. Gallagher.

          • Gerald J. Massey, Notre Dame BA '56. MA '60 (Princeton MA '62 PHD '64) November 4, 2016 at 9:26 pm

            It may come as a surprise to you and recent visitors to your website, but I do lead a serious intellectual life as a philosopher. For the past few years I have been engaged in an undertaking to rethink the philosophy-theology of Thomas Aquinas, a thinker who has been ill-served by the acolytes who have buried the merits of his work beneath a mountain of religious piety. So badly have these disciples served the Angelic Doctor that Bertrand Russell could—without fear of contradiction—dismiss Aquinas as nothing more than a talented ecclesiastical apparatchik. I am working now on the final piece of my tripartite project. The deadline for submission of my typescript is the end of this month (November 2016). I will not be able, therefore, to respond to all the points I would like to respond to in your last two posts until after I have completed my typescript, but there are several points to which I must reply now.

            You take me to be making the “general point that Father Hesburgh was more solicitous of academic freedom than Father Jenkins,” an opinion you say you yourself hold. Please understand that I have no opinion whatsoever on this comparison, and I have never written or spoken about it. I have talked and written about the threat to academic freedom at Notre Dame posed by the silencing of Priest-Professor Wilson Miscamble, but I have said nothing about Jenkins’ role or responsibility therein. I consider the Miscamble case to be a serious and unusually complex academic-freedom matter, seemingly pitting the virtually unfettered right of a university professor to speak and publish against the solemn obligation of a CSC priest to obey his religious superiors. This matter will not be settled soon or easily.

            I never indicated that you said that Father Hesburgh had falsified his account of the Murray episode. You seem to fail to recognize that I was giving you credit for the accurate observation that, in Hesburgh’s account, the facts of the Murray case had been altered or falsified in a self-serving way. Falsified by whom or what, neither you nor I said. My opinion—for the little it is worth—is that they were probably altered unconsciously by Hesburgh’s large ego which couldn’t tolerate a less than heroic role in this affair. But, however regrettable, such alteration or falsification is a long distance from conscious deliberate deception.

            One last comment. You have repeatedly appealed to your followers to decide some bone of contention between us. This tactic, as you probably know, is a species of the argumentative fallacy known as ad populum. Use of it does not reflect well on you or your organization.

            As Douglas McArthur once said: I shall return.

        • Good grief, we have now migrated from your initial mistaken claim that Father Hesburgh matched Father Jenkins in insults to bishops – already remote from the subject of the bulletin –to your “serious intellectual life as a philosopher” and St. Thomas. This discussion has run entirely off the rails without on the way picking up any acknowledgement of the factual errors that you could not assign to Father Hesburgh or any tempering of your disdainful characterization of Sycamore supporters. And you close with yet another mischaracterization by charging me with employing the “argumentative fallacy known as ad populum,” the argument, to quote a standard definition, “that a proposition is true because many or most people believe it.” To the contrary, I respect our readers and have committed to each and every one of them them several times in the course of these exchanges, and do now again, the question who is correct on the various matters at issue.

          There must be some reasonable limit to this sort of exchange, the point at which ample opportunity has been given to all participants and it would be cruel and unusual punishment to ask readers to continue. For, me that statute of limitations has run. I do think it is somehow fitting that you would invoke General MacArthur in declaring “I shall return,” and our site is always open. But I, for one, am turning to more productive pursuits.

          • Gerald J. Massey, Notre Dame BA '56. MA '60 (Princeton MA '62 PHD '64) November 5, 2016 at 9:07 pm

            I said I would return to deal with several unanswered points after completing my essay in defense of Thomas Aquinas, but your present post has changed my mind. It has starkly reminded me of the radical difference between the lawyerly use of language that the ancients called sophistry and the philosophical use of language that the Greek philosophers bequeathed to civilization. In view of your long legal career, I am not altogether surprised to discover that the aforesaid lawyerly use of language is your forte. Nor am I surprised to find that the scorn Plato felt for such rhetoric equals my own. Please know, therefore, that I shall not return.

    • A sixth proof for the existence of God. Thank you, Dr. Massey.

  8. Joe Schaefer '59 Universal City TX October 31, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    Actually, Notre Dame has been under an “orthodoxy watch” for sometime. For reasons I no longer remember, it began in the 50’s. I seem to recall that Fr. Hesburgh was then scrutinized by the “Holy Office”, the response to which was to bestow a honorary degree on the boss, Cardinal Ottaviani. Then of course was Land O’Lakes. The difference of course is that then there not 41 trustees buying favor to admit their children or the Fellows. So, the irony is that before federal funding, the university president had to convince and lead. Today, he has only to ‘whip up the band”, those he has already recruited or rewarded. And, be sure not offend the DOJ, DOE,NRC, EPA, US District Court of Northern Indiana, 7th Circuit, ad nauseam.

