The Irish Are Fighting

 

Today the president of Notre Dame, the Rev. John Jenkins, CSC, announced that the Fighting Irish filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana regarding the contraceptive mandate now being imposed by the Obama Administration. 

Father Jenkins’ action is significant in more than one way. For one thing, Notre Dame is bigger and more prominent than almost all of the other colleges and universities that have also sued. For another, Father Jenkins’ account of what led Notre Dame to this decision is well worth reading; manifestly it is the result of frustration with the Administration’s failure to come up with any workable accommodation. 

It is, of course, also noteworthy in that Father Jenkins used so much of his own political capital to honor President Obama as a commencement speaker and bestow on him an honorary law degree. 

I’ve disagreed strongly with Father Jenkins in the past. This, however, is a gutsy move, bound to set him against many in the faculty. It will be as interesting to follow what happens on campus as a result as what happens in the courtroom. 

There are 29 comments.

  1. Tommy De Seno Contributor

    Father Jenkins is the kid who killed his parents and is now looking for sympathy because he is an orphan.

    I have no sympathy for Notre Dame.

    • #1
    • May 21, 2012, at 8:50 AM PDT
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  2. KC Mulville Inactive

    I’m all in favor of this, but I’m not a lawyer, so I’m curious. Why bother with a lawsuit that the Supreme Court is going to decide anyway … in a few weeks? Is this protection against the possibility that the Supreme Court might allow too much wiggle room?

    If the Court strikes down the mandate, the game is won. But if the Court upholds the mandate, this suit seems superfluous. So, what’s the strategy here?

    • #2
    • May 21, 2012, at 8:57 AM PDT
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  3. tabula rasa Member

    I’m all for repentance and redemption. Perhaps Father Jenkins has realized the love he showed “The One” is not only un-reciprocated, but that the jackboot of Mr. Obama is pushing his face in the mud. May he prosper in his return to Church teaching.

    Somehow the folks at Georgetown didn’t seem to get the memo about consorting with the enemy.

    • #3
    • May 21, 2012, at 9:00 AM PDT
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  4. tabula rasa Member
    KC Mulville: I’m all in favor of this, but I’m not a lawyer, so I’m curious. Why bother with a lawsuit that the Supreme Court is going to decide anyway … in a few weeks? Is this protection against the possibility that the Supreme Court might allow too much wiggle room?

    If the Court strikes down the mandate, the game is won. But if the Court upholds the mandate, this suit seems superfluous. So, what’s the strategy here? · 

    K.C.: I think they’re hedging their bets. If Obamacare is overturned completely, then all of the rules promulgated thereunder go away as well (an administrative rule cannot be based on a statute that no longer exists).

    But if the Court–horror or horrors–upholds Obamacare then this lawsuit attacking a specific rule will be necessary (and they don’t want to waive their challenge). Even if the individual mandate is struck down, this rule presumably would not struck down since it is promulgated on the basis of a different section of Obamacare.

    In other words, given the uncertainty as to what the Supreme Court will do, Notre Dame is protecting its right to challenge the mandate.

    • #4
    • May 21, 2012, at 9:06 AM PDT
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  5. Jager Member

    If Notre Dame has taken some more liberal positions on issues. If they are fighting back this could signal that the Administration is going to have a big Catholic problem in the fall

    • #5
    • May 21, 2012, at 9:13 AM PDT
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  6. Herkybird Inactive
    KC Mulville: I’m all in favor of this, but I’m not a lawyer, so I’m curious. Why bother with a lawsuit that the Supreme Court is going to decide anyway … in a few weeks? Is this protection against the possibility that the Supreme Court might allow too much wiggle room?

    If the Court strikes down the mandate, the game is won. But if the Court upholds the mandate, this suit seems superfluous. So, what’s the strategy here? · 3 minutes ago

    Is it superfluous or does the Religious Exemption have a life of its own independent of Obamacare?

    Even if Obamacare is struck down in its entirety it would seem that arguing the issue of whether a religious institution could be compelled to offer a kind of coverage that contravenes Church doctrine is still ripe for the purpose of preemptively blocking individual states from mandating a similar requirement for employer-provided health insurance. State Insurance Commissions, after all, are empowered to set the rules and requirements for companies selling policies with the state and could impose a rule requiring insurance companies to contraceptives with no co-pay and mandatory abortion coverage.

    • #6
    • May 21, 2012, at 9:14 AM PDT
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  7. Bill McGurn Contributor
    Bill McGurn Post author

    If you read the statement, you can see Father Jenkins, as gently as possible, saying what Cardinal Dolan has said: The White House makes promises constantly that they will hammer out a workable accommodation, but never do.

    This is not good news in Obamaland, and will only contribute to the narrative, which happens to be true, that the Administration is hostile to religion. 

    • #7
    • May 21, 2012, at 9:22 AM PDT
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  8. Paul A. Rahe Contributor

    I would guess that John Jenkins and his board of trustees have finally figured out which way the wind is blowing. This is very good news. It leaves most of the Jesuit colleges where they belong — twisting slowly, slowly in the wind. Who knows? Maybe, some of them will decide that they are still Catholic.

    • #8
    • May 21, 2012, at 9:36 AM PDT
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  9. Patrick in Albuquerque Inactive

    The Church thruout history has had trouble figuring out whether it was better to be with ’em or agin ’em. It’s awfully fine having your snoot in a government’s trough. Georgetown over time has become a creature of DC; ie, they’re with ’em. ND has decided not.

    tabula rasa: I’m all for repentance and redemption. Perhaps Father Jenkins has realized the love he showed “The One” is not only un-reciprocated, but that the jackboot of Mr. Obama is pushing his face in the mud. May he prosper in his return to Church teaching.

