Promoting Catholic Intellectual Life


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Year-End Campaign

 This is the season when we invite those who value Notre Dame’s Catholic identity and our mission at Sycamore Trust to contribute financially to our work. In whatever way you are able to support our common purpose — by giving of your time (especially in prayer), talent, or treasure — we are all very truly grateful.  


Our recent bulletin series about abortion attitudes and advocacy at Notre Dame has been largely bleak. So, now that Christmas is almost upon us, we are pleased to be able to reassure our readers that the pro-life cause remains vibrant at Our Lady’s university.

We have taken note of the student Right to Life club and Merlot Fogarty, its courageous president, and now we bring you an account by Professor O. Carter Snead, the director of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture, about the work of this remarkable institute.

We leave to Professor Snead’s essay a description of the Center, which was founded in 1999 by Professor Emeritus David Solomon, one of Notre Dame’s most gifted and influential teachers, and which has been led for the last ten years by Professor Snead.

As you will see, the Center is an ornament to the university and a powerful pro-life actor in the battle for the lives of the pre-born.

But first a few words about Professor Snead, whose Notre Dame bio opens with “Professor Carter Snead is one of the world’s leading experts on public bioethics – the governance of science, medicine, and biotechnology in the name of ethical goods.”

The balance of the richly detailed account, which we urge upon you, supplies ample support for that accolade. Professor Snead has been widely published in both scholarly and popular journals, periodicals and newspapers, and he has frequently advised national, state, and international governmental bodies and organizations.

Perhaps the most striking testimony to his stature is the praise that has been accorded his recent book What It Means to be Human: The Case for the Body in Public Bioethics, which was named by the Wall Street Journal one of the “Ten Best Books of 2020” and listed in The New York Times as one of “Ten Books to Understand the Abortion Debate in the United States.”

The university and the pro-life cause – and we at Sycamore Trust — are deeply indebted to the Center and to Professor Snead, as well as to Professor Emeritus Solomon. They have demonstrated how the intellectual and spiritual life of students can be enriched and the Church served despite the secularizing forces working against the school’s Catholic identity.

de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture

Sorin Fellows (Source dNCEC Facebook page)

by O. Carter Snead, Professor of Law, Concurrent Professor of Political Science, and Director, de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture

I am extremely grateful to my good friend Bill Dempsey for this opportunity to share briefly about the work of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture and its role in advancing Notre Dame’s distinctive Catholic mission, including its work as the primary engine of the university’s institutional pro-life research, teaching, service, and public witness.

The Center was established in 1999 by our visionary founder, Prof. David Solomon, who will be well familiar to readers. I took the reins as Director ten years ago, in 2012. In 2019, the Center was endowed by an extraordinary and transformative gift from Christie and Tony de Nicola.

The Center’s mission, in short, is to share and explore the richness of the Catholic moral and intellectual tradition through student formation, research, and public engagement across a variety of disciplines, at the highest level. In this way we support the Catholic mission at Notre Dame, and seek to project her Catholic and countercultural voice into higher academia and the global public square as Notre Dame.

We pursue this mission within the framework of four “pillars”: (i) student formation and teaching; (ii) research and academic programming; (iii) culture of life initiatives; and (iv) an intentional program of recruiting, hiring, and retention of elite faculty who share our passion for Notre Dame’s unique Catholic mission.

Student Formation

The flagship program of the dCEC’s student formation efforts is the “Sorin Fellows Program.” Sorin Fellows receive faculty and senior student mentoring, consider enduring and contemporary issues through the lens of the Catholic moral and intellectual tradition, nourish their interior life and appreciation for the spiritual heritage of the Catholic Church, and discern and cultivate their gifts and talents through grant funding and internships. The Center supports nearly 400 Sorin Fellows at the undergraduate and graduate levels, representing nearly every field of study from across the range of the university’s colleges and departments. The dCEC sponsors more than 100 internships around the world every summer. Sorin Fellows go on guided pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land, and have even spoken before participants in the Synod on Youth at the Vatican. They dine in the homes of faculty as part of the “Sorin Fellows Supper Club.” And they go on to great things – we have had dozens of Sorin Fellow marriages and religious vocations. Indeed, of the 103 student 2022 graduating class of Sorin Fellows, eight are pursuing religious life as priests and sisters. Sorin Fellows are a joyful, faith filled, highly talented community of friends who are already a great “force for good” in the world, as envisioned by Father Sorin.

In addition to the Sorin Fellows, the dCEC provides funding for outstanding mission-focused PhD students (“Solomon Fellows,” named for our founder), as well as law students committed to using their talents to build a culture of life (“Polking Fellows”). There are 10 Solomon Fellows and 7 Polking Fellows, including alums.

