Fr. Jenkins of Notre Shame on the USCCB guidelines

I just had time to scan briefly some comments from Notre Shame U’s president Fr Jenkins on the USCCB’s guidelines about giving a platform to speakers who promote values against those acceptable to the Church.

I can’t post it and work it over right now, but perhaps someone can give a summary.

Be brief and edit yourselves carefully.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Arthur says:

    For any who are interested, here is a brief article on Fr. Jenkins’ most recent comments:

    Notre Dame President Defends Pro-Abortion Obama Invite Despite Bishops’ Rules

    by Steven Ertelt Editor
    April 9, 2009

    South Bend, IN ( — The president of the University of Notre Dame is again defending his decision to invite pro-abortion President Barack Obama to give the college’s commencement address. In a new statement, Rev. John Jenkins refuses to back down in the face of a document from the nation’s Catholic bishops.

    In June 2004, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement that makes it clear that Catholic colleges should not allow abortion advocates to have a platform to speak to students or be honored with special awards and degrees.

    “Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions,’ the bishops say.

    But Jenkins, in a letter to the Board of Trustees at the University of Notre Dame, says his decision to invite and honor Obama with a degree doesn’t violate the bishops’ guidelines.

    Noting how numerous bishops and pro-life groups have cited the document to criticize his decision, Jenkins writes, “Our interpretation of this document is different from the one that has been imposed by those criticizing us.”

    Jenkins calls the document “provisional” but claims he and other Notre Dame officials “have tried to follow both the letter and the spirit of its recommendations.”

    The Notre Dame president claims the college’s invitation to Obama doesn’t apply because Obama is not Catholic.

    “Because the title of the document is ‘Catholics in Political Life,’ we understood this to refer to honoring Catholics whose actions are not in accord with our moral principles,” Jenkins writes. “This interpretation was supported by canon lawyers we consulted, who advised us that, by definition, only Catholics who implicitly recognize the authority of Church teaching can act in ‘defiance’ of it.”

    “Moreover, fellow university presidents have told me that their bishops have told them that in fact it is only Catholic politicians who are referred to in this document,” he adds.

    Jenkins also says he is within the guidelines because he has repeatedly condemned Obama’s pro-abortion record.

    Patrick Reilly, president of Cardinal Newman Society, which has secured the signatures of 255,000 people who are opposed to Notre Dame’s decision, says Jenkins’ interpretation is wrong.

    He points to the fact that most of the 29 Catholic bishops who have publicly criticized Notre Dame for honoring President Obama have cited “Catholics in Political Life” as foundational to their arguments.

    “How can Father Jenkins maintain that his interpretation of the Bishops’ statement is correct when so many of the bishops themselves, including Notre Dame’s own bishop, have given the exact opposite interpretation?” Reilly asked.

    “Who is he to reinterpret the bishops’ own statement?” he told

    “In his statement, Father Jenkins once again attempts to argue that Notre Dame is not suggesting support for the president’s abysmal record on life issues,” said Reilly. “And yet it is plainly clear to more than two dozen bishops, thousands of students and alumni and the more than a quarter million petition signers that Notre Dame has betrayed Catholic values.”

  2. “Our interpretation is different.” Spoken like a true modernist. “We have tried to follow the spirit of its recommendations.” More modernism. The college’s invitation to Obama doesn’t apply because Obama is not Catholic? So non-Catholics can freely promote abortion at the University but Catholics cannot? Isn’t that “logical???” The blind leading the blind, right into the pit.

  3. Frank H. says:

    The operative section of the Bishops’ Catholics in Political Life letter would seem to be –

    “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

    As I read it, “…should not honor those who act…” does NOT say “…should not honor those CATHOLICS who act…”

    I think Fr. Jenkins is being disingenuous.

  4. Supertradmom says:

    Noting how numerous bishops and pro-life groups have cited the document to criticize his decision, Jenkins writes, “Our interpretation of this document is different from the one that has been imposed by those criticizing us.”

    I find this statement appallingly arrogant and find the argument that the guidelines from the USCCB apply to Catholics who are pro-abortion only apply, disingenuous. Private interpretation of Church documents seems not only an irresponsible, but a heretical position. As to “defiance” to Catholic teaching being only the reserve of disobedient Catholics, I would venture that the abortion issue is not just a “Catholic” issue, but one of natural law.

    If one does not want to be obedient and conform one’s mind to Christ, then one should act as a “noble pagan” and realize that the slaughtering of innocents is a civil rights issue based on natural law, as well as on Revelation.

    The above statement increases my dismay over my alma mater.

  5. Rancher says:

    Jenkins is an intelligent man. Therefore the approach he uses to justify his decision is even more questionable than if it came from one less educated. He talks about the “spirit” as well as the letter of the USCCB “provisional” position. The “spirit” is even more clear than the letter and anyone who is supportive of the “spirit” of what the document says must draw a conclusion far different from Fr. Jenkins.

