Category Archives: Campus News Opinion

Archbold: The Coming Thud on American Campuses

For years, many have warned that the culture has been sliding down a slippery slope. We’ve been on it for so long you might expect to hear a thud soon from hitting bottom. But we haven’t yet.

Every time we think we’ve hit bottom, the floor drops and we’re forced to realize that there’s a lot of falling still to do. And you can thank Harvard University for recently showing us that there’s so much further to fall with their announcement that they’re approving a BDSM club.

For those who don’t know, BDSM is short for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism. Amazingly, Inside Higher Ed reported that Harvard is not alone in this, because Cornell, Tufts, and Yale Universities already have similar fetish clubs on campus.

This is the kind of stupidity that could only be approved by people with PhD’s. And while many may mock this, please remember that things occur regularly now that would have seemed outlandish just twenty years ago. Yesterday’s punchline is today’s cultural mainstream.

But all of this makes perfect sense if you stipulate secularism as the dominant religion on most college campuses. And to stipulate secularism is to agree that there is no objective truth, no right and wrong, and no inherent dignity to each human person.

In every interaction I have with people I strive to never make people simply a means to some other end. Even going through tolls or taking a cab, I attempt some level of human interaction with toll takers and cab drivers. Whether it’s asking how they’re doing, if they’re busy, cold, or hot. And I wish them a good day. Human interaction isn’t supposed to be a “you get yours, I get mine” negotiation. As a Christian, I believe we are here to enrich each other’s lives. We are called to love. If an institution doesn’t accept that as its premise, why would you want to attend there or pay for your children to attend there?

That’s why I believe that faithful Catholic education is the counter-revolution today. This is where the battleground is today.

I’ll sometimes hear the slander that Catholic education is almost an oxymoron as if faith and reason are mutually exclusive. Some ask how can you have education in a faith filled environment? I would ask how can you have one that’s not. Education must be more than facts, a moral force, or it is wasted. In their rush to rid every subject of theological implication, too many colleges have rid all actions of any moral implication.

We are becoming a culture without givens where every choice is valid and equal. All human interaction is judged simply by whether there was consent. Not whether it is right or wrong or harmful or helpful. Consent is the sole justification. What’s the one message on sexuality delivered on most campuses today? “No means no.” That’s it. There’s little or no discussion of the harm of the hookup culture. It’s all about consent.

In the same vein, on the wider cultural level, it’s polls. When there’s no right and wrong to argue, it inevitably comes down to a Darwinian appeal to numbers. It’s often said that this country is having heated arguments over issues like the contraception mandate and abortion. We’re not. We’re being showed polls that say a majority of women contracept or a majority believe in abortion. We don’t discuss whether any of it is right or wrong. Just if it’s been consented to by a majority. The inviolability of the soul has been replaced by the tyranny of the poll.

On many college campuses today, one of the only moral sins is racism. But racism is wrong because it devalues indiviudals. And isn’t that what sadism does? Isn’t that what the hookup culture does? Even when a person submits to it willingly, it is still submission to sin.

On too many college campuses today nothing is necessarily right but religion is definitely wrong. So colleges continue descending the slippery slope into moral anarchy and they have the ignorance to be enjoying the ride. They think the ride will last forever.

I find myself listening intently for the thud because it’s only when we hit bottom that we can start looking up and start the climb.

But no thud yet. Still falling.

RICE: Notre Dame Faculty Attack a Bishop

The following is a guest post by Notre Dame Law School emeritus professor Charles E. Rice:

On April 14, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C., of Peoria, Illinois, delivered a courageous homily at Mass during “A Call to Catholic Men of Faith.”  Bishop Jenky said, “This fall, every practicing Catholic must vote, and must vote their Catholic consciences, or by the following fall our Catholic schools, our Catholic hospitals, our Catholic Newman Centers, all our public ministries—only excepting our church buildings—could easily be shut down.  Because no Catholic institution, under any circumstance, can ever cooperate with the intrinsic evil of killing innocent human life in the womb.”

