News: D'Arcy Denounces ND policy
(NB: The article refers to a speech given by Bishop D'Arcy sponsored by the Thomas More Society at the Notre Dame Law School, and not to any official written statement.)
This blog is a place for Notre Dame students and others to share their thoughts on Father Jenkins' forthcoming policy on academic freedom and Catholic identity at Our Lady's University.
Jenkins intuited this with his initial statements, and then he caved. Amazingly, he has been lauded for his "courage" to stand by the status quo. Real courage is the virtue it would take to do the right thing - to say, "I was wrong" and reverse course. That would be a model of courage this loyal daughter would not soon forget.(Read More)
"Apart from the decision about whether or not to sponsor a particular play on campus, I share Bishop John D'Arcy's 'deep sadness' about the Closing Statement. In my view, the statement espouses a conception of the Catholic University based upon a divorce between reason and faith. This divorce will hardly settle the matter about the relation between academic freedom and the Catholic identity of Notre Dame. Moreover, Jenkins' raising of the issue may have unwittingly polarized the University community and damaged Catholicism at Notre Dame. ...(Read more)
For those of us who are committed Catholics, and Jenkins no doubt belongs to this group, we should be doing all in our power to create a culture that fosters the Catholic truth about the gift of human sexuality and its proper place in the order of creation. My opinion is that there is, to quote the late Pope John Paul II, a "new Spring" of Catholic life blossoming at Notre Dame. I base my opinion on my grace-filled experience here with our wonderful Catholic students. It is also the case that some of our students are nominally Catholic as a result of inadequate catechetical formation through no fault of their own. Evangelization is needed to invite them into the "new Spring" of Catholic life. I agree with Jenkins that plays such as the Vagina Monologues stand in opposition to Catholic life and culture. For this reason, I doubt that his Closing Statement will nourish the "new Spring."
For increasingly there is a missing conversation partner. The statement of our President barely mentions the Church. If the Church is ever mentioned in the responses I have read so far, it is in the gratitude expressed that we have not attempted to "appease" the Church or the Church hierarchy, or else in the (unintentionally) patronizing allusion to those who care about the University's relationship to the Church as implicitly conceiving the University along the lines of a seminary. It is as though the mere mention of a relationship with the Church has become so alien to our ways of thinking and so offensive to our quest for a disembodied "excellence" that it is has become impolite to mention it at all. The President's statement repeatedly refers to "the Catholic intellectual tradition," a phrase that in itself is unobjectionable but which has now become almost a circumlocution used to avoid mentioning what seems unfashionable and almost unthinkable to mention, namely, the Church.(Read more)
In an interview with Our Sunday Visitor on the day he issued his April 5 statement, Father Jenkins said he still considered the play to be 'in opposition to' Catholic values, but he did not find it problematic to have such views represented at Notre Dame.(read more)
His main concern, Father Jenkins said, had been about the frequency and prominence of 'The Vagina Monologues.' Students involved with that production had agreed to move on to writing a new play about their own experiences titled 'Loyal Daughters,' he said, but he declined to rule out allowing 'The Vagina Monologues' to return to Notre Dame."
If he cannot find the courage to stop The Vagina Monologues or student plans to produce a homegrown version of it, Jenkins should at least consider giving equal support and publicity to "The Edith Stein Project." The leader of a university as sophisticated and secular as Notre Dame surely believes that academic freedom demands a hearing for all points of view — even, on occasion, those of the Catholic Church.(read more)
Although Father Jenkins called his announcement the "Closing Statement," the debate is unlikely to go away. More is at stake than the fairly standard, indeed humdrum, questions about "censorship" and "free speech" on campus. To some of us--and I speak as a Notre Dame professor--Father Jenkins's decision is one more step in a long process of secularization: It has already radically changed the major Protestant universities in this country; it is now proceeding apace at the Catholic ones.(Read More)
Dear John,(Read More)
I write to object to your decision to permit the continued regular production of “The Vagina Monologues” on our campus. I write in this public manner to alert our faculty colleagues and our treasured students that not all members of the Congregation of Holy Cross, to which we belong, endorse your decision. Speaking for myself, I find the decision deeply damaging to Notre Dame and its mission as a Catholic university. It is a decision that I beg you to reconsider and to reverse.
Pope John Paul II has made clear that a Catholic university “guarantees its members academic freedom so long as the rights of the individual person and the community are preserved within the confines of the truth and the common good.” — Ex Corde Ecclesiae.
