The largess of Fr. Jenkins – Notre Shame revisited

Notre DameLest we forget, last year the Catholic Notre Dame University, to its lasting shame, undermined our Catholic identity and caused damaging scandal by honoring the most aggressively pro-abortion politician we have ever seen, President Obama. 

They bestowed an honor on him, an honorary doctorate of law

Notre Dame abandoned its Catholic identity for the sake of the crumbs flung from secular power set against the Church’s voice in the public square.

The University of Notre Shame did this despite the policies of the USCCB.  Scores of U.S. bishops protested.  To her credit Mary Ann Glendon, slated to receive another honor at that commencement event, declined to accept her award and would not attend.

Many people protested. 

At the direction of the University, some protesters were arrested and prosecuted.

The University directed that an elderly priest be arrested and dragged away.

Now comes this, on the site of Notre Shame University with my emphases and comments.

Statement by Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., on the status of protesters arrested at Notre Dame in 2009

The following statement is from Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., president of the University of Notre Dame, in regard to the status of protesters who were arrested on campus last spring:

“In the weeks leading up to Notre Dame’s Commencement on May 17, 2009, a number of people violated University policies on campus demonstrations. [Notre Dame violated, absolutely defied the policies of the USCCB.] They were given repeated warnings by law enforcement officials, and then, when they persisted, they were arrested and charged with Criminal Trespass.  [Scores of bishops protested ND’s choice to honor the aggressively pro-abortion President.]

“The prosecution of the resulting cases is in the hands of St. Joseph County Prosecutor, Mike Dvorak. The University has been in conversation with Mr. Dvorak’s office about these cases, and he has informed us by letter about how he will proceed. We believe Mr. Dvorak’s decisions are balanced and lenient.

For all those who are eligible, Mr. Dvorak is offering the Pre-Trial Diversion Program, which gives individuals the chance to avoid a trial and have their cases dismissed with no record of a criminal conviction. To be eligible, a person must waive the right to a trial; have no criminal record; and agree to obey local, state, and federal laws for one year. The program also includes the payment of a fee for costs, but in his letter Mr. Dvorak assures us that his office will work with those who demonstrate financial need to reduce or even waive the fees. [Isn’t this wonderful?  What benevolence.  Isn’t Notre Dame great for working with the County Prosecutor?]  For those who successfully complete the program, the result will be as if the charges have been dropped. Those who have a criminal record are not eligible for this program and must either plead guilty or stand trial. While Notre Dame has in the past banned from campus those who have been arrested for trespass, the University will waive that penalty for those who complete the pre-trial diversion program, are acquitted of charges, or plead guilty[Isn’t Fr. Jenkins fantastic?  Aren’t they wonderful?  Perhaps Notre Dame should simply pay the fees for everyone.]

“There has been significant interest in this case, so I would like to clarify two points. First, as I have made plain in my every public statement regarding Commencement, we at Notre Dame embrace the Catholic position on the sanctity of life. We oppose abortion, and support laws that protect life from conception to natural death. In this respect, we fully agree with the protestors. [You had them arrested.  You had an elderly priest arrested and dragged away.]

“Second, some have incorrectly suggested that having the protestors arrested means we are hostile to the pro-life position. [You invited the most aggressively pro-abortion politician in the USA to receive an honor.  You did this despite the policies of the USCCB and the objection of scores of bishops. You had protesters arrested.]  But, the University cannot have one set of rules for causes we oppose, and another more lenient set of rules for causes we support. We have one consistent set of rules for demonstrations on campus – no matter what the cause.  [So why did you compromise your Catholic identity when it came to honoring the pro-abortion President?  Do you have a consistent stand on the policies established by the US bishops?  What is your policy on Ex corde Ecclesiae?]

“We require that any campus demonstration, regardless of the issue, be organized by a student, faculty or staff member, receive approval from the University through the Office of Student Affairs, and be peaceful and orderly. [You honored a pro-abortion president.] Those who were arrested last spring met none of these criteria and, in particular, were led by individuals who threatened peace and order by promising upheaval on our campus. [You had an octogenarian priest arrested.]  Several pro-life demonstrations that met our criteria were held on campus before and during Commencement. Those now charged with trespass could have joined these protests without interference or arrest. [Protest our way and you won’t be arrested.] They were highly publicized, easily accessible, and well attended. These included a demonstration on April 5 in front of the Main Building; a Eucharistic adoration from May 16 to May 17 in one of the residence hall chapels; and on Commencement day, a Mass, a rally, and a prayer vigil on South Quad and a Rosary and meditation at the Grotto. Nearly 3,000 people participated in the prayerful protest on the South Quad. Each of these events was open to the general public and none of the participants in any of these activities were arrested[Isn’t that great?  Segregated protests that conform to ND’s rules are okay!  Protest where and how we say and you won’t be dragged away in handcuffs and prosecuted.]

