Rev. John Jenkins
President of Notre Dame
University of Notre Dame/Main Building
Notre Dame, IN 46556
Dear Fr. John,
My friends at The Cardinal Newman Society informed me that after a one-year hiatus, the diabolically-inspired Vagina Monologues has made its way back on campus. Granted, I understand you are not "sponsoring" it (the Anthropology and Sociology Departments are actually doing that), so (in your mind anyway) it is not considered an "official university-sponsored activity." Still, I have to admit, Father, it sounds to me a lot like a Catholic politician saying, "while I am personally opposed to abortion, I do not want to legislate my views on others," in other words; a lot of "sound and fury, signifying nothing." But maybe, as a daily Mass Catholic, I'm just overly sensitive.
Then again, maybe not. In addition to The Cardinal Newman Society, I just read that the United States Bishops Committee on Doctrine which was scheduled to have a conference at Our Lady's university starting on Feb. 11, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes (which I trust is still a special day at Notre Dame, considering the lasting place your Lourdes replica grotto has in the hearts of both alumni and students), pulled out of their Notre Dame reservations both at their disgust of the play being held on campus, and in deference to your bishop, John D’Arcy (who called V-M "offensive to women" and "antithetical to Catholic teaching") and are instead meeting at a local convent outside of South Bend.
I know, I know. You would insist the real issue here is free speech, and just because this play glorifies lesbianism, upholds group masturbation as a dogma, and calls a girl's lesbian rape her "salvation" and "heaven," doesn't mean The V-Monologues is the equivalent of screaming "fire" in a crowded theatre, or "F*** Jesus" in Sacred Heart Church, as the case may be. And you have always preached that Notre Dame must allow free expression of ideas, even those contrary to the Faith, if it is to be a true leader in national, indeed, international university education, and thus, The V-Monologues stays—or is at least allowed to return.
Well, maybe you're right, Father, but something about that "leader" stuff still feels wrong. After all, Fr. McBrien's heresy has become old hat, and although pressure from people like the bishops and The Cardinal Newman Society have reduced the number of Catholic universities showing The V-M by almost half, there are still eighteen other allegedly loyal-to-Rome colleges presenting this decidely un-Christian play, so your presentation is no longer noteworthy in that regard. So if you really want to stand out, Father, why not keep the "Monologues" ... but hire Dana Jacobson to play the lead role? That foul-mouthed vodka-toting ESPN commentator has made a name for herself by blaspheming the sacred names of Christ and Notre Dame (again, something you thought not significant enough to personally rebuke, but your underling's statement of disagreement proved so mild that head football coach Charlie Weis finally had to step in and properly denounce the attack and defend Notre Dame's honor) and Dana would be perfect to make that play come alive. For, if Rudy Ruettiger was born to lead the Notre Dame players out of the stadium tunnel, then (according to your logic) Dana Jacobson was born to play that hateful lesbian role on Our Lady's campus. You'd have to admit, Father, that THAT would be a performance of The Vagina Monologues that no other actress on any other Catholic campus could ever live up to—and a rendition of the play that no orthodox president of a Catholic university could ever live down.
Now I've left you with much to think (and hopefully pray) about, Father, but before I go, please allow this loyal son of Notre Dame one final observation. If, on the eve of March 26 (the first day of The V-Monologues' scheduled Notre Dame performance), you look up in the sky and see the Lady on the Dome appear to cry, know that it is not due to the weather. It is Our Lady expressing Her right of free speech, in that silent manner that only Our Mother has obediently mastered.
God's grace and Mary's prayers,
Tom O'Toole, Class of '81