On this date a year ago Barack Obama received the honorary degree that punctuated the grave scandal perpetrated by the President John Jenkins and his administration colleagues at the University of Notre Dame.
Just a week ago I read a news report that brought the ongoing moral and spiritual tragedy at Notre Dame back to mind. Anne Brophy, a golfer playing for Notre Dame in an NCAA tournament was reportedly caught cheating. “…Brophy was keeping an accurate score on her own card, she was flat out making up scores for volunteers to post as she went along.” Her faked low score on the front nine “was helping to keep the Irish alive in the tournament. NCAA officials caught up with Brophy on the 11th hole to keep an eye on her — and what they saw confirmed their suspicions that something freaky was going on.” After confirming their suspicions, NCAA officials “yanked her off the course, disqualifying her for unsportmanlike conduct.” An NCAA official “indicated that she believed Brophy was having a little fun.”
As the local Bishop pointed out at the time, when President Jenkins and his colleagues honored Obama they sacrificed moral truth for worldly reputation and influence. They set an example for their own students, and for others throughout the world, that such worldly gain matters more than respecting God’s clear command with respect to innocent life. Anne Brophy’s misconduct may have been just a little thing. But shouldn’t the education she received at a supposedly Catholic university have helped her to remember what Christ said about being faithful in little things?
Barack Obama is the most powerful champion of the right to murder nascent children in the world today. A Catholic institution that honors his judgment and character is faithless to God in a very big way. With the shadow of such towering disrespect darkening her conscience, maybe the golfer at Notre Dame stumbled into thinking that her own integrity, honesty and good faith was but a little thing of no consequence. Maybe the example of a university administration willing to disregard the physical destruction of millions of innocent lives, and the spiritual endangerment of countless souls led her to forget that God is not willing that even one should perish. Just maybe.
John Jenkins has contumaciously declared that he would do again all that he did last year. With bold hypocrisy he sought publicity for his participation in this year’s March for Life, while hardening his heart to continue the abuse of those who are simply following the Church’s admonition to bear countervailing witness against such scandal as he perpetrates. Like Saul before his fateful meeting on the road Damascus, Jenkins’ self-will will not be satisfied until those within reach of his abused administrative power have suffered all possible penalties for daring to prefer God’s truth to his spirit assailing lies.
Recently the Holy Father affirmed that “Today we see in a truly terrifying way that the greatest persecution of the Church does not come from outside enemies but is born of sin within the Church.” The ongoing scandal at Notre Dame surely includes a clear instance of this persecution. But lessons that should have been driven home by the Church’s experience over the past several years substantiate the simple fact that when such abuse persists, those in the hierarchy must act to end the malfeasance of the perpetrators, or else the scandal will spread for as long as it endures unchallenged.
Abusing the name and teaching authority of the Church, President John Jenkins has made himself and the University administration he represents a living scandal, robbing the very heart of the Church of an institution faithful Catholics were moved by the Holy Spirit to build up over generations. As this continues, the spiritual mission of the Church to the Notre Dame Community and the whole community of the faithful is compromised. Can the Church’s authority be thus turned against itself without recourse or remedy? Christ said that a house divided against itself cannot stand. How stands the Church if thus divided?