Research and Academic Programming

ND Rome Global Gateway “African Christian Theology: Memories and Mission for the 21st Century” (Source dNCEC Facebook page).

The dCEC aims to be a countercultural beacon in the world of higher academia, showing that Notre Dame’s Catholic identity is a rich source of intellectual dynamism, freedom, and excellence. In partnership with UND Press (directed by our good friend, Steve Wrinn), the dCEC is the home of multiple book series: (i) Catholic Ideas for a Secular World, (ii) Notre Dame Studies in Bioethics and Medical Ethics, (iii) Center for Ethics and Culture Solzhenitsyn Series, and (iv) Notre Dame Studies in African Theology. We have published 26 books since 2016, including multiple national and international award winners.

We have recently begun to develop four research foci exploring: (i) public bioethics and the human person (building on my own work in What It Means to be Human: The Case for the Body in Public Bioethics (Harvard University Press 2020)); (ii) the transformative power of beauty; (iii) racial justice, healing, mercy, and reconciliation in the Catholic moral and intellectual tradition; and (iv) how to imagine a post-Roe world in which women, babies, and families are loved and protected as they deserve (“Women and Children First”).

We host nearly 50 academic events each year, including the “Fall Conference” – Notre Dame’s largest interdisciplinary gathering featuring more than 100 eminent and emerging luminaries as speakers (e.g., Nobel Laureates, acclaimed artists, and thought leaders from around the world), and 1000 participants. Each year explores a broad humanistic theme from a variety of disciplines and perspectives. It has been referred to (lovingly!) as “Catholic Woodstock” – a life giving intellectual feast par excellence, and celebration of friendships, old and new.

The dCEC also regularly hosts visiting scholars who enrich our community of learning while working on their own transformative research (e.g., Harvard’s Jim Hankins, St. John’s College’s Zena Hitz, and Georgetown’s John Keown).

The Center is advised by nearly 40 Notre Dame “Faculty Fellows” – eminent scholars from a variety of colleges and departments on campus who could work anywhere in the world, but chose the Blessed Mother’s University as their academic home because of her Catholic mission and dynamic community of learning. Finally, the dCEC is home to three permanent senior research fellows who are among the most brilliant and inspiring Catholic thinkers living today – Alasdair MacIntyre, John Finnis, and Mary Ann Glendon.

We also are the home of the “Ethics and Culture Cast,” a podcast that has over 100,000 downloads in 104 countries.

Culture of Life Initiatives

Chris and Marie Smith Receive Evangelium Vitae Medal (Source dNCEC Facebook page)

We at the dCEC are proud and honored to be the most important and dynamic unit at the Blessed Mother’s University dedicated to advancing its institutional mission to build a culture of life and civilization of love for mothers, babies (born and unborn) and families. We have myriad initiatives and programs oriented to this end. First, we advise the amazing student Right to Life club (the largest club on campus) and support their important work. We help to organize and fund ND’s participation in the annual March for Life in DC, where Notre Dame routinely sends 800-1000 students who march, pray, and bear witness to their dedication to building a society where everyone is “welcomed into life and protected by law,” in the words of St. John Paul II. The dCEC funds travel and lodging for faculty and staff to attend each year as well (usually around 100 folks). We also partner with the Alumni Association to host a DC reception following the March that regularly draws 600 members of the Notre Dame family. The dCEC hosts “Bread of Life” dinners each semester, drawing 100 students to hear pro life reflections from senior campus leadership, including Deans, Department Chairs, and senior staff. The dCEC administers the University of Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae Medal, the nation’s most important lifetime achievement award for heroes of the pro life movement, conferred following Mass in the Basilica at a banquet of 500-600 every April. We also organize the “Vita Institute” – an intellectual formation program for leaders from every corner of the pro life movement. There are now more than 1000 alumni of the Vita Institute, representing the leadership of the most important pro life organizations on six continents.
The dCEC and its affiliated scholars were the leading voices before and after the landmark Dobbs case overturning Roe v. Wade. We filed amicus briefs, wrote op-eds, made countless media appearances, and our Understanding Dobbs flash panel hours after the opinion was released has already drawn 5000 views on YouTube.

National March for Life (Source dNCEC Facebook page)

We have begun what we mean to be Notre Dame’s signature pro life initiative post-Dobbs – “Women and Children First: Imagining a Post-Roe World,” which seeks to contribute to a landscape in which mothers, babies, and families are loved and protected as they deserve. This includes research (e.g., we are partnering with ND LEO on a national maternity housing study, and beginning our own maternal mortality study), academic conferences, service projects, course development, public policy advice, and witness. We have already hosted several conferences and webinars, hired student interns, and appointed research fellows. On Thursday, January 19, 2023 (the day before the March for Life) we will host a major roundtable discussion at the National Press Club in D.C.

