Notre Dame Staff Demand Bishop Jenky Resign from Board
A letter signed by 49 professors and staff sent to University of Notre Dame President, Rev. John I. Jenkins, CSC, and Board Chairman, Richard C. Notabaert, demands Bishop Daniel Jenky resign from the Board of Fellows. Bishop Jenky of Peoria, IL made national news when he compared Obama’s violation of religious liberty to Hitler and Stalin. The signers also demand the university issue a statement “distancing itself” from the bishop’s “incendiary statement.”
Here is what Bishop Jenky said:
“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.”
For underscoring the “similar path” being followed by Obama with his multiple violations of religious liberty (see the list published by the U.S. bishops here), Bishop Jenky is reaping the scorn of the leftwing, especially from Catholics who want to limit the damage done to Obama by his HHS mandate.
Those who signed the letter include faculty and staff from the departments of philosophy (2 signers), theology, English (eight), sociology (four), psychology, economics, mathematics, art, management, Romance languages, political science, anthropology (two), history, Irish Studies, Africana Studies, Liberal Studies, as well as the Center for Social Concerns, the Institute for Latino Studies, and three members of the library staff.
The letter signers argue Bishop Jenky should be removed:
“his comments demonstrate ignorance of history, insensitivity to victims of genocide, and absence of judgment. We accept that Bishop Jenky’s comments are protected by the First Amendment, but we find it profoundly offensive that a member of our beloved university’s highest authority, the Board of Fellows, should compare the President’s actions with those whose genocidal policies murdered tens of millions of people, including the specific targeting of Catholics, Jews, and other minorities for their faith.”
There is no comment in the letter to Father Jenkins and Mr. Notabaert of the profound offense done to millions of Catholics by President Obama’s targeting of Catholic institutions with his HHS mandate requiring insurance coverage be offered for contraception and sterilization.
The signers very kindly invoke Bishop Jenky’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech without noting the irony that he spoke in defense of the same amendment’s right to the “free exercise” of religion.
A further irony, again unnoticed by the signers, is that it was at Obama’s 2009 Notre Dame commencement speech that the President specifically promised to protect and “honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion,” to seek “common ground” with Catholics, and “draft a sensible conscience clause” in the health care legislation. [you can watch the excerpts included here in Catholic Advocate's video 'Common Ground']
By omitting any mention, much less criticism, of the acts by Obama that elicited Bishop Jenky’s comparison, these forty-nine signers declare their lack of concern for what the U.S. bishops made clear about the HHS mandate in “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty“:
“In an unprecedented way, the federal government will both force religious institutions to facilitate and fund a product contrary to their moral teaching and purport to define which religious institutions are “religious enough” to merit protection of their religious liberty.”
Bishop Jenky spoke rightly against the direction where the denial of religious liberty can lead. Those Notre Dame staff who signed the letter did nothing else but call for a surrender of the Catholic Church to unconstitutional demands from the White House.
By Deal W. Hudson, chairman of Catholic Advocate