Bp. Olmstead to Fr. Jenkins: “the grave mistake of your decision”

I received word that His Excellency Most Reverend Thomas Olmstead, Bishop of Phoenix, wrote an e-mail to the President of the University of Notre Shame, Fr. Jenkins, to remind him of the USCCB position on giving people who defy fundamental moral principles a platform.

Here is the link to the page on the site of the Diocese of Phoenix.

Bp. Olmstead to Fr. Jenkins: “the grave mistake of your decision”
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37 Responses to Bp. Olmstead to Fr. Jenkins: “the grave mistake of your decision”

  1. Ave Maria says:

    May many more bishops come forth and let Fr. Jenkins know of the immensity of this scandal and travesty. So very divisive! It is SO incredibly wrong. It is so against what the Catholic universities are supposed to do: NOT invite culture of death people and honor them as if their stance is in accord with the teachings of the Church.

    Notre Dame needs to no longer be considered a Catholic institution with this sort of blasphemy.

  2. LCB says:

    Fr. Z, Here you go.

    Dear Fr. Jenkins,

    I am saddened and heavy of heart about your decision to invite President Obama to speak at Notre Dame University and even to receive an honorary degree.

    It is a public act of disobedience to the Bishops of the United States. Our USCCB June 2004 Statement “Catholics in Political Life” states: [b]”The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of the fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”[/b] No one could not know of the public stands and actions of the president on key issues opposed to the most vulnerable human beings.

    John Paul II said, [b]”Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights- for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture – is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with the maximum determination.” [/b]

    I pray that you come to see the grave mistake of your decision, and the way that it undercuts the Church’s proclamation of the Gospel of Life in our day.

    Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted
    Diocese of Phoenix.

  3. Andy F. says:

    I am strengthened more and more in the Faith when the Ordinary witnesses of the Gospel stand for justice. Hopefully our experiences with the public witness of Bishops in the last year will continue to grow. That’s an “Emergent Church” I can jump on board with.

  4. Steve K. says:

    Strong medicine. This is good – I think FWIW this is the sort of things we should see more and more from the hierarchy. God bless you, Bishop Olmsted.

    In an earlier thread, I said that the ND invite was among other things a big middle finger to the bishops who took a stand on abortion during the election, seems it’s been taken that way.

  5. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    “It is a public act of disobedience to the Bishops of the United States.”
    A short, simple sentence, not open to misinterpretation. How rarely we hear such things.

  6. TNCath says:

    Bishop Olmsted’s letter is an example of what every other bishop in the United States should be writing to Father Jenkins.

  7. Chris says:

    Can someone just tell me who, what bishop or bishops, have the ability to suspend the faculties of Fr. Jenkins?

    I’d love to know who doesn’t think this warrents a suspension (this plus all the other anti-Catholic activies this president allows to happen at ND).

  8. Yay for Bishop Olmstead! He is the same who, two years ago, put the kibosh on an Edwina Gateley retreat in his diocese. God bless all good shepherds!

  9. RBrown says:

    Not only is the invitation to Obama an outrage, but ND’s football team isn’t any good anymore.

  10. Vicky says:

    Father the link is up on the Diocese of Phoenix website.
    http://www.diocesephoenix.org/main.html

  11. Glen says:

    Bravo! Catholics need to raise our voices in unison at such outrageous acts in defence of our faith. I tossed my ND football cap in protest.

  12. Ed Casey says:

    In response to Chris’ question, it may be that a Bishop of the Church is not the right one who can pull the lever here. The Provincial of the Holy Cross Fathers is a Fr. Tyson. His phone number is 574-631-6196 hit #4 He is the one that appointed this Fr. Jenkins. of ND. He has the jurisdiction directly.