Mission Hiring

The Notre Dame mission statement says that “The Catholic identity of the University depends upon, and is nurtured by, the continuing presence of a predominant number of Catholic intellectuals.” Accordingly, our fourth and final pillar is an intentional program of recruiting, hiring, and retaining elite faculty of all levels who share our passion for Notre Dame’s mission. We currently fund eight faculty members and have four endowed faculty lines in the College of Arts and Letters used to hire tenure/tenure track faculty. Additionally, the dCEC offers support to current and future faculty members from the Congregation of the Holy Cross.


None of the dCEC’s work would be possible without the tireless work of our small but mighty staff of eight amazing colleagues, and the support of our chaplain, numerous faculty advisors, Deans (especially Dean Sarah Mustillo), department chairs, senior university leadership, benefactors and friends, including the unfailingly generous dCEC Executive Advisory Committee (chaired by Christie and Tony de Nicola).

O. Carter Snead

O. Carter Snead

Professor of Law
Director, de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture
Concurrent Professor of Political Science

Professor Carter Snead is one of the world’s leading experts on public bioethics – the governance of science, medicine, and biotechnology in the name of ethical goods. His research explores issues relating to neuroethics, enhancement, human embryo research, assisted reproduction, abortion, and end-of-life decision-making.

Learn how you can support de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture in its work to share the richness of the Catholic moral and intellectual tradition at or subscribe to the Center’s monthly newsletter and its bi-weekly podcasts at

Let Us Pray

O God, our gracious Father, in the gift of Your Son, You have given us the Light of the world! As we prepare to celebrate His birth, we recognize that the darkness of error and sin continues to shroud much of our land. Looking to the crib at Bethlehem, we are reminded of the infinite power hidden in that lowly place. May all who worship this Child be inspired to courageously bear witness to Him and to the truth he reveals, in all circumstances and using every gift Your bounty has bestowed upon us. May no obstacle discourage, no opposition overwhelm, no scorn or contempt defeat those who worship at the manger. May they ever have the unfailing intercession and sure protection of Notre Dame, Mary Our Mother, and of the chaste Foster-Father of this Child, Joseph, who were first to behold the Messiah and to bear witness to His Name. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate, and Who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever, Amen!

 The above prayer is by Sycamore Trustee Father John Raphael (’89). To join us in regular prayer projects such as our Novena for Catholic Education and our Meditation on the 12-Days of Christmas, please join our Apostolate.  

Annual Campaign

This is the season when we invite those who value Notre Dame’s Catholic identity and our mission to contribute financially to our work. In whatever way you are able to support our common purpose — by giving of your time (especially in prayer), talent, or treasure — we are all very truly grateful.

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 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. 

19 Responses to “Promoting Catholic Intellectual Life”

  1. And least we forget, or are “sleeping in Gethsemane”, the one thread upon which every Catholic Council Must Be United, Is The Unity Of The Holy Ghost (Filioque).
    “For the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter that by His revelation they might make known new doctrine, but that by His assistance they might inviolably keep and faithfully expound the Revelation, the Deposit of Faith, delivered through the Apostles. ”

    It is not possible for a counterfeit schismatic church, that denies the fact that that God, The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity, Through The Unity Of The Holy Ghost, Is The Author Of Love, Of Life, And Of Marriage, to subsist within Christ’s One, Holy, Catholic, And Apostolic Church, outside of which, there is no Salvation, due to The Unity Of The Holy Ghost (Filioque) .

    And thus we can know through both The Catholic Faith and Reason, “It is not possible to have Sacramental Communion without Ecclesial Communion”, due to The Unity Of The Holy Ghost.

    For It Is “ Through Christ, With Christ, And In Christ, In The Unity Of The Holy Ghost” (Filioque), that Holy Mother Church, outside of which there is no Salvation, due to The Unity Of The Holy Ghost (Filioque), Exists.

    “It has always been about The Marriage In Heaven And On Earth.”

    “So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn.”

    “It is now becoming clear that the very notion of being—of what being human really means—is being called into question.
    When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defence of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man.” – Pope Benedict’s Christmas Address 2012

    And “When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself”, the result is a “dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely” of satisfying “the desires of one’s own ego.”

    Relativism is atheism because it denies The Unity Of The Holy Ghost and thus the fact that when it comes to The Truth Of Love, There Is No Extreme, thus “moral” relativism is an oxymoron.

