Monday January 25, 2010

Scheidler: Jenkins Remains Utterly Immovable on ND 88

Says talking to Jenkins about the issue like talking to a “stone”

By James Tillman

WASHINGTON, DC, January 25, 2010 ( — Joseph Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League says that prior to last week he had sent letters “begging and pleading” for a chance to meet with Father John Jenkins, President of Notre Dame, but he was never given the chance to do so.

So when he saw Father Jenkins at the March for Life in Washington last Thursday, he thought that it was “too good a chance to miss.”

Jenkins had agreed to attend this year’s March for Life as part of the pro-life measures he began on campus in response to the outcry caused by his invitation of President Obama to speak at last year’s Notre Dame commencement.

However, Jenkins’ announcement that he intended to participate in the March for Life did little to assuage the criticisms of pro-life activists, in large part because of his continued refusal to ask that the charges against the 88 peaceful pro-life protestors who were arrested on the campus last year be dropped.

The 88 pro-lifers face up to a year in prison and a $5,000 fine if they are found guilty of the charge of trespassing. Currently an online petition effort, demanding that Fr. Jenkins request that the charges be dropped, has been signed by over 5,000 concerned individuals.

However, according to Scheidler, Fr. Jenkins remains obstinate in his refusal to do so, saying that talking to Jenkins about the issue was like talking to a “stone.”

Scheidler told LifeSiteNews (LSN) that he told Fr. Jenkins “that many, many of my friends wanted me to talk to him about removing the charges of the Notre Dame 88. So [Father Jenkins] said, ‘Well, now you’ve told me what they want,’ and that was it.”

“So I thought, ‘Well, that wasn’t very good,’” said Scheidler. “So I went back and I said, ‘You know, I not only was a student at Notre Dame but I taught at Notre Dame, and I’m very fond of Notre Dame. And I am really concerned that these 88 people were arrested for simply going on the campus doing something that they should do,’ or something to that effect. And he said ‘Alright, now you’ve said that.’ And he was very off-putting.”

Joseph Scheidler is among those listed as “Notable Alumni” on the Notre Dame website. Other Notre Dame alumni are of a similar opinion as Scheidler; according to donations totaling over $16 million from over 1,500 alumni have been withheld from Notre Dame because of Father Jenkins’ actions.

According to Scheidler, the whole impression Father Jenkins gave was that, “You can talk to me all day about this, and my mind’s made up.”

“I think he’s going to stand his ground on this,” he continued. “Although, you know, anything could happen. But I wouldn’t want to be one of the 88, because they are facing, you know, a possible 6 months in jail and possible 5,000 dollar fine.”

“I don’t give much hope for any change. … You might as well have been talking to a stone.”

Such inflexibility, according to Scheidler, makes Jenkins’ arrival at the March for Life little more than an empty gesture. “Going to the March was a very small payment for having Obama there,” Scheidler said, “and nothing for saving these 88 people … [from] paying for what was not a crime.”

“He has said before that it’s out of his hands,” he continued. “Well, it’s not. He could say ‘Drop the charges,’ and they’d be dropped.”

The problem posed by Father Jenkins’ obstinacy makes Scheidler fear for Notre Dame’s reputation, especially after Jenkins’ recent reelection to another five years in his position. “He’s got five more years handed to him,” said Scheidler, “and I have great fears that Notre Dame is going to lose its reputation. It’s losing it fast. And it would be almost impossible to get it back.”

To sign the petition to Free the ND 88, click here.

See related stories on

Petition to University of Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins

Notre Dame Pro-Life Efforts a “Mockery” While Pro-Life Protesters Continue to Face Charges: ND Law Prof

Notre Dame’s Father Jenkins Begins Pro-Life Measures at University, but Still not Dropping Charges against Pro-Life Protestors