Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pope's visit adds new dimension to V Monologue debate at Notre Dame...

A recent article from the Wall Street Journal started like this:

"He is a person who could easily hold an endowed chair at Notre Dame."

Sitting in a spacious office on the top floor of Notre Dame's gold-domed administration building, the university's president, the Rev. John I. Jenkins, pays Pope Benedict XVI what might be the ultimate compliment around here. In fact, Father Jenkins recounts the story of how in the 1960s his famed predecessor, the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, actually offered such a position to "a young promising theologian" named Joseph Ratzinger, "who graciously declined."

But things are a lot different in 2008.  That is evident from the fact that Notre Dame has hosted the V Monologues on campus for the last six years. 

For example, today, only half the staff are even Catholic.

I recommend that you read the full article from the Wall Street at

1 comment:

  1. Here is the comment I posted on the Wall Street Journal Online as President of Project Sycamore, an organization of Notre Dame alumni concerned about the secularization of Notre Dame:

    "Thanks are owed to Naomi Schaeffer Riley for alerting her readers to the “slow drift toward secularization” of Catholic colleges and universities in general and of Notre Dame in particular.

    As the authors of the most recent study of this phenomenon put it, “A crisis is looming within American higher education.” Piderit & Morey, “Catholic Higher Education.”Notre Dame, as the leading Catholic university in the country, is playing a central, and to many an alarming, role. The signs of the fading of the Catholic character of Notre Dame are many. Those interested will find a complete catalog on the web site of a large group of concerned alumni organized as Project Sycamore, Ms. Riley herself has written a broader report in her illuminating book “God on the Quod.”

    Ms. Riley takes note of the most recent sign, the approval by the President, Father John I. Jenkins, of a student on-campus performance of “The Vagina Monologues.” The bulk of this play consists of extraordinarily explicit accounts by women of highly charged sexual episodes gravely immoral in the eyes of the Catholic Church. It is routinely performed on secular campuses, but on only 16 of some 225 Catholic institutions. Notre Dame is the
    leading member of that little band.

    But there is a good deal more to this story. This year, 50 bishops moved a conference
    scheduled to be held at Notre Dame to another location when Father Jenkins would not cancel this year’s production of the play. Thus they silently, but resoundingly, seconded Father Jenkins’s bishop, The Most Rev. John D’Arcy, who has now three times publicly indicted Father Jenkins’s action.
    The disjuncture between University and Church grows. Father Jenkins believes that “the
    greatest respect we can show [the Pope] is to let him speak and then reflect.” But the disloyal as well as the loyal do as much. They reflect, and then they dissent.

    It is crucial to recognize that excrescences like The Vagina Monologues are simply symptoms of the underlying malady, the secularization of the faculties of Catholic universities. All studies show that secularization begins and ends with the faculty. Notre Dame, to its credit, has recognized this. Its Mission Statement declares that its Catholic
    identity “depends” on there being a majority of Catholic intellectuals on the faculty. This echoes the standard set in Ex Corde Ecclesiae.

    But the distressing fact is that, on its own standard and that of Ex Corde, Notre Dame has already lost its historic claim to Catholic identity. Catholic representation on the faculty, as measured by those who simply check the “Catholic” box, has fallen from 85% in the 1970’s to just over 50% today, as Ms. Riley reports. When the substantial numbers of
    dissident and merely nominal Catholics are taken into account, it is inarguable that Notre Dame no longer has a majority of genuinely Catholic intellectuals on the faculty.

    Nor, to be sure, would anyone deny that there is still a lot that is Catholic going on at the
    University. As Ms. Riley notes, “The students are probably the most religious part of Notre Dame.” The student body remains 85% Catholic and is graced by many young men and women of deep faith and the will to act. More, there remains a core of some of the finest Catholic scholars in the world; and the University continues to sponsor many
    programs important to the Church.

    In short, Notre Dame remains the most Catholic of the major Catholic universities. But this says more about the others than it does about Notre Dame. For these external signs are dangerously misleading. What really counts is who is teaching and what they are they teaching. The history of secularization shows that, once the faculty is secularized, the religious culture of the institution ultimately collapses.

    At the moment, that is the dark future that seems most probable for Notre Dame. But it is not yet inevitable. All depends on whether those in governance have the purpose and will to reform the regnant faculty hiring policy.