Forty-nine members of the Notre Dame faculty denounced Bishop Jenky in a Letter to the  University President, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Richard C. Notebaert.  The Letter called on them to “definitively distance Notre Dame from Bishop Jenky’s incendiary statement.”  The signers, said the Letter, “feel” that Bishop Jenky should resign from the University’s Board of Fellows.

The faculty Letter claims that Bishop Jenky “described President Obama as ‘seem[ing] intent on following a similar path’ to Hitler and Stalin.”  They accuse Bishop Jenky of “ ignorance of history, insensitivity to victims of genocide, and absence of judgment.”  The astonishingly simplistic and defamatory character of those accusations can be appreciated only by looking at what Bishop Jenky actually said:

Remember that in past history other governments have tried to force Christians to huddle and hide only within the confines of their churches like the first disciples locked up in the Upper Room.

In the late 19th century, Bismarck waged his “Kulturkampf,” a Culture War, against the Roman Catholic Church, closing down every Catholic school and hospital, convent and monastery in Imperial Germany.

Clemenceau, nicknamed “the priest eater,” tried the same thing in France in the first decade of the 20th Century.

Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services, and health care.

In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, Barack Obama—with his radical, pro abortion and extreme secularist agenda, now seems intent on following a similar path.

The immediate antecedent of that last quoted sentence refers to the fact, which not even a liberal academic could deny, that Hitler and Stalin, like Bismarck and Clemenceau, “would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services, and health care.”  It was not “incendiary” but simple truth for Bp. Jenky to say that the trajectory of the Obama regime is along a “similar path” in regard to “education, social services, and health care.”  His faculty detractors misread Bishop Jenky’s homily, assuming that they actually read it before they distorted and denounced it.  The strident tone of their Letter, moreover, draws into question their own judgment and balance.

Bishop Jenky properly drew attention to the impending dangers to religious and personal freedom.  The Obama regime, the leader of which was elected with 54 percent of the Catholic vote, is substituting for the free economy and limited government a centralized command system of potentially unlimited jurisdiction and power.  Its takeover of health care was enacted against the manifest will of the people, in disregard of legislative process and by a level of bribery, coercion and deception that was as open as it was unprecedented.  The HHS Health Care Mandate imperils not only the mission of the Catholic Church but also the right of conscience itself.

The faculty Letter outrageously claimed that Bishop Jenky’s limited and appropriate reference to Hitler and Stalin showed his ‘insensitivity to victims of genocide.”  The Hitler record, however, is relevant in another respect.  It provides an example, comparable to the Obama record, of the rapid concentration of executive power by a legally installed regime.  Adolf Hitler was named Chancellor on January 30.   Over the next few weeks he consolidated his power.  The decisive event was the Reichstag’s approval of the Enabling Act on March 23, 1933, by which it ceded full and practically irrevocable powers to Hitler.  That was the point of no return.  The Enabling Act received the needed two-thirds vote only because it was supported by the Catholic party, the Centre Party.  (Eliot Barculo Wheaton, The Nazi Revolution: 1933-35 (1969), 286-93; William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (1959), 88, 276-79).  The gullible Catholics voted themselves and the German people into persecution.  America’s Catholics may be about to follow their example.  With good reason, Bishop Jenky prayed: “May God have mercy on the souls of those politicians who pretend to be Catholic in church, but in their public lives, rather like Judas Iscariot, betray Jesus Christ by how they vote and how they willingly cooperate with intrinsic evil.”

Bishop Jenky deserves appreciation for so urgently reminding Catholics of their civic duty.  He spoke the Truth as a Bishop ought to speak.  And his judgment and courage reflect the finest tradition of a Notre Dame that has gone missing.  Pray for Bishop Jenky, for Notre Dame, for our Church and for our country.

ARCHBOLD: America Mag Bails on the Fight for Religious Liberty

Run away! Run away!  The brave editors of America Magazine stood for a while with the bishops in their struggle for religious liberty.

But no more.

The editors of the Jesuit magazine have sounded the trumpets of retreat and are bravely galloping away to watch from the sidelines.

