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Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins

SOUTH BEND, Indiana, January 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews): Pro-life alumni are furious that Notre Dame’s president is leading a delegation from the university to the Washington March for Life while he makes abortifacients available through the university’s health plans.

The Sycamore Trust, an alumni association dedicated to preserving the college’s Catholic identity, opposes Fr. John I. Jenkins’ leadership of the Notre Dame contingent because his recent decisions have led to “contraceptives and abortifacients in the hands” of students and employees.

In a bulletin released yesterday, the group reviewed Jenkins’ handling of the HHS mandate.

During the Obama administration, Notre Dame University went to court to sue for an exemption from the mandate. When it lost its suit, it applied for the “accommodation” program. Under this program, the university’s health insurers paid for the abortifacients, contraceptives, and sterilizations of Notre Dame University and staff, sparing the university the indignity of paying for them directly.

However, when President Trump offered religious organizations exemptions from the mandate, Notre Dame did not discontinue its participation in the “accommodation” program. Instead the university continues to make “cut-rate abortifacients, contraceptives, and sterilization available to employees through its Flexible Spending Account program” says the Trust.

The Sycamore Trust credits Jenkins with having considered the exemption. “But faculty and students protested,” it explains, “and Father Jenkins decided to stick with the accommodation.”

The Trust was outraged.

“By this action, Father Jenkins doubled down on university’s recent decision to offer for the first time cut-rate abortifacients, sterilization, and contraceptives to employees participating in the University’s Flexible Saving Account program,” it said. “The University initially included surgical abortions, but when we caught and publicized these startling changes the university quickly shifted to damage control mode. It backed off on surgical abortions, but not on abortifacients, contraceptives, and sterilization.”

The Sycamore Trust is adamant that by facilitating the dissemination of so-called “morning after pills” and IUDs, which have abortion-causing, rather than solely contraceptive, properties Jenkins “has turned Notre Dame into a facilitator of abortions.”

Jenkins was the figurehead of an earlier controversy when Notre Dame invited the pro-abortion President Obama to speak at a convocation ceremony and pressed charges against pro-life demonstrators. Afterwards, however, he attended the 2010 March for Life. The Sycamore Trust approved.

“[His presence] lent prestige to the event within the University and attracted more students and faculty,” it explained in its bulletin. “And there was at least something to be said in Father Jenkins’s defense, however flimsy.”

This year, however, the alumni group feels differently.

“Father Jenkins’s [more recent] action is far more serious than the honoring of President Obama,” it stated. “It involves Notre Dame’s role in the termination of life, and there is nothing to be said in his defense.”

“Accordingly, we had hoped that Father Jenkins would not attend,” it continued. “But he will, and he will be principal celebrant of the Notre Dame Mass at St. Agnes Catholic Church in Arlington, Virginia, which once again is generous host to the Notre Dame delegation. It is hard to see how he can preach a pro-life homily with credibility. The hypocrisy and scandal are evident — his action seems to imply that  the use of abortifacients and contraceptives is acceptable, whatever reservations the University might set to paper —  and will surely not go unmarked.”

The Sycamore Trust also praised the Notre Dame student Right to Life club for their sponsorship of a January prayer campaign for the strengthening of the university’s Catholic identity.

Notre Dame University did not respond to LifeSiteNews’ earlier request for information concerning Father Jenkins’ appearance at the 2018 March for Life.