An Open Letter to Fr. John Jenkins
University of Notre Dame
Dear Fr. Jenkins,We are writing this letter to you in hopes that you can clear something up for us.
We are two Catholic women who reside in the State of Colorado. We made tragic mistakes in our younger years by having abortions. We came to the University of Notre Dame last Friday, May 8, to witness to the harm caused to us by our “choice.” We held signs that say “I Regret My Abortion”. We also gave our testimonies and prayed the Rosary with other Catholics who supported us.
We did this in hopes of saving young women years of pain, shame and guilt. We did this because college aged women have the most abortions. We did this because we wanted these young women to know that women deserve better than abortion and that women can achieve the things that they want without having their babies killed. We did this because we believe in the fundamental right to life of all human beings who are created in the image and likeness of God which is a dogmatic teaching of the Catholic Church.
We have both attended Project Rachel and Rachel’s Vineyard retreats – both Catholic healing programs for those suffering from abortion. We then joined “The Silent No More Awareness campaign”, a program sponsored by a Catholic Priest – Fr. Frank Pavone.
In all of these programs we were taught about the acceptance and mercy of God and our fellow Catholics. Also, in these programs we were encouraged to seek the counsel of a Catholic Priest – that they would help us to find redemption in the sacrament of reconciliation. We were also encouraged to share our stories so that the Catholic community and the greater community at large could hear first hand of the devastating effects of abortion.
While speaking these truths on Friday we were issued a Trespass Notice by security officers hired by the University that in part states “The University has the right to tell us that we are not wanted on University property.”
Imagine our shock after receiving this notice and being barred from speaking further, we were arrested and thrown in jail. We spent the day in a holding cell until we posted a $250 bond. As we now understand things, we are awaiting news as to whether the charges against us will be misdemeanor trespassing or a felony. This happened all because we wanted the students to know through our stories how devastating abortion is to women.
We are confused, Fr. Jenkins. Why would a Catholic University bar Catholic women from speaking the truth about a fundamental Catholic teaching, under the signage of a healing program that is sponsored by a Catholic priest, while praying the Rosary? Yet, the University would welcome, honor and have a person speak at Commencement who is virulently opposed to this same fundamental Catholic teaching?
Fr. Jenkins can you please explain this to us?
We look forward to your response.
Jane Brennan, MS
Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests For Life writes:
My Day at Notre Dame-
There was an eerie stillness and silence across the Notre Dame campus as my colleagues, a few of the seniors and I walked across the campus very early on the morning of Commencement Day. It was the calm before the storm of what we knew was an historic day. I started with a national Fox News interview along with Fr. Richard McBrien. We were asked our views of the Commencement. My message was: Everyone can imagine people they would protest speaking at a commencement: an avowed racist, anti-Semite, or advocate of terrorism. So the failure to object to one who is unwilling to call for an end to abortion is the failure to see that abortion is as bad or worse than those other evils. We have to stop trivializing abortion. Moreover, the university gave the President an honorary law degree. Law exists to protect human rights; but this president has admitted that he doesn’t know when a child receives human rights. How can he defend human rights when he doesn’t know who has them? After speaking to various media, I greeted people on campus who were coming from all over the country to stand with the courageous students who boycotted their own commencement and invited me to lead them in an alternate ceremony. After I greeted and blessed the demonstrators who were at the campus entrance, and concelebrated a special Mass for Life, I led the Class of 2009 Vigil for Life. We meditated on the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, on the victory of life over death, and on the fact that Jesus is King over every nation, over the courts, the Congress, and the White House. As I gave the students and their families reflections on these truths, the current occupant of the White House was calling the graduates to have “open minds, open hearts” and a spirit of dialogue. Now dialogue with our opponents on this issue is something we at Priests for Life specialize in. I maintain friendships with abortion advocates and practicing abortionists. The clarity of our own convictions never means we despise, demonize, or shut out other people. And yes, we are willing to collaborate with others in morally legitimate ways to reduce the numbers of abortions. But the President’s remarks had a glaring omission. While willing to dialogue and to promote adoption, he gave no indication of any willingness to protect the children in the womb. And that’s the crux of the issue. In his remarks, he referred to the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision that outlawed segregation. Certainly, his call for open minds does not include openness to reconsider the segregation issue. There’s a right answer to it, period. So it is with the protection of the unborn. And as quiet again descended on campus at the end of the day, I reflected… Open minds, yes, but for the purpose of eventually firmly closing upon the truth! And isn’t that supposed to be the purpose of Catholic universities?
Amy Welborn responding to Obama’s speech at Notre Dame doesn’t see a real opening here for true dialogue. However, referring to the Catholic Church’s long “and vibrant history of engagement with political philosophy from Augustine on,” Welborn strains to get beyond Obama’s words, catchphrases and code phrases for ambiguity (e.g.”sound science” = a dismissal of ethical considerations.) Discussion on a goal to decrease abortions, which Obama says he wants, without an openess to core Church teachings on life and recognition of the humanity of the unborn in little more than an expansion of birth control availability and continues to circumvent the moral dimension of abortion.
Here are some excerpts from her response:
Obama – and Jenkins – both emphasized dialogue. Obama said, “But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature.
Open hearts. Open minds. Fair-minded words.” I agree. And when those supporting Obama and Obama at Notre Dame stop referring to those standing in opposition as “GOP hacks,” “ultraconservative minority” and “Catholic Sharia” – and actually engaging the arguments instead – we know we’re getting somewhere.
The political realities are this, and have been forever: Self-described abortion “moderates” accuse pro-lifers of being “all or nothing” in their approach. The reality is that smaller measures to limit and regulate the abortion license are never proposed by abortion proponents, but by pro-lifers, and, further, are always opposed to the death by abortion-proponents. Have you ever heard of an parental notification law or laws requiring abortion facilities to be regulated at the same level as medical clinics being co-sponsored by a state branch of NARAL and the NRLC?