“At Notre Dame, we welcome passionate debate of public issues. Indeed, we welcome protest, and we have great respect for people who engage in the long and noble tradition of civil disobedience and courageously accept the consequences to call attention to themselves and their message. [Weasel words?] Yet we must insist on maintaining the order  that allows students, faculty, and staff to learn, inquire, and conduct the business of the University. [A University which defies the Catholic bishops, bestows an honor on a pro-abortion politician, and will not follow Ex corde Ecclesiae.] It is this dual commitment to free expression and public order that has guided us in this case.”

Fr. Jenkins, how about this: in an open letter ask the prosecutor to drop all the charges and then pay the protesters’ fees.

And for your penance, read Ex corde Ecclesiae.


Here is what I wrote about the event last year:  My take on Sunday at Notre Dame

And be sure to review this, if you want to examine the hypocrisy of this move.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. wanda says:

    Shame on you, Father Jenkins.

  2. TNCath says:

    Absolutely disgusting. And yet, despite everything that has happened, Father Jenkins remains president of Notre Shame. Quomodo fiet istud??????

  3. chantgirl says:

    Yeah….Fr. Weslin looks like he’s going to throw down and endanger someone. Obama’s positions are likely to endanger many more people than an elderly priest’s prayers. I wonder if people would have been arrested for protesting had the speaker or issue been different.

  4. r.j.sciurus says:

    Why does the term “useful idiot” keep coming to mind?

  5. Mrs Kate says:

    That’s the first time I’ve heard Eucharistic Adoration classified as a protest. Was that E.A. a protest? Wasn’t it a vigil of prayer, possibly reparation, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament? But a protest?

  6. Mary Kay says:

    My response is unprintable.

  7. Ugh!
    This whole bunch is “slitting their own throats”. What an absolute travesty.
    It’s gonna die, folks.
    God will not bless this mess.
    The rest of us have to hope and pray for God’s mercy; this bunch is out for their own destruction.
    Unless, of course, Our Lady intervenes and strikes this place with a good old tornado or something of that sorts.
    THEN, they’ll be on their knees, prayin’ their beads…one could only hope!

  8. Steve K. says:

    Honestly, “Notre Shame” is the appropriate epithet.

  9. Mitchell NY says:

    “Conduct the business of the University” Seems he forgot to metnion the core of the issue. That they should conduct the business of a “Catholic” University…. Perhaps he forgets where he is. How are donations BTW, they are not mentioned at all.

  10. Traductora says:

    I’ve been watching “The Tudors,” and the caving of the clergy and universities is all too familiar.

  11. Johnny Domer says:

    I am a senior at ND who will be attending ND Law next year, and I was one of the students involved in protesting President Obama’s honorary degree. I’ve also been the student leader of our Tridentine Mass group for 3 years (just to establish my bona fides as a trad). If I might shed some light…

    Fr. Z, the 3,000 protesters who were on campus at ND last year did not have to water down our opposition against the honoring of president Obama in exchange for being allowed to protest on campus. We wanted our protest to be grounded in prayer, to be forceful and articulate, to be reasonable and rational, and (in obedience to the wishes of our local bishop, His Excellency the Most Rev. John D’Arcy) to be peaceful and within the law. We saw no reason to disobey the law, since we realized that doing so would fail to accomplish anything. Bishop D’Arcy explicitly told us that we should NOT violate the law, do anything violent, or do anything stupid; he also explicitly distanced himself from Terry’s protests. As a result, we were able to get a TON of people (students, faculty, parents, Catholics from all over) to join us in opposing President Obama, and we were led in these protests on campus by our holy bishop. All of the students and faculty who protested the University’s decision were part of this group.

    Randall Terry, on the other hand, decided to behave foolishly, and actually wound up hurting our cause. He made threatening public statements that were violent in nature, and he did silly things like pushing around strollers with baby dolls covered in stage blood. I think stuff like that detracted from the serious nature of our arguments against the university. Why do you think only 88 people joined him, but 3,000 people joined the group on campus? It’s not like those 88 were “more pro-life” or “more Catholic” than the folks on campus; most people just thought Terry was a nutjob. I think those 88 folks were mostly good people, and I think the charges should be dropped against most of them. I agree that it was wrong to arrest that priest. However, I don’t think the university is in the wrong in prosecuting someone like Terry.

    Let me be frank; Terry and his crowd harmed our protest pretty significantly in terms of public image. The media spent 60% of their coverage on the antics of him and his group of 88, and 40% of its coverage on the 3,000 people on campus, the pro-life graduates who had a separate graduation ceremony, the faculty and priests (including several priests of the Congregation of Holy Cross) who refused to attend commencement, and our heroic bishop leading us all. Terry provided an easy caricature for the mainstream media, who wanted to portray everybody protesting Obama as a right-wing kook. These kids protesting Obama were GOOD, SOLID, NORMAL, CATHOLIC young men and women, not weirdos. Terry ensured that most of America wouldn’t view them that way, and in so doing did them a disservice. [Thanks for your well-articulated perspective.]

