The Ghost of Commencement Past


Notre Dame’s defense against charges of scandal surrounding President Obama’s 2009 commencement address is belied by its refusal to extend the same honor to President Trump.

NOTRE DAME, IN —  By declining to invite President Trump to deliver this year’s commencement address after the 2009 invitation to President Obama, the nation’s most pro-abortion president, Father Jenkins scuttled his defense against charges of scandal in the Obama affair.

Notre Dame’s reputation as a Catholic university was seriously damaged by Father Jenkins’s 2009 decision to honor President Obama, the Church’s most formidable adversary on abortion. Father Jenkins dismissed the tsunami of protests as misplaced. Conferring an honorary degree on President Obama, he insisted, had no bearing on Notre Dame’s pro-life commitment, for the university was honoring Obama because of his office, not his policies. That, he said, was Notre Dame’s tradition.

Now Father Jenkins has blown that transparently flimsy cover by bypassing the office because of the new officeholder, President Trump. The 2009 scandal of the nation’s most prominent Catholic university honoring the nations’s most prominent abortion advocate is once again thrown into bold relief.

Notre Dame’s then bishop, the late Most Rev. John D. D’Arcy, had it right: Notre Dame “chose prestige over truth.”

In more detail, here’s why this combination of honoring Obama and stiff-arming Trump is so lethal.

Obama and the 2009 Commencement

We have discussed the 2009 Obama episode in detail in prior bulletins. Here are the principal lowlights:

  • By honoring Obama, Notre Dame scorned the injunction of the United States bishops that “Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles” (bold in original).
  • Bishop D’Arcy reacted with a lacerating denunciation of Notre Dame’s action and refused to attend the commencement.
  • Eighty-two other cardinals, archbishops, and bishops  joined   Bishop D’Arcy in censuring Notre Dame. When has that ever happened at a Catholic university.
  • Former Ambassador to the Vatican and distinguished Catholic educator Mary Ann Glendon took back  her acceptance of Notre Dame’s highest award, the Laetare Medal, because, she said,  she did not want to be on the platform when Obama was honored “in disregard of the U.S. bishops’ express request of 2004 that Catholic institutions ‘should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.'”
  • A student-organized rally and Mass on the quad in protest of Obama’s appearance drew thousands, including Bishop D’Arcy, while a battalion of pro-life demonstrators marching on the fringe of the campus attracted national attention.
  • So did the spectacle of police hauling scores of these pro-life demonstrators off to jail.The image of an elderly priest being carried to a police wagon lingers. Notre Dame’s sponsoring the criminal prosecution of the “ND88” drew harsh criticism from pro-life sources until Notre Dame finally gave it up after two years. In the meantime, Sycamore Trust had disclosed that the university had previously practiced a “catch and release” policy for anti-war and pro-gay trespassing demonstrators. No such mercy for the pro-life ND88, who, after all, had rained on the commencement parade.

With the good guys arrested and the most pro-abortion president in history having been embraced by Father Jenkins and exuberantly cheered in the stadium, Notre Dame’s pro-life reputation looked tattered indeed.

But that’s not the way Father Jenkins saw it. “For all the controversy,” he said, “it had been a successful day.” He would “do it again,” he declared. He had followed Notre Dame’s “tradition of inviting presidents to be commencement speakers and receive honorary degrees” because, he said:

It’s important not to be afraid of controversy.

Trump, Controversy, and the Hypocrisy Factor

Shortly after Trump was elected and in the midst of the anti-Trump demonstrations and petitions by thousands of Notre Dame faculty, staff, and students that we have catalogued, Father Jenkins said he was unsure whether he would invite the President to deliver the commencement address. The Obama commencement, he said, had been “ a bit of a political circus” and his “concern a little bit is that, should [Trump] come, it may be even more of a circus.”

Now we have Father Jenkins’s decision to invite Vice President Pence, not President Trump.

(We should perhaps note that a university spokesperson declined  to confirm that Trump had not been invited,  saying it would be “rude” to do so. To be sure.  The inference is obvious and accords with any reasonable view of the circumstances. It is implausible in the extreme to think that Father Jenkins would have been willing to face down the passionate protests of thousands of faculty and students.)