    His argument that the Bishops’ position applies only to Catholics and that since [the President] is not a Catholic it does not apply to him is a specious argument. Jenkins is Catholic, ND is (supposedly) Catholic and to the extent Jenkins provides a political platform the document applies to him (if not Obama). Not only is Jenkins poor at interpreting the intent and spirit of the document but he needs a good course in logic as well.

    Finally his often used argument that inviting Obama will provide a forum for “dialog” on life issues is pure garbage. Obama is giving a speech. He is not going to engage in a debate or discussion with any pro-lifers. There will be no “dialog”…just one of the most prominent culture of death proponents being honored by an institution that supposedly represents the culture of life. And that, my friends, is logical?

  6. stgemma0411 says:

    Ok…so the USCCB has no standing, as we already know, in terms of its application within the jurisdiction of any particular ordinary. So…how exactly is it relevant to consult a Canon Lawyer to make sure you are doing something either correctly or incorrectly? Isn’t it more possible for the Bishop of South Bend to simply revoke both Fr. Jenkins’ “Celebrit” as well as removing his permission to be the President of Notre Dame? Or is that up to the Holy Cross Fathers. Removing him from his position and replacing him with someone else might be the better move, IMO.

  7. DarkKnight says:

    When the President of the USCCB tells Fr. Jenkins what the USCCB’s document says and Fr. turns tone deaf:

    Perhaps the President of the USCCB can have a word with Fr. Jenkins’ superior – that same Superior who doesn’t seem to be able to understand the will of the USCCB either;

    Perhaps the bishops of the various trustees can arrange an informal chat with their respective sheep;

    Perhaps the trustees, thus enlightened, will suddenly see a need to reexamine the leadership role of Fr. Jenkins at the university; and

    Perhaps the trustees would like to be able to publicly raise funds in the various dioceses of the United States?

  8. … only Catholics who implicitly recognize the authority of Church teaching can act in ‘defiance’ of it.”

    This is alarming. The pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI have gone to great lengths to explain that the right to life is a tenet of natural law and not a sectarian doctrine. Here is Pope Benedict in his March 2006 address to the European People’s Party:

    These principles are not truths of faith, even though they receive further light and confirmation from faith; they are inscribed in human nature itself and therefore they are common to all humanity. The Church’s action in promoting them is therefore not confessional in character, but is addressed to all people, prescinding from any religious affiliation they may have. On the contrary, such action is all the more necessary the more these principles are denied or misunderstood, because this constitutes an offence against the truth of the human person, a grave wound inflicted onto justice itself.

    Surely Fr. Jenkins is familiar with the manner in which the Church addresses these issues(?). Moreover, the USCCB guidelines are addressed to Catholics but the proscription is not limited to them; the pertinent paragraph reads “those,” not “those Catholics.”

  9. Gary says:

    This in effect treats all us critical of the University’s decision as if we are idiots.

    This is alot like the White House denying that Obama bowed to the Saudi King, when multiple video/photo angles show that is exactly what he did.

    With the internet these days, people are informed (and misinformed) so much faster and no longer slaves to the mainstream media, but those in various positions of power don’t seem to realize that. They continue to give out these ridiculous justifications for actions/decisions as if this was the 1950’s and we didn’t know better. It is so insulting.

  10. schoolman says:

    This is not simply a “Catholic” issue. This is a question of natural moral law that binds Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

  11. DavidJ says:

    True, the USCCB isn’t a “binding” group, but surely you’d have to have something from your bishop contradicting what the USCCB sets out before you could argue that something doesn’t at least have the appearance of being assented to by your bishop. Maybe that’s a fine line, but you can’t just say “nope, it doesn’t apply to me” and whistle Dixie as you please.

    Also, if it doesn’t apply, why attempt to further rationalize it? Why attempt to further persuade us that?

    Finally, if you’re saying the bishops are fine with you honoring a (hypothetical) cannibalistic genocidal blaspheming torturing atheist man, yet NOT fine with you honoring a (hypothetical) cannibalistic genocidal blaspheming torturing Catholic man, I think you’re off your rocker.

  12. TJM says:

    Father Jenkins’ arguments are spurious and fall very short of the mark. Instead of admit error, he just keeps digging the hole deeper. Tom

  13. Christina says:

    Jenkins calls the document “provisional” but claims he and other Notre Dame officials “have tried to follow both the letter and the spirit of its recommendations.”

    The “spirit” of the recommendation…would that be at all similar to the “spirit of Vatican II?” Fr. Jenkins doesn’t have a leg to stand on and I think deep down he knows it – hence this flimsy self-defense.

  14. A Random Friar says:

    Didn’t someone once ask, “Truth? What is the truth?” I guess it is whatever we interpret it to be?

  15. Christopher says:

    I wonder if said Canon Lawyer is Tom Doyle?

  16. Patrick says:

    Perhaps this is just another example of sloppy USCCB thinking and execution of policy documents. Did not their “Catholic Voter Guide” manage to muddy the issues enough to give cover to Catholics to vote for pro abortion politicians by allowing these Catholics to weight the relative merits of “social justice” issues.