In an editorial piece called “Policy, Not Liberty,” the editors of America Magazine did not only announce that they were abandoning the bishops in their continued quest to end the HHS mandate, but they also chided the bishops, saying they “press the religious liberty campaign too far.” As you might know, America‘s editors are the world-renowned arbiters of “gone too far.”

The editors advise the bishops to go back to talking about nuclear war and the economy. People prefer that, the editors say.

The bishops have been most effective in influencing public policy when they have acted as pastors, trying to build consensus in [C]hurch and society, as they did in their pastorals on nuclear war and the economy. The American public is uncomfortable with an overt exercise of political muscle by the hierarchy. Catholics, too, have proved more responsive to pastoral approaches. They expect [C]hurch leaders to appeal to Gospel values, conscience and right reason. They hope bishops will accept honorable accommodations and, even when provoked, not stir up hostility. In the continuing dialogue with government, a conciliatory style that keeps Catholics united and cools the national distemper would benefit the whole [C]hurch.

Cooling the national distemper? Seriously. Is that what Jesus died on the cross for? You know, things got a little heated in Jerusalem around 33 A.D., so Jesus got right up on that cross in an effort to “cool the national distemper.”

The editorial goes on to say that “official Catholic rights theory” proposes that people should be willing to “adjust their rights claims to one another.”

The campaign fails to acknowledge that in the present instance, claims of religious liberty may collide with the right to health care, or that the religious rights of other denominations are in tension with those of Catholics. But as Pope Benedict XVI wrote in “Deus Caritas Est,” the [C]hurch does not seek to “impose on those who do not share the faith ways of thinking and modes of conduct proper to the faith.”

Only to the editors of America (and Mother Jones, Huffington Post, NPR, etc.) could refusing to pay for someone else’s contraceptives be called “imposing” on them.  Or regard abortion-causing drugs and sterilizations to be “health care” equal in value to the Church’s “claims” of religious liberty.

But perhaps we should understand, the Jesuits of America Magazine have been too long in the mainstream on this matter. So in scurrying back to the sidelines, not only do they scold the bishops, but they go out of their way to praise President Obama’s compromise which has been derided as “an accounting gimmick.”

The editors of America Magazine say the bishops’ campaign for religious liberty “fails to admit that the administration’s Feb. 10 solution, though it can be improved, fundamentally did what Catholic social teaching expects government to do—coordinate contending rights for the good of all.”

Of course, the bishops have rightly noted that there is no “Feb. 10 solution;” the HHS mandate stands unchanged, and all we have is promises following upon broken promises. And the hoped-for “solution” would not protect self-insured groups like the Sisters of Life, even if its scheme proved morally acceptable (which is hotly contested).

As for contending rights, they put the First Amendment right of Catholic institutions not to take part in something they consider evil against the “right” of people to have consequence-less sex at the expense of others. Man, that’s some coordinating of contending rights, huh?

The editors accuse the bishops of “stretching the religious liberty strategy to cover the fine points of health care coverage,” and say their continuing struggle “devalues the coinage of religious liberty.”

Frankly, it was surprising to many that the editors of America Magazine stood with the bishops in the first place, and for that they gained a lot of respectability after past conflicts with the Church. This unnecessary cheap shot against the bishops — and a poorly argued one at that — puts them back in the mud.  Hopefully it is a momentary lapse of reason and America will stand with the bishops once again… and soon!

ARCHBOLD: Students Against Religious Liberty

About 300,000 pro-lifers marched through the middle of our nation’s capitol last month with scant coverage in the mainstream media.

But when a few college girls with a microphone kvetch that while they can afford to pay $50,000 per year to attend a Catholic college, they can’t afford condoms, you’ve got an instant media sensation.

So delighted has the media been that hundreds of news organizations have run stories highlighting the young students who make up the “Catholic Students for Women’s Health.” C-Span even covered their press conference.

The Huffington Post started their very sympathetic portrayal like this:

Single, 18-year-old female, likes having control over her own body, looking for affordable birth control.

That’s Keely Monroe’s summary of her life at Fordham University, a Jesuit college in New York. “Finding contraception at Fordham was about as easy as finding a good man from a want ad,” Monroe said of her alma mater at a press conference held Thursday in Washington by Catholic Students for Women’s Health.

