I never wanted to go to school anywhere but Notre Dame, and I was thrilled to be accepted in 1964. I vividly remember my Freshman Theology class in the Administration Building (under the Golden Dome), which was devoted to the documents of Vatican II. I still have my copy. I specifically remember working through the implications of the idea that priests, including the Pope, were Servants of the Servants of God. This idea provided a completely new perspective on the role of the laity in the Church, and I loved it.
A couple of weeks ago, I got a letter from Randall Terry, as did all alumni, telling me his “battle over President Obama speaking at Notre Dame is one of the most critical battles for the pro-life cause that we have had in many years.” Then a few days later Chuck Lennon, head of the Notre Dame Alumni Association, sent a blast e-mail to alumni, explaining that he didn’t give Terry the mailing list. I wonder who did.
I wrote back to Lennon, explaining that I don’t really care about Randall Terry. Terry isn’t the problem. The problem I see is that Notre Dame has turned away from Vatican II, and now places papal hierarchy at the center of Catholicism. In the process of reversion, it has created in its students a mindset that makes it seem plausible that only those in perfect agreement with the entire body of Church doctrine are to speak to at commencement.
Wednesday, I got another blast fax, this one from Father Jenkins, the President of the school, which was directed to graduating seniors. He apparently thinks he has to explain why he invited the President of the United States to speak at commencement:
I am saddened that many friends of Notre Dame have suggested that our invitation to President Obama indicates ambiguity in our position on matters of Catholic teaching. The University and I are unequivocally committed to the sanctity of human life and to its protection from conception to natural death.
Father Jenkins can’t see that this saddening “suggestion” took root in the minds of friends of Notre Dame as the direct result of the Catholicism taught there. It wasn’t necessary. It has driven a least one alum away from the University he loved.