  9. Timothy McKeogh '80, '81 MA October 31, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    “It is very hard to imagine Father Hesburgh’s publicly censuring an archbishop this way.” Mr. Dempsey seizes upon something very important here. Father Hesburgh, though his actions certainly showed he disagreed with Rome, was a priest who allowed our school’s Catholic foundation to still define it to the world.
    Father Jenkins, though a priest, seems intent on or content with the erosion of that foundation starting first with the administration and the faculty. I give him credit for allowing His Excellency Archbishop Chaput to speak but, based upon his reaction in the above referenced article, one wonders if next time he would simply forbid a speaker who would challenge the Catholic Left to appear.

  10. As an ’86 graduate, I can say for my own part, that most of my contemporaries would not understand, at all, the comment-section here, where all comments (so far) are aghast at Fr. Jenkins’ decision-making, with some suggesting his resignation is the most appropriate next step, and nearly all demanding he apologize to Bishop Chaput. When I encounter their reaction of stunned confusion and their unwillingness to demand any changes at all to the status quo at N.D., I realize what a minority position I find myself (along with all the previous commentators). How long before one of them levels the criticism that all of us are simply casting stones from a position of inhumane orthodoxy – and then describing us then as “less than Catholic?”

  11. Ronald herman MD October 31, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    Fr Jenkins and the ND Board need replaced. We need real Catholics in charge of Mary’s University. ND should not label itself Catholic. ND now under the guidance of Father Jenkins and his Board are becoming a flaming liberal site and he needs to resign before all his support quits as it should. Ronald Herman MD,ND’57

  12. fred ionata '53 October 31, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    I enjoy Ronald Adley’s reference to sterile dialogue and division reigning. Cafeteria secularism abounds and is increasing. Look at the Germans and many in this country who are quick to join. In the old “toward the East” Mass,is a phrase in the second prayer, “In primis”, after the Sanctus.I wonder if Fr. Jenkins ever wonders if the omission of the words in that phrase that ends the prayer is leading to so much division. “…….and for all who are orthodox in belief and who profess the Catholic and apostolic faith.”

  13. Chuck Durand 56′

    When Fr. Jenkins ignored all the previous statements and actions of Biden up to now to give him ND’s prestigious medal he was into a much more serious presumption as ““presuming to know” Biden’s conscience” than anyone else could ever be.

  14. Father Jenkins is an embarrassment to the Univ of Notre Dame
    And should be replaced. It is difficult to consider him
    A catholic priest.

  15. Patricia M. Baldwin October 31, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    Why is it so difficult to excommunicate Biden, Peloski, Kaine, etc? For those of us sitting out here in the deep grass watching this ball being tossed back and forth for 40 years, when is someone in charge going to call the game over and kick these people out? I learned abortion was wrong 60 years ago. Also was taught that giving scandal is a serious sin. They, and many like them, including Jenkins, are all guilty of this.

  16. Father Jenkin’s remarks about the Archbishop are misguided and inappropriate. This is not surprising to me because of his misguided and inappropriate leadership of Notre Dame in some areas regarding Catholic teaching.

  17. Father Jenkin should apologize to the Archbishop. Father Jenkins has done so much damage to the true Catholic spirit of Notre Dame.

  18. A society that doesn’t honor its elders will destroy itself. So goes the Church, so goes the world. He should know better. Authentic authority comes from God. If he believes people gave him his authority and that he is The center, then in time, all will fail.

  19. Why isn’t Fr. Jenkins dismissed as President of what should be a foremost Catholic university? Doesn’t he have a superior who can and would do this? It seems the powers that be are sitting back and letting him destroy ND and the Catholic faith there. Any Catholic who condones abortion is not a true Catholic. T

  20. Deacon James H. Toner October 31, 2016 at 10:18 am

    One might respectfully remind Father Jenkins that “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Ex 20:8 RSV) and of the concomitant need for “repentance of heart” (CCC 1431). A public apology to Archbishop Chaput is an appropriate and necessary beginning.

  21. It appears the man turns a blind eye to those matters he does not wish to consider. A misplaced application of the admonition against “judging one’s neighbor” becomes an effective method of avoiding truth, leading to sterile dialogue (that ever so longed for exchange sought by the modernist). Division reigns!

  22. Medals don’t kill anyone,abortion pills do. Any “Catholic” providing them
    is not a Catholic.

    William J. O’Connor

  23. Kenneth Dershaw October 31, 2016 at 9:38 am

    Father Jenkins needs to be replaced!

  24. Jenkins is in proportion to the effect on donations.