Notre Dame U. v. Fr. Miscamble,

At the blog of my friend The Motley Monk there is a follow up about a priest at Notre Dame University, Fr. Wilson Miscamble, CSC, who attempted to help Catholic students remain Catholic while at Notre Dame.

Fr. Miscamble was involved with a website which posted faculty profiles, etc., to help students find Catholic instructors.

Apparently Fr. Miscamble’s superiors shut him down.

Via TMM:


According to a post by the Sycamore Trust–a UND alumni/ae group dedicated to making UND a place where young men and women can be inspired through teachers steeped in the riches of the Catholic intellectual tradition–Fr. Miscamble can longer be involved with

Nevertheless, two days after the inauguration of the website Father sent us this message: “I regret that I can say only that I am required to end my involvement with the NDCatholic site and am not at liberty to say why.”

Reading further along in the post, here’s what transpired:

  • The day after the launch of, Father Miscamble advised the Chairman of Sycamore Trust, Bill Dempsey, that he had been directed to disassociate himself from the website.
  • Demsey emailed Miscamble the next day expressing his “surprise and deep disappointment” and concern that this would “reflect adversely on the university” in the absence of a persuasive explanation. Dempsey asked “What reason we should assign?”
  • Miscamble responded: “Dear Bill, I regret that I can say only that I am required to end my involvement with the NDCatholic site and am not at liberty to say why.

Well, it doesn’t take a neurosurgeon the likes of Dr. Ben Carson to figure out what transpired within the cone of silence:

  • UND administrators and CSC superiors determined that Fr. Miscamble was engendering dissension within the UND and CSC communities by agitating for a more demostrably Catholic UND.
  • His most recent effort,, was the “straw that finally broke the camel’s back.”


Read the rest there.

And.. no… I haven’t forgotten…

That sparked my manifesto.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    There is a lot of excellent scholarship going on at Notre Dame. But that is true of Princeton, too. In neither case does that fact render either school Catholic.

  2. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    When ND apologizes for crowning King Obama, I shall forget it–as quickly as I hope God forgets my sins when I apologize for them. Till then, No, I have not forgotten their fawning adulation of a man who despises all they (used to, at any rate) stand for.

  3. acardnal says:

    Academics love to promote academic freedom up to and until it it becomes critical of them.

  4. LarryW2LJ says:

    With apologies for being uncharitable, but Notre Dame is Catholic In Name Only. Other than that, it has “evolved” into a secular institution.

  5. Cristero says:

    Huh. 13 days. Well, it was good run while it lasted. Not even as long as a Kardashian marriage. Seems to be the shelf life of Catholicism at “c”atholic schools.

    Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio….

  6. The Masked Chicken says:

    Who didn’t see this coming? He should have put up discussions for other school and left ND out of it.

    The Chicken

  7. Chuck3030 says:

    I propose that, under the guise of anonymity if necessary, Fr. Miscamble either create or help with a sibling website(s) such as, which would perform the same function, but for a different university. Then, a similarly minded Theologian (from the other university) could be able to provide the necessary help for


  8. The Cobbler says:

    “Academics love to promote academic freedom up to and until it it becomes critical of them.”
    I propose a name for this: egolibertine. I.e. being pro *my* freedom and anti *your* freedom (or, at least, unwilling to acknowledge as freedom anything on your part that would in any way hinder what I deem freedom on my part). Hence, “Free I”.

  9. TomD says:

    A paradigm of the Left: Free speech for me — but not for thee. – Nat Hentoff

  10. Mike says:

    What else would one expect from the institution whose president facilitated the untethering of Catholic higher education from the moorings of faith with the July 1967 Land O’ Lakes Statement?

  11. After aggrandizing Obama, Notre Dame has lost all respect and honor. We should neither support their teams or take their claim that they are a Catholic school seriously.

  12. Andrew D says:

    I think it’s way past time for the Church to strip this university of it’s standing as a Catholic school. It is actually offensive to Our Lord and His Blessed Mother to allow the evil anti-Catholicism at this school to continue while allowing it to be called Notre Dame.

  13. jbazchicago says:

    The libs use traditional values like “obedience” to shut down those opposed to their project. They learned it from the nuns. This is how entire congregations of nuns were manipulated and controlled in to what they are now (LCWR types), Subsequently, the Jesuits followed suit.

  14. SpesUnica says:

    Dr. Peters, was suing Obama and the HHS not something of an apology, or at least a public acknowledgement that the ND administration had been “had?” Obama came, lied to Jenkins’ face, and then ND sued. And lost, then won, and then lost again.

    I think the list on the website was imprudent, though I understand why some felt the need to make it. Notice that there are several young professors on that list, and while we can bemoan the situation that they are in, the truth is that being on such a list may highlight them in ways that are helpful neither to their personal careers nor to their hopes of making positive movements at Notre Dame.

    And to those who think Notre Dame isn’t Catholic or there is nothing good happening there: you already hated Notre Dame and this last unfortunate situation didn’t suddenly change your minds–you’ve been rooting against the University’s progress all along. But thanks so much for your help.

  15. Dave N. says:

    It’s really decades past time to cut bait on the Sisyphean efforts to reform Notre Dame; even some of Fr. Miscamble’s faculty selections were pretty marginal in my opinion. When you have to scrape to find decent professors of theology in a Catholic institution, I think the boat has sailed.

    Stop sending money to Notre Dame. Stop sending your kids to Notre Dame. Stop buying Notre Dame stuff. It’s the only way.

