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Notre Dame Circling the Bowl

To the shock of almost no one, Notre Dame has decided to allow “The Vagina Monologues” to be performed on campus. At least Father Jenkins, president of the university, made a show of thinking about it. In the end, he revealed a shallow moral relevatism of the kind that an expensive Catholic university was designed to correct. “[T]here must be room in a university for expressions that do not accord with Catholic teaching.” he said.

That is undoubtedly true in a certain sense, but are all expressions equally valid? There was a time when a university would pride itself on the elevated discourse and disciplined intellectual inquiry taking place on its campus. The tradition that Notre Dame rejects goes back to medieval times. Will the freshman geography course at Notre Dame include flat earth theories? Will the pre-med courses there feature units on bloodletting? After all, we must have diverse views, mustn’t we? If a group produced a play called “The Human Sacrifice Monologues,” would Father Jenkins permit it to be shown? Such a practice being celebrated would definitely not accord with Catholic teaching. Therefore, we must make room for it, right? There must not be much room left for authentic Catholic culture. After all, there is an awful lot of cultural offal out there to include. One would expect more given the $40,000 tuition. I teach tenth graders who could defeat the argument Father Jenkins is peddling.

Under the Notre Dame approach, what difference is there between a Cathilic university and a secular one? What is the point of a specifically Catholic university at all? For help, Father Jenkins could have gone to his bishop who urged the university not to allow the play. Or he could have reviewed Ex Corde Ecclesiae for some clues.


That encyclical, in the first paragraph, cites the pursuit of truth as an essential element of a Catholic university. This play does not qualify. The actions and choices depicted in the play are evil, and they lead only to moral destruction. The Church does not engage them but condemns them outright. One suspects that Notre Dame invites this wretched cultural sewage to defile their campus for one of two reasons. Either they do no want to alienate the secular students who grind the gravy train, or they secretly endorse the agenda so artlessly duct-taped to the presentation. Either way, the institution is no longer sounds Catholic in any meaningful way. For whatever reasons, many serious Catholics still attend (I assume), but one wonders how long this will endure.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 8, 2006 11:24 PM.

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