Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Q. One of the many questions I have about the recent controversy at Notre Dame University surrounding its invitation to honor a President whose right to life record is so questionable, is simply: How could such an invitation occur at a respected Catholic University? How could this happen?

A. What happened to the erosion of values at Notre Dame University undoubtedly did not occur overnight, or even during the past several years. This lengthy erosion somehow affected both faith and reason. In other words, there has to have been a breakdown in religious education, since the evil of abortion is so clear an issue to comprehend.

Which brings up the very subject of adequate education. Judging from some of the Notre Dame students’ interviews with TV reporters during the turmoil over the University’s decision to honor the President recently (17 May), one has good reason to ask where and if these students seriously studied Catholicism. Their replies were, at most, confused or feeble. In fact, their religious educations seemed neglected.

The abortion issue is one in which contemporary science and technology (which also should be taught at a Catholic university) are rapidly helping Catholics and non-Catholics alike to understand why our traditional doctrine that life begins at conception is unassailable. A guest on a New York talk show recently commented that ultrasound, when first introduced, stunned scores of parents with pictures of the reality of human life within the womb, and that recently updated technology in this area has rendered this reality even clearer – if that is possible. (This helps explain why some abortionists raise objections to recourse to sonograms.)

But to return to the heart of the question raised above: surely there is adequate reason to question whether a college or a university, while continuing to maintain some kind of a Catholic identity, merits to be viewed as superior academically if so many of its students can be so inarticulate about an issue so critical to the Church and the nation.

Moreover, to return to the faith dimension in the instance of Notre Dame: what happened was indeed a scandal – and for many reasons. I can recall the famed Father Benedict Groeschel’s remarks at a commencement a few years ago about another self-styled Catholic institution of higher learning, which, in effect, repudiated its very mission as a Catholic school. This happened, he explained, despite the fact that this particular college had been built through the dollar bills of countless, nameless immigrants who sacrificed so much in order to raise funds for a truly Catholic institution. Yet now, those who have benefited so much from these immigrants’ sacrifices, are literally destroying these Catholic immigrants’ dreams.