  2. The denial of The Unity Of The Holy Ghost (Filioque), is the source of all Heresy
    “Aristotle describes a virtue as a mean or intermediate between two extremes: one of excess and one of deficiency.”

    But to be virtuous one must affirm the integral essence of Truth and Love, For In Christ, There is no extreme, only Perfect Truth and Perfect Love, Through The Unity Of The Holy Ghost (Filioque).

    “As sacrament, the Church is Christ’s instrument. ‘She is taken up by him also as the instrument for the salvation of all,’ ‘the universal sacrament of salvation,’ by which Christ is ‘at once manifesting and actualizing the mystery of God’s love for men.”
    All sin is a deficiency of Love, thus it is a sin, “to accomodate an occasion of sin, and thus cooperate with evils”.
    “Not until the Second Coming will the Kingdom “not of this world” be fully realized, when our political nature will be elevated, fulfilled, and transcended by a higher form of communal life.”

    Until that moment in Time in Salvation History, we, who have been Baptized Catholic are Called to affirm that Christ’s Sacrifice On The Cross will lead us to Salvation, but we must desire forgiveness for our sins, and accept Salvational Love, God’s Gift Of Grace And Mercy; believe in The Power And The Glory Of Salvation Love, and rejoice in the fact that No Greater Love Is There Than This, To Desire Salvation For One’s Beloved.
    “Hail The Cross, Our Only Hope.”

    “For where your treasure is there will your heart be also.”
    Pray for a restoration of The Unity Of The Holy Ghost (Filioque), during this time of The Great Apostasy, and thus a restoration of The Papacy.
    Dear Blessed Mother Mary, Mirror Of Justice And Destroyer Of All Heresy, Who Through Your Fiat, Affirmed The Filioque, and thus the fact that There Is Only One Son Of God, One Word Of God Made Flesh, One Lamb Of God Who Can Taketh Away The Sins Of The World, Our Only Savior, Jesus The Christ, thus there can only be, One Spirit Of Perfect Complementary Love Between The Father And The Son, Who Must Proceed From Both The Father And The Son, In The Ordered Communion Of Perfect Complementary Love, The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity (Filioque), hear our Prayer and Intercede for us.

  3. When it comes to being in essence, Pro=Life, one must affirm the complementary relationship of respect for the Sanctity of the marital act within The Sacrament Of Holy Matrimony as God intended and respect for the Sanctity of all human life from the moment of conception to natural death,grounded in respect for the inherent Dignity of every human person, who, from the moment of conception, has been “Created In The Image And Likeness Of God, equal in Dignity, while being complementary as a beloved son or daughter.
    Our Call To Holiness, is a Call to be chaste in our thoughts, in our words, and in our deed, wh
    In private as well as in public.

  4. Steve Martinek '71, '74 (earlier times and values) December 26, 2022 at 1:15 pm

    Please indulge the truth-seeking words of an admitted provocateur and contrarian.None of the reported words or actions of Father Pavone were at all blaphemous–nor do I find any of them to have been ill-advised or at all embarassing. To the extreme contrary, I find the actions and complaint and decisions by the Bishop of Amarillo and by Bergoglio, in this matter (and surely in other matters) to be those of apostates, and heretics. There simply is no rational or good-faith dispute, in dogma or in morality, that pro-life is valid and that abortion, the willful termination of innocent life without just cause or excuse, is the gravest of sins–and that any who espouse or advocate or defend such practice (especially infamous pols in positions of influence and power) are willfully engaged in obstinate, persistence in grave sin to the scandal of those of true devout Faith. Unless and until such people confess, seek absolution, and amend their actions–they surely are damned by God to Hell for eternity. Who better than a devout humble pro-life priest to make such pronouncement of Truth–especially when the Pope and many in clerical authority, abdicate their durites to do so? Personally, I would never accept any sacrament or blessing from Bergoglio or the Amarillo Bishop (or Father James Martin); but I would accept blessings and sacraments from Father Frank Pavone, Father James Altman, Archbishop Vigano, and many of hte “cancelled” priests. Just sayin’, and prayin’ Steve

  5. I believe that when a man becomes a priest, bishop or cardinal, and when men and women become elected leaders, state or federal judges, or leaders of universities, they should have no secrets on their public opinions, actions or positions. Why would you need to have secrets, if you were being a good person, unless you were hiding actions the public would disapprove of and cause the public to look down on you? Secrecy is the best friend of evil and sin. “Jesus addresses the peacemakers in particular by saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” ( Matthew 5:9 ). A “peacemaker” is someone who reconciles people with God and with one another.” ( “Peacemakers are those who mourn over sin, those who purify their lives, and help others do the same. This does not make them popular. In fact, it often leads to persecution, as we’ll see in the next beatitude: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness” (Matt 5:10). However, this ministry is needed.” (Gregory Brown, Bible. org).

