An Open Letter: To Dolly Duffy, Executive Director of the Notre Dame Alumni Association
With copies to Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Rev. William M. Lies, and John J. Brennan
Dear Mrs. Duffy,
We write as Notre Dame alumni, parents, and others of the Notre Dame family deeply concerned about the Alumni Association’s establishment of the Alumni Rainbow Community of Notre Dame (ARC ND) as an LGBTQ affinity group. As we relate below, not only is this official extension of NDAA demonstrably hostile to Church teaching on sex, marriage, and gender, but you allowed it to undermine that teaching in its first public event. It thereby undermined as well NDAA’s stated purpose of “fostering and continuing the moral, spiritual and intellectual ideals taught and inspired by the University.”
Even though you have not replied to messages by many alumni about these matters, we hope you will respond to this one.
We want you to know at the outset that we regret taking issue with you with respect to ARC ND because we are grateful for your leadership of NDAA over a number of years. NDAA is one of the finest alumni associations in the country, due in no small measure to your hand at the helm.
We add that we think it uncharacteristic for you not to have answered alumni distressed by the NDAA’s actions in this matter. Your silence suggests to us that the administration rather than NDAA may be primarily responsible for the creation of ARC ND and the sanctioning of its actions.
This would certainly accord with the long history of the administration’s silent subversion of Church teaching on sex, marriage and gender that Sycamore Trust has recorded over the years and that has recently been recounted by the National Catholic Register. Accordingly, we are sending a copy of this letter to Father Jenkins so that he may reply if he chooses.
In brief, this is what has prompted us to write you:
First, NDAA collaborated with the Gay and Lesbian Alumni Association of Notre Dame (“GALA”) in establishing an official LGBT alumni group that is really GALA under a different name. It will predictably continue GALA’s policy of opposition to Church teaching on sex, marriage, and gender.
Second, instead of warning ARC ND not to pursue such a policy, NDAA permitted ARC ND to stage with GALA a recent celebratory LGBTQ three-day event on campus during which it honored leading LGBTQ activists precisely because of their opposition to Church teaching.
These developments are described in detail in a number of Sycamore Trust bulletins. See here and here and here and here.
In sum, as to GALA and ARC ND:
- For many years GALA has honored one prominent champion of same-sex marriage after another at its annual awards dinner, many of them dissident Catholics.
- Both NDAA and GALA described the design and launching of ARC as a collaborative effort.
- Thereupon GALA announced to its members: “We have a new organization to build, ARC ND.”
- Notre Dame now administers GALA’s scholarships to LGBT students.
- NDAA appointed the chair of GALA, who is in a same-sex marriage, to be chair of ARC.
- Most of the other members of GALA’s leadership team are also in same-sex marriages, as are at least half of ARC ND’s leadership team.
In these circumstances, it is scarcely surprising that, as its first official act, ARC ND co-sponsored with GALA the post-COVID resumption of GALA’s annual LGBTQ Awards Weekend at Notre Dame.
What is surprising and deeply disappointing is that NDAA permitted it to do so, for the event was once again a celebration of prominent LGBT leaders because of their opposition to Church teaching. Thus:
- The Distinguished Alumni Award went to Greg Bourke (’82), who, with his male spouse, was a plaintiff in the lawsuit in which the Supreme Court compelled states to recognize same-sex marriage. Bourke regularly promotes same-sex marriage and recounts his role as a Notre Dame graduate in legitimating it.
- The Distinguished Service Award went to Meghan Buell, a leading South Bend transgender LGBT activist who was formerly executive director of the LGBTQ Resource Center of Michiana and is currently the founding president of the Transgender Resources, Educational and Enrichment Center of South Bend.
This inarguably violated the United States Conference of Bishops’ injunction that
Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platform which would suggest support for their actions.
More, ARC ND dragged the Holy Cross Order into the Awards ceremony by also honoring Rev. Joseph Corpora, C.S.C. His participation suggested approval of the event by the Order, which in fact was the case. Sycamore Trust requested the C.S.C. Provincial to direct Father Corpora to withdraw to avoid scandal and a breach of the USCCB directive. The Provincial did not respond.
We do not mean to intrude on NDAA’s discretion to establish whatever affinity groups best serve its stated purposes and Notre Dame’s mission. An LGBTQ affinity group formed in collaboration with Courage (“A Roman Catholic apostolate for men and women who experience same-sex attractions and those who love them”), for example, would be irreproachable.
But NDAA’s establishing ARC ND as a GALA clone ensures it will use NDAA’s resources and prestige to promote same-sex marriage and gender malleability within and without Notre Dame’s unparalleled network of alumni and alumni clubs.
And that, we believe, is our business and is lamentable.
But, as we said at the outset, we earnestly solicit your views.
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