    In addition (and this info all comes from a very active Life committee in our parish, who has been mobilizing people to call about this outrage) one can lodge complaints to the following:

    The Papal Nuncio’s office. The priest who answered requested that we send a letter in writing with all of our grievances concerning this move by ND.
    Send letter to:
    Papal Nuncio
    Most Reverend Pietro Sambi
    Apostolic Nunciature
    3339 Massachusetts Avenue NW
    Washington D.C. 20001

    Additionally to the Bishops’ conference:
    USCCB
    3211 4 St.
    Washington DC 20017
    Attention: Ms.Gaisey

  13. my kidz mom says:

    I am confused. Bishop Olmstead was mentioned in Randall Terry’s (Operation Rescue) report
    Oves Sine Pastore, A Plea to Vatican Leaders to Restore Faithful Catholic Leadership in America
    (http://ahumbleplea.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/to_the_bishops.pdf), page 12,
    “Examples of U.S. Prelates Who Openly Reject Church Teaching”:

    ‘Bishop Thomas Omsted [sic]: “My job is to get to know the key people in the state and appeal to their
    consciences.” He said that instead of refusing to offer Communion he would use “persuasion,”
    according to the Associated Press (May 24, 2004, Tuscon Citizen).’

  14. Paul Haley says:

    The overriding question is this drama is whether Fr. Jenkins even cares what the USCCB thinks about his actions. It is unquestionably a horrendous decision on his part and a slap in the face to all who call themselves Catholics and pro-life. It is also an affront to all the loyal Catholics who have graduated from NDU and I sympathize with the many who have voiced outrage over this scandalous behavior. However, it is also testimony to how far the Jesuit order has fallen from its roots as eminent teachers of Catholic doctrine and defenders of the papacy.

    On the other hand, we are told that a large percentage of Catholics voted for Obama in the last election. What does that say about a “state of emergency” in the church today? Can we expect anything good out of this behavior? Methinks not.

  15. TomG says:

    my kidz mom:

    Perhaps consider that Bp Olstead may have “come around” in his thinking … that was, after all, almost five years ago – and he had only been installed as Bishop of Phoenix a few months previously.

  16. Bill in Texas says:

    my kidz mom: That quote is from five years ago, number one. Number two, the current letter is certainly consistent with Church teaching. Number three, the quote itself may be out of context — there’s no link to the AP article, and we don’t know what the Bishop actually said before the reporter and the editor got ahold of it — note that “He said that instead of refusing to offer Communion he would use ‘persuasion,'” is an indirect quote, not necessarily what the Bishop said.

    I do not believe there is any way Fr. Jenkins could misunderstand what Bishop Olmstead is saying.

    We may well see a new president at Notre Dame next year. Whether the incumbent leaves with any of his honor intact (if dimmed) depends on what he does next.

  17. my kidz mom says:

    Bill/Tom thankyou. That old quote did not seem to jive with what I’ve seen Bishop O do here in Phx
    in recent years. He has been known to walk the walk, literally, outside local abortion clinics.

  18. EDG says:

    Go Bp Olmstead! He’s absolutely right: this does undermine the Church’s stance. When I hear comments from non-Catholics (and even from some marginal Catholics), they always focus on people like Fr. Jenkins. If the Church really believes what she claims, they ask, why are people like this Fr Jenkins allowed to do things like this? And to them, this calls all of Catholic doctrine into question and makes it look very contingent and individual.

  19. RichR says:

    I’m sure the good Bishop had a long face as he wrote this sobering warning.

    This should not have to happen.

  20. Tantumergo says:

    Bishop Olmsted’s actions remind me of a bumper sticker I once had: “REAL MEN LOVE JESUS”

  21. supertradmom says:

    Hooray for Bishop Olmstead. May many more bishops have this type of courage to stand up against this very public scandal.

  22. Zach says:

    Paul,
    Notre Dame is not run by the Jesuits, but rather by the priests of the Congregation of the Holy Cross…CSC.
    Zach

  23. Bob K. says:

    I think the Holy See should remove Fr. Jenkins from his post, and reassign somewhere else.

  24. Jacques says:

    But, please let me know, WHO made this Fr Jenkins being President of Notre Dame?
    Hasn’t this man a Catholic HIERARCHY that can weigh on to oblige him to rescind the invitation to Pdt Obama or to resign?
    The US Church looks like a drunken boat where everybody acts according to his actual opinion without caring about what says the Pope of the USBC.