To put it bluntly – until we are ready to “dialogue” about the possibility that law might play a role in decreasing the number of abortions, as is the work that goes on in Crisis Pregnancy Centers and in front of abortion facilities on Saturday mornings, the dialogue is extremely limited. Until those who are actually working with the stated, explicit goal of discouraging women from having abortions are included in the dialogue, there is really no dialogue.
Meanwhile check out this ACLU blog to see just how ecstatic President Obama is making the ACLU. “It’s been a whirlwind, but rewarding, three months.”
“The first 100 days of the Obama administration have brought us more victories than we had in the eight years of the previous administration.”
“On his first Friday in office, President Obama rescinded the Global Gag Rule, restoring U.S. funding to international organizations that use their own, non-U.S. dollars to provide, refer for, and/or advocate for safe and legal abortion in their countries.”
And one more nod to reality – here’s a subject for dialogue based on as much evidence as we can muster, rather than platitudes: how is expanded funding for abortions both in the United States and overseas contributing to the cause of “reducing the number of abortions?” If we’re dialoguing, those are the questions that must be asked.
Hot Air adds:
The perfect ironic conclusion to yesterday’s paean to tolerance and dialogue at Notre Dame: The leader of a Catholic school sneering at student protesters for practicing freedom of speech in defense of Church teachings. Rarely have liberal Catholicism and campus Orwellianism meshed more beautifully.
Quoting Trinity President Patricia McGuire, AllahPundit reports:
McGuire continued, “The religious vigilantism apparent in the Notre Dame controversy arises from organizations that have no official standing with the church, but who are successful in gaining media coverage as if they were speaking for Catholicism. . . . They have established themselves as uber-guardians of a belief system we can hardly recognize. Theirs is a narrow faith devoted almost exclusively to one issue. They defend the rights of the unborn but have no charity toward the living. They mock social justice as a liberal mythology.”
Jeers punctuated and damped down the cheers at Notre Dame Commencement.
Barack Obama is the most radical pro-abortion and infanticide president in history. One of his first actions as president was to lift a ban on funding foreign abortions.
Obama has voted four times in support of infanticide.
Interesting part of his speech.
Thank HotAir for this: American Thinker, Paul Shoichta’s “How Notre Dame Drifted Away from the Catholic Church”
Today, to the disgust and apparent surprise of many Catholic bishops and laity, the University of Notre Dame, once the pride of Catholic intellectual life in America, will behave in a very un-Catholic way by honoring, as commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient, POTUS Barack Obama, one of America’s most extreme advocates of abortion.
This surprise is hard to understand. The old Latin proverb nemo repente turpissimus can be translated as “nobody becomes very evil overnight.” Even Judas served a lengthy apprenticeship as an embezzler before moving on to greater betrayals. In a similar manner, I contend that the invitation to Obama was merely a milestone of a drift away from the Catholic Church that Notre Dame started decades ago.
Read How It Happened here
The Last Straw?
So, with a majority of Catholics and Notre Dame students having voted for Obama, inviting the POTUS to the 2009 commencement seemed like a safe and harmless move. It might even result in some lavish federal grants by the sort of mutual back-scratching (known as the “Chicago Way”) that Obama has been trained in. A few pro-lifers or conservatives would protest but they would be ignored by the media and soon forgotten.
Then the protests flooded in. 68 of the 273 American bishops protested and/or boycotted the event. The announced Laetare Medalist, law professor and former ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, refused the award in protest . Newspapers gave feature coverage of the protests and even cartoonists satirized the irony of the event. Alumni pledged to rescind over $8,000,000 in donations. A coalition of eleven student groups, called ND Response, organized a program of on-campus protests to coincide with the commencement. Even the public tide has turned, a majority now disapproving of Notre Dame’s action. Notre Dame President Jenkins and his advisors must be wondering what hit them.
And we might wonder too. Considering the notorious indifference of most lay Catholics about abortion and the equally notorious pusillanimity of U.S. bishops, what has caused this sudden surge of resentment? It isn’t because of the Catholic laity as a whole; according to a recent poll, a majority of American Catholics don’t know, don’t care, or don’t disapprove of the Obama invitation.
One possibility, unfortunately a likely one, is that this is just a flash in the pan. The commencement and the protests will be over, the bishops will take no further action, the incident will be forgotten, pro-abortion politicians will have been reassured that they have noting to fear from the Catholic vote, and Notre Dame will go on as before.
This is the part of Obama’s speech at the Notre Dame commencement that I found interesting:
“But as you leave here today, remember the lessons of Cardinal Bernardin, of Father Hesburgh, of movements for change both large and small. Remember that each of us, endowed with the dignity possessed by all children of God, has the grace to recognize ourselves in one another; to understand that we all seek the same love of family and the same fulfillment of a life well-lived.“
Who, indeed, do we recognize in the disturbing graphic image of an aborted child, if not ourselves? Unfortunately, this poor one and the millions of other unknowns will never know “love of family” or “fulfillment of a life well-lived” to quote President Obama. Known but to God, they witness to the cold reality of a heart-dead age, that now scoffs at those who protest the dying of the unborn. The sensitivities of this Age are roused not by the reality of abortion, flesh and blood, but by images that witness to the loss of generations. In truth, the unborn are born, but not in the way that God intended. They are born, burned by saline, curated, crushed. They come forth without breath or cry. We see and hear them always before us in our future reckoning.
President Obama makes pretty speeches that belie the horror underlying benign sounding words such as Choice.
For pithy Michelle Malkin has the pithiest summation by Greg Mueller.