Statement of Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades


Bishop Rhoades rejects Notre Dame president Fr. Jenkins’s claim that his decision to have Notre Dame provide contraceptives to students and employees is “based on Catholic principles.” Click To Tweet

Regarding the Notre Dame Decision on Contraceptive Coverage

“I strongly support the decision of the University of Notre Dame to stop the government-funded provision, through its third party administrator, of abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization procedures. I am also happy that the University will provide natural family planning services in its insurance plans. At the same time, I strongly disagree with Notre Dame’s decision to provide funding for contraception in its health insurance plans which involves it even more directly in contributing to immoral activity. The Catholic Church clearly teaches that contraception is an immoral action that contradicts the truth of marital love.

As Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, the local Church of which Notre Dame is a part, I wish to remind all the faithful of the diocese, including the faithful who are part of the Notre Dame community, of the Church’s definitive teaching that “every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible is intrinsically evil” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2370). I encourage all who struggle with this teaching to study prayerfully this teaching of the Church, and I especially recommend the study of the encyclical of Blessed Pope Paul VI, “Humanae Vitae,” during this 50th anniversary year of the encyclical, as well as the rich teaching of Pope Saint John Paul II in his catecheses on the “theology of the body.” Many Catholics have come to a greater understanding and appreciation of the Church’s teaching through such study and prayer.

I understand Notre Dame’s desire to respect other religious traditions and the conscientious decisions of members of the Notre Dame community on this issue. Members of the community who decide to use contraceptives, however, should not expect the university to act contrary to its Catholic beliefs by funding these contraceptives. Notre Dame bears prophetic witness to the truths of the Catholic faith in its words and actions on many issues of importance for the good of our society. Not providing funding for contraception would not be popular with some, but it would truly be a prophetic witness to the truth about human sexuality and its meaning and purpose. I hope and pray that the University will reconsider its decision.”

30 Responses to “Statement of Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades”

  1. STEVEN MARTINEK (ND 1971, NDL 1974) February 28, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    I was disappointed in the wording and tenor of Bishop Rhoades too-loving rebuke of Father Jenkins’ indefensible position. It should have been stronger.It weakened the stance of the Bishop to begin with nominal affirmation of Jenkins’ disingenuous “position of principle.” The statement could and should have been more concise, more confident, and it would then have been more compelling. Specifically he should have branded as a lie the claim that Jenkins had some duty or challenge to balance Catholic principles against some need to respect deeply held alternative religious views. There is no religion or faith whose adherents feel compelled by dogma or faith to have available to them (at work or school) as part of their health insurance the ability to secure contraceptives. It was a total deficiency of moral and intellectual integrity to assert otherwise, as Jenkins did.

  2. Nancy D (@AnnDanielD) February 26, 2018 at 10:48 am

    The erroneous notion that private morality and public morality can serve in opposition to one another, or that individual conscience is not subject to God’s Law, is a grievous error, which, by denying The Unity of The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity, has led to a Great Falling Away.

    “If you say that LGBT sexual orientation is merely differently ordered, you have actually not only changed the catechism in this specific case of the Roman Catholic Church, you have changed the Catholic Church’s understanding of the doctrines of creation, of humanity, of sin, of redemption, of the church. It is an entire re-orientation of the Catholic faith,” Mohler said.

    “It is an entire reorientation of The Catholic faith”, because it denies the Sanctity of the marital act, which is Life-affirming and Life-sustaining, and can only be consummated between a man and woman, united in marriage as husband and wife, and thus the Sanctity of human life from the moment of conception when every human person, regardless of Race/Ancestry, Is Created in The Image and Likeness of God, not as an object of sexual desire/inclination/orientation, but equal in Dignity, while being complementary as a beloved son or daughter, Willed by God, worthy of Redemption.

    Only human persons can marry and be given in marriage, because only human persons have been called to livie in Loving relationship, in communion with The Ordered Communion of Perfect Complementary Love, The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity. Our Universal Call to Holiness, which only exists for human persons, is a call to be chaste in our thoughts, in our words, and in our deeds, because only “The Way, The Truth, and The Life of Love”, Our Savior, Jesus The Christ, can set us free, and lead us to Salvation.

  3. What we have here is the Jenkins Church with followers like Joe Biden that think sodomy is the same as Christian marriage. Guess that explains why the sheep will be on the right and the goats on the left.

  4. Richard Griffin'60 February 17, 2018 at 6:52 am

    Very troubling development and there are unanswered questions on how far ND will take the matter. What are the specifics on what Father Jenkins calls “simple” contraceptives? Will the ND insurance program provide contraceptives to single students and employees and to children of employees?

  5. Abortion is an effect, not a cause, terrible as it is.

  6. I agree with the great majority of Catholics, including a very large number of priests, who believe that CONTRACEPTION IS NOT sinful. I believe that Fr Jenkins has made the correct decision on this matter. I was raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools for 12 years. Some 50 years ago when I was about to be married, my mother (who raised seven children, attended mass daily, etc.), told me that she had discussed birth control with her parish priest who had counseled her that it was OK to use birth control. She suggested to me that I would not be committing sin to use birth control until my new wife and I were ready to have children.
    Given the increasing human population explosion and attendant problems it is sinful not to limit our reproduction, especially for those least able to afford to raise large families. So called “natural family planning” simply doesn’t work for most folks.