As the news reports show, the significance is not who was chosen but who was not. The Washington Post and the New York Times chortled, “Pence, not Trump, To Give Notre Dame Commencement Address.”

So much for Father Jenkins’s 2009 protestations that Notre Dame honors all presidents at commencements because of their office, not their policies, and his declaration that controversy should not stand in the way. Donald Trump holds that office. Father Jenkins would face down controversy again for the pro-abortion president Barack Obama but will not for the pro-life and pro-religious liberty president Donald Trump.

If Hilary Clinton had won, on the other hand, “tradition” doubtless would have required that she be the honored speaker. To be sure, she is, if anything, even more resolutely pro-abortion and anti-religious freedom than Obama, but once again we would be told that honoring her doesn’t mean that Notre Dame is anything but robustly pro-life. She would, after all, be the President! (Like, say, Trump.)

Finally, there is Father Jenkins’s decision to award the Laetare Medal last year to Vice President Biden to consider. The university calls the Laetare Medal the nation’s “oldest and most prestigious award” given to a Catholic “in recognition of outstanding service to the Church and society.”  Biden is pro-choice and personally presides over same-sex marriages. There was no tradition for Father Jenkins to invoke, nor any “outstanding service to the Church” to take its place. Nothing, that is, to cite in mitigation of the palpable scandal.

There is more than a whiff of hypocrisy wafting down the years from 2009.

A Welcome Interment – The Presidential “Tradition”

At least we can give a disrespectful burial to the alleged “tradition” of honoring presidents no matter what. We say alleged because President Clinton was not honored, likely because of his pro-choice stance, an inconvenient fact Father Jenkins did not mention.

This misbegotten policy seems born of Notre Dame’s yearning for public applause, a yearning blind to the fact that outside South Bend these presidential drop-ins draw, if anything, shrugs, not cheers. As surely others, at least, recognize, they are political opportunities for politicians, not seals of presidential approval.

But much worse, this alleged tradition gave Father Jenkins something to say, however unpersuasive, in defense of his Obama decision, and it has now led to the embarrassment of a public thumb in the eye of the President of the United States. No doubt  Trump is willing for Pence to appear — it is good politics in a key state in which both the Catholic vote and Notre Dame are important — but the plain if implicit public rebuff by Notre Dame remains.

Had Father Jenkins acknowledged that honoring Obama was a mistake and scrapped the “tradition” that ostensibly led to it, he could have avoided the Trump dilemma. Absent the Obama precedent and Father Jenkins’s insistence that it had been a “success” despite the tumult, that he would “do it again,” and that Notre Dame should “not be afraid of controversy,” he could not have been reasonably faulted for waiting to see how the Trump administration unfolds rather than turning the commencement once again into a political battlefield.

Colossal and unrepented mistakes exact their toll in due course. The stab at damage control by inviting Pence is scarcely inspired. He is assuredly a decent man, the first Vice President to be honored, a former governor of Notre Dame’s home state, and, happily, pro-life and pro-religious liberty. Still, Democrats are naturally not thrilled, as reaction on campus illustrates; and as our correspondence shows, Trump supporters are unlikely to be pacified by the message that, while Trump is persona non grata at Notre Dame, at least Pence is not. The Pence invitation, after all, comes in the wake of  widespread condemnation of Trump by faculty, staff, and students and denunciation by Father Jenkins himself for having engaged in “churlish, insulting political theater.”

From now on, let us hope Notre Dame honors only people who deserve to be honored because they personify Catholic values in an exemplary way, not simply because they hold high positions and may be thought to burnish the university’s reputation by their appearance.

Quote of the Day

We’re a faith-based institution in a faith that is white, male and has a very strong hierarchy. — Pamela Young

Pamela Young, Notre Dame’s first Director for Academic Diversity and Inclusion joins Eric Love, University’s Director of Staff Diversity and Inclusion and Kellyanne Conway caricaturist.

Online Discussion

On Wednesday, March 22 (7:30-8:45 PM EDT), Bill Dempsey, Sycamore Trust President, will discuss Fr. Jenkins’s decision to break with tradition by not inviting President Trump to deliver this year’s commencement address at Notre Dame – a decision which belies his defense against charges of scandal caused by President Obama’s 2009 commencement address. Click below to register.