    What on Earth would cause a Holy Cross priest, a bishop, or a cardinal to frown on trying to help a good priest, who made the mistake of writing, “G– d-mn” Biden, and then went to confession for doing so, and presumably received forgiveness, from helping that man return to the priesthood? Do you not believe confession absolves people of their sins? Don’t you think it was pretty heavy handed to fire a priest for writing “G-d d-mn” on Twitter, (not a very smart or good thing to do, and embarassing) when he was temporarily angry? If you’re a Holy Cross priest, how does this lack of help, or being warned off from helping, make you feel? If you are a young person considering the religious life, or their parent, what does this tell you about the state of the Catholic Church?

    Please take a look at what Dr. Taylor Marshall and Archbishop Vigano said in the link provided by Steve Martinek above. If Dr. Marshall and Archbishop Vigano can question the decision to laicize Father Pavone, can’t someone at Notre Dame use Notre Dame’s bully pulpit to help a good man, namely Fr. Frank Pavone, through face-saving mediation, whether publicly or privately? If Fr. Jenkins and or Fr Beauchamp and or Fr. Dyson and or Fr. Malloy and Bishop Wack and Bishop Jenky and the Bishop of South Bend ALL offered to mediate between Fr. Pavone and the Bishop of Amarillo, I bet others would follow, starting with Bishop Strickland, analogous to Notre Dame football players laying their jerseys on the coach’s desk, so that “Rudy” would get a chance to play in his last game, for us simple people who like to create mind images. Wouldn’t it be great if one or all of you found a satisfactory way for the Bishop to withdraw his complaint to the Vatican, wouldn’t it be great to have Fr. Pavone return to his important work as a priest saving babies, including Catholic babies, from being aborted? Aren’t members of the priesthood big enough to say “none of us is perfect”, but we can all be peacemakers?

  6. Steve Martinek '71, '74 (earlier times and values) December 26, 2022 at 8:27 am

    Cogent, earnest comments by John McNamara as the day of Christmas reached its final hour. Bergoglio’s unwarranted and unjustified cancellation of Father Frank Pavone may well constitute a near-equivalent act of true heresy and apostasy akin (in a cosmic sense) to what Jenkins has done and continues to do to the Faith through his faulty and feckless, and truly reprehensible, stewardship of Our Lady’s trust reposed upon his too weak shoulders. Thank You John and Bill, for voices raised in plaintive truth. Respect, Steve

  7. Steve Martinek '71, '74 (earlier times and values) December 25, 2022 at 2:36 am

    John: If willing, please send me your e-mail address to
    I’d like to share with you a 7 page prayer-petition I delivered, in person, in Spring of 2018 to the Notre Dame Development Office (and recently, at his request, re-sent to Lou Nanni at ND). While both efforts were exercises in futility, I believe you will find resonance in my words and efforts. Respect and prayers, Steve

  8. Steve Martinek '71, '74 (earlier times and values) December 25, 2022 at 12:07 am

    • John McNamara '86 December 25, 2022 at 1:56 am

      This is a great link to Dr. Taylor Marshall and Archbishop Vigano defending Fr. Pavone. This is the kind of activity I wish Notre Dame and its professors would learn how to do, rather than chant ‘Justice Ruth tells the truth” at Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Is there a “Sicilian” culture of fear at Notre Dame?. When will Dr. Snead be inviting Fr. Pavone and or Dr. Marshall to give lectures at Notre Dame, you know maybe a visiting professor like “Mayor Pete”? Once the ball starts rolling at Notre Dame, maybe Catholic U or St. Louis University or Creighton could follow along.