  12. B Knotts says:

    Notre Dame is not a Catholic institution.

  13. Mario Bird says:

    Fr. Jenkins statement reminded me of one from the 1960s. I’ve taken the liberty of reprinting it below, substituting “pro-life” for “Negro” and “Notre Dame” for “Birmingham.”

    We are now confronted by a series of demonstrations by some of our [pro-life] citizens, directed and led in part by outsiders. We recognize the natural impatience of people who feel that their hopes are slow in being realized. But we are convinced that these demonstrations are unwise and untimely.

    We agree rather with certain local [pro-life] leadership which has called for honest and open negotiation of [pro-life] issues in our area. And we believe this kind of facing of issues can best be accomplished by citizens of our own metropolitan area, [pro-choice and pro-life], meeting with their knowledge and experiences of the local situation. All of us need to face that responsibility and find proper channels for its accomplishment.

    Just as we formerly pointed out that “hatred and violence have no sanction in our religious and political traditions,” we also point out that such actions as incite to hatred and violence, however technically peaceful those actions may be, have not contributed to the resolution of our local problems. We do not believe that these days of new hope are days when extreme measures are justified in [Notre Dame].

    We commend the community as a whole, and the local news media and law enforcement officials in particular, on the calm manner in which these demonstrations have been handled. We urge the public to continue to show restraint should the demonstrations continue, and the law enforcement officials to remain calm and continue to protect our city from violence.

    We further strongly urge our own [pro-life] community to withdraw support from these demonstrations, and to unite locally in working peacefully for a better [Notre Dame]. When rights are consistently denied, a cause should be pressed in the courts and in negotiations among local leaders, and not in the streets. We appeal to both our [pro-choice and pro-life] citizenry to observe the principles of law and order and common sense.

    The above statement was issued by eight Alabama clergymen following MLK Jr’s arrest in April of 1963.


    It would be a forgettable historical document, except for the fact that its hollow invocation of human law in the face of a grave natural law disorder roused Dr. King to write his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” We need a “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” to expose Fr. Jenkins’ rhetoric for what it is: hollow, disordered, and forgettable.

  14. Leonius says:

    For what he did to a brother priest every single priest should shun this traitor to the brotherhood of priests.

    “For he that saith unto him, God speed you, communicateth with his wicked works.” 2 John 1:11

  15. Igne says:

    Amen, Johnny Domer, Amen. Some people in the traditional blogosphere could learn important and enduring lessons from your post. Standing firm is essential but desiring to convert people’s hearts through charity, reason and, yes, joy matters too. As Paul wrote: Omnibus omnia factus sum ut omnes facerem salvos. Pray for Jenkins. The ad hominem spleen written against him is vile and helps no one.

  16. catholicmidwest says:

    Still, Igne, it’s necessary to tell the truth. Lying helps no one.

    Notre Dame hasn’t been a Catholic university for some time. We have a number of these institutions and they shouldn’t be supported by the Church.

    Send your kids someplace else.

  17. catholicmidwest says:

    And make sure that your donations go nowhere near Notre Dame.

  18. Father Z – your link to the statement at “Notre Shame University” is in error. It leads to something unrelated. [Corrected. Thanks.]

  19. FYI:
    Johnny Domer; God bless you and your efforts at ND;
    however, calling Fr. Jenkins to task, by anyone,Igne, is not “venting their spleen”…it’s about justice.
    He needs to answer some questions, important ones, at that.
    He has some ‘splainin’ to do.

  20. Igne says:

    No, calling him to task is absolutely fine. Justice is justice indeed. However, the terms which some people have used over the last year to describe him have been hateful and I would classify them as ugly spleen venting. Look around the traditional blogosphere. They are not hard to find. We too will be judged by our fruits.

  21. Igne: I agree; judging anyone’s interior motives is “rash judgment”.
    Calling to task the objective, public actions of someone, whether or not they deserve to be condemned by their motives, is another.
    Fr. Jenkins needs our prayers; but he certainly needs to answer to the Bishop and to his religious superiors.
    His action/inaction is scandalous, by objective standards.

  22. Nothing good will happen until the successor of the Apostles deals with his wayward son. “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but the child that is left to his own will bringeth his mother [the Church] to shame.” (Proverbs 29:15) Until then, we will see more of this.

  23. elmo says:

    Seeing this elderly priest being cuffed and dragged away makes me weep. Does anybody know how Fr. Weslin is doing?

  24. Jane says:

    If Father Jenkins is really pro-life as he says that he is, then his actions towards the protesters are very inappropriate. His actions towards them were vicious. He is not living in the real world. Maybe that is too generous a concession to him. People can say anything that they want to make others believe, but God sees what they are really thinking.

