DEARBORN, MI, April 27, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - On the same day that former Vatican ambassador Mary Ann Glendon announced that she has decided to refuse Notre Dame's Laetare Medal due to the university's invitation of Obama to receive an honorary degree at this year's commencement ceremony, a group protesting the decision has announced that the university has also lost millions in donations because of the scandal.
Organizers of ReplaceJenkins.com, an online effort urging alumni and donors to the University of Notre Dame to withhold donations, announced Monday that they have personally confirmed over $8.2 million in withheld donations. The URL of the website - ReplaceJenkins.com - is a reference to the main demand of the group - that Notre Dame president Fr. John Jenkins, who has firmly stood by the university's decision to honor Obama, be replaced with someone who will uphold the Catholic identity of the university.
The website has received over 900 pledges from alumni and donors promising to withhold future donations. Several of the largest gifts include estate bequests to the University that have been removed from donors' wills.
ReplaceJenkins.com organizers say they have personally confirmed a majority of the largest donations, and are continuing to verify the validity of millions of additional gifts.
ReplaceJenkins.com spokesperson David DiFranco (Class of '95) said: "We knew many donors and alums were unhappy with the decision to honor a pro-abortion president, but we never expected this large of a response. We can hardly keep up, and this is only the beginning. We can only imagine what fundraisers at the University are experiencing, but understandably not reporting."
DiFranco said that ReplaceJenkins.com has dismissed a number of submissions of withheld donations that were obviously false. He also said that the current figure of $8.2 million does not include a number of other large pledges that they are in the process of confirming.
"We are speaking directly with donors, and in several cases we have spoken with estate attorneys to confirm that Notre Dame has been stripped from a donor's will," he said. "We are going about this process with a critical eye in order that that the numbers we report are accurate. For that reason, the $8.2 million we are reporting today is actually very conservative."
Alumni and financial supporters of the University of Notre Dame launched the online effort just over one week ago in an effort to withhold donations from Notre Dame, until Rev. John Jenkins, CSC is replaced.
"As momentum continues to build, we are now certain that the financial penalty resulting from the decision to honor the most pro-abortion president in our nation's history, will be enormous," said DiFranco.
"The fact that this effort is necessary is unfortunate. However, alumni and supporters of Notre Dame have little other recourse than to protest with their pocketbooks. We will continue our efforts as long as it is necessary to bring about positive change at Notre Dame that will honor 'Our Lady's' University."