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31 Responses to “The Ghost of Commencement Past”

  1. While it is true that Truth is, and error is not, and it is true that error can sometimes help to illuminate that which is true; there are viewpoints that are simply not worthy of respect because they deny the inherent Dignity of the human person as a beloved son or daughter, and thus, to give legitimacy to such viewpoints, making it appear as if they are worthy of respect, is, in fact, cooperation with evil.

    Sometimes error can illuminate that which is true by illuminating an antithesis to God’s Truth.

    For example, this theory of relativity from ‘Amoris Latitia’ is not of The Holy Ghost, but it does illuminate the crux of the problem; The Word of God Is, He Is not a matter of opinion.

    “3. Since “time is greater than space”, I would make it clear that not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium. Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church, but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it. This will always be the case as the Spirit guides us towards the entire truth (cf. Jn 16:13), until he leads us fully into the mystery of Christ and enables us to see all things as he does. Each country or region, moreover, can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs. For “cultures are in fact quite diverse and every general principle… needs to be inculturated, if it is to be respected and applied”.3

    We can know through both Faith and reason that Time exists in relationship with Space; this moment in Time is the same moment in Time, on every point of Space in God’s Universe.

  2. 86 “The individual bishops are the visible source and foundation of unity in their own particular Churches.”408 As such, they “exercise their pastoral office over the portion of the People of God assigned to them,”409 assisted by priests and deacons. But, as a member of the episcopal college, each bishop shares in the concern for all the Churches.410 The bishops exercise this care first “by ruling well their own Churches as portions of the universal Church,” and so contributing “to the welfare of the whole Mystical Body, which, from another point of view, is a corporate body of Churches.”411 They extend it especially to the poor,412 to those persecuted for the faith, as well as to missionaries who are working throughout the world.” Catechism of The Catholic Church

  3. As long as the local Bishops fail to do their fiduciary duty to Christ and His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, by making it clear that it is not possible to be for Christ, while denying The Deposit of Faith, it will appear as if it is possible to remain in communion with The Catholic Church while denying The Deposit of Faith and The Ghost of Commencements Past will continue to haunt us.

    86 “The individual bishops are the visible source and foundation of unity in their own particular Churches.”408 As such, they “exercise their pastoral office over the portion of the People of God assigned to them,”409 assisted by priests and deacons. But, as a member of the episcopal college, each bishop shares in the concern for all the Churches.410 The bishops exercise this care first “by ruling well their own Churches as portions of the universal Church,” and so contributing “to the welfare of the whole Mystical Body, which, from another point of view, is a corporate body of Churches.”411 They extend it especially to the poor,412 to those persecuted for the faith, as well as to missionaries who are working throughout the world.

  4. John McNamara '86 March 13, 2017 at 2:28 am

    Last night the general feeling seemed to be “we can’t do anything” and today the sentiment seems to be Jenkins is too weak for his job. Lots of agreement, but no plan of action moving forward yet.

    May I propose two courses of action:1) If you want Fr. Jenkins to go, write individually to the ND Board of Trustees stating clearly why. Recommend writing in reasonable, logical sounding terms, rather than angry or emotional terms. Archbishop Chaput in Philadelphia is no fan of Jenkins and a copy to him may reach some of the cardinals, but make it a solid, succinct logical letter and send a copy to the Catholic League too. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, often shortened to the Catholic League, is an American Catholic anti-defamation and civil rights organization. The Catholic League states that it “defends the right of Catholics – lay and clergy alike – to participate in American public life without defamation or discrimination.”; and 2) in light of the fact that I am not aware of any ND president or any Catholic college president ever being asked to step down, and we may be stuck with Jenkins for a while, and one of the earlier writers mentioned the president’s office was keeping track of who was positive on Pence and who was negative, should we send a little honey, instead of vinegar, to Jenkins and/or the Board of Trustees and write many letters individually saying how much better it is to invite Pence rather than abortion democrats (labeled more diplomatically)? Also make your logical case, if you want Trump as your speaker in the near future. Jenkins and/or the board may like receiving positive letters from the Catholics, instead of demanding petitions from angry liberals and we may start the process of turning the tide from listening to noisy liberals to listening to nice, appreciative, vocal Catholics. Whats the harm in this position? Am I being too knaive? If you don’t want to do nothing and you don’t want to surrender, wouldn’t being more vocal on the part of Catholicism be the best response?

