Back in the spring of 2009, University of Notre Dame president Fr. Jenkins ignored the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and their 2004 document, “Catholics in Political Life,” (which stated that Catholic institutions should not honor or give awards to those who support abortion), and he and Notre Dame awarded President Obama an honorary law degree. Last week, Fr. Jenkins announced to the Notre Dame campus via e-mail that he has appointed a university task force to research ways that the Notre Dame community can support the sanctity of life. Not content with just a task force and apparently now a crusader for life, Fr. Jenkins also announced that he will be attending the upcoming March for Life in Washington D.C. in January of 2010, writing that 'we must seek steps to witness to the sanctity of life.’
Fr. Jenkins must know very well what a Catholic university can and should be doing to uphold the sanctity of life. And rather than re-invent the wheel, he need only direct his task force to take a lesson from all the authentically Catholic colleges and universities that are upholding the church's teaching on life. For starters, Notre Dame could follow the example of Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia where they shut down the campus for the day, and all students, faculty and administration attend the March.
It's only fair to believe it possible that Fr. Jenkins now genuinely desires to support a culture of life and wants the Notre Dame community to follow his example. But how is the fall of 2009 different from the spring of 2009? What happened? Instead of explaining, Fr. Jenkins seems to be manipulating his Catholic faith in order to satisfy the particular interest group of the moment. To whom is he directing this present show of concern? The more than 350,000 signatories to the petition protesting the Obama award will not much care that Fr. Jenkins is going to the March for Life. Neither pro-life Catholics nor pro-lifers in general will care that much either.
With his award to Obama, Fr. Jenkins has already ingratiated himself with the current power elite in Washington and the many CINOs (Catholic In Name Only) who serve there. He must already have the support of that 54% of American Catholics who either ignored or are ignorant of the Church's teaching on the matter of abortion and voted for Obama. He is certainly right in step with the former lieutenant governor of Maryland, Kathleen Kennedy, and others who might share her view that the Pope has a thing or two to learn from Barack Obama. Ms. Kennedy asserts that President Obama represents American Catholics better than does the Holy Father. Kennedy manages to construe the decision to award Obama an honorary degree as Notre Dame’s ‘need to highlight the best of Catholic teaching as applied to politics.’
By linking the University of Notre Dame in the minds of the American public with the pro-abortion, not Catholic, not-very-religious, and questionably Christian Obama, Fr. Jenkins has already done an awful lot to help along the secularization and evisceration of American Catholicism and to secure more on-the-fence and poorly-catechized Catholic-voter support for Obama. Who is left for him to impress?
While navigating my own journey from Protestantism to Catholicism I read somewhere along the way (I'm now hazy as to the author) about looking for the perfect church, the one not ruined by human error and pride. The author wrote that if you ever find the perfect church, join it, and the day you join is the day that church will cease to be perfect. Having found the Catholic Church and converted, I take some tiny amount of comfort knowing that Fr. Jenkins (and Kathleen Kennedy) got there before me.