One has to wonder if a good man is so hard to find, why does she feel the need for contraception?

But while one expects positive portrayals of such things at The Huffington Post, one should expect a little more from the mainstream media.

But in so many news reports this handful of young women speaking out in favor of birth control have been allowed to reshape the debate into a supposed need for contraception paid for by someone else. But what continuously gets lost in the media reports is why Catholic colleges must provide or pay for it.

Democrats on the Government Oversight and Reform committee stormed out of last Thursday’s hearing on the HHS mandate, because one of the young women from Georgetown University wasn’t allowed to testify. Mind you, the hearing was about religious liberty and not the need to fund young women’s ability to jump into bed with people they don’t particularly love or trust.

The dozen or so young women continually claim to be speaking for millions of young women. Presumably, the millions couldn’t clear up their schedules to join them at the press conference.

The group continuously claims that 98% of Catholic women use contraceptives. But if that’s the case, why the emergency need to provide it, since 98% of Catholic women already have some? Of course, that number has been proven a lie, but nobody mentioned that to the Catholic Students for Women’s Health. The media was too busy applauding them for speaking truth to power.

And why is it that these folks get to name themselves? Pro-lifers are always labeled “anti-abortion.” Why aren’t these young women labeled “anti-religious liberty?” I think we all know why.

One of the young women attends The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and said,  “I’m paying $50,000 a year to go to college. I think that I should be able to get birth control with that $50,000.”

Huh? I’m guessing she skipped the logic course at Catholic University.

Did these folks not know they were attending Catholic institutions? They remind me of the people who move in next to an airport that’s been there for fifty years and then start complaining about the planes flying overhead. And then demand that the airlines should pay for the airport to be moved.

We can likely expect more of this. We’ll be sure to keep you updated.

I Hold in My Hand the Names of 20 Catholic Colleges that Cover Contraception

In a scene reminiscent of anti-communist Congressman Joseph McCarthy holding in his hands a fraudulent list of names of communist spies in an effort to silence his political opposition, Rep. Elijah Cummings submitted a list of Catholic colleges in twenty states that already provide contraceptive coverage during a hearing on religious liberty yesterday.

In closing out his question and answer with The Catholic University of America President John Garvey, who said that Catholic colleges couldn’t violate their conscience by providing contraceptive coverage, Rep. Cummings countered by submitting into the record his list.

After repeated calls to Cummings’ office and the Committee of Government Oversight and Reform, The Cardinal Newman Society learned that Rep. Cummings obtained the list from the pro-abortion National Women’s Law Center.

The Cardinal Newman Society has obtained that list and looked into it to see whether it stood up to scrutiny.

It seems that many of the colleges on that list provide contraceptive coverage in states that mandate they do so. So, in short, the politicians in those states forced colleges to provide contraceptive coverage, and then the politicians on the federal level use the fact that they’re providing it as evidence that it’s okay for others to do the same.

It’s worth noting as well that many of the colleges on the list provide coverage for certain drugs that have therapeutic purposes apart from their contraceptive effects and are covered only when medically necessary for these other purposes—for conditions such as ovarian cysts, endometriosis, and acne—like the Franciscan University of Steubenville, the University of Dallas and the University of Notre Dame, among others.

Here’s the list of Catholic colleges that reportedly provide contraceptive coverage, according to the NWLC:

Santa Clara University, The Jesuit School of Theology, the University of San Diego, and San Francisco University all reportedly provide contraceptive coverage to their employees as mandated by the state of California.

Sacred Heart University in Connecticut also provides contraceptive coverage to employees in the state of Connecticut which mandates it.

Georgetown University does so although they are under no legal obligation to do so.

Dominican University in Illinois and Loyola University of Chicago cover contraceptives as mandated by state law.

The University of Notre Dame is included on the list as providing for “oral contraceptives” by the NWLC but only for “existing pathologies” and not for birth control.

Loyola University of New Orleans provides contraceptive care and is under no state mandate to do so.