    Finally, do we know who the faculty ringleaders are behind the faculty anti-Trump petition? Maybe have your children boycott signing up for classes by those profs? Write letters to the Observer and the Irish Rover about how these profs are undermining thoughtful debate and intellectual freedom? All the best to each of you.

  5. Fr. Jenkins is a liberal Democrat. Democratic Party success and their creed is paramount to him, and Catholic teaching and beliefs are a distant second in his belief system. I suggest hiring and staffing data including the Political Science Dept. would clarify a significant absence of political diversity on his campus.

  6. Father Jenkins has created declension within the Catholic community and worse yet scandal, I have hard time believing he is a Catholic priest. He really must go so that Notre Dame can get back to its beautiful Catholic identity.

  7. Yep, no surprise here. It is obvious that Jenkins wants to be a part of the elitist establishment. He needs to live by this. Hard to have it both ways. Mainly stop identifying as a Catholic University. If your kids are academically qualified to go to Notre Dame they should have a very competitive chance to be admitted into one of the Ivy’s at similar costs. At least there you know what your getting and there is less confusion and identity conflict.

  8. Dennis J McGovern, 1960, 1962, 1966 March 12, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    Fr. Jenkins must be removed and replaced with a very strong Catholic president. So much for his words.

  9. Barbara Scalise March 12, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    The biggest “non-secret” on campus was when Fr. Jenkins said he had “permission” from the Board of Trustees to invite Obama to receive an honorary degree, when in fact that was a lie. He then tries to use excuses that the campus would be in turmoil if Trump would be invited. Fr. Hesburgh gave the students 15 minutes to vent and then face expulsion. Jenkins is too weak to stand up to undisciplined students and unmanageable anarchistic faculty. He is not the man for the post. He needs to resign and be replaced with a strong CATHOLIC defender of the faith. Barbara Scalise

    • Kevin McNamara March 12, 2017 at 8:36 pm

      Barbara Scalise–Excellent points. Hesburgh was a liberal but his edict was very effective. Suspect it would still work at private school but Jenkins is sympathetic with Progressive elitists. He has no intestinal fortitude or will.

      • Yes, Hesburgh was somewhat of progressive of his time, but he held the line when it mattered. Jenkins is is just a mere distorted intellectual shadow of Hesburgh

  10. Dale C. Havre, M.D. March 12, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    Hypocrisy abounds on this “Catholic” campus. Tragic.

  11. fred ionata '53 March 12, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    With prayers while listening to “O Sacred Head Surrounded” and other pieces (so beautiful sung) by the Benedictines of Mary,Queen of Apostles, I submit my thoughts to this conversation.–The LEFT in this country would unashamedly make one of the largest demonstrations in the history of disturbances so far from what I gather of its forces (yes FORCES). Politics ,thus cannot be separated from the discussion since my reading of recent gatherings, in Congressmen’s town halls etc. has lead me to understand that there are literally many thousands of groups, many paid handsomely, to travel the country for the purpose of creating havoc and,hopefully for them, violent injury.
    I believe intimidation of the Administration, unspoken, by the Left,which is dedicated to overthrowing our Constitution, is the main reason for the lack of presence of President Trump at ND.
    Until that cabal is destroyed, I have feelings similar to what the beloved Cardinal Francis Eugene George evoked about the shards of a ruined society in April 2015.

  12. I think the Catholic Church ought to reclaim what was stolen from them.

  13. The question is, how did we get to this point; no doubt the atheist materialist have spread their error.

    The problem with the philosophy of Socialism, which has invaded our Country, and has found its way even into the heirarchy of The Catholic Church, is that the philosophy of the autonomous conscience, and thus the autonomous individual, is not consistent with our founding Judeo-Christian principles, which recognizes that our unalienable Right to Life, to Liberty and to The Pursuit of Happiness exists in relationship to God.