  8. Maureen McPartlan February 11, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    So, where is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops? Are they afraid to voice Catholic principles as well? They’re obviously petrified to publicly excommunicate politicians who proclaim to be Catholics from the rooftops and yet support partial birth abortion.
    On another note regarding Fr. Jenkins’ awarding the Laetare Medal–when can we expect the medal to be given to actual practicing Catholics like Clarence Thomas and posthumously to Antonin Scalia?
    The scandal and disgrace that Fr. Jenkins displays to Catholic Doctrine every moment that he leads the premier Catholic University in North America named after the Blessed Mother–Notre Dame–is like watching nails and thorns being driven right into Our Blessed Mother’s heart each minute of every day..

  9. I think that even if the Holy Cross superior ordered Fr. jenkins to step down, he would not do it.

    G. Reamer 1963

  10. Fr. Jenkins is a coward. His cowardice results from his misplaced understanding of security and happiness. Fr. Jenkins is afraid because his security resides in the kingdom of men and not the kingdom of God.

  11. If I were a Catholic attending a Jewish institution I wouldn’t expect the cafeteria to serve pork or shellfish to make me feel welcome. If I attended a Muslim school I wouldn’t expect the cafeteria to be open during the daylight hours of Ramadan. To say that Notre Dame as a Catholic institution must provide contraceptives because not all the staff and students are Catholic is equally unreasonable. If you decide to work or study at a Catholic school one should expect the school to follow Catholic teaching. If that makes you unhappy you are free to go elsewhere.

  12. What am I missing in believing that this matter can be settled quickly and effectively? If I am not mistaken, Fr. Robert Epping, C.S.C. is the Superior General of the Congregation of the Holy Cross. He operates from the Holy Cross Headquarters in Rome and answers directly to Pope Francis. There is your line of communication through which Catholic policy can be upheld to remedy the issue. Silence is failure, and if that is the path no one cares to avoid, then all who can play an effective role should resolve to read Eugene Kranz’s book, Failure Is Not An Option.

    • You are right, Jim. If the Provincial, Fr. O’Hara, will not direct Fr Jenkins to reverse his decision then Fr.Epping should. We have raised this with both of them.

      • Nancy D (@AnnDanielD) February 23, 2018 at 7:03 pm

        We have not heard from either Father O’Hara or Father Epping, thus we can assume that they are directing Our Lady’s University on this path that rejects the teaching of The Magisterium in regards to the Sanctity of human life from the moment of conception, and the Sanctity of the marital act and marriage and the family.

        The Bishop has a duty not just to correct this grievous error but to make it clear that we are subject to God’s Law whether we are residing in public or in private. Catholic Canon 750 is clear; one cannot deny that which a Catholic must believe with Divine and Catholic Faith, without setting himself/herself against Christ and His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Perhaps we have come to a point in Salvation History where there are a multitude who believe that separating themselves from The Body of Christ is simply not a serious matter.

        Faith that does not remain faithful will leave one autonomous and thus no longer in communion with Christ, and His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Does the Bishop recognize that to deny The Unity of The Holy Ghost, is to no longer affirm that it Is Through, With, and In Christ, In The Unity of The Holy Ghost (Filioque), that Holy Mother Church exists?

        “Where have they taken our Lord.”

  13. Thank you Bishop Rhodes for taking a stand against the absurd decision by Fr. Jenkins. People are looking for a leader that is not afraid of proclaiming the Truth of Jesus Christ. Be assured that you are in my prayers. It is time for all of us to start boldly proclaiming the evils of contraception and stop trying to excuse or minimize the what has become rampant in society. Catholics are to be the beacon of light to the world, not trying to ex

  14. In 2000, when my sons were aged 4 & 8 and my daughter 12, we traveled with great joy to Notre Dame to pray at the Grotto, attend Mass at the Basilica, and tour the campus imagining great possibilities. While there, we explored opportunities for their education in later years at the University of Notre Dame. Their Mom, a cradle Catholic like me, had already filed for divorce, which would finalize two years later. Our visit was a quiet mission of hope about the legacy of our family’s Catholic values, the values and teaching gifted to us by Jesus Christ. As College years approached for the oldest, it became very clear that Notre Dame offered only to soak our family for huge sums of tuition and other expenses at great risk of killing off whatever may survive of our children’s Catholic sensibilities, values, and living praxis following the tsunami of divorce. My eldest would graduate a local Catholic College, which left no imprint on my daughter, who finds herself more comfortable in the huge non-denominational community where her lack of faith remains concealed. My oldest son graduated the University of Michigan, far from a Christian enclave, and has fervently embraced the Roman Catholic silo where members gather and feel comfortable belonging and relishing Catholic trappings. My youngest son graduates Hillsdale College this spring, where he has learned to embrace Jesus Christ, King of Kings, and live his Catholic faith with brothers and sisters of all faiths, Jewish, Muslim, and the ABC’s of Christianity, and defend his Catholic values with compelling reason, generosity, and a loving heart. In just over one year, Hillsdale will complete Christ Chapel, which will offer a house of worship for all Christians to find Jesus together honoring their denominational traditions in unity with one other, appreciating the very best music and acoustic expression, and congregating to celebrate God Almighty amidst graduations, visiting speakers, and diverse special events. Wow! What an awesome Catholic experience that is!

