Kathleen Gilbert


Controversial pro-abortion funding Notre Dame board member steps down

Kathleen Gilbert

NOTRE DAME, Indiana, June 8, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - After the school’s failed attempt at containing the scandal, the newest member of the University of Notre Dame’s board of trustees has resigned following the revelation that she contributed thousands of dollars to a prominent pro-abortion political group.

Investment magnate Roxanne Martino, an alumna of the school, complained of the negative attention drawn to her contributions.

“I dearly love my alma mater and remain fully committed to all aspects of Catholic teaching and to the mission of Notre Dame,” she said in a statement, according to the Chicago Tribune. “I had looked forward to contributing in this new role, but the current controversy just doesn’t allow me to be effective.”

The Cardinal Newman Society, a Catholic university watchdog group, broke the story last month that Martino had contributed thousands to Emily’s List, a political action committee dedicated solely to electing “pro-choice Democratic women to office.” The total donated sum amounted to over $25,000, according to research by Sycamore Trust.

The news gained traction after Wall Street columnist and Notre Dame alumnus William McGurn slammed the choice of Martino in light of University president Fr. John Jenkins’ claims that the prestigious Catholic institution was “unequivocally committed to the sanctity of human life and to its protection from conception to natural death.”

Emily’s List, McGurn noted, is arguably “one of America’s best known and most prominent political organizations in the country. And it is dedicated to abortion rights.” “Let’s just say Emily’s List is admirably clear about what it does, and leaves no room for ambiguity,” he wrote.

After the scandal broke, according to McGurn, Jenkins and board chairman Richard Notebaert issued emails to trustee members and others claiming that Martino contributed to “organizations that provide a wide range of important services and support to women” but “did not realize ... that several of these organizations also take a pro-choice position.”

McGurn says that when he pressed the topic, Notebaert replied by stating that Martino was “unaware of the specific objective of Emily’s List,” and that his and Father Jenkins’ statements about other “important services” for women applied to a different group. Cardinal Newman Society research had also found that Martino gave somewhere between $3,250 and $5,996 to the pro-abortion Chicago Foundation for Women from 2004 to 2011.

Martino resigned within a week of McGurn’s report. Upon her departure, Notebaert continued to laud Martino as “highly regarded as someone who is absolutely dedicated in every way to the Catholic mission of this University.” Peoria bishop Daniel Jenky, the only bishop among the trustees, refused to comment for McGurn on the scandal.

McGurn concluded that “the Martino situation is worse than the Obama invitation.” The school elicited massive backlash from the pro-life Catholic community in America, and condemnations from 80 active U.S. bishops, after hosting the strongly pro-abortion President Obama in May 2009 to offer the commencement speech and receive an honorary law degree. The University remained embroiled in scandal by allowing scores of pro-life protesters to be arrested on trespassing charges, while pro-Obama protesters had roamed free on campus.

“President Obama was at least not a Catholic — and was not being invited into the governing authority of the university,” McGurn noted. “Nor was there the kind of bald attempt to rewrite facts that we have here, in an effort to fudge the clear and unambiguous message sent by Martino’s long and considerable material contributions to a pro-choice America.”

Read William McGurn’s full article here.

This article has been corrected to identify Sycamore Trust as the source of the total revealed sum of Martino’s donations.

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