    The Bishops, as a whole, need to learn to state some things in plain black and white. Some things are never going to be popular and the Church should not be running in a popularity contest. The Church should stick to the truth, teach the truth, and live the truth. Not seek to go along to get along.

    I have no love for what Jenkins or his colleagues are doing, and I believe it is terribly wrong for them to do so. I do however, think that if you give a modernist an inch, you should expect that they will take a mile.

  17. Joshua says:

    As pointed out above this is not a sectarian doctrine, but one of natural law. But even so, we should add that the Church is not sectarian, not a sect. All baptised persons, and the unbaptised in their relations with the baptised, our under her jurisdiction. As a Christian Obama is held up to that standard, which is hte same in its fullness as the Catholic Standard. It just makes it worse that it is naturally knowable, and not only naturally knowable but a more evident part of the natural law

  18. cavaliere says:

    Fr. Jenkins used the same argument he’s using now a couple years back in allowing the V-Monologues on campus, that it is important to allow controversial subjects so we can dialogue about them.. Anyone have evidence that any type of lecture or discussion took place post-performance to present the Catholic viewpoint of the issues that the play ridiculed as he indicated there would be?

  19. Mitchell NY says:

    Sounds like the Vatican II theology for the interpretation of documents…When does the chaos of that era end? It just reverberates through the decades and has infected every document that is meant to be one thing and winds up interpreted as something totally different. He jumped through hoops looking for a loophole in this one and by golly he found it for himself. And the commencement ceremony and his arrogant pride will all go on as scheduled…

  20. TJM says:

    NON SERVIAM saith Jenkins! It’s all about me, me, me. Tom

  21. In fact Pope Pius XII said this about private interpretation:

    Then the Holy Office, under Pius XII, sent a letter to the Archbishop of Boston, condemning Feeney’s error. (It is known that Pius XII personally checked the English text of that letter). The very first paragraph pointed out what is obvious: we must avoid private interpretation of Scripture — for that is strictly Protestant. But then the letter said we must also avoid private interpretation of the official texts of the Church. To insist on our own private interpretation, especially when the Church contradicts that, is pure Protestant attitude.

  22. chironomo says:

    This is as infuriating as it is tiring… I do find it rather humorous though to hear Bishps (some) lecture about following documents issued by their superiors. Perhaps Fr. Jenkins should follow the example of some US Bishops and instead draw up his own set of “guidelines” for interpreting the USCCB document. That way he can say that he is “following it” but without having to realy follow it at all. We can call it the Summorum Pontificum tactic….

  23. Rancher:

    May I ask you why you refer to the President of the United States as “BO”? Of course, I’m aware that those are two of his initials. I am asking if you have any other reason, since that is an unusual way to refer to him.

    Re: Father Jenkins…

    He is tempting the bishops to issue a clarification; which would do no harm, other than to embarrass him further. I wonder if he is daring them to, or trying to find some way to save face?

  24. As pointed out above this is not a sectarian doctrine, but one of natural law. But even so, we should add that the Church is not sectarian, not a sect.

    Good point, Joshua. I should have put ironic quotes around “sectarian.”

  25. Memphis Aggie says:

    Doesn’t sound like the voice of contrition does it? Is Father Jenkins pledged to obey the local ordinary or is he under a different line through his order?

  26. Jim says:

    This is all about pride. Fr. Jenkins needs to swallow some of it.

  27. Fenton says:

    The USCCB is the UN of the Catholic world

    They have enough lawyers formulating their “positions” that a battleship could be driven through their loopholes…

    It’s foolish to use ANYTHING the USCCB puts out as a defense for one’s position; the use of the word “should” instead of “shall” renders their policy unenforceable.

    Sheesh, even my 6 year old can come to that conclusion.

  28. Glen says:

    “doesn’t apply because Obama isn’t Catholic” – Does that mean abortion is only wrong if a Catholic does it?

    “spirit of its recommendations” Sounds like “spirit of Vatican II”.

    When did truth and responsibility become “provisional”?

    Moral relativism has never been such an understatement. Our Lady must be weeping.

  29. Dr. S. Petersen says:

    Fr. Jenkins has accomplished something remarkable: he has found a stance to the left of the USCCB.

  30. paul says:

    Very confusing to me. The ruling of the bishops does not apply to non-catholics? But in my ignorance I have always held to church teaching which is nothing less than reality- abortion is murder- for everyone- why honor someone whose legislation has helped spread this evil over the entire world???

  31. Fenton says:

    Let\’s see, Fr Jenkin\’s homily for the opening of the 2008-2009 school year had the word \”Hope\” 11 times…sound familiar?

    Just saying….

    Mass of the Holy Spirit to Celebrate Opening of Academic Year
    August 26, 2008
    University of Notre Dame
    “When you send forth your spirit, Lord . . . you renew the face of the earth” (Psalm 104), the psalmist says—and is set so beautifully to music by Steve Warner.

