|University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.,|
with 2010 valedictorian Katie Washington.
Certainly, Jenkins' appointment of Washington flatly contradicts his claim that Notre Dame's paying for abortions or contraceptives bothers his conscience (if indeed he has one) but her hire must be great as a fundraising tool with the wealthy cafeteria-Catholics or outright agnostics for whom contraception is a way of life, and abortion nothing more than emergency contraception. Of course, Jenkins and Notre Dame changed course and allowed SCOP to operate (how freely, we shall see) within the University, but again it was all politics, correcting a miscalculation on how much they thought the rich orthodox Catholic alumni would object—and monetarily hold back. So while Jenkins' teaching is a bit...suspect, his politics, or ability to appease both sides, is often brilliant. And nowhere is this better seen than on the commercials about Notre Dame on NBC during the Fighting Irish football games.
To the casual fan, Notre Dame's award-winning,"We are the Fighting Irish!" commercials, which feature Domers roaming the remote corners of the world to bring the destitute villagers everything from heath care to computer hook-ups, seems noble enough. But notice they never promote alumni who are doing any good that could be specifically labeled Catholic, such as pro-life pregnancy clinics or missionaries that actually teach the Catholic faith. Similarly, the generic Notre Dame commercials (which never fail to mention the school's research accomplishments) are big on showing ND's religious landmarks like the Dome or the Basilica, but short of mentioning the significance of Lady and Man on top.
In other words, by often showing the statues and religious monuments in the media but never speaking of them, Jenkins at the same time appeases the religious alumni without offending those who aren't. While perhaps politically smart in the short run, Jenkins eventually has to answer to conservatives for his fast and loose adherence to Church doctrine, and his responses (as was his justification for inviting Obama to be honored at ND ) which have been all but laughable. In fact, Jenkins has looked so bad in his justifications to bypass Church teaching that lately (as when questioned about the appointment of the unorthodox Washington) he, like most politicians, merely dodges the question or changes the subject, almost daring the school's statues to contradict him.
It may be one thing to mock monuments in Washington, but far more dangerous to do so at Notre Dame. Jenkins' "let the statues speak" stance reminds me of a pentecostal preacher who not only repeated the tired lie that Catholics worshiped the Virgin, but used to publicly deface statues of Mary, invoking Her to stop him if She could. Still, this man was not Catholic, and thus he cannot be held as accountable as men like fallen Domer, Father Thomas Euteneuer. While Euteneuer was molesting a woman (during the rite of exorcism no less!) in Church before the Blessed Sacrament, she started to question whether this was right. Father Tom merely looked at her, then the Eucharist, and said, "Well, He hasn't stopped me yet."
|Update: James Anthony O'Toole, ND '54, died Oct. 15, 2014.|