More “Oversights” from Notre Dame

An update on an earlier brouhaha at the Golden Dome I first wrote about here. Originally I posted about the thousands of dollars Notre Dame’s newly elected trustee — Roxanne Martino — donated to Emily’s List, a powerful political fundraising group that exists for the sole purpose of advancing abortion rights. When pressed to explain, both the chairman of the Notre Dame Board of Trustees, Richard Notebaert, and the president of the university, Father John Jenkins, originally said that Ms. Martino gave to some groups that provided services for women, and that she was unaware they “also” promoted abortion. When I did a followup story for the National Catholic Register pointing out that Emily’s List provided no such other services — it is admirably clear that it has only one issue, abortion — the university’s pr department forwarded a message from the chairman conceding that Emily’s List provided no such services, shifting the explanation ever so slightly to the idea that Emily’s List was just an oversight on Ms. Martino’s part. 

Now a friend of mine just emailed me new information showing that over roughly the same period, Ms. Martino gave to another group solely dedicated to advancing abortion rights: the Illinois state Personal Pac. Like Emily’s List, this group makes no secret of its agenda, stating up front across the top of its home page: “Vital to Electing a Pro-Choice Illinois.”

This new information makes the official spin that Emily’s List was an accident much harder to swallow.  It also raises fundamental questions about the Notre Dame administration’s behavior here: Did the Chairman of the Board, Mr. Notebaert, know about this other set of Ms. Martino’s donations when he originally claimed she was giving to groups providing “other services” for women? Did he know about it later when he said Emily’s List was an oversight? Did either know about it when Mr. Notebaert suggested Emily’s List was just an oversight? Were they themselves perhaps misled?

Sure seems like a lot of oversights from a leading businesswoman whose handles money for a living, and whose bio states she contributed a chapter entitled “The Due Diligence Process” to a business book. 

Very hard to see how a woman who gives so repeatedly to two different single issue prochoice groups is not … well… prochoice. Every new bit of information, however, suggests that the much bigger issue here is not Ms. Martino but University itself: specifically, the chairman and the president and how forthcoming they are being with the truth. One would think that the priests and at least one bishop on the Notre Dame board should be demanding some hard answers here. This is a big story, badly handled, and the Notre Dame community deserves a full and complete accounting of all Ms. Martino’s support and contributions, what Notre Dame’s top officials knew about this, and when they knew it. A sad day under the Golden Dome. 

  1. StickerShock

    “…how forthcoming they are being with the truth.”

    Bill is simply too polite to call them liars. 

    I’m not.  They are liars.  It’s simply shameful.   Their cowardice has been obvious in their choice of topics highlighted on football Saturday flashy ND promos — “We Are the Fighting Irish.”  Every “social justice” topic imaginable is featured.  All kinds of outreach to needy third worlders is celebrated.  But the most pressing moral issue concerning Catholic America — abortion and respect for life — takes a back seat so ND can distance itself from social conservatives.

  2. Del Mar Dave
    Bill McGurn:  …the much bigger issue here is not Ms. Martino but University itself: specifically, the chairman and the president and how forthcoming they are being with the truth…

    As neither a Notre Dame alum nor a Roman Cathoilic, may I offer the suggestion that the issue really has a much wider context. 

    Martino, Jenkins, Notebaert and most of the rest of the university administration are members of America’s Ruling Class – see Angelo Codevilla’s seminal article in the July, 2010 American Spectator.  And as members of the Ruling Class, they are simply behaving in the ways that the Ruling Class behaves.

  3. cdor

    Poor Ms Martino, she is so prone to accidents…accidentally giving to this abortion mill than to that one. Jeez, she’s just an accident waiting to happen. Notre Dame, having invited the most well known (for his radical abortion positions including post birth abortion) of any POTUS in this country’s history, to give a commencement speech, is no accident.

    Mr. McGurn, you have awaken to the fact that Notre Dame is no different than 95% of our other higher education institutes, filled with crony administrators and no doubt leftist professors. What a shock!

  4. Paul A. Rahe
    C

    Just out of curiosity, Richard Notebaert and Roxanne Martino — are they both connected to the Chicago machine?

  5. EJHill

    Who is more important at Notre Dame? Jesus or George Gipp? God or Rockne?

  6. Mike Poliquin

    After the Obama honorary degree debacle, I thought it was just obvious that the liberals have conquered Notre Dame.

    All that can save UND is your prayers — so deny it your money and any other material support. Offer reproaches and correction. ND is just another ruling-class prep institution, unworthy of the adjective “Catholic.” Don’t send your kids there unless joining the ruling class was your goal for them.

    Disengage except for the spiritual front, and don’t hold your breath — Notre Dame seems to have lost its way some years ago. That is not going to reverse itself overnight. 

    Many, many heads must roll before I will advise a young Catholic student of mine to pursue admission to Notre Dame as a way of completing a Catholic education.

  7. Nick Stuart

    The administrators need to read Martino’s chapter on “The Due Diligence Process”

    Who benefits? Who gets paid or advanced as a result of Martino being on the board? The answer to that hard question would be interesting.

  8. Lensman

    I attended Notre Dame for two degrees in 1968-75. It was already heading left then. Professors who were conservative stood out as “mavericks” to the leftward tilt of the faculty.

    The sad explanation for what has happened there: we are witnessing the legacy of President Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C. (initials indicating a priest in the religious order that founded ND). He had a huge inferiority complex about the university and wanted it to join the ranks of Harvard, Yale and Princeton, becoming a “peer institution” to them. Leaving Catholic academic traditions was a necessary cost. Changing the make-up of the faculty so that Catholic scholars are a minority was a side effect of hiring from academic “elite” institutions.