  25. Titus says:

    Fr. Jenkins lives with his head in the sand. He said at a panel discussion two weeks ago that he isn’t aware of anyone who accuses Notre Dame of selling out its Catholic identity for secular agendas. The crowd did not laugh, but it took serious effort on behalf of some in attendance.

    And Notre Dame may be mostly a secular institution in a Catholic neighborhood, as Charlie Rice describes it, but it’s still a relatively nice neighborhood in a lot of respects.

    If you happen to feel bad about what’s happened to Notre Dame and would like to support the pockets of good work continuing to be done there, you can support the Center for Ethics and Culture, which has its own budget and isn’t controlled by the administration.

  26. wanda says:

    Johnny Domer, Thank you for your well spoken defense of the student led protest that took place that day in May 2009. This was the 3,000 plus who had a planned peaceful ceremony seperate from the graduation. I believe that many of us understood very clearly that the students who stayed away from the graduation ceremony were the ones whose cause was just and noble. I followed the situation at Notre Dame on an almost daily basis at (And signed the protest petition along with 70 some Bishops and 350,000 others.) I know that it was Randall (am I on camera?) Terry who drew negative attention to himself and away from the truly valiant students who sacrificed their own college graduation ceremony in protest of a pro-abortion POTUS who would be given an honor and a platform from which to speak, no less, to seek ‘common ground’ on the abortion issue. We all know how well that has turned out, just check our new Health Care Reform Bill.

    Those Seniors, their families, Bishop D’Arcy, priests and some faculty in their peaceful ceremonies apart from the show inside spoke loud and clear on their stand for the right to life. I believe the sacrifice of the Seniors will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives. I believe their sacrifice will bring down many graces on them and for the Church.

    Yes, Father Jenkins should be ashamed of himself. It is Mr. Terry’s fault as well as Father Jenkins’ that Fr. Weslin was arrested, along with 80 some others in the off-campus protest when they tried to enter the college grounds without permission. However, all this time Fr. Jenkins could have had the charges dropped altogether, he chosen NOT TO. Fr. Jenkins has brought only shame upon himself and upon Our Lady’s University.

    I have only pride and admiration for the Seniors who stayed away from their graduation. They did what was right in the eyes of God. They give me hope for the future of the Church.

  27. You know, looking at that first picture, somebody who’s good at Photoshop could make it look like they’re putting a laurel wreath on his head.

    Just sayin’…

  28. Gail F says:

    Johnny Domer: You and the other 3000 people did the right thing. The 88 who were arrested, including the 80-year-old priest, did the wrong thing. Like Wanda, I was inspired by all the students who stayed away from their graduation in protest.

    However, Fr. Jenkins did not have to have those 88 people arrested. He could have ignored them. If he really had to have them arrested, he did not have to press charges. And he did. He could, as Fr. Z said, pay the fines for the people arrested — but he didn’t. The fact that this is still going on a year later is a travesty. Fr. Jenkins and the university Board should be ashamed. But I don’t think they are — and that’s the problem.

  29. becket1 says:

    Like I said before Rome doesn’t have the back bone as it did in the past to do something about this Jenkins character. He seems to care more about his university image than his image as a priest. Shame on Rome for not having him removed from his high and mighty position.

  30. becket1 says:

    I say that a petition is sent to the Pope himself to have him removed permanently from Notre Dame.

  31. Patrick J. says:

    John, (Johnny)

    You should say Randal Terry was wrong,at least not inthe main, though I can certainly understand your sentiments. Here is why:

    He is not a Catholic. (as far as I know). He need not heed the bishop, and civil disobedience is an honorable and venerated American tradition. MLK might be too MESSY for some. Rosa Parks a little too edgy, belligerent. Nothing wrong with the three thousand, and nothing wrong with RT. IF he is a caricature, then what is abortion?

    Randal Terry, a few years ago, galvanized the prolife movement with his version of the “sit-in” called rescues, a couple of which I attended. This guy, for all his faults, puts his money where his mouth is and has real courage. He has sat in many a jail cell. I am not saying I agree with all of his tactics, but do affirm his right to engage in the civil disobedience of laws which in effect BREAK, and do so egregiously, HIGHER LAWS. Rescues, for all their ooo, messy, messy nature, saved lives. Abortion clinics on which a Saturday could produce more than a hundred abortions, were shut down for the day. Is that worth the caricature and messy nature? you bet! “Better for us to obey GOD rather than men.” Ever heard that before? If no, start by looking that up.

    I am slow to criticize priests, very, but a priest who would treat a brother priest, an old man, in such a fashion is NOT a priest as far as my conscience tells me. This is an evil man. HIs “gesture” of “generosity” toward those arrested is just a CYA, facesaving, self-serving, exercise.