    As we begin a new school year with energy and enthusiasm, we pray that God’s Spirit—the Spirit of truth that Jesus promises us in today’s Gospel reading—will guide us in this academic year. We pray, of course, that we faculty and students will be inspired to teach and learn, to study and inquire fruitfully in the course of this year. That is the heart of our work here.

    Ultimately, though, we pray not just for our own success, for our own triumph in our personal endeavors. For the purpose of our teaching and learning is not to glorify ourselves, but to serve the world, so that we can be the salt of the earth, the leaven in the dough of the world. [I guess glorify God just doesn\’t cut it anymore..]

    Renewing the earth is challenging in all times, and certainly in this time. The list of challenges we all—and particularly you students—will face is well known: War and violent conflict; Bigotry and hatred; Desperate poverty around the world; Injustice of many kinds; Disease. It is a wearying list. [Oh, let\’s leave out those pesky \”unborn\” that keep getting in the way of our modernist agenda..]

    And in roughly a month—on September 24—we will host a forum on energy and the environment, and I hope in many classes and in conversations outside classes you will discuss issues associated with energy and environment. The challenges in this area include, but go well beyond, high prices at the gas pump. There are serious issues of environmental degradation on land and in the oceans. We face the depletion of reserves of fossil fuels—the primary source of energy in the world—in the lifetimes of you, our students. Higher energy prices, and the use of crops for biofuels have contributed to high food prices that have caused starvation and malnutrition for very poor nations. It is fair to say that competition for every more scarce energy resources have contributed to political instability and war in many parts of the world. We will hear more about these and many other issues in coming months.

    What should be our response be?

    Whatever challenges we face, and no matter how serious they are, my fervent prayer for you, our students, and indeed for all of us, is that God will afflict you with hope. I pray that we will be people who see the world and its problems with a steady, honest, unflinching gaze; that because of our faith in God’s goodness, we will apply all our knowledge and skill to a thoughtful, fair, balanced analysis of those issues; That we never flag in seeking solutions, and in encouraging others to do so; and, perhaps most importantly, that we will have the courage and conviction to act when action is called for, and that we inspire others to act as well.

    All that is part of living a life of hope. [ oohh, there\’s the \”word\” again…makes me all tingly inside]

    Now, hope may be confused with optimism, but it is really very different. Optimism is simply the conviction that whatever the challenges, the situation is not really deeply problematic or grave. No matter how bad the situation, a solution, the optimist is convinced, is just around the corner. [Hope on the other hand, is a really cool word and one I should use in all my homilies]

    I read a book this summer about the events leading up to World War II. In reading about these events, it is striking how many leaders were committed to a kind of dogged optimism in the face of a looming disaster. Hitler and the Nazis could be mollified, they assured themselves and others; they were not a serious threat. Such optimism might have been justified when Hitler first took power, but as promise after promise was broken, As Jews were more and more victimized, As one small nation after another was overrun. As the preparations for war advanced, it is hard to understand this attitude. Some seem to have been committed to an optimism that led them to believe firmly that the threat was not so serious and disaster could be avoided, until the bloodiest war in human history was upon them. [ How about the BLOODIEST 40 YEARS IN HISTORY, FATHER??!! ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE MENTION ANYWHERE ABOUT THAT!!]

    Contrary to optimism is pessimism, and that is also a temptation when faced with a grave situation. The pessimist believes the problems are not only grave, they’re insoluble; response is futile; the only challenge is to accept the doom that is imminent.

    Hope does has something in common with optimism, on one hand, for it believes in a fruitful solution and it shares with pessimism a evaluation of the situation that is unflinching and unvarnished. Yet, despite similarities, it stands in profound contrast to both pessimism and optimism in one’s life.

    Optimism and pessimism excuse us from analysis, thought, and action. For the optimist, the problem is really not so grave and so a vigorous response is unnecessary. For the pessimist, the problem is so grave that a response is futile. And so both, for contrary reasons, excuse one from serious thought and courageous action.

    Hope, on the other hand, does not excuse; it demands. It demands first of all that we see the world as it is. It demands that we assess, seek to understand, analyze, think, argue, seek solutions, overcome frustrations and failures. And, most importantly, it demands the courage and commitment of common action.

    Jesus took the last supper on the night before his crucifixion to teach his closest followers about hope. They had seen him as the solution to all political, economic, religious, and personal problems. And he took that night to tell them that he would be given over to the most painful and ignominious death. The disciples no doubt would have wanted to believe that it all wasn’t so and avoid the anguish of the Garden of Gethsemane. In Gospel Peter rebuked Jesus for suggestion he would suffer and die. And, after Jesus’s death, there was no doubt something in them that would have wanted to despair and hide in locked rooms. But Jesus called them to a hope that transcends suffering, death, and evil. Now he calls us to the same hope in our lives.

    And so I pray, “Lord, afflict us with hope.” Let us not seek comfort in a blind optimism or a despairing pessimism. Let us confront the issues of our day with perspicacious honesty. Let us respond with courage. Let us call others to the same hope. Though us, the world can become better. Send us the spirit of truth, Lord. Send forth your spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.

    Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
    August 26, 2008

    I ran out of patience with this drivel and couldn\’t read any more. Just reading it makes me wonder how in the world this man rose to this level. I realize he\’s one of God\’s annointed, but my goodness is he causing a lot of damage. This goes beyond the Obama story.. Fenton.

  32. Garrett says:

    I think we do, unfortunately, need some clearing up about how authoritative USCCB documents actually are. Can anyone clearly explain?

  33. Michael says:

    I think we should all go to ND on the day of the graduation and get as close to the stadium as they’ll let us, then say the rosary during BHO’s speech.

  34. Jacques says:

    I hate this word “dialogue” that modernists have so much used in every occasion it has become void of snese

  35. Pete says:

    It’s AMAZING to see how this maroon is trying to tap dance around the issue. You gotta hand it to him, he’s quite an act! Following up on Fr Sirico’s act of sending back to ND the statue he received when he spoke at the university, I think that I will send to Fr Jenkins my most favorite sweatshirt – my incredibly comfortable ND sweatshirt. I cannot bear to wear it anymore. I’ll have to get a Christendom or Thomas Aquinas sweatshirt.

  36. Aaron says:

    This reminds me somewhat of Nancy Pelosi “interpreting” Pope Benedict’s comments to justify her actions. “Their words might sound like they’re condemning me, but I know what they really mean: that I’m okay!”

  37. Russ says:

    “Quod est veritas?”

  38. Of course all Modernists operate in a vacuum, i.e., Fr. Jenkins reports to no one. The University Board? A rubber stamp. A provincial in his order? That is a very good question. Has anyone explored that facet of the problem?

  39. Patrick McNally says:

    I hereby apologize to my fellow Catholics…my family has contrbuted in the high five figures to NDU over the past few decades…but not a penny more, ever! Notre Dame…home of Jenkins and McBrien…Faith traitors! The Blessed Mother weeps…Notre Dame change your name.

  40. Fidelius says:

    Fr. Jenkins could use a better lawyer. The document in question ( makes broad gestures:

    * We need to continue to teach clearly and help other Catholic leaders to teach clearly on our unequivocal commitment to the legal protection of human life from the moment of conception until natural death. Our teaching on human life and dignity should be reflected in our parishes and our educational, health care and human service ministries.

    * We need to do more to persuade all people that human life is precious and human dignity must be defended. This requires more effective dialogue and engagement with all public officials, especially Catholic public officials. We welcome conversation initiated by political leaders themselves.

    * Catholics need to act in support of these principles and policies in public life. It is the particular vocation of the laity to transform the world. We have to encourage this vocation and do more to bring all believers to this mission. As bishops, we do not endorse or oppose candidates. Rather, we seek to form the consciences of our people so that they can examine the positions of candidates and make choices based on Catholic moral and social teaching.

    * The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.

    * We commit ourselves to maintain communication with public officials who make decisions every day that touch issues of human life and dignity.

    Any candid reading of this text leads to the conclusion that the Bishops are telling us to engage with all people on these issues, not just “Catholic public officials.” The reasoning of Fr. Jenkins’s letter is insulting to common sense. Its shame-faced recourse to some (spurious) technicality would be pitiable were it not coming from a university president of his stature.

    Fr. Jenkins and his lawyers should know better than to throw something so lamely reasoned in the public’s face. I hope Ms. Glendon has some choice words for the university when she receives its Laetare Medal. She at least will speak as a Catholic should: clearly, forthrightly, and without fear.

  41. Phyllis M. Antonino says:

    Too bad the Bishop’s didn’t have their crystal ball with them when they discussed and finalized the document ‘Catholics in Political Life’. Thinking it not necessary to include non Catholics who are pro abortion.

    As strongly as the document is worded and Notre Dame being Notre Dame and Fr. Jenkins being Fr. Jenkins and the Catholic church being the Catholic church I would error on the side of the Catholic church’s teachings. Barack Obama, in a high profile position, is a man embodying the very antithesis of Catholic teaching and this prestigious Catholic college is affording him a high honor.

    If Fr. Jenkins invited Obama to a forum on the pro life issue – no argument.

    It seems as though Fr. Jenkins puts more into lawyerly mumbo-jumbo than his faith.

    Prestige over Catholic teachings. I, as a simple person, am incensed that one wins over the other. Document or not.

  42. Ricky Vines says:

    Russ comments: “Quod est veritas?”
    “Ego Sum Via Veritas Et Vita” In14:6

  43. LCB says:

    Patrick McNally,

    Contact the University and request a full refund of all donations ever given. State as your reason, “You donated to a Catholic University, under the implied assumption that the University would remain Catholic. The University is no longer Catholic.”

    You might have more success getting your donation back than you realize. And if not, you could really have fun and sue them on those grounds.

  44. tertullian says:

    “only Catholics who implicitly recognize the authority of Church teaching can act in ‘defiance’ of it.”

    So, Fr. Jenkins, did you vote for Mr. Obama?

