Tuesday April 13, 2010

Notre Dame Releases New Pro-Life Statement after Obama Dust Up

Reilly: “They still don’t get it”

By Kathleen Gilbert

SOUTH BEND, Indiana, April 9, 2010 ( – The University of Notre Dame last week issued a new statement defending all human life from conception until natural death, as well as outlining principles governing charitable activity that ensures no funds will go to pro-abortion organizations.

The University’s Task Force on Supporting the Choice for Life recommended the new statement and principles to Notre Dame’s president, Fr. John Jenkins, in January. Jenkins established the task force in the wake of the immense controversy that engulfed the prestigious Catholic university following Jenkins’ decision to honor the pro-abortion President Barack Obama with the keynote address and an honorary law degree at commencement last May. Eighty U.S. active bishops publicly condemned the honor, including Notre Dame’s own Bishop John D’Arcy, who boycotted the ceremony.

The school’s new pro-life statement reads: “Consistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church on such issues as abortion, research involving human embryos, euthanasia, the death penalty, and other related life issues, the University of Notre Dame recognizes and upholds the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.”

Under the newly adopted principles on charitable activity, the university will seek to “direct its contributions to both persons and organizations so that they are not used to support research or activities that conflict with Catholic teachings.”

“If ensuring appropriate use proves impossible or an organization consistently advocates research or other activities that conflict with fundamental Catholic moral principles, the University will withhold all further contributions,” it states.

In a press release announcing the news, Fr. Jenkins said he was “grateful to the task force for recommending the creation of these documents and helping us compose them.”

“The statement articulates what always has been the case: that Notre Dame fully embraces Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life,” said Jenkins. “The new principles provide standards for the University and its representatives in making determinations on giving in a way consonant with our beliefs.”

Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, a watchdog organization for Catholic higher education, praised the statement – but said that Notre Dame had to do much more to regain credibility as a pro-life institution.

“Every Catholic college should profess the same – but of course, they should say and do so much more,” Reilly told (LSN) this week. “Unfortunately, it is self-defeating for Notre Dame to characterize this positive action as an adequate response to its shameful honor for President Obama last year.”

“When set in that context, Notre Dame is immediately confronted with two questions: Is this the most they can offer? And why do Notre Dame’s policies still permit honors for pro-abortion politicians?” he said.

“They still don’t get it.”

Reilly pointed out that the Office of the President, Campus Ministry, and other university departments set aside the week of April 12-16 for the annual “StaND Against Hate” week, a campus-wide celebration of homosexuality. The school has proudly sponsored such programs for years, despite Catholic Church teaching on homosexual activity as gravely sinful.

Fr. Jenkins has also received sustained criticism from the pro-life community for failing to seek leniency for 88 pro-life witnesses who were arrested on campus last year for peacefully protesting President Obama’s warm reception. The group, which witnesses say were targeted for “trespassing,” while pro-Obama protesters were allowed to roam free, continues to face up to a year in prison and a $5,000 fine.

According to Joe Scheidler, leader of the Pro-Life Action League and Notre Dame graduate, attempting to convince Jenkins to seek leniency for the pro-lifers at the national March for Life in January was like “talking to a stone.”

“One hearty cheer for the public statement, which sets Notre Dame on the right path,” Reilly concluded, “but two cheers when Notre Dame puts words into action and sincerely strives to build a campus Culture of Life.”

Click here to sign a petition to free the ND 88, and for more information on their story.

See related coverage:

Notre Dame Announces Homosexual-Themed Events for Easter Week

Document Reveals Inconsistencies in ND’s Jenkins Claims on ND88

Scheidler: Jenkins Remains Utterly Immovable on ND 88