  16. SpesUnica says:

    Name one school with a better Theology department than Notre Dame’s…

  17. MB says:

    Spes Unica – A priest once told me a story about his grandmother – she used the finest ingredients to make brownies – the freshest eggs, and expensive chocolate … but before she had a chance to bake it, she stopped to clean her cat’s litterbox and a little bit of pooh fell in the batter. Do you still eat the brownies? Obviously no – the whole batch is ruined.

    The ND Theology Department might have all the best profs, but if there is even one that is not teaching the truth, and you don’t know which one it is, that is all that matters.

  18. SpesUnica says:

    MB, then it is fortunate that we aren’t talking about baking, but about a university education. And these are individuals we are talking about, human beings, not cocoa and cat crap.

    It is nonsensical to say that “we don’t know which ones.” Every theology student on campus knows which ones are the best and which ones aren’t so great. And to be honest with you, since Fr. McBrien stopped teaching (and has gone to meet his Maker-kyrie eleison), there is nary an instructor in the department who I would tell students to AVOID. MAYBE Candida Moss, but I hear she is fine in the class room and just likes to say shocking things to get on TV. And some of the profs ON that list I would tell you to avoid because they couldn’t teach themselves out of a wet paper bag.

    This is not so simple as many people would like to paint it. There is NO Theology department in this country in the same league as Notre Dame, and if you don’t want your kid to study with the likes of Cavadini, Meier, Daley, Fagerberg, etc., it is really their loss. How many of the professors or courses on the list will disappear because Fr. Miscamble isn’t on the website? None. They are all still there. The opportunity for great education is still there, just like it was last week and last year.

  19. ndmom says:

    I agree that putting this list on a website was imprudent, even though it included my husband and a number of other solid faculty whom we know personally (not all Catholic, BTW). Putting together such a list always runs the risk of unintentionally maligning those who were excluded. And that is a huge group. The list covers ONLY faculty in the College of Arts and Letters, and from only half the departments in that college. There are no faculty from the Colleges of Science, Business, Engineering, Architecture on the list. Yes, the website acknowledges that the list is “in its initial stages,” but surely Fr. Miscamble himself would not accept a student’s final term paper in its initial stages. It’s one thing for a student to get an incomplete list of recommended faculty during a conversation with a professor, and another thing entirely to put such an incomplete list on a website.

    The other problem with such a list is that it is unavoidably subjective, and based on the opinions of a relative handful of people at the University. Even with a disclaimer that the list is not meant to be exhaustive, many students and their parents will certainly take it that way. Solidly orthodox faculty who were excluded are bound to be hurt, and The List may serve to cause further division among the faculty who are already divided on their support of Notre Dame’s Catholic mission. And Fr. Miscamble knew or should have known that his religious superiors would not approve of his involvement in a website that, perhaps unintentionally, maligns some of his fellow CSC who were excluded (including all of those outside the College of Arts and Letters).

    Don’t get me wrong — I think it’s a great idea for students (and perhaps their parents) to find out which faculty members strongly support the Catholic mission and are also solid academics. But students who want that information have always been able to get it from other sources, including the independent Irish Rover newspaper and conversations with orthodox students and faculty members. It’s not a secret. But a public website is probably not the best way to achieve that goal. In any event, The List is still out there and can operate perfectly well without the involvement of Fr. Miscamble. Based on the predictable comments posted above, it’s not going to change the minds of anyone convinced that Notre Dame is a den of heresy. But it might be helpful to those who approach Notre Dame with an open mind and are willing to consider that, perhaps, it’s the best Catholic university in the country.

  20. Bill Dempsey says:

    To NdMom and Spes Unica: There are two questions here: Academic freedom and the merit of the NDCatholic website. You do not address the first, which many outside the university may think the more important. This action plays into the hands of critics who maintain that the faculty at Catholic schools don’t have the academic freedom necessary to an authentic university. Here, if the administration issued the directive, there would appear to be a clear violation of academic freedom, and if Father Miscamble’s superior, there would have been no less an incursion even though as a priest his vow of obedience displaces his right to academic freedom.

    As to the website, you do not consider the the reason it exists: the radical reduction of Catholic representation on the faculty. That representation has plummeted so far that the school comes nowhere close to meeting its own Mission Statement test of Catholic identity: a majority of committed Catholics on the faculty. Professor Walter Nicgorski has described the result: “A young person going through the critical and questioning formative years of an education at Notre Dame might not encounter a practicing Catholic informed and engaged by the Catholic intellectual tradition.”

    In these circumstances, a student seeking a Catholic education needs all the guidance he or she can get. With it, he or she can secure what may be the finest Catholic education available anywhere. Without it, the odds are against the student. One would wish it were not so. The university has brought this on itself.

    Of course a student can, and should, consult other students, faculty if he or she has come into contact with a reliable guide and is willing to consult him or her, and the Irish Rover limited list. Many do. But NDCatholic is much more comprehensive and is readily available to all. It is a very important and superior addition to the resources available.

    True, it is not complete, as Father Miscamble stressed. If students (or anyone else) thinks it is and that those not on the list should be avoided, he or she cannot read or do not believe what they read. The list is a base to be built upon through comments from all sources The website was launched in time for students choosing courses for next semester. To hold back would have been to deprive students of this resource for a significant part of their time at Notre Dame.

    More, no list will ever be complete. If that is a to be a bar, then students are never to have the advantage of the best type of assistance available to the largest number.

    A footnote on the theology department discussion by Spes Unica: I agree the department is in general quite strong and strongly Catholic. It is the exception among the departments and schools (except for the law school and, to a lesser extent, the business school). It is a fine place for majors and graduate students, but a mixed bag for others. The problems are that there is only one specifically required course (and one elective) and that most sections of that course are taught by graduate students. At my last count, about 75%.

    Bill Dempsey, Chairman, Sycamore Trust (

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