By John Jalsevac

FORT WAYNE, March 12, 2008 ( – The bishop of Fort Wayne, Bishop John D’Arcy, has released a public statement berating the president of Notre Dame University, Fr. John Jenkins, for deciding to allow a performance of The Vagina Monologues at the university. reported yesterday that Fr. Jenkins released a statement on Mar. 10 in which he announced his decision to allow the performance of the play to go ahead on Mar. 24-26. “My decision on this matter,” wrote the president, “arises from a  conviction that it is an indispensable part of the mission of a Catholic university to provide a forum in which multiple viewpoints are debated in reasoned and respectful exchange – always in dialogue with faith and the Catholic tradition – even around highly controversial topics.”
  Jenkins also said, “It is particularly painful for me that Bishop John D’Arcy – for whom I have great respect and affection – disapproves of my decision.

Bishop D’Arcy begins his statement, released today, by thanking Fr. Jenkins for engaging in an ongoing dialogue with the bishop about the advisability of allowing the scheduled performance of the play to continue. Immediately after, however, the bishop launches into a detailed critique of Fr. Jenkins’ position, taking him to task for his belief that allowing The Vagina Monologues is in any way comparable to reading in class the works of anti-Christian and anti-Catholic authors such as Nietzsche, Gibbon and Luther, saying that between such works and the play, there is a “difference, not of degree, but of kind.”

Nietzsche, Gibbon and Luther, writes the Bishop “have written serious philosophical, theological and literary works, which have influenced Western thought. As such, their work has academic merit and is worthy of serious discussion and critique in a classroom setting. Father Jenkins believes that Eve Ensler’s play was written to shock and offend. How can one put such a play, which many consider pornographic, on the level of serious works such as the writings of Gibbon and Luther?”

D’Arcy also points out that it is clear that the students and teachers who are pushing to have the play performed at the university, are doing so not simply for the purpose of an academic discussion, but rather because they passionately believe in the message of the play, which promotes sexual license and immorality in a way that deeply contravenes Catholic teaching.

“Is this not the motivation of the departments that have asked to sponsor the play and the young women who will be acting in it?” asks the bishop rhetorically. “Did they not propose to have multiple performances of the play again this year because they believe it conveys an important message, and they want as many people to see it as possible? In short, people push to have this play performed year after year because they endorse the message it conveys, and they want to be part of the international campaign to promote this message. In allowing performances of the play on campus again this year, whether or not they are officially considered part of the V-Day campaign, Notre Dame continues to cooperate in advancing the campaign’s agenda, an agenda which, as I have repeatedly reflected in my several statements over the years, is directly opposed to the dignity of the human person and is antithetical to Catholic teaching.

“The play is an affront to human dignity, as Catholic teaching understands it. If it is performed, it should be denounced. Otherwise, the university appears to endorse it as in some way good and the impression is given that Catholic teaching is one option competing among many. This method places faith in a defensive position and on the margin and is unacceptable at a Catholic university.”

The bishop concluded, saying, “I believe that the performing of this play, even with one or more persons willing to present Catholic teaching, is in direct opposition to both the spirit and letter of ‘Ex Corde Ecclesiae.’ Also, because it depicts and endorses sinful sexual acts in direct opposition to church teaching, I believe its performance to be pornographic and spiritually harmful. This judgment is made after prayer, reflection and dialogue and after preparing several statements over many years.”

If Notre Dame goes ahead and allows the performance of the play on campus, it will be the sixth year in a row that it has done so.

To contact Fr. Jenkins:

University of Notre Dame President
  Fr. John Jenkins, C.S.C.,
[email protected]

To read the full text of the statement, see:

Read related coverage:

Catholic University of Notre Dame President Approves Vulgar Pro-Lesbian Play Vagina Monologues


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