  9. Steve Martinek '71, '74 (earlier times and values) December 24, 2022 at 11:04 pm

  10. I hate to be the voice in the wilderness asking the tough questions, but if we really wanted to see how willing Dr. Carter Snead and Fr. John Jenkins were to be advocates for the right to life and ethics, I’d like to hear their respective public positions on wheher there ought to be reconsideration and a new course of action by the Bishop of Amarillo Texas on the laicization/defrocking of Fr. Frank Pavone, who has dedicated his life to the priesthood and the “Priests for Life ” organization he founded. Fr. Pavone is actually a pro-life advocate you see quoted in the public media. Fr. Pavone also publicly supported the most pro-life president in US history, Donald Trump. Couldn’t the Bishop of Amarillo, TX just issue an angry letter about Fr. Pavone, like Fr. Jenkins did concerning Lou Holtz pubicly supporting President Trump? Couldn’t the Bishop of Amarillo, TX let Pavone switch to a friendlier, more pro-life diocese, when another bishop offered that option? It would test the meddle of Dr. Snead and/or Fr. Jenkins to see if they could use their national positions to bring a more positive resolution to Fr. Pavone’s laicization- being fired from the priesthood. That would be a great Christmas present for the pro-life movement, but I expect to hear back with utter silence or that it is too much to ask for and that there are secret things we are unaware of, though Fr. Pavone has given at least two interviews about the situation. Fr. Pavone got laicized a whole lot quicker than Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, whose sins were much graver, than Fr. Pavone. Just curious to ask these questions, because I would like to see Fr. Pavone helped and Notre Dame to take some public action to support the pro-life movement. Secrecy is the best friend of sin and evil. Big challenges create reputations for greatness. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”- Knute Rockne. Even a public opinion supporting Fr. Pavone would be appreciated.

    • Mc McNamara (cc to Mr. Martinek), I offer a few observations about your disappointment that, so far as you can tell, Professor Carter’s voice is not heard outside Notre Dame. You say in part:

      “I did a Google search for Dr. Snead and the DiNicola Center for Ethics, and outside of Notre Dame websites, I saw no opinion articles in the NY Times, The Washington Post or the Wall St. Journal or any other newspaper. …. I just never hear about or see him in any articles except for the Sycamore Trust newsletter. I am worried Dr. Snead is preaching to the choir at Notre Dame, rather than persuading and converting the undecided in the nation at large.”

      First, even if you were correct, it would be immaterial to our purpose, which is to report accurately the state of affairs at Notre Dame, not in the world at large. It is the time Catholic professors at Notre Dame devote to students and activities at the university that counts in terms of its Catholic identity. The problem is that there are too few of the, not that too few of them engage in influencing public policy.

      Second, in any case you are not correct respecting Professor Snead. To begin with, surely it counts a great deal to have published a book on abortion and related topics celebrated by the Wall Street Journal as one of the ten most important books of the year and the New York Times as one of the ten most important on abortion, as we reported.

      Beyond that, if you don’t credit the university’s description of Professor Carter’s prolific contributions in action and print that we cited and summarized, perhaps The New Atlantis’s account will serve:

      “His scholarly works have appeared in such publications as Constitutional Commentary, the New England Law Review, the Yale Journal of Health Policy Law and Ethics, the National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, Quaderni Costituzionale, and The New Atlantis. His popular commentary and analysis have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, the Baltimore Sun, the Indianapolis Star, the San Jose Mercury News, Wired, Washington Lawyer, National Review Online, Science and Spirit, Today’s Catholic, and the National Catholic Register.”

      I was struck by your failure to find evidence of any of this, and in particular the blank you drew with Google respecting the Washington Post, since I recalled having recently read in the Post Professor Snead’s op-ed on the Supreme Court’s Dodd decision. So I tried my hand with Google as to the Post. I had more success. I found three 2022 Snead op-eds on abortion and one on the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

      To be sure, the presence and work of the Center does not make Notre Dame a Catholic university. But it is part of the picture, and donors and parents, actual and potential, should know about it.