    I am not saying there is not a down side to Mr. Terry’s tactics, but there is an upside. Whatever “attention” was paid by the press to the three thousand, however thin, this was amplified, by my way of thinking, by Terry’s antics, and Alan Key’s and other such “messy” types. That is where the press got interested, and the rest was a spillover, as you would not have heard much news at all about a peaceful three thousand, sans the other, according to my experience, which is a fair amount, going back to peaceful protests of pro abortion Supreme Court Justice Blackman as a commencement speaker quite a few years ago. This became just a faint whisper on a normal newsday. Not that any of this is all about the press, but just to cite one “yardstick” by which you are measuring the “success” of whatever kind of protest. Terry goes for shock value, but abortion is grisly and shocking, ask the former practitioners.

    So congratulations, John and other fellow peaceful protesters, for your efforts, and forgive any perceived (or real) sarcasm. I have tons of respect for you you did I certainly am not disparaging any such protest. But cut RT some slack. I say he deserves it. Also, the eighty year old priest is not an idiot, though if he were not a priest some here, no doubt, would consider him to be as much, at least potentially.

  32. Patrick J. says:

    I meant, of course, “you should NOT say Randall Terry is wrong,” and other typos, such as Alan Keys’.

  33. elmo says:

    Reading this thread inspires so many thoughts. That letter from Jenkins really does bear a strong resemblance to the letter the clergy wrote to MLK. I agree, we need our own letter from a Birmingham jail. Maybe Fr. Weslin would be the one to write it.

    I appreciate the students’ attempt to create a peaceful protest that day, but officials co-opted them by re-directing students away from holding the university and Obama accountable for their actions. I’ll raise this question again even though it has been asked above, yet unanswered: Since when is Mass and Eucharistic Adoration a protest? Shouldn’t these be happening daily on a Catholic campus? How would going to these notify the university and the world that the administration was selling out the faith by honoring a president who supports the slaughter of babies? It wouldn’t. Which is why the UND leadership encouraged such activities.

    I don’t care much for Randall Terry’s tactics either, and I believe he is a convert to the Catholic faith. He lost me with that attempt at “gotcha” journalism with Cdl. Burke. In his defense, Randall Terry and his supporters didn’t take media attention away from the 3000 “peaceful” demonstrators at Notre Dame that day. Were it not for his “distasteful” tactics, there would have been little to no accounts of the university-approved protests included in most news coverage. Even the outlets most sympathetic to the faith and to pro-life witness would have at most noted the absence of a number of students and faculty from the day’s proceedings in a sentence or two. I’m afraid the 3000 ralliers that day were played for suckers by their university leaders. I believe the arrest and prosecution of the 88 including Fr. Weslin is meant to show students, staff, faculty, and other pro-life Catholics that UND will brook no dissent of its dissent. I doubt that anybody could call it Our Lady’s University anymore.

  34. Norah says:

    Fr Weslin must have known that he would be probably arrested for trespass and that his arrest would would garner much media attention. Fr Weslin was not “dragged away”. The police handled him with great care. I watched this on YouTube and as Fr Weslin was being taken away a man walked up to the police and asked to be arrested. How many of the 88 asked to be arrested?

    I congratulate Johnny Domer for his balanced, objective post.

    I agree that Fr Jenkins should have paid the fines for the 88.

    I do not think that President Obama should have been offered a degree from Notre Dame.

  35. TNCath says:

    Titus: “Fr. Jenkins lives with his head in the sand. He said at a panel discussion two weeks ago that he isn’t aware of anyone who accuses Notre Dame of selling out its Catholic identity for secular agendas. The crowd did not laugh, but it took serious effort on behalf of some in attendance.”

    I think Fr. Jenkins knows exactly what he is doing. I think he has a very calculated agenda to shape Catholic thought and belief. He is a wily fox among sheep.

  36. wanda says:

    elmo, 6:38 – ‘I’m afraid the 3000 (ralliers?) that day were played for suckers.’

    You couldn’t be further off-track. ‘Ralliers?’ I don’t know what you were watching, but I purchased the video produced by the students. They weren’t doing any rallying. They had a beautiful, peaceful gathering of students and family along with Bishop D’Arcy, Fr. Frank Pavone, Fr. John Corapi and other clergy and faculty. They gathered in the grotto of Our Lady and prayed and heard from students, the good Bishop and other clergy. The ones who got played, as you so delicately put it, were on the inside worshipping at the feet of secularism, relativism, socialism and the POTUS.

    Oh, and RT was no where to be seen. Shucks.

  37. elmo says:

    Indeed, protesters at UND got a chance to have their own graduation in a prayerful, prolife, Catholic atmosphere. Obama got to receive his honors without any messy distractions. Randall Terry got his mug on tv, and Fr. Jenkins got wash his hands of the whole thing. Sounds like everybody won.