    Our Founding Fathers recognized that our inherent Rights, which have been endowed to us from God, the purpose of which can only be, what God intended, are both moral Rights and political Rights.

    “Each man’s life touches so many lives”, because we are not autonomous individuals; we exist in relationship, from the moment of conception, as sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers. Our Dignity comes from being Created in The Image and Likeness of God, equal in Dignity, while being complementary as a son or daughter, Willed by God, worthy of Redemption.

    While Socialists desire to make it appear as if capitalism was to blame for the death, destruction, and the horrors of the 20th Century, The Catholic Church warned of the danger of the “evils of pagan nationalism and atheistic materialism”.

    “…we will not rest until we restore a culture of life in America for ourselves and our posterity.”

    We cannot begin to restore a culture of life in America for ourselves and our posterity until we desire to begin at The Beginning, affirming that which every Catholic who desires to Witness to God’s Truth is not afraid to proclaim; God, The Most Holy and Undivided Blessed Trinity, Is The Author of Life, of Love, and of Marriage, thus the purpose of our unalienable Rights can only be, what God intended.

    No doubt, what we are witnessing, is a Crisis of Faith, due to those who deny the Sanctity of human life, from the moment we are created and brought into being, equal in Dignity, while being complementary as a beloved son or daughter, Willed by God, worthy of Redemption, and 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.

    National Socialism, the goal of the Liberal Progressives, including some who profess to be Catholic, is not consistant with Catholicism.

    “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

    Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.”Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

    Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

    Cheap Mercy, like “cheap Grace, is the deadly enemy” of Christ’s Church, “no contrition is required, nor real desire to be delivered from sin”. Cheap Mercy, like cheap Grace, is the Mercy “we bestow on ourselves, the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, Baptism, without Church discipline, Communion without Confession..”.

    Cheap Mercy, is Mercy, “without The Cross, without Jesus Christ, Living and Incarnate”.

    For, If it were true that it was Loving and Merciful to desire that we remain in our sins, we would not need Our Savior, Jesus The Christ.

    Thus we can know through both Faith and reason, that to Love one another as Christ Loves us, is to desire Salvation not only for ourselves, but for our beloved.

    No greater Love is there than this, to desire Salvation for one’s beloved.

  14. William Fessler March 12, 2017 at 8:12 am

    Thank you all for initiating and organizing this group.
    I agree with Fr Raphael…we do not know if FR Jenkins asked /invited the current President of the US !
    Why don’t we ask him. ?
    What harm would it do.?
    I seem to recall he values dialogue ! He mentioned dialogue as a means to understand opposing beliefs when he invited President Obama !

    • Mr. Fessler, please see my reply to Father Raphael below. He has been asked frequently.

    • Response to William Fessler- I telephoned ND and requested a call back. No surprise that I did not receive one. I received an online bulletin stating that VP Pence would be the commencement speaker. The article was from the PR department and had a name and number at the end. The day I received it was the day I called that number. The receptionist immediately wanted to know whether I was for or against VP Pence speaking, so I assume she had orders to record check boxes on a list. I stated that I wanted to speak to someone to understand how the decision was made. I initially stated that I did not know whether I was for or against b/c I did not know how the decision was reached, who was invited, etc. I was concerned I’d being listed as anti-VP Pence, so after giving my name and number I decided to state that I thought both should be invited and why. I asked to be telephoned to learn why ND was breaking with a long standing tradition.

  15. Ralph J Argen MD March 12, 2017 at 8:09 am

    Your report and comment to the sycamore trust hit the issue right on. As far as Jenkins saying the graduation would be a circus if Trump were there. He id right graduations are a circus. Most of the time the speakers aren’t even paid attention to. The most important thing however is that Trump pulled a large number of catholic voters and was heavily supported by them. This is just another mistake the university is making and they were full of them. Anyway you look at it Trump has pulled this country in the proper direction. Some of Notre Dame pass would be good for this university who’s moving in marry the wrong direction.
    Ralph J Argen MD ’53

  16. Fr. Raphael Mary Salzillo, O.P. March 12, 2017 at 6:53 am

    I don’t think this article is fair to Fr. Jenkins, given the information we have. For all we know ND _did_ invite the president. It could even be that the president himself suggested Mike Pence in his place. This is the kind of thing that President Trump might do, given what we know about him. He is not really religious, and not very comfortable talking about whatever faith he does have. Maybe he thought Pence would do a better job at this, just as he did for the March for Life.

