By Gudrun Schultz
NOTRE DAME, Indiana, April 6, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The University of Notre Dame will continue to allow the controversial play “The Vagina Monologues” to be performed on campus, despite the plays’ explicit sexuality, obscenity and anti-Catholic content. The script contains graphic accounts of female sexual encounters, one involving the seduction of a young teenage girl by an older woman.
Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, university president, spoke against the play in January, saying it was antithetical to the Catholic identity of Notre Dame, and that repeat performances on campus would suggest that the university endorsed the content and message of the play.
But in a statement yesterday Fr. Jenkins granted permission for the play to continue on the grounds of academic freedom, saying, “the creative contextualization of a play like ‘The Vagina Monologues’ can bring certain perspectives on important issues into a constructive and fruitful dialogue with the Catholic tradition.”
Bishop John M. D’Arcy, whose diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend includes Notre Dame, had asked that the performances be ended. He said he was “deeply saddened by the decision.” In his statement Bishop D’Arcy referred to his February comments on the play, when he said it “reduces sexuality to a particular organ of a woman’s body separate from the person of the woman, from her soul and her spirit.”
The Cardinal Newman Society has worked to reduce the number of U.S. Catholic campuses performing the ‘Monologues,’ with great success. Over the past three years the number of Catholic campus performances dropped by a third. The Society issued a statement regarding Fr. Jenkins’ disappointing decision to allow the play to continue at Notre Dame.
”[Fr. Jenkins] fell into the trap that has paralysed so many other Catholic colleges…he has insisted on defining ‘The Vagina Monologues’…within the context of “academic freedom.” This is a play, a piece of entertainment and one-sided advocacy. It is not an academic event. Banning this play would in no way inhibit free discussion of the topics the play purports to address. Rather, banning the play is a means of demonstrating genuine commitment to reasoned dialogue on important issues, without the vulgarity, obscenity, disrespect for human dignity and one-sided demagoguery that prevent true academic discourse.”
The Society included the statement of Rev. Brian Shanley, O.P., the president of Providence College, who banned the play from appearing on that school’s campus.
“Far from celebrating the complexity and mystery of female sexuality, ‘the Vagina Monologues’ simplifies and demystifies it by reducing it to the vagina…artistic freedom on a Catholic campus cannot mean the complete license to perform or display any work of art regardless of its intellectual or moral content. Any institution which sanctioned works of art that undermined its deepest values would be inauthentic, irresponsible and ultimately self-destructive.”
Read the full statement from the Cardinal Newman Society here:
See previous LifeSiteNews coverage:
SEVERAL CATHOLIC UNIVERSITIES CANCEL VULGAR ‘VAGINA MONOLOGUES’ PLAY
Cardinal Newman Society Campaign Against Offensive “Monologues” Achieves Results
Pope Benedict Insists Catholic Universities Remain Faithful to Church Teaching