  38. wanda says:

    Agreed, up to Fr. Jenkins getting to wash his hands. Uhm, No. Un-born children in danger of death didn’t win.

  39. C. says:

    My response to Father Jenkins:

    Immaculate Mary, your praises we sing
    You reign now in Heaven with Jesus Our King
    Ave, Ave, Ave Maria!
    Ave, Ave, Ave Maria!

  40. Randall Terry is a Catholic.
    His actions at ND are controversial and are up for debate, to say the least.
    E. Michael Jones has given a very accurate analysis and critique in “Culture Wars”.
    This whole mess could have been prevented/and or/liquidated if the legitimate authority of the Church had stepped on Fr. Jenkins. I know, I know…ND is somehow “exempt” from the proper authority of the local diocesan bishop (?); probably as well as the Congregation of the Holy Cross (?!).
    Who the hell is in charge, here?
    SATAN? (Quoting the “Church lady” from SNL!)

  41. Johnny Domer says:

    Patrick J.

    I think your analysis is incorrect; the students at ND were the ones who got Terry the attention, not the other way around. Our group issued the press release that got the attention of the media; the Cardinal Newman Society was the group that released the huge petition that was signed by thousands and thousands of Catholics; it was our students who were appearing on Fox News and who were being quoted in national media outlets. Terry only got attention afterwards.

    Furthermore, these “messy” protests, in the case of ND, didn’t save anyone’s life. In fact, they did absolutely, positively nothing (aside from whatever prayers they may have offered while not behaving like nincompoops). It didn’t increase media coverage, it didn’t help us to look better, and it certainly had no chance of stopping Pres. Obama from speaking or of causing Fr. Jenkins and the powers-that-be to change their mind. It also turned students against our cause.

    I might also add in fairness to Fr. Jenkins that, while the manner in which Fr. Breslin was treated was not ideal, the university probably had good grounds to ask him to leave, as he was walking around on campus with a megaphone generally causing a disturbance. I know that yes, the university is more in the wrong for inviting Obama in the first place, but the university can’t just let every joe schmoe who wants to run around campus with a megaphone do whatever he wants. I don’t think this is proof of Fr. Jenkins being evil (I personally think he is a right-thinking but weak and compromising individual).

    And hey, elmo–the students weren’t co-opted by anybody. We WERE holding the university accountable for its actions. How were we doing so less than Randall Terry? It’s not like we publicly opposed the university’s decision but he super-duper opposed it. And he was way less effective as far as PR goes–again, 99% of America probably thought he was a total nutjob. Yes, we had a protest Mass and Eucharistic Adoration on campus, and the university let us do so; yes, I agree that the university seems kinda contradictory in both allowing Obama and allowing a protest Mass and Adoration in reparation for Obama coming. We basically tried to get as many concessions from the University so that we could do as much stuff in reparation for this sin on campus as we could. And as I said before, we didn’t moderate our message at all. Randall Terry was in no way “more right” than we were.

    Now, you say, “How would going to these notify the university and the world that the administration was selling out the faith by honoring a president who supports the slaughter of babies? It wouldn’t. Which is why the UND leadership encouraged such activities.” The whole POINT of our events was to protest the university’s decision, to insist that they were selling out the faith by honoring the president. And the University sure as heck didn’t encourage our activities; they ALLOWED them because so many people within and without the University (particularly alumni) were royally ticked off by the Obama invite.

  42. elmo says:

    Johnny Domer: I’m afraid we will have to disagree then. But there is a question that has yet to be answered. You say that the point of your activities — among them Mass and Adoration — was to show your outrage about allowing the president to be honored on UND’s campus. Again, I ask what is a protest Mass and Adoration? Aren’t these things that Catholics ought to be doing every day on a Catholic campus anyway?

  43. elmo: As a contemplative religious, I am very reticent to say this, but, I will.
    Mass and Adoration are NOT the ways to confront the injustice and downright insanity of “allowing the president to be honored on UND’s campus”.
    The English Martyrs (some of them contemplative religious, the Carthusians and Bridgettines) were given a horrendous death because they would not sign a piece of paper that could have given them their lives (not to mention St. Thomas More and St. John Fischer).
    Why would I stake my life upon a dedication to prayer and penance for the Church as a monastic priest?
    Believe me, Mass and Adoration are the staple of my life.
    But if someone asked me, or any member of this community, to “just pray and obey”, I’d have to tell them where to “stick it”…sorry; I’m part Irish…I just have to say it as it is:<)!