    I could get into examples, but instead I would refer you to “What Happened to Notre Dame?” by Charles Rice (St. Augustine’s Press, 2009). He is an emeritus professor at the law school and has been at Notre Dame for about 40 years.

    Hesburgh is the explanation for the honorary degree awarded to Barack Obama, but that is a whole other story.

  9. Aaron Miller

    In other news concerning Notre Dame’s actual identity…

    As an alumnus of another falsely labelled “Catholic” university, I feel your frustration.

    What needs to happen, and won’t, is that the Magisterium must accept that it is facilitating harm to catechesis both within and outside the Catholic community by allowing non-Catholic schools to advertise themselves as Catholic. Our bishops pretend they are preserving unity, but that unity has already dissolved! Formal recognition of some such schools as Catholic must be revoked.

    Disallowing such schools from continuing to claim a fundamentally Catholic identity would not exclude the possibility of reconciliation. The Church could provide a path for schools to regain their formal connection to the Body of Christ.

    That faithful Catholics continue to reside on campus as both students and faculty does not make a university Catholic. Christian clubs and activities can be found at secular universities, too. Unless a university includes the Catholic understanding of God and basic reality in its formal instruction (and I don’t mean only theology classes) and general atmosphere, it is not justified in claiming to be representative of the Catholic community.

  10. Joe Fremeau
    Aaron Miller:  Unless a university includes the Catholic understanding of God and basic reality in its formal instruction (and I don’t mean only theology classes) and general atmosphere, it is not justified in claiming to be representative of the Catholic community. · Jun 4 at 9:02am

    The thing about Notre Dame, Aaron, is that the Catholic identity really is everywhere.  The “general atmosphere” is not a problem, and never has been.

    Notre Dame’s particular temptation is– and always has been (at least going back to Fr. Hesburgh)– how that Catholic mission gets expressed in its core policies and governance.

    On a Notre Dame board I frequent– mostly Domers– a poster analogized the situation to the recent violations against NCAA policy at USC and Ohio St.  Both schools have been (or soon will be in the case of OSU) severely sanctioned by the governing body, the NCAA.

    It might come down to the Bishops to extend some serious oversight on Catholic institutions.  I know that if that happens in the case of Notre Dame, the consequence will be an internal holy war the likes of which we haven’t seen in a while.

  11. Joe Fremeau

    As a Notre Dame alumnus (2002), I can’t express how much this saddens me, then angers me.  It seems the correct thing is for Ms. Martino to resign from the board.  That she has not makes me (and, I’m sure, thousands of other alumni) wonder what the priorities of the university are.

    The PR disasters that Notre Dame walks itself into seem to be coming more and more often– and many of those can be chalked up to honest mistakes, magnified by the impassioned scrutiny with which Domers regard their alma mater.  But this situation has only one acceptable resolution.  And the fact that the University leadership obfuscate and delay that outcome is dispiriting.

    This might be an instance of confirmation bias (I have many alumni friends who are liberals, and equally critical of the Univerity’s conservative policies) but it feels like the University’s main priority is making sure it does not appear beholden to those social conservatives.  The treatment of the pro-life protestors in 2009 felt the same way.

     I don’t expect the University to support conservative political positions. 

     I do demand that the University be an unflinching leader in the pro-life arena.

  12. Skyler

     I’m the class of ’85 and am ashamed to be reading this.

    Notre Dame stands for something, and to learn that an abortion supporter is now a trustee is appalling.  Who is running that place nowadays?

    I am at a loss to understand why this is even considered, let alone explained.  How can the world’s premiere Catholic educational institution be run by people who want to safeguard the continuing slaughter of children?  Unbelievable.

  13. StickerShock

     “The thing about Notre Dame, Aaron, is that the Catholic identity really is everywhere…..Notre Dame’s particular temptation is– and always has been (at least going back to Fr. Hesburgh)– how that Catholic mission gets expressed in its core policies and governance.”

    Subway alum here, but I have to agree with this.  The mission in the eyes of the powers that be at Notre Dame is social justice, social justice, social justice expressed in such a way as to win the favor of the far left.  And don;t forget to throw in a heaping dose of white guilt.  ND is struggling to attract minority students with the stats to earn admission because those kids are courted by the ivy league & South Bend is no hot spot. 

    Many of the old time Catholic feeder high schools are feeling abandoned as their top graduates are rejected in favor of affirmative action admissions.  ND has moved into the top 20 national university rankings by shedding as much of its Catholic soul as it could.  On the surface, there are still thousands of crucifixes, famous statues, chapels, and the grotto that demonstrate an outward Catholic identity.  But the soul has withered. 

  14. Bill McGurn
    C

    An update for those interested. This past weekend Notre Dame had a meeting of its Alumni Association, and the Rev. Wilson Miscamble, a Holy Cross priest and true scholar (history), delivered a terrific address at a Sycamore Trust breakfast and later on a panel. When I have the text, I will offer a link.

    The issue seems to have distilled to this: The university — through its chairman, Richard Notebaert, has offered at least two explanations that are highly misleading. If I were on the board of trustees and voted for this woman — especially the clergy — I’d want to know why I had been given such bad information.

    The other part is Ms. Martino. Was she forthcoming or not? If she was, the culpability for those highly misleading statements falls squarely on Mr. Notebaert and Father Jenkins. If she wasn’t, surely the decent thing to do is to resign. In addition, she manages money for a living. I cannot believe her reputation is enhanced by insisting that she was so careless with her own dollars she had no idea she was funding two  groups that had views opposite to hers — over a period of more than ten years.

  15. Pseudodionysius

    I cannot believe her reputation is enhanced by insisting that she was so careless with her own dollars she had no idea she was funding two  groups that had views opposite to hers — over a period of more than ten years.

    Bill, if I didn’t know better, I’d say the folks were masquerading as Catholic Canadian Bishops.