    The bottom line is, we don’t know. And it is unjust to merely assume that Notre Dame snubbed the president without any clear evidence. There are _so_ many obvious and undeniable things to complain about when it comes to the Catholic identity of this university. Do we really need to be up in arms about something that is mere speculation? I think this article hurts the credibility of the Sycamore Trust. It makes us sound like we are just partisans looking for a place to point our fingers, rather than people who stand on principle and truth.

    • We have addressed this in the bulletin. I suggest, Father, that it is eminently fair to infer that Father Jenkins did not invite President Trump when the university has repeatedly refused to answer the question, saying it would be “rude” to do so, and when virtually no one at Notre Dame, I’m confident, expected Father Jenkins to face down an aroused faculty and student body. It would have been easy to say that Trump had been invited but was unable to attend and accordingly Pence would take his place, and it would be “rude” to respond to the question only if he had not been invited.

      There is nonetheless the further question whether we should proceed on the basis of a anything less than absolute certainty founded in an express admission by Father Jenkins. In our judgment, that sets so high a standard as to foreclose significant analysis and puts in the hands of the evidently culpable party the ability to do just that. The honoring of Obama was a calamitous action that radically undermined Notre Dame’s reputation as a Catholic university. The Trump episode exposes the hypocrisy of the purported rationale for honoring Obama. We think that should not pass unnoted.

      Of course Father Jenkins can, even now, disclose that he did invite President Trump. If he does, we will withdraw our criticism willingly, of course, though we will have wished that he had been open about it in the first place and saved the university from the adverse publicity it has received from a number of sources.

  17. Noreen Bidigare March 12, 2017 at 5:56 am

    Father Jenkins needs to be replaced, that simple!

  18. John McNamara '86 March 12, 2017 at 12:49 am

    The announcement of a pro-life conservative political speaker at graduation by a liberal university president is step in the right direction, if not a victory after having Obama and Biden as graduation speakers.
    The decision not to declare Notre Dame a sanctuary campus is a step in the right direction, if not a victory.
    Having a newer conservative student newspaper on campus, the Irish Rover, is a step in the right direction, if not a victory.
    Having an alumni group with access to e-mail alums about Catholic concerns on campus is a step in the right direction and more than most universities have.
    The Sycamore Trust is a grass roots alumni group. it is not the University of Notre Dame Board of Trustees, or a group of millionaire donors, with the power to order Fr. Jenkins around and give him a short list of preferred Catholic graduation speakers. Trump appears to have a good agenda to bring jobs back to the US, fight radical Islam, enforce many of our laws that have been ignored too long, cut taxes, stand up to the Chinese, and the will to fight for what he believes, under the most intense pressure at home that any president has ever faced since WWII and that some think have been missing in this country for a while, but the main focus of Sycamore is Catholicism at Notre Dame We who read the Sycamore Trust newsletter can write to each other, write to our alumni clubs, write to our bishops, and write to the university to express our opinions It’s not easy work, but at least we are hearing what’s going on, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if some alums or priests are sharing these e-mails with Jenkins. It may be tempting and understandable to get frustrated and call people names or say that the Sun is setting, but is that what it means to be Fighting Irish? Is that the message you want to send to Jenkins-, that conservatives are crushed and quitters and divided? I know that’s not the real you. It’s natural to be frustrated and disappointed at times, but I don’t think anyone writing tonight is a quitter, just temporarily out of focus after a long tiring work week. Where would Catholicism be if saints like St. Francis DeSales said the Sun was setting on the Church? Never let the other side see or hear you defeated, we all have doubts at times, just try to fight them and keep them inside. Someone great at ND once said “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”. We had a number of young and wise alums respond after the last Sycamore Newsletter. How about some positive ideas?.Anyone remember a gospel about “ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you?” Get a good night’s rest and lets try to be more positive and dynamic in the morning, anyone who has read or written today and in the coming days has success in you waiting to be discussed and tapped- ask the Holy Spirit for some inspiration, it won’t happen overnight, and maybe not this month, but keep asking and keep asking and keep asking. Isn’t that what our Catholic faith calls us to do? Let’s start tonight!