Here, Pope John Paul II, a longtime professor in a Catholic university, explains that freedom must always be linked to the truth and the common good. The same principles apply to artistic freedom. As a university professor, the future pope presented a series of lectures on human love and sexuality in which he reflected how artistic freedom must always be linked to the whole truth about human love and
Bishop D'Arcy also includes an excerpt from a letter he received:
“I have been reflecting since we spoke the other night on the fact that there is an enormous difference between exposing evil and endorsing it, and a Catholic university should be in the business of the former, not the latter. In order to expose evil, it is necessary to examine it, to analyze it, to explore its assumptions and arguments so as to be better able to refute them and to explain to others how and why they fall short of what our human dignity demands. A Catholic university should bring faith and reason, as well as human experience and reflection to bear on the issues raised by the monologues, so as to respond to them in a way that safeguards and promotes the dignity of the human person. The monologues have become, in fact, a cultural phenomenon, and a Catholic university could have a fine contribution to make in analyzing why that has happened, what the appeal of the play is, and why the answer to the desecration of women that sexual abuse and violence constitute cannot be the perhaps less obvious but more insidious desecration of women that many of the monologues depict.”
— Lisa Everett, in a letter to Bishop D’Arcy, Feb. 1, 2006.
"Watching the controversy unfold at Notre Dame is Father Hesburgh, who, though long retired, retains a campus office. He said Father Jenkins's effort to define what Notre Dame stood for was important. But in an interview, Father Hesburgh also said a modern university had to face the crucial issues of the times.
'I think the real test of a great university,' he said, 'is that you are fair to the opposition and that you get their point of view out there. You engage them. You want to get students' minds working. You don't want mindless Catholics. You want intelligent, successful Catholics.'"
"... several years ago, Yale Law School (my alma mater) announced that it would no longer permit the Christian Legal Society to interview on campus. Yale adopted this policy because the Christian Legal Society reserves certain high-level positions for Christians. At the time, I wrote the dean of the law school to object. I argued that a full commitment to religious liberty required Yale to respect the Christian Legal Society's institutional autonomy and noted that the Society's hiring practices were in keeping with federal anti-discrimination laws. The dean - who is a friend and former professor - respectfully but firmly rejected these arguments. He said that it was critically important for Yale Law School to take a "no exceptions" position against all "discrimination." Yale's institutional commitment to the anti-discrimination principle, in his view, trumped concerns about religious freedom in the employment context.
"Yale continues to exclude the Christian Legal Society. I am certain that there are members of the Yale Law School faculty who share my view of this policy, but I do not believe that the policy infringes upon the academic freedom of these dissenting faculty members. They remain free to write, speak and teach about the importance of religious liberty - and to argue that Yale's policy is wrongheaded.
"... That Notre Dame asks radically different questions than Yale is both not surprising and good. Notre Dame has different questions to ask - questions that the secular world will be enriched by hearing."
"I think all sides can agree that the preeminent goals of stopping violence against women and helping victimized women to heal need to be taken seriously and strongly promoted. The Catholic stance is overwhelmingly in favor of this agenda.(Read More)
However, the means by which the 'Monologues' attempts to achieve these goals suffers from an incredibly dangerous flaw - it helps to fuel and perpetuate a masculine view of women as sexual objects rather than as dignified persons to be equally respected and protected. It does so by portraying the female performers precisely as sexual things whose personhood can be equated with their vaginas. I understand that many women feel that the play is a form of art that enables a cathartic emotional release on the part of women who have been victimized and need to find a sense of security and community. Nonetheless, the manner in which this is achieved only serves to entrench participants even further within a culture of sexual commodity.
Why do you suppose so many men attend the 'Monologues?' None of them, I would imagine, are seeking the healing from the play that many female viewers desire to receive. And I would wager that a relatively small number of the men attend solely out of deep feelings of empathy for the plight of victimized women. Rather, I am willing to assert - and plenty of my male friends agree - that many, many guys are attracted to the "Monologues" for its patently risque nature. The play may not be intended as pornographic or heteroerotic, but a voyeuristic male mentality can be aroused by even the most innocent or artistic immodesty, not to mention graphic sexual descriptions and depictions."
"Some people have come to believe that the recent address by University President Father John Jenkins is an assault on free speech that would result in Notre Dame becoming a pariah among universities. But is it the case that secular universities are promoting a freer discourse than Notre Dame? Having spent the first 10 years of my career at the University of Virginia as an assistant and associate Professor and the next eight years as a full professor at Harvard Divinity School I do not believe this is the case. ...(Read More)
"Mary Ann Glendon of the Law School had been ordered not to use Harvard stationery to promote pro-life values even though colleagues on the other side of the fence were able to do so with impunity. A pro-life ethicist was not going to be appointed to this faculty in religious ethics. And all of this occurred at a school whose very raison d'être is that of offering a pluralistic perspective on the great religions of the world. That pluralism could often reduce itself to a very narrow bandwidth."