  44. kjmacarthur says:

    Johnny Domer,

    I also was a Domer, at least for Graduate school, so I do not speak as a hostile outsider. I know first-hand about both the good and the bad at Notre Dame. The original point in question in this string was ND’s refusal to drop charges against the trespassers and the claim that it’s in the hands of the prosecutor’s office. The fact is that other protest groups, such as Soulforce, have been charged with doing exactly what Randall Terry and Fr. Weslin did, and the University has managed to have the charges against them dropped. Granting for the sake of argument that RT is a “nutjob,” is anyone going to say that Soulforce is not filled with nutjobs? Why is the mercy shown to homosexualist activists and anti-war protesters denied to pro-life protesters, no matter how misguided in their tactics?

  45. irishgirl says:

    Shame on Father Jenkins for his actions!

    Our Lady continues to weep over the university that bears her name….

    Johnny Domer-good for you in what you and your fellow students did!

  46. elmo says:

    Nazareth Priest: Thank you for addressing that question. The idea of using Mass and Adoration as a “protest” as Johnny Domer put it didn’t sit well for me, and I am still looking for clarity as to why this is so, other than the feeling that the Mass is the Mass and Adoration is Adoration and never should these be anything other than what they are. I also thought it was odd that these are considered “concessions” to students granted by a Catholic university led by a priest in exchange for not bringing their outrage straight to the president — both of UND and the USA.

    The Magnificat publishes a lot on the English martyrs who died terrible, awful deaths. I wonder how many others took the government up on its offer to just sign the paper and be done with it. I wonder what I would do?

  47. everett says:

    To put it simply – would you rather be involved in a protest involving Randall Terry, or a prayer vigil involing Bishop D’Arcy, Fr. Corapi and Fr. Pavone? The 88 protesters violated laws, and while Fr. Jenkins should never have had them arrested, I don’t feel the least bit of sympathy for the ND 88.

  48. Larry R. says:

    Has anyone considered the evidence of double standards applied to ‘non-approved’ protesters at ND? From an ND alumni website, some compelling evidence that Notre Dame has NOT prosecuted people for holding protests not approved by the university in the past, and are in fact making a special case of the pro-life protestors:

    Notre Dame was severely embarrassed and lost a great deal of credibility within the Church over this Obama commencement speech. Is it possible they want to punish some responsible for that negative publicity to try to insure they don’t have a similar recurrence – to send a message, as it were.

    Does anyone here think they will drag pro gay marriage groups off to jail and prosecute them after the next unapproved rally at ND? Or are all such rallies automatically approved, now?

  49. Patrick J. says:

    Hi again Mr. Domer.

    Thanks for your considered response.

    @ Larry J.

    You are So, so right.

    Randall Terry, agree with his tactics or not, has been an effective voice for the unborn, who, especially throughout the course of the earlier days of mass abortions, had had no voice, and thus the coinage of the phrase and movie title “Silent Scream.” I think we can thank people like Judy Brown, Dr.Bernard Nathanson, (largest abortion provider turned Pro-life advocate) and yes, Randall Terry for something of a “sea change” inside the minds and hearts of the public. His “in you face style” while well established, is still shocking and controversial as the realities of abortion are just grisly. If that makes people uncomfortable, I say good.

    Larry, thanks for the perspective.

    @Johnny, your group did wonderful things, and I believe on a national level you were most effective with your internet campaign. Kudos, and I was the recipient of such updates vie email. Very effective I would say. On the other hand, national news coverage would be barely a blip without a Randall Terry as he is more of a lightening rod, and the news loves controversy. Terry is a master at garnering attention. I am quite sure the combination of the two obviously different style protests brought more attention to the both, not an either/or, but he knows, and therefore probably does not need help in stirring up a hornet’s nest, per se.
    Your message about no lives were saved was gratuitous, I would say, and not really known, as one might want to ponder how many seeing any such focus upon the controversy might just get the idea that abortion might not be a best or “first option.” The idea was launched from here about “saving lives” as a mini history lesson, as the story of Operation Rescue, though just about twenty or so years behind us now, is just not on the radar of today’s college students, but through those “Rescues” lives were regularly saved, week after week, directly, and indirectly, as the masses were forced to really look at, many for the first time, the ugly face of abortion in all of its macabre reality. Abortions done on a mass scale in abortion mills (not hospitals or doctor’s offices) nationwide had been a relatively recent development, and there had not been produced, on part of the Christian and anti-abortion movement, a really effective counter, and thus Operation Rescue was conceived by Terry and a few others to be that response. The overly sanctimonious, and those embarrassed by such “in your face” tactics, would do well to look into this short era of history a little bit closer and with more of an open mind. Even Roger Mahoney gave quarter to some, and attended at least one such Saturday “Rescue.” I just came to my attention that one abortuary in particular, the largest in California as far as numbers of abortion, is today closed and this was the site of one such “Rescue,” as well as other direct action by the Pro-life community. So, we can’t always know the effect that such actions by committed Christians can have but I would say it is most significant.

