Promoting Catholic Intellectual Life


.@ND_EthicsCenter is evidence that a counter-cultural light can still break upon @NotreDame to shine in a desperate world that is need for moral leadership #GoCatholicND Click To Tweet

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. 

2 Responses to “Promoting Catholic Intellectual Life”

  1. It has always been about The Marriage, In Heaven and On Earth.

    “It is not possible to have Sacramental Communion without Ecclesial Communion”, due to The Unity Of The Holy Ghost. (Filioque)

    The Eucharist Prayer:

    1These things Jesus spoke: and lifting up his eyes to heaven, he said: the hour is come. Glorify thy Son, that thy Son may glorify thee. 2As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he may give eternal life to all whom thou hast given him. 3Now this is eternal life: That they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. 4I have glorified thee on the earth; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. 5And now glorify thou me, O Father, with thyself, with the glory which I had, before the world was, with thee.

    Prayer for all Believers
    20And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me. 21That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
    22And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given to them: that, they may be one, as we also are one. 23I in them, and thou in me: that they may be made perfect in one: and the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them, as thou hast also loved me. 24Father, I will that where I am, they also whom thou hast given me may be with me: that they may see my glory which thou hast given me, because thou hast loved me before the creation of the world.
    25Just Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee. And these have known that thou hast sent me. 26And I have made known thy name to them and will make it known: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

    “4For it is impossible for those who were once illuminated, have tasted also the heavenly gift and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5Have moreover tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come…”, to not believe 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.”

    Perfect Love does not divide, it multiplies, (Filioque), as in the Miracle Of The Loaves and Fishes.

    And yet, there are a multitude of Baptized Catholics who have spiritually and thus physically separated themselves from The Catholic Church but have been allowed to remain physically present making it appear as if one can be for Christ, and against Christ and both remain, in essence, Catholic, exchanging The Truth Of Love, for a lie.
    One cannot be an atheist materialistic over population alarmist globalist, who renders onto Caesar or themselves, that which belongs to The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity, Through The Unity Of The Holy Ghost (Filioque), The Author Of Love, Of Life, And Of Marriage, and still be, in essence, a Catholic. A Catholic, first and foremost, is in communion with Christ, and His One, Holy, Catholic, And Apostolic Church, Through The Unity Of The Holy Ghost(Filioque).

    Perfect Love does not divide, it multiplies, (Filioque), as in the Miracle Of The Loaves and Fishes.

    When exactly did Christ remove The Charitable Anathema from The Deposit Of Faith?

    “Penance, Penance, Penance.”

    9And he said to me: Write: Blessed are they that are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith to me: These words of God are true. 10

  2. J.M.J.

    The only Faithful Catholic response is one that begins and ends with refusing to identify any beloved son or daughter, brother or sister, husband or wife, father or mother, according to sexual desire/inclination/orientation, for that would first and foremost sexually objectify all beloved sons and daughters, in direct violation of God’s Commandment regarding lust and the sin of adultery while denying The Sanctity of the marital act within The Sacrament Of Holy Matrimony,

    Love Is rightly ordered to the inherent personal and relational inherent Dignity of the persons existing in a relationship of Love,is devoid of every form of lust.

    One should never underestimate the value of a friendship that is grounded in authentic Love because, in denying every form of lust, it serves only for that which is Good, Beautiful, and True.

    Lust does not serve for the Good of any person thus it can never serve for The Common Good.

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