FORT WAYNE, Indiana, Feb. 6, 2013 ( – Bishop John M. D’Arcy, best known in recent years for leading an unprecedented wave of episcopal opposition against the University of Notre Dame’s 2009 honorary doctorate to President Obama, has passed away.

The bishop died Sunday, February 3, at the age of 80 after battling lung and brain cancer.

Bishop D’Arcy served as head of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend from 1985 to 2009.


He won praise for his efforts to uphold Catholic identity at Notre Dame, located in his diocese. But he also locked horns with university administration over contentious issues such as the university’s decision to invite President Obama to offer the commencement address and receive an honorary law degree, and the school's continued approval of the performance on campus of The Vagina Monologues. 

In 2009, Bishop D’Arcy boycotted the University’s commencement ceremony due to the president’s pro-abortion policies.

In a statement released by the diocese at the time, D’Arcy said he would not attend the event because “a bishop must teach the Catholic faith ‘in season and out of season,’ and he teaches not only by his words — but by his actions.”

Eighty-three US bishops followed Bishop D’Arcy's lead in expressing their disapproval of the University of Notre Dame's invitation to President Obama.

In a 2006 statement on Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins' decision to granted permission for The Vagina Monologues to continue to be presented at the school, Bishop D’Arcy said he was “deeply saddened” that a Catholic university would endorse, within the context of academic freedom, an entertainment that “reduces sexuality to a particular organ of a woman’s body separate from the person of the woman, from her soul and her spirit.”

Rev. Jenkins mourned the passing of Bishop D’Arcy, saying, “The University of Notre Dame joins many others in mourning Bishop D’Arcy.”

“His life was one of loving service to God’s people as a pastor and, since he became the bishop of this diocese in 1985, he has shown dedicated and affectionate care for the University. We remember him with gratitude and, though saddened by his passing, we believe he will be an advocate for us in the heavenly Kingdom,” Father Jenkins said. 

A statement from Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades notes that, “Bishop D’Arcy faced death as he also lived his life: with deep faith and trust in God. He offered his prayers and sufferings this past month for the people he loved and served with joy and faithfulness these past 28 years in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.”

“I am filled with deep sadness at the death of a dear friend and brother bishop,” said Bishop Rhoades. “We mourn the death of a good shepherd after the heart of Christ, a bishop who loved the Lord and his people with all his heart.”

Bishop D'Arcy's funeral Mass will be held at noon on Friday, February 8, at Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne.


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