  25. RC2 says:

    As gently as possible I’d like to raise a question –as a question, as I’m not certain what I think. In general I think readers here are heartened by bishops being “tough” on Fr. Jenkins –as am I. I’ve been discussing this situation off and on over the past few days with friends, and several people I know want a “nuclear option” –with the bishop or the pope (I don’t actually know who has authority to do such a thing) removing the school’s authority to call itself “Catholic.” I understand this desire (I share it to an extent), but I wonder if it isn’t a bit clericalist in approach?

    Honestly,lay people have been getting the vapors over things ND has done my entire adult life. We stage our protests, we sign our petitions, we get a little press and then it all blows over ’til the next outrage. Who is to blame for the situation at that school more than all of us lay people who have seen this stuff for decades and, by our tuition payments, voted for more and more of the same?

    I know so many faithful, orthodox parents who hate the secularist antics…but want their kids to have that prestigious degree. Do we really need bishops to tell us not to subsidize anti-Catholic behavior? Don’t parents and students have the same duty to be not conformed to this world as bishops and administrators do? I understand the need for the bishops to teach us –but in my lifetime it has always been perfectly clear that Notre Dame was out of step with the Holy Father and out of step with bishops in union with him –and everyone still wants to go there.

    When does the boycott not of the commencement, but of the school itself, start?

  26. Paul Haley says:

    My apologies for my reference to the Jesuits in the post concerning Fr. Jenkins. However, I still believe the Jesuits have lost a lot of their prestige as defenders of the Faith – not all, surely, but many.

  27. TerryC says:

    UND is a very confusing case for parents, especially for those who aren’t really involved on the Internet. There are some shining stars there and it is easy to see how parents from another part of the country might be fooled into believing that ND is the same Catholic bastion that their grandparents knew.
    For example at the March for Life I was walking just in front of a very large and strongly pro-life group of ND students. I understand the Law school has a number of very Catholic organizations and student groups. For every has-been radical ’60 theologians there seems to be a couple of really orthodox ones.
    Ultimately since the USCCB and the local ordinary let ND go on calling itself Catholic many Catholics believe that it must be. That is changing and parents are beginning to realize that a great number of traditional Catholic Colleges are Catholic in name only, and they’re striking them off the list of perspective colleges.

  28. Faithful one says:

    To persons who call themselves Catholics, who voted for OBAMA….. YOU GET WHAT YOU DESERVE… and this means 60 % of Catholics voted for him to make him your president.. CRYING OVER SPILLED MILK…. the rest of us Catholics who did not vote for this evil-man have clear consciences. THOSE who voted for OBAMA better pray 24 hours of continuous adoration before the Blessed Sacrament in Reparation for your poor judgment/so-called choice. NOW that the evil ideology is becoming clear to you and the after effects of your votes..what are you going to do now? You had the power to make GOOD and MORAL VALUES … too late. MONEY was your motivation…. economy….. WHAT ECONOMY?

  29. Brian Murphy says:

    Just a little pet peeve of mine, but Bishop Olmsted’s name has got to be one of the most misspelled names I have ever seen. Since he became my Bishop 5-6 years ago, half the time I see his name it is misspelled, in news stories outside of our Diocese.

    It is Olmsted not Olmstead.

    And kudos to you Bishop! He has put the kibbosh on alot of the dissent that was rampant here. In my opinion there is still more work to be done in our Diocese, especially in areas of religious education, but we have made many great strides under his leadership. And I am ever thankful for his support of our TLM parish. I pray that more Bishops stand up for life and let it be known to these so called Catholic colleges that they need to start being Catholic.

  30. irishgirl says:

    Bravo for Bishop Olmsted!

    Wish the other Bishops in the US were like him!

    I echo your thoughts, Faithful one-it seems that Catholics who voted for BO only had their pocketbooks in mind! Trading our souls for a mess of pottage….