Loyola University in Maryland provides coverage for non-contraceptive uses of certain drugs that are frequently prescribed as contraceptives.  Maryland mandates contraceptive coverage.

University of Detroit Mercy allows contraceptive coverage. Michigan mandates contraceptive coverage.

Saint John’s University of New York covers vasectomies and tubal ligations but not oral contraceptives.

Dayton University in Ohio provides contraceptive coverage and is not mandated to do so.

Franciscan University of Steubenville provides coverage for non-contraceptive uses of certain drugs that are frequently prescribed as contraceptives.

John Carroll University also provides coverage for non-contraceptive uses of certain drugs that are frequently prescribed as contraceptives.

Kings College and Scranton University of Pennsylvania provide coverage for non-contraceptive uses of certain drugs that are frequently prescribed as contraceptives.

University of Dallas also provides coverage for non-contraceptive uses of certain drugs that are frequently prescribed as contraceptives.

St. Edwards University in Texas provides contraceptive coverage. The NWLC was unable to ascertain any limitations on that coverage.

University of the Incarnate Word in Texas provides contraceptive coverage. They are under no state mandate to do so.

Saint Michael’s College in Vermont provides contraceptive coverage as is required by state mandate.

Gonzaga University provides contraceptive coverage but only when “medically necessary.” The state of Washington mandates insurance plans cover contraceptives.

Seattle University provides contraceptive coverage.

Marquette University and Viterbo University provide contraceptive coverage with few limitations. Wisconsin mandates coverage.

As you can see, while many of these Catholic colleges do provide coverage of some drugs that could be used for contraceptive purposes, many of them draw the line and exclude them for reasons of birth control. And some are mandated to provide coverage. Some, of course, like Georgetown, provide it of their own volition.

Other colleges like Fordham and DePaul also have acknowledged contraception coverage.

But should the actions of Georgetown and a few others act as a mandate to every other Catholic institution in the country?  Of course not. Georgetown should not be allowed to become the federally appointed new magisterium of the Catholic Church — which of course acknowledges differences with the true Magisterium..

Dayton University announced just this week that they plan to continue offering contraceptive coverage.

“Our Catholic identity is at the heart of our institution’s mission, but, in light of the importance of the health of our employees and the prevention of disease, we entered into these plans,” said Teri Rizvi, UD’s associate vice president for communications. “We are not changing our employee health care insurance coverage.”

It seems some Catholic institutions have been given a lot of leeway by the bishops in recent decades. That leeway is now being used as a weapon against the bishops to curb religious liberty.

The President of The Cardinal Newman Society Patrick Reilly was quoted in an interview with Reuters talking about exactly this:

“This really highlights the elephant in the room,” said Patrick J. Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, which works with colleges to strengthen their Catholic identities. “It is absolutely a wake up call.”

That wake up call may begin what Reuters called a “crackdown” on wayward Catholic institutions. Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport acknowledged to reporters that, “I’m sure there’s going to be some discussion about that.”

But for Rep. Cummings to use that list as a cudgel to discredit the testimony of CUA President John Garvey is simply disingenuous.

Now, to be fair, the list must also make some Catholics wonder why this admirable fight for religious liberty didn’t take place years ago, when states began mandating contraceptive coverage. Shouldn’t many of these Catholic schools have battled against their state legislatures in the same way many colleges are battling the federal mandate now?

There’s the analogy of the frog in boiling water, and it seems that Catholics are wading in some pretty hot water right now as they prepare a strong defense of religious liberty. Let’s just hope it isn’t too late.

ARCHBOLD: Father Jenkins, the Hero?

Campus Notes Opinion, 1/31/12
By Matt Archbold, Campus Notes Reporter

Father Jenkins, history is calling.

There are moments when one person standing up and yelling “stop” is all that’s necessary to radically alter current events.

History often celebrates those who respond to history’s call as “heroes.” Those who fail to rise to the moment become footnotes. For Father John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, now is the time to be a hero.

Fr. Jenkins is ideally suited to be the focal point of resistance against the recent religious intolerance of the Obama administration. That’s precisely because he was the target of much criticism in 2009 for his invitation to President Obama to be honored at Notre Dame’s commencement ceremony. It puts Fr. Jenkins in a unique position to stand up to the violations of religious liberty without being accused of anti-Obama politics.