  45. Someone already was attempting to lead to it above, but it will be lost with time.

    Here is a direct link to the commentary on this by Ed Peters, JD, JCD. Excellent reading…..enjoy!

    Fr. Jenkins discovers canon law. Not.

  46. Heather says:

    Great! Thanks for clearing that up Fr. Jenkins. So, then there’s no problem with having David Duke speak at next year’s commencement, right?

  47. Dino says:

    If the bishops’ statement applies only to the honoring of practicing Catholics, how soon will it be that the formerly great Catholic university will be giving honorary doctorates to Fidel Castro and Osama Bin Laden?

  48. mfg says:

    We have been given a heads up. Next year’s graduation could feature any of the following: Susan Herman/ACLU; Barry Lynn/Americans United for Separation of Church & State; Matthew Newdow/remove Under God from the pledge; Cecile Richards/Planned Parenthood. There is one solution to this travesty and that is for the Holy Cross provincial to immediately remove Fr. Jenkins from Notre Dame.

  49. magdalene says:

    I like the part about those nasty others trying to ‘impose’ their interpretation on the ban of pro-abortionists speaking at Catholic institutions.

    Reminds me of the “I don’t want to IMPOSE MY VALUES (like the right to life) on others” argument. Specious at best.

  50. Mike says:

    This would have been unthinkable prior to Vatican II…

  51. Pablo says:

    May the Lord forgive me but I despise the “logic” Fr. Jenkins used in his alleged letter explaining his “position”.

    Using this “logic”, the Ten Commandments only apply to Catholics and Jews.

    Satan sure is having his way with many of our religious and governmental leaders. This “cancer” must be removed from the Church and it’s institutions.

  52. TerryC says:

    No document issued by the USCCB is authoritative, unless it has been approved unanimously and has been also approved by the Holy Father. A document that meets those guidelines has magisterial authority and must be obeyed. Otherwise a USCCB document is merely a guideline. Have said that just as every document written by the Holy Father is not infallible it is perilous to ignore any document written by the Holy Father which instructs or discusses issues of moral importance.
    “Catholics in Political Life” has no official standing in any diocese except as it is accepted and promulgated by the local ordinary. However it appears, since Bishop D’Arcy, the Ordinary of South Bend has quoted the document that means that Fr. Jenkin’s, as a Catholic within the diocese is bound by it.
    The Land ‘O Lakes Statement de facto took Catholic Universities out from under the control of the Catholic bishops. Since the bishops seem to have accepted this rebellion, (I have no idea why,) as president Fr. Jenkins answers only to the board of trustees, a body of 50+ individuals, a very small minority of who are members of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, it appears that the bishop has no authority over him. As an individual priest he obviously answers to the Superior General of the order, Fr. Hugh Cleary, who has said he doesn’t have the authority to make Fr. Jenkins un-invite Obama.
    I would say that neither The bishop nor the superior general is being entirely forthright here. Both have, under Church law the authority to deal with this situation, provided they have the backbone to use it. Fr. Jenkins has faculties as a priest in the diocese of South Bend, which includes the university, only because Bishop D’Arcy gives him facilities there. Likewise he can only remain at UND because his Superior General allows him to stay in South Bend, instead sending him to say The Holy Cross Catholic Girls School in the United Kingdom.
    I suspect both are afraid to exercise that authority because of the possible political fallout. By that I mean, if either orders Fr. Jenkins to dis-invite Obama and he refuses they would have to take legal action against him. That is canonical legal action. That kind of action would mean removing Fr. Jenkins from the presidency or perhaps even the priesthood should he refuse to leave after so ordered. If he refused to go and the UND board supported him that would be a problem. In that case there could be a public rift between UND and the Catholic Church that the bishop would not be able to avoid.

  53. Tomas says:


    Fr. Jenkins has proved himself to be not intelligent at all – merely clever, utterly dishonest, and quite arrogant. It does not speak very well of the ND Board of Trustees that they hired this mealy-mouthed character, the same person who allowed the V-Monologues on campus. The man has obviously completely lost his faith to his desire for human respect. But what about the faith of the Board? Why haven’t we heard from them yet?

  54. Herbert says:

    There is so much pride. So proud of an institution, that thinking that if it honors the President of the USA that it will be recognize as a great institution. How difficult it is to be a Christian, you really have to follow the narrow path, thorny, dishonorable in the sight of the world, unpopular. Fr. Jenkins has decided to follow the wider path of prestige, honor and adulation. How sad. I hope that the Bishop of South bend would apply some disciplinary action on the president of Notre Dame.

  55. TNCath says:

    With all due respect, who is Father Jenkins to interpret/question the teachings of the Church? The USCCB guidelines aside, this boils down to simple right and wrong. Father Jenkins is/was wrong and the Church is right. He can play games per omnia saecula saeculorum trying to justify his actions, but, in the end, he will still be wrong. I suspect that, in his heart of hearts, he knows he has made a grave mistake and is trying in vain grasping at straws to justify his actions. He is to be pitied and prayed for.