  31. Steve K. says:

    Incidentally, it seems that it was known in advance that this invitation would cause scandal, but the school went ahead with it either because it intended to cause scandal or simply didn’t care.

    http://romereturn.blogspot.com/2009/03/deconstructing-notre-dame-spokesmans.html

    No innocent mistake or misunderstanding then – remember folks, there is a war on the Church ongoing in this country today.

  32. Shzilio says:

    I am about to say something harsh but, where is the USCCB in all of this? Bishop Olmstead says it is an act of defiance to the bishops but where is the public outrage from the USCCB?

    They get together and condemn a president’s decision to go to war in a minute but where are they now? Where is this priest’s superior in this? People say, “Well we have to work behind the scenes.” Scandal is public, why should it be solved privately? The Holy Cross has some faithful religious but I just don’t get how their order isn’t being placed under more pressure to fire this guy. And I think it should be public pressure because the scandal is public.

    I hear people saying “Notre Shame”. Perhaps it is the shame of the episcopacy.

    I know I know the Church is filled with imperfect people even imperfect priests

    We live in a sad world when the Democratic Party is more united than our bishops. No wonder so many diocese aren’t getting answers to vocations; they have shepherds who are so ashamed of their faith they would rather be invited to liberal mixers than stand for truth. No wonder the laity under their care all too oftwn won’t stand for it either.

  33. AnyMouse says:

    I do not see why Olmstead makes “disobedience to bishops” the gravamen of his complaint. Given that the Holy Cross Congregation is of pontifical right, it is also probably not true in the precise canonical sense, even more as it is would seem to be disobedience to a Statement rather than persons. If the bishop would stick with that which of importance, it would scan better.

  34. little gal says:

    “I am about to say something harsh but, where is the USCCB in all of this?”

    I think they’re are focusing on abortion, stem cells and conscious rights for health care workers right now and I think they are to be commended. Cardinal George, the USCCB President, has met with Obama and he and other representatives have either written letters to Obama and/or issued statements about the ‘wrongness’ of proposed or implemented changes in policy. There is a nation wide postcard effort directed at legislators via the USCCB website which is also being coordinated thru parishes nationwide-I hope everyone has participated in this- There is also a video being widely distributed to communicate these issues via the media. This is a big step considering that the Cardinal assumed the presidency a little over a year ago. (I might add that Cardinal George will begin communicating with his diocese via a monthly newsletter in April which I think is a great way to educate/shepherd his flock.) I suspect that more action is in the works. IMO, there is a different wind blowing there and I am grateful for it.

  35. RBrown says:

    I do not see why Olmstead makes “disobedience to bishops” the gravamen of his complaint. Given that the Holy Cross Congregation is of pontifical right, it is also probably not true in the precise canonical sense, even more as it is would seem to be disobedience to a Statement rather than persons. If the bishop would stick with that which of importance, it would scan better.
    Comment by AnyMouse

    I totally agree, not only juridically but also morally. The performance of the bishops in the past 35 years has all but emptied the call for “obedience to bishops” of its moral authority.

    I realize that the contemporary group is of much better stock than the likes of Strecker, Weakland, Bernardin, Borders, et al. All, however, have in common the membership in the US Bishops Conference.

  36. little gal says:

    “I totally agree, not only juridically but also morally. The performance of the bishops in the past 35 years has all but emptied the call for “obedience to bishops” of its moral authority.”

    At what point will we stop beating up the bishops? Perhaps someone can answer this in light of the many inperfections of the apostles. I am not as studied in Church history as some, but the more I learn of the twelve whom Christ chose, the less I focus on critique of their successors. How ’bout it Mr. Brown?

  37. RBrown says:

    At what point will we stop beating up the bishops? Perhaps someone can answer this in light of the many inperfections of the apostles. I am not as studied in Church history as some, but the more I learn of the twelve whom Christ chose, the less I focus on critique of their successors. How ‘bout it Mr. Brown?
    Comment by little gal

    I was hardly beating up on the bishops, merely saying that the present group (which has many good men) is stuck with dealing with the consequences of past mistakes.