    And now, about this poor 80 yo priest with a megaphone. What to make of that? I cannot believe that this was so deleterious to the learning environment. After all he was calling the Catholic community of ND to live up to its calling, and the Fr. Jenkins, had a brother priest, an octegenarian, arrested. Would you have done the same, and as well, pressed charges? If the answer is NO, then don’t defend this “priest.”

    This is just an upside down ‘theater of the absurd’ that has started to make ‘sense’ to many, how unfortunate. It would be a bad joke if not so truly sad.

  50. chantgirl says:

    I do wonder whether Obama in any way pressured the University to make an example of the ND88, considering that he typically attempts to silence dissent rather than engage in a civil dialogue. I think that both protest and reparation are needed. Mass and Eucharistic adoration are not protests, but they can serve to make reparation and hopefully win souls. Protest is also necessary. If protesters are removed far enough from the location of the event, it strips the protest of its’ power. The idea is to be visible. If Catholics are allowed to disobey civil laws that transgress Divine law, how much more noise should we as Catholics make if an entity that calls itself Catholic causes scandal sufficient to endanger souls, harm the Church and put innocent, unborn lives at greater risk than they already are? When “dialogue” means that pro-lifers are “dictated to”, and “protest” means that they will be told where they can stand and how they can protest, I suggest that we’ve given away too much ground. A protest should be peaceful and respectful, but potent.

  51. MichaelJ says:


    Not even a little bit? Does knowing, as sycamore trust has documented, that Notre Dame rather arbitrarily treats “tresspassers” help you work up a bit of sympathy for the ND 88?

  52. elmo says:

    Chantgirl: You expressed my own thoughts better than I could. It’s not just contradictory, but downright schizoid that Fr. Jenkins would both decide to bring Obama to campus and at the same time “work with” the students to allow a protest Mass and Adoration in reparation for his very actions. Just as he is “working with” the local prosecutor regarding fees for charges that should have never been pressed in the first place, let alone still open a year later! It’s a very brutal, “tolerant” regime at UND that will tolerate anything except intolerance of its dissent.

  53. Patrick J. says:


    this kind of thinking is ??? People don’t do it the way you find appropriate, and then..??? they deserve jail time ?? for protesting the crime of abortion at a college campus the purports to uphold the same values and at the same time scandalizes the students in her charge as well as the Catholic community. What if, instead of abortion, it was 1942, Joseph Goebbels was the invited speaker and it was the holocaust they were protesting, or 1860, Jefferson Davis, and it was slavery. Would you say you have not sympathy at that point. Unreal. I don’t think Frs. Pavone, Corapi, and even the good bishop would weigh in with such a callous comment, in fact I am sure of it. Ever think of taking the helm of a modern Catholic university? It seems you have the instincts/stomach for it.

  54. Patrick J. says:

    Let us remember, Mr. Obama is not the run-of-the-mill supporter of abortion rights. He voted, more than once, to defeat proposed legislation which would have mandated medical help to survivors of abortion, IOW, let the wounded baby die in the cold steel pail. IF this sounds “beyond the pale” – you’re right – it is. Not to mention his unfailing support for partial birth, i.e., late term abortions up through the ninth month. Monstrous. Also, the expansion of US involvement and funding (yours and mine) in advancing of abortion “rights” globally. And on and on.

  55. wanda says:

    For anyone who is interested, the ND student web-site is still up. Go to There you may view many different videos that were taken at the time of graduation in 2009. Nowhere does it say we’re having a ‘protest mass’ or ‘protest’ Eucharistic Adoration. You will only see intelligent, faith-filled, sincere students and others talking about the scandal of having the most pro-abortion President in this nation’s history come to speak at graduation and receive and honorary degree, no less.

    As for RT, I do not agree with his tactics, not one bit. He always manages to find the limelight. When he saw the opportunity, he showed up at Notre Dame. However, FATHER JENKINS does not get to wash his hands of the 88 arrests. He didn’t need to do that. He could have just had them escorted off campus. He could have had the charges dropped from day one. He has chosen NOT TO. Most shameful was the arrest of the elderly priest.

    When gay rights activists on campus are not arrested, when the University can sponsor students to go to a homosexual ‘convention’ for lack of a better word, I find a big problem – hypocrisy.

    Oh, and up until recently, when it was discovered, Fr. Jenkins served on the board of some organization that promoted condom use. Nice. I’m grateful that the students prayed at the mass and Adoration, yes, they even had rosaries prayed for this President.

    May the Lord and his Blessed Mother accept their prayers in reparation for sins against them. Amen.

  56. mwhitcraft says:

    Thank you for the information about the ND 88.

    I am puzzled at Fr. Jenkin’s claim that: “the University cannot have one set of rules for causes we oppose, and another more lenient set of rules for causes we support.” According to this article ( “Notre Shame” does indeed have two sets of rules. They are lenient when dealing with pro-homosexual and anti-military activists and only intransigent when it comes to those promoting Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life…

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