  56. cthemfly25 says:

    The president just wrote a letter to the Canadians protesting the baby seal harvest…so let me see if I understand. Clubbing ‘born alive’ good; seals bad. Father Jenkins would be better served to extend a peta honor to the pres rather than play at this scornfully bad game of semantics over the interpretation of the USCCB document. I doubt, however, that Father Jenkins could parse the words of Bishop Bruskewitz…or that he would try.

  57. TJM says:

    I think at some point the bishops are going to have to decide: a smaller Church of true believers who have the spirit and zeal to change minds or a larger Church containing many nonbelievers who serve as a cancer depriving it of spirit and zeal and destroying the Faith of others. Tom

  58. Paul Madrid says:

    TerryC: not exactly. It’s an either/or test. Doctrinal statements of the bishops conference are an exercise of the authentic magisterium of those bishops only if (1) all the bishops of the conference agree to the statement OR (2) most of the bishops AND the Pope agree to the statement. If one of those two criteria are met, then all the Catholics of that nation must give the teaching “religious respect.” See John Paul II, Apostolic Letter motu proprio Apostolos suos § 22 (1998).

    The phrase that was translated “religious respect” was rendered in the authoritative Latin version of the document religioso animi obsequio, which is the same phrase given for the the amount of respect one is to give the teachings outlined in Canon 753.

    Still, even if the Pope doesn’t weigh in on a non-unanimous doctrinal statement of the episcopal conference, an individual diocesan bishop can adopt the statement as his own for his diocese, using his own authentic magisterium. Those who are members of his diocese would then owe the teaching the same religious respect.

  59. Paul Madrid says:

    TerryC: but now I see that you mentioned the fact that Bishop D’Arcy seems to have adopted the statement as his own. I don’t know if mere quotation is sufficient to make something an authentic teaching, but perhaps someone more skilled than I can make that argument.

    The USCCB guidelines aside, this boils down to simple right and wrong.

    TNCath: exactly. Arguing the authority of the teaching is the wrong argument when the teaching is correct anyways.

  60. Gail F says:

    My favorite part is when he says, “Our interpretation of this document is different from the one that has been imposed by those criticizing us.”


  61. little gal says:

    My thought re: this recalcitrant priest is to ‘follow the money’…I suspect he is the point man for others who are pushing the Obama agenda. Can someone compare the names of the Board of Directors and major contributors to ND with the Obama campaign contributor list?

  62. Paul and TerryC,

    Here is the pertinent section from Apostolos Suos referenced by Paul:

    22. In dealing with new questions and in acting so that the message of Christ enlightens and guides people\’s consciences in resolving new problems arising from changes in society, the Bishops assembled in the Episcopal Conference and jointly exercizing their teaching office are well aware of the limits of their pronouncements. While being official and authentic and in communion with the Apostolic See, these pronouncements do not have the characteristics of a universal magisterium. For this reason the Bishops are to be careful to avoid interfering with the doctrinal work of the Bishops of other territories, bearing in mind the wider, even world-wide, resonance which the means of social communication give to the events of a particular region.

    Taking into account that the authentic magisterium of the Bishops, namely what they teach insofar as they are invested with the authority of Christ, must always be in communion with the Head of the College and its members,(83) when the doctrinal declarations of Episcopal Conferences are approved unanimously, they may certainly be issued in the name of the Conferences themselves, and the faithful are obliged to adhere with a sense of religious respect to that authentic magisterium of their own Bishops. However, if this unanimity is lacking, a majority alone of the Bishops of a Conference cannot issue a declaration as authentic teaching of the Conference to which all the faithful of the territory would have to adhere, unless it obtains the recognitio of the Apostolic See, which will not give it if the majority requesting it is not substantial [emphasis mine]. The intervention of the Apostolic See is analogous to that required by the law in order for the Episcopal Conference to issue general decrees.(84) The recognitio of the Holy See serves furthermore to guarantee that, in dealing with new questions posed by the accelerated social and cultural changes characteristic of present times, the doctrinal response will favour communion and not harm it, and will rather prepare an eventual intervention of the universal magisterium.

  63. Paul Madrid says:

    Rich: yep. That’s what I said.

  64. Re: Fr. Jenkins…

    Over dinner with area priests, I offered this comment: based on Fr. Jenkins’ reasoning, inviting Robert Mugabe, dictator of Zimbabwe, would be just fine–after all, he’s not Catholic!


    Thank you for clarifying. Let me say I find such references to the President offensive, not to mention puerile. I think I am not the only one.

  65. Rancher says:

    Fr Fox
    You are certainly entitled to your opinion as I am mine. Personally and as a Catholic I find Mr. Obama offensive. That does not mean I don’t pray for his conversion but until he abandons his championship of the culture of death I have no intention of referring to him in what you might consider a less offensive or puerile manner. Mr. Obama is the best you’ll get from me. I will not refer to him as President as to do so, IMO, demeans the office.