  19. JMJ

    If we sincere, devout Catholics ever had any doubts about Jenkins’ hypocrisy, this article takes care of those doubts by exposing, point by point, very succinctly, and very frankly all of the aspects of Jenkins’ Obama hypocrisy and of the now Trump/Pence hypocrisy. Thank you.

  20. Feels like the son has set on Catholicism. Particularly on college campuses. Jenkins is a disaster.

    • Sun!

    • It’s a shame because Notre Dame was the last Great Catholic University of true traditional American Catholic identity. All the others sold out thirty plus years ago, Fordham, Georgetown and the list goes on and on.

  21. Let us face it. You guys (Sycamore Trust) are weak kneed losers. You were never Trump supporters until after the fact. You never stood up for him. You are sunshine patriots. I have very little faith in you guys any longer. I want my money back.

    • I’m sorry you’re disappointed, J.P. We have evidently not been clear enough as to our mission. We are not a political organization and do not endorse political candidates. Our concern is the Catholic identity of Notre Dame. Politicians and political issues come within our field of vision when they impact Notre Dame in some way. The first time that happened as to Trump was the reaction on campus, to the extent that it took no account of his pro-life and pro-religious liberty stances, and now in bypassing him despite having honored Obama and Fr Jenkins having doubled down by calling that a “success” and something he would “do again.” We have quite enough on our hands in connection with the Catholic identity of the university without getting entangled in contentious political matters extraneous to the university. Bill

  22. The last sentence of this essay is what all Catholic universities and Catholic civic groups need to keep in mind when they decide to honor a public or political or judicial figure with an award. When an honoree is being selected, the fact that the honoree is Catholic may not still guarantee he or she sides with the Catholic Church. If the Sycamore Trust does want President Trump to give the commencement address, there are still future opportunities, though the points made about the University’s/Fr. Jenkins’ hypocrisy and possible insult to Trump are very well made. It might be a mistake to not recall that Trump has not always been as pro-life as he is now, but certainly Obama and Hillary are much more aggressive pro-abortion supporters. If Trump’s judicial nominees do turn out to be pro-life, instead of Souters and Blackmuns, his selection to speak in the future may be easier for Sycamore to endorse. The ironic timing of this essay is interesting, considering yesterday’s (3/10/17’s) Mass readings, which included Ex18:21-28 which encourages us to follow the Lord’s laws and that virtuous men will be condemned if they break from the laws, while bad men will be saved if they turn and follow the Lord’s laws. The Gospel was Mt.5:20-26 which reminds us to try to pray for and reconcile with our enemies. Let’s pray for those who cannot accept those who differ with them (angry students and professors who would rampage at a Trump speech, those ND Clergy who had pro-lifers arrested before Obama’s speech), but let us also pray that the hearts of those who support abortion and other policies that violate the laws and teachings of God, be converted to the more loving positions God and Jesus and the Church teach. Whoever is the next president of Notre Dame is going to have a lot of praying and a lot of work ahead of him with staffers like Eric Love and Pamela Young being hired left and right by the current administration. Let’s pray that Notre Dame return to a closer and clearer support of what the Catholic Church stands for, rather than what a political party’s platform stands for- the Democratic Party of today is not the legendary and partly mythological Irish Catholic Democratic Party of John and Bobby Kennedy 50 years ago, as hard as that can be to hear for some. It is much more the party of B. Obama, who required Mother Theresa’s Little Sisters of the Poor in Colorado to pay for Obamacare coverage for abortions in a lawsuit that is currently on hold in the appellate process. That honorary degree to B. Obama the first year of his presidency didn’t make much difference to him, and was probably the source of scornful humor at ND and Jenkin’s expense, when B. Obama gave a merciless kick in the butt to the Little Sisters of the Poor, who run a home for AIDS patients in Denver.

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