FRONT ROYAL, VA — It’s been four long years since Notre Dame welcomed Barack Obama to campus, awarding him an honorary degree and the opportunity to address the graduating class of 2009. Among the reasons for the award, according to university President John Jenkins, C.S.C., one was central: “He is a leader who has respect for the role of faith and religious institutions in public life.”
In welcoming Obama, Father Jenkins brazenly ignored his bishop, John M. D’Arcy, who objected to the invitation, boycotted the ceremony, and gave Jenkins a stern lesson in basic Canon Law. But this was the new Notre Dame, where bishops are ignored but politicians are revered, so Fr. Jenkins was all smiles. He was fawning over Obama so obsequiously that some observers feared that Jenkins was going to canonize the most pro-abortion president in history right then and there.
The pro-lifers who protested Obama’s visit on campus received a different reception. Directed by Notre Dame Security, police arrested them and sent them to jail – 88 in all, including Father Norman Weslin, O.S., a disabled priest who was 79 years old, and Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade. Their lawyer, South Bend attorney Tom Dixon, a Notre Dame alumnus, tells the Rubble that outside “Gay Rights” groups that similarly demonstrated on campus were not arrested or prosecuted. (After two years, with the threat of a civil suit approaching, the university finally agreed to request that the trespassing charges be dropped against all 88).
After Obama’s departure, Bishop Robert W. Finn of Missouri delivered the post-mortem: “The President of Notre Dame said that they had invited the President of the United States and decided to honor him for the sake of dialogue.[T]hen the president got up and said the differences that we have on abortionŠ were ‘irreconcilable.’ And at that moment, it would seem to me that the dialogue came to a screeching halt. Father Jenkins’ expressed desire for dialogueŠ got thrown back in his face.”
After he returned to Washington, Obama sent Notre Dame some $30 million in stimulus funds, which the university called a “milestone,” but the sweetheart deal didn’t last for long; as soon as Obamacare passed, the president unsheathed the terrible, swift sword of government power and aimed it directly at Notre Dame and the heart of the Catholic conscience.
So here we are, four years later, to find President Jenkins suing the Obama Administration because of the HHS Contraception Mandate that, in the words of Father Jenkins, violates “the freedom of a religious organization to live its mission.”
Distributed by Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation and Griffin Internet Syndicate
Christopher Manion, Ph.D., is Director of the Campaign for Humanae Vitae, a project of the Bellarmine Forum. He served as a staff director on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for many years. He has taught in the departments of politics, religion, and international relations at Boston University, the Catholic University of America, and Christendom College.