  66. Brian Mershon says:

    And Bishop Fellay and the SSPX are in an “irregular canonical situation…”

    OK. Right. I’m off to celebrate the Triduum in Mt. Holly with the SSPX.

    Discipline those who keep Tradition, but do NOTHING EVER to those modernist who rampage modern “Catholic” institutions, parishes and dioceses.

    “You will know a tree by its fruit.”

  67. don Jeffry says:

    I place the following in my post that I believe to be on topic but I am not calling the president the “antichrist”. It is the comment about “dialogue” that was a reason stated by Fr. Jenkins to host the president.

    From Giacomo Cardinal Biffi, Archbishop Emeritus of Bologna on Soloviev:

    “One sees here (in the Antichrist who nominally accepts Christianity) described a Christianity of “values,” of “openings,” of “dialogue,” a Christianity where it seems there is little room left for the person of the Son of God crucified for us and risen, little room for the actual event of salvation. A scenario, I think, that should cause us to reflect…”

    don Jeffry

  68. amdg says:

    “Anyone have evidence that any type of lecture or discussion took place post-performance to present the Catholic viewpoint of the issues that the play ridiculed as he indicated there would be?”

    There was a panel discussion afterwards. Most of the students who attended the play (it was packed) left before the discussion began.
    For what it’s worth, the monologues will not be performed on campus this year. The student newspaper reported that, for various reasons, the organizers had decided against holding a performance this year, but insisted that the university had NOT made that decision for them. However, earlier in the semester, the organizers had approached various academic departments seeking a sponsor — evidently, they didn’t find one.

  69. Paul Haley says:

    Jenkins also says he is within the guidelines because he has repeatedly condemned Obama’s pro-abortion record.

    Um, off-hand, I can’t recall seeing of hearing any of these repeated condemnations but what does it matter when an honorary doctor of laws degree is being presented to the man? It boggles the mind.

  70. Paul Haley says:

    Mea culpa – last post: “seeing of hearing any of these”… should be “seeing or hearing any of these…”

  71. Ricky Vines says:

    The legal approach employed by Jenkins is wanting as proven by many of you. Furthermore, all this legalism shows no willingness to fulfill the intent of the law. One needs to go to a more radical cause – the philosophy of a Catholic university.

    Agere sequitur essere. Activity emanates from identity. These universities engage in activities that contradict Catholic values because they’re having an identity crisis. They do not know if they’re a Catholic University or a University of Catholics. Are they a generic institute of learning that is patronized by Catholics or are they an institution that is essentially an educational arm of the Catholic Church? They need to step back first and find out who they are.

    A model of clarity and unity of vision and mission are the Catholic hospitals. The bishops have decided to close these the moment when conscience protection gets rescinded and the doctors get forced to perform abortions. That is how the Catholic identity is extended into the Catholic hospital work.

    The same integrity between faith and life needs to exist in Catholic universities. Back in my seminary days, I was taught Marxism but not to become a Marxist. It was the time of Liberation theology and one needs to understand the underlying philosophies in order to avoid it. We were not about to invite and award some commie because his ideas and life were the complete opposite of the Gospel message.

    Why don’t people see that now with the abortion proponents?

  72. Patrick McNally says:

    Father Sirico is correct, courageous and inspiring in his gesture to return the award he was given by Notre Dame to Fr. Jenkins. May I suggest that anyone reading this who possesses an award, a diploma or even T-shirts, caps and other memorabilia with Notre Dame’s logo on it…simply send them to Father Jenkins with a note asking him to change the name of the university.

    I realize this could be interpreted as uncharitable and I hope it is not. I think it is a peaceful gesture that if done by enough people will be unmistakable. I will, and would encourage others likewise, to pray for the conversion of Father Jenkins, the heretic Father McBrien (there is no original sin, baptism is just a quaint “welcoming” ritual…not an exact quote but a paraphrasing from memory)who so often appears publicly (Discover Channel, History Channel, etc.)under the ND banner and Mr. Obama.

    May God forgive them and us. The Blessed mother weeps and the devil dances with glee.

    Happy Easter to all reading this…May God richly bless you, those whom you love and those for whom you pray. He is risen!

  73. Steve White says:

    “Our interpretation of this document is different from the one that has been imposed by those criticizing us.”

    Is he serious? His interpretation of the Bishops’ statement is hunky dory, but the intepretation of…well…every Bishop who has spoken publicly about this is “imposed”?

    Keep diggin’ Father Jenkins. There’s gotta be a bottom to this pit somewhere.

  74. Joe says:

    Rancher, Robert Mugabe is in fact a Catholic. He invites himself to speak at any important Catholic function, including sacramental ones, and invites himself to speak after the event. At the consecration of the new bishop of Chinhoyi he spoke before the Bishops left the altar – for half an hour (after a 5-hour liturgy!). No bishop ever stops him, and it’s not entirely if that is due to fear or admiration.

    I think Fr Jenkin’s interpretation could have been a reasonable one at first, but a little digging on his part should have led him to understand that it was reasonable but wrong. He is wrong to persist in it.

Comments are closed.