    The weakness of Catholic witness in the United States could not be more disappointing. Sadly, Notre Dame has become the icon of cafeteria Catholicism so watered down in this third millennnium that it ceases to be Christianity. How our Blessed Mother must lock away the sorrow of this institution that leverages her name to lead young people and their esteemed professors far, far away from the teachings and witness of her son, who perpetually declares, “Let there be light.” In solidarity and empathy with our beloved Notre Dame, Mother of our Lord, may we Catholics pray and endeavor to reverse this Screw Tape tragedy and take back our one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church and let its light restore these once United States, the promised land our Triune God blessed us to call home.

  15. There really needs to be some biological scientific intervention here. The pill – if that is considered a “simple contraceptive,” according to ND’s new policy, is actually an abortifacient. It renders the lining of the uterus incapable of implantation. That means after the human being is created by conception it cannot implant itself in the lining of the uterus and therefore survive. It is aborted by the body of the mother in an automatic mini abortion. Knowing this, how can it not be clear that chemical contraceptives are contrary to life and the Church’s teachings? Any insurance policy that supports this is an insurance policy that is buying into the culture of death.

  16. Dale C. Havre, M.D. February 10, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    Will Fr. Jenkins’ medical insurance pay for a few visits to a Catholic psychiatrist?

  17. Same thing different day/bishop. All talk no action

  18. Many issues are not black and white. This particular issue is black and white. The issue is one of courage and serving idol gods, in this case, the University of Notre Dame board, no doubt.

  19. Is Fr. Jenkins so concerned that top level students will decide to go to another university that he is willing to go against the teachings of the Church, and jeopardize his mortal soul?

  20. William J. O'Connor February 10, 2018 at 11:57 am

    At least a dark moment in Notre Dame history is over. I prefer to end on a positive note.My website, www;
    contains an original music video “Save The Children” starring our youngest son, Sean Patrick O’Connor. Proud of both.
    Worth a view, thanks to Professor Ed Cronin.
    William J. O’Connor
    Class of 1974

  21. William J. O'Connor February 10, 2018 at 11:43 am

    Every year since Notre Dame commenced providing abortifacients, Bishop Rhoades has served as co-celebrant of the
    Mass with Father Jenkins and awarded Notre Dame’s Liturgim Vitae Medal to a person for their outstanding.service to the
    pro-life movement. One year it was awarded to Carl Anderson, president of the Knights of Columbus. These facts are worthy
    of note.

    William J. O’Connor
    Class of 1974

    P.S.- An original music video “Save The Children” is posted on my website,
    It stars our son,Sean Patrick O’Connor, on the cover. It is worth a view.

  22. Michael abbatemarco February 10, 2018 at 11:21 am

    Tell Jenkins to step down

  23. Robert Salvatore DeMartino February 10, 2018 at 10:26 am

    I am extremely happy that the Bishop took a stand and defended Catholic teaching, however, I don’t understand how the Catholic Church continues to allow Fr. Jenkins to make decisions against the Catholic teachings. The Superior General of his religious order and the Bishop should remove Fr. Jenkins from that post, and elect an individual that will conform to our Catholic teachings and beliefs.
    As far as I concerned, calling Notre Dame a Catholic Institution is a joke, and it should be remove from the Catholic category of universities.

  24. Colonel Richard E. Lochner February 10, 2018 at 10:09 am

    Man has been trying to rationalize sin since Adam and Eve and Cain killing Abel. Why should Father Jenkins be exempt?

  25. It is indeed sad that the leader of a great Catholic University lacks the moral courage to follow the teachings of the Church hence the teachings of Christ. Let us all pray for all those who lack the courage to do the right.

  26. Kathleen McAllister February 10, 2018 at 9:53 am

    Notre Dames decision to pay for contraceptives is absurd. Fr Jenkins went from accepting the Obama ruling against religious based institutions which forced inclusion of payment for birth control devices. When President Trump withdrew this ruling by the evil Obama, Jenkins then decided to include contraceptive funding at the expense of the school. Jenkins can’t make up his mind whether ND and he himself are truly Catholic . I think he should step down. I would never send my child to
    Notre Dame even if he/she won a scholarship.

  27. One can only pray that Fr. Jenkins will resconsider his decision to allow distribution of birth control productis through the Notre Dame Health Insurance program. It is not the mission of Notre Dame to please those whose beliefs differ from the teaching of the Church. Rather, it is the responsibility of those who decide to be employed by Notre Dame to respect the spiritual and moral foundation upon which the University was built.