      • Dear Mr. Dempsey: Merry Christmas! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and got to spend a lot time time in the company of those that you love.
        My compliments to you and your son for your work organizing the Sycamore Trust and investigating issues of concern regarding the widening gulf between what is taught at Notre Dame and the beliefs of the Catholic Church as provided in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Bible, and Catholic tradition. Some might believe that the University is following the Jesuit path of questioning all Catholic doctrine and is apparently on course to become “Georgetown Jr.”- a university that loses its Catholic identity and conscience to receive money and accolades from the secular, “woke” liberal elites. Mr. Dempsey, you and I have already graduated from Notre Dame, so the work of the Sycamore Trust is not necessarily to help you or I, it is to help current and future students to receive the Truth, the Catholic Faith, as provided in the Cathechism and the Bible. You express concern that parents may read the comments we write. Thomas Sowell once said that “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, tell them what they want to hear.” Since you are a lawyer, I am am sure you have some experience with those situations. I say let the parents hear the truth and a variety of opinions and then draw their own conclusions. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “In the end we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
        You and I both want Notre Dame to return to firm adherence to the Catholic faith. We probably disagree at times on how to do that. As a loyal Notre Dame alum you are fiercely loyal to Notre Dame and dislike questions, challenges and criticism to some extent, though not completely. My view is that Notre Dame administrators are enclosed in a bubble wrap of yes men and yes women who shield them from the strong feelings expressed by those who care about Notre Dame and its former Catholic tradition. I was brought up to ask questions in class if I didn’t understand something and found that many classmates were too afraid to ask for fear of being ridiculed My request to you is to be patient with those of us who have parallell goals to yours, but may take an alternate way to get there and stop to ask for directions.
        I note that you or someone from the Sycamore Trust staff deleted all the comments submitted to your June 11. 2021 “Mid Year Message” Sycamore Trust newsletter. and in doing so you cancelled something I wrote and many other people who took the time to write “God Bless you”. You or your agents appear to have silenced several well-meaning people. You never notified me you were cancelling those comments and I did not swear or mistate anything, though I did recite a list of uncomfortable facts about President Biden after he was invited to speak at Notre Dame’s 2021 graduation.
        Thank you for adding, in your comment to my comment, the various publications that have mentioned Dr. Snead and that he has written to. I stand corrected. Dr. Snead is fortunate to have a loyal defender and friend lke yourself and I think your quotation of the “New Atlantic’s” statement on Dr. Snead’s written articles would have been a good paragraph to add in the original Sycamore newsletter..
        You appear not to have “googled” or “yahooed” the search “O. Carter Snead”. I don’t think you are in a position to challenge or question me about what I said until you have. Then you go ahead and dismiss it and say that the only thing that matters is that O Carter Snead is a rare professor at Notre Dame who advocates for pro-life. Do you think Google or Yahoo may want to divert away from those articles supporting the pro-life position? Are you aware of Elon Musk’s disclosures about how the American high-tech world is cancelling dissenting stories and opinions that they don’t like?
        Finally, I suspect, and I believe others suspect, that their is a culture of “watch what you say at Notre Dame, iif you annoy Fr. Jenkins, you may be cancelled.” I think that’s why you cancelled all the comments to the 2021 Mid Year Message. I think that is why you are trying to divert attention away from my request to Dr. Snead, an accomplished leader in the American pro-life movement, to see if he can suggest a mediated settlement, maybe even with Fr. Jenkins help, to help Fr. Frank Pavone to be reinstated to the priesthood after being laicized. If he can’t, he can’t, maybe Fr. Jenkins will cancel him, maybe Cardinal Cupich will cancel Fr. Jenkins and Dr. Snead, but it’s worth asking for. I undestand your desire to shield Dr. Snead from a tough task and his and your silence says a lot. The question is out there. Notre Dame’s prestige used to go a long way and Cardinals used to listen to Notre Dame. Why not now? As St. John’s Gospel says,”Greater love hath no man, than a man that lays down his life for his friends”. Father Pavone has been doing that for America’s unborn children for years. Could Dr. Snead and or Fr. Jenkins do that for Fr. Pavone? Would you give your opinion to them, Mr. Dempsey, to try to mediate between Fr. Pavone and the Bishop of Amarillo? Right now all I have is Notre Dame’s traditional silence. “In the end, we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Again, Merry Christmas to you and all your Sycamore readers.
        John (not Mac) McNamara

        • Thank you for your Christmas greeting, Mr. McNamara, and let me in turn send you my best wishes for a blessed Christmas and tranquil New Year. Here, also, are a few brief supplemental comments in light of yours.

          Our mission centers on the Catholic identity of Notre Dame. We report the facts bearing upon that question as fully and accurately as we can. As we have often stated, we believe those facts establish that Notre Dame is no longer an authentically Catholic university because it does not meet its own standard respecting Catholic faculty representation, but that it is still the most Catholic of the major Catholic universities and provides students who choose courses wisely a fine Catholic education as well as rich resources for spiritual growth.

          Most of our reports relate to facts undermining Catholic identity because no one else discloses them, but, against the risk that our readers will be blinded to the strong elements of Catholic thought and spirit that remain, we publish from time to time bulletins like the current one about Professor Snead and the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture. We will continue to do so.

          I leave it at that for the most part. I responded to your original comment simply because your stated view about Professor Snead’s reach outside the university was incorrect, as you now acknowledge. (You suggest we would have done well to include the New Atlantic’s passage in our bulletin, but we did not anticipate anyone would question our summary of Professor Snead’s activities, at least without examining the details in Notre Dame’s entry on Professor Snead, which we “urged upon” readers at the link provided, The New Atlantic obviously drew upon this source. )

          There is one new correction I need make. Your write that I “appear not to have ‘googled’ or ‘yahooed’ the search ‘O. Carter Snead’. I don’t think you are in a position to challenge or question me about what I said until you have.”