To be sure, Notre Dame’s leader has been vocal about the Health and Human Services mandate that forces most, perhaps all, Catholic colleges and universities to insure both employees and students for sterilization and contraception, including abortifacients. In September he wrote HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to protest the mandate (albeit recommending a slight expansion that would not have been helpful). He has joined with the U.S. bishops and Catholic organization leaders in public statements.

But words are no substitute for action—as Fr. Jenkins should have learned during the 2009 commencement debacle.

Critics accused Fr. Jenkins of ignoring the plight of the unborn in honoring a pro-abortion rights President, but Father insisted on “dialogue.” That word has become something of a punchline for many, because it too often stands for appeasement.

Perhaps Fr. Jenkins believed the words that scrolled down the teleprompter more than President Obama himself did when he vowed to pursue “sensible” conscience protections.

Clearly, for President Obama those words were simply that—scrolling words on a teleprompter. For him they were applause lines before a fawning Catholic audience.

Certainly President Obama can be persuasive, even to those with open eyes. Archbishop Dolan met with President Obama in November and said that he left the meeting “a bit more at peace [about religious liberty] than when I entered” and that he believed the president to be “very open to the sensitivities” of Catholics about religious liberty. It gave us some peace, because if Fr. Jenkins’ embrace of President Obama caused us to distrust him, we knew that Catholics could have no stronger defender than Archbishop Dolan in talks with the President.

But we’ve discovered that all dialogue is monologue to President Obama.

And now Archbishop Dolan has been “betrayed” by Obama. Those who believed that Obama believed the words he was saying have all been betrayed.

Even if one fervently believes in the healing power of dialogue, at some point you must ask, “Well, what has dialogue achieved?” In the case of Barack Obama, nothing.

Recently, HHS eliminated a grant to Catholic programs that aid victims of human trafficking because Catholic programs don’t refer for abortions. Now, HHS is mandating that Catholic colleges and institutions pay for sterilization procedures and contraceptives including abortifacients.

What Fr. Jenkins once may have believed about Barack Obama is now impossible to believe. The scales should have fallen off all eyes by now. To not see this by now would be willful blindness.

Notre Dame, the most well-known Catholic university in America, has a chance now to act like the premiere Catholic university in America. Fr. Jenkins needs to sue. He needs to seek legislative solutions. He needs to stand up and tell Obama that Notre Dame will not comply with his mandate. Not now. Not ever.

The President of Belmont Abbey College Bill Thierfelder told reporters he would sooner close the college down than submit to the HHS mandate. But Belmont Abbey can be viewed as an anomaly. Imagine if Fr. Jenkins said the same thing. Imagine the effect of that kind of Christian witness.

If Notre Dame submits on this issue, other Catholic institutions will become more than willing to comply with the HHS on this issue. But if Notre Dame takes a strong Catholic stance on this issue, it could remind people that some things are worth fighting for. It would pressure other Catholic universities to stand up and do the same.

Notre Dame must show the world that it is Catholic first.

Might it put grants in jeopardy? Yes. Might it open the university to myriad punishments from the federal government? Absolutely.

But being a follower of Christ has never been about escaping consequences. We must be Catholic first.

The time to dialogue is over. Fr. Jenkins has the ability of making a change by taking a stand and yelling “Stop!”

A group of alumni published an editorial in the student newspaper The Observer pleading with Fr. Jenkins to defy the mandate. Defend the freedom of religion. Act like the premiere Catholic university in America. They said, “There may come a point when the government attempts to force the University to change, either through a revocation of federal funding or through the courts. If that day comes, we will be standing beside you.”

As Kathleen Sebelius said plainly, “We are at war.” The secularists march boldly under the banner of “Hope” and “Change” behind their leader Barack Obama.

Whose banner will the Catholics march under? It can be Notre Dame’s. It should be Notre Dame’s. Anything less than full-throated defiance is a default on the obligations of being a Catholic university.

Fr. Jenkins, history is calling. What say you?