By Alex Bush and John Jalsevac

SOUTH BEND, Indiana, May 13, 2009 ( – Fr. John Jenkins, President of Notre Dame University, sits on the board of directors of Millennium Promise, an organization dedicated to fighting poverty in Africa that promotes contraceptives and abortion, it has been revealed. 

The finding comes as the controversy over President Obama’s award and speech at the University reaches a fever pitch in the last week before the event.  As the president of Notre Dame, Fr. Jenkins has received the majority of the heat for the scandal. However, despite the criticism of over 70 U.S. bishops and over 350,000 petitioners, Jenkins has steadfastly continued to defend the university’s honoring of the president. In a letter to graduating students dated this past Monday, Jenkins said that Obama is “a remarkable figure in American history and I look forward to welcoming him to Notre Dame.”

Fr. Jenkins’ involvement on the board of the Millennium Promise was first reported by the Drew Mariani Show and  (See the list of board members here: Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, a Catholic education watchdog organization, responded to the news of Fr. Jenkins’ involvement in Millennium Promise, saying in an interview with LSN, “One has to wonder what Fr. Jenkins’ opinion is of the Church’s teaching on contraception.” 

Millennium Promise’s mission is to enact the eight so-called Millennium Development Goals by 2015. However, the Millennium Development Goals have been widely promoted by pro-contraception and pro-abortion organizations, such as Millennium Promise, as including the goal of increasing access to contraception and abortion globally.

Millennium Promise raises funds from the private sector for what it calls its “flagship initiative,” Millennium Villages, a group that works with small villages in Africa.

A Millennium Villages handbook explains that “family planning and contraception services are critical to allow women to choose family size and birth spacing, to combat sexually transmitted infections, including HIV infection, and contribute to the reduction of maternal morbidity and mortality.”

It continues to explain that, “Services include: (1) Counseling; (2) Male and female condoms; (3) Pharmacologic contraceptives including oral, transdermal, intramuscular, and implanted methods; and (4) IUDs.”

The handbook continues with an encouragement for “safe” abortion: “In countries where abortion is legal, safe abortion services in controlled settings by skilled practitioners should be established.” (  page 92).

Fr. Jenkins has stated in the past that Notre Dame participates in the Millennium Villages Project via the Notre Dame Millennium Development Initiative (NDMDI).  The efforts of the NDMDI focus on Uganda “where Notre Dame, through the Congregation of Holy Cross, has strong ties.”

Interestingly, Uganda is known for its unprecedented success in reducing its HIV rate over the past several decades, using the so-called ABC approach, which emphasizes abstinence and faithfulness as the surest means of avoiding infection. In the last few years, however, anti-HIV leaders in Uganda have complained about an increasing effort by large Western aid organizations to pressure the country to vastly increase its promotion of condoms.

Patrick Reilly of the Cardinal Newman Society said that in his research into Millennium Promise he was extremely concerned to find that “not only condom distribution, but distribution of the pill, injectible contraception, and even abortion are part of the Millennium project’s efforts.”

“Any Catholic university that supports a program to reduce poverty by eliminating poor children has a serious problem,” he said, adding that no Catholic “should be taking a leadership role in an effort that distributes contraception or promotes abortion.”