          I am puzzled, since I explicitly said that I did Google the Washington Post and reported what I found that you did not. (“ So I tried my hand with Google as to the Post. I had more success. I found three 2022 Snead op-eds on abortion and one on the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.”)

          Next, since you believe my silence about your suggestion that Professor Snead try to intervene in the Pavonne matter “says a lot,” let me assure you mine simply says I have nothing to say. The suggestion is both far removed from our mission and quite beyond our competence.

          Finally, I take note of your belief that we “silenced” some people by taking down all comments to a 2021 bulletin because we didn’t want to “annoy Father Jenkins.” On that standard, we’d take down almost all of our bulletins. In any case, we didn’t silence anyone, but rather let everyone have their say on the bulletin. When we closed the comment section and took down those posted after a reasonable time had elapsed, we explained:

          “We value the effort of those who took the time to comment on this bulletin. However, after careful review we have concluded that some elements of some comments might be cited as showing we give only lip service to our ‘Commenting Code” [which, inter alia, prescribes “decorum and civility]. Since everyone has had their say, we think it best to eliminate this possibility by replacing the comments with our Code.”

          We are quite liberal in reviewing comments, but we don’t want to give our adversaries grounds for impugning our message by assailing us for encouraging vituperation rather than civil discourse. That is not to say we never err, but it is to say that we try to do our best.

          Again, all good wishes In this holy season.

  11. Steve Martinek '71, '74 (earlier times and values) December 24, 2022 at 7:41 pm

    John McNamara raises a cogent question and concern which has strong indicia of validity in light of the tenor of the University narrative under Jenkins feckless stewardship. Perhaps an apt synonym for “token” in this instance may be “beard” and it may apply to Snead, and Sycamore, and The Rover and even my respected friend Bill Dempsey. Perhaps “straw man” or “stalking horse” or “red herring” to neutralize the woke hordes?

  12. John McNamara '86 December 24, 2022 at 6:43 pm

    It is encouraging to read these things, but I have some respectful questions. Why do we rarely hear about any activity by Dr Snead or the Center for Ethics on campus? I did a Google search for Dr. Snead and the DiNicola Center for Ethics, and outside of Notre Dame websites, I saw no opinion articles in the NY Times, The Washington Post or the Wall St. Journal or any other newspaper. I saw no law review articles. I see no appearances on Fox News or CNN. It could be that media does NOT want to hear his message, or it could be that someone is reigning him in on communication of his ethics and pro-life messages. I hear about no letters written to Vanderbilt University or other universities’ hospitals regarding transgender surgeries programs on minors younger than 18. I am unaware of any letters written to the Colorado General Assembly before it passed radical laws earlier this year permitting parents not to be informed about their children being assisted by schools to change their gender. Did Dr. Snead talk to Fr. Jenkins about the new transgender sex education video the Holy Cross Order of priests at Notre Dame put out this Fall for incoming freshmen? In my experience, sometimes corporate or government agencies will hire or seat a member of a minority, who unwittingly is used as a “token” to shield the government agency or corporation from criticism that the organization is acting in a racist/unethical way- you know, “surely our minority member would complain, if we were acting in a racist or illegal or unethical way”, when in fact the agency or company keeps their token in the dark and never listens to them. I apologize if this is insulting to Dr. Snead, it certainly is not meant to be, but I don’t have a synonym for “token” and I just never hear about or see him in any articles except for the Sycamore Trust newsletter. I am worried Dr. Snead is preaching to the choir at Notre Dame, rather than persuading and converting the undecided in the nation at large, and you can’t convert, unless people outside of Notre Dame hear about you, with all the greatest respect and encouragement. Seems like he needs a publicist.

  13. I know how passionate Professor Snead and his staff are in their pursuit of a lasting Catholic identity for Our Lady’s University. It is an effort worth consideration lest we allow that identity to further diminish.

  14. Wonderful article and reassuring; it allows me to be optimistic about our future of ND despite all the travails of the world and our country these days. Is there any way to specifically support the Sorin Fellows program?

  15. Steve Martinek '71, '74 (earlier times and values) December 23, 2022 at 9:03 am

    I suspect many conservative cradle-Catholic alums will feel gratified and fortified with renewed hope after reading of the efforts by Snead and dCEC–particularly in these troubling times for mankind, for our Nation, for our Church, and for our beloved University. I fear more words might diminish the feelings of wonder, and hope, and gradeur evoked by this message. Father Raphael’s prayer was beautiful and warm; yet I found myself intrigued by a linguistic observation. I wonder if the remnant or residual strong and jealous God of the OT did not perhaps choose a “manger” for His Son, knowing that within the letters and straw is also His righteous “anger?” Steve ’71, ’74

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