    Somehow the folks at Georgetown didn’t seem to get the memo about consorting with the enemy. · 36 minutes ago

    Edited 35 minutes ago

    • #9
    • May 21, 2012, at 9:39 AM PDT
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  10. tabula rasa Member
    Patrick in Albuquerque: The Church thruout history has had trouble figuring out whether it was better to be with ’em or agin ’em. It’s awfully fine having your snoot in a government’s trough. Georgetown over time has become a creature of DC; ie, they’re with ’em. ND has decided not.
    tabula rasa: I’m all for repentance and redemption. Perhaps Father Jenkins has realized the love he showed “The One” is not only un-reciprocated, but that the jackboot of Mr. Obama is pushing his face in the mud. May he prosper in his return to Church teaching.

    Somehow the folks at Georgetown didn’t seem to get the memo about consorting with the enemy. · 36 minutes ago

    Edited 35 minutes ago

    1 minute ago

    Wasn’t it Georgetown that allowed the Obamaites to cover a Christian symbol in the background of a speech given by Obama? Can’t remember the details, but that’s a pretty good indication that it’s a creature of DC and not of Rome. 

    • #10
    • May 21, 2012, at 9:44 AM PDT
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  11. Skyler Coolidge

    This act by Fr. Jenkins is gutsy in the same way that deciding to kill Osama bin Laden was for Obama. That is, it’s not. It’s a no brainer.

    • #11
    • May 21, 2012, at 9:46 AM PDT
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  12. Profile Photo Member

    Go Irish, Beat Sebelius.

    • #12
    • May 21, 2012, at 10:14 AM PDT
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  13. KC Mulville Inactive

    There’s a dimension of this that needs reflection.

    Yesterday I spent the day with my best friend, a Jesuit who is stationed elsewhere but who’s visiting in-province for a couple weeks.

    He confirmed that the rank-and-file Jesuits are all over the board, some supporting, some against. But he said something that really caught my attention. Except for the Campus Minister, none of the Georgetown administration is a Jesuit. A few years ago, you had a Jesuit president, a Jesuit provost, and so on. Now, they’re all lay people. Of course, Georgetown’s been “liberal” for years, even when actual Jesuits were leading it.

    But for the most part, all of these administrative decisions were made by lay people.

    If the Catholic archbishop of Washington, DC wants to object to Georgetown’s direction, he won’t be making his complaint to the Jesuit residence where he can invoke obedience. Of Georgetown’s Board of Directors (30+), only 5 are Jesuit, and two of those live overseas. The same holds true for most Catholic schools.

    So here’s a question … how do you hold lay Catholics accountable?

    • #13
    • May 21, 2012, at 11:05 AM PDT
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  14. Douglas Inactive
    Tommy De Seno: Father Jenkins is the kid who killed his parents and is now looking for sympathy because he is an orphan.

    I have no sympathy for Notre Dame. · 3 hours ago

    Edited 2 hours ago

    Better late than never. I’ll take a real, honest conversion, so to speak. Prodigal Son principle, and all that. 

    Now, if he goes back to being a fool on these issues after this is settled… that’s another thing.

    • #14
    • May 21, 2012, at 11:38 AM PDT
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  15. Douglas Inactive
    KC Mulville: 

    So here’s a question … how do you hold lay Catholics accountable? · 33 minutes ago

    Unfortunately, I think the answer is “you don’t”. Looking at the long history of former Christian colleges in this country, this seems to be the Modus Operandi: step one, get church’s money and resources to build college… step two, slowly but surely replace church people with secular people in the leadership… step three, kick out the church completely. 

    There’s a long list of colleges that have followed this script. I’ll lay money Georgetown will follow suit. So the church had better do everything they can to keep the remaining Catholic schools Catholic. That means putting their foot down and saying “from now on, you’ll have X numbers of Priests on your board and the Administration will be made up of priests, and X number of teachers will be priests and/or nuns. Got it?”.

    Like anything else in this world, if you don’t fight to keep ownership of something, someone else will take it away from you.

    • #15
    • May 21, 2012, at 11:43 AM PDT
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  16. MFQuinn Inactive

    I applaud the Catholic Institutions who’ve brought suit against HHS on these important matters. What nags me is the complicity of many Catholic Institutions (along with U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Notre Dame, Georgetown, et al) in recent years when it came to all the other attacks on constitutionally guaranteed rights. Sort of a “whose ox is being gored” issue. Nonetheless, I pray for successful outcome on this… and a total repeal of Obamacare.

    • #16
    • May 21, 2012, at 11:50 AM PDT
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  17. Pilli Inactive

    OK folks let’s follow the money. Have donations and charitable endowments to ND fallen off recently? There’ll be a reason why. I am not so sure Fr. Jenkins is so much “gutsy” as he is watchful of the bottom line.

    Also, from KC, “So here’s a question … how do you hold lay Catholics accountable?” Back to the money. Withhold, withhold, withhold. As for administrators, replace, replace, replace.

    • #17
    • May 22, 2012, at 1:17 AM PDT
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  18. Skyler Coolidge

    Just so everybody is not distracted by all this talk about Jesuits, The University of Notre Dame is not Jesuit. It is part of the Congregation of Holy Cross.

    The CSC, like most of the Catholic church, has been scarce on priests the past couple of decades. When my brother was ordained, the ceremony was for him only, when in past decades there would have been dozens. The CSC has been trying to sell its property in the Maryland mountains where it used to have one of its novitiates for those wishing to be priests. Both their Maryland and Colorado properties used to be filled with novitiates, but now they can only get a couple people every couple years to go through.

    So, even ignoring the Jesuit/CSC confusion here, the fact is that it is very difficult to get enough priests to run schools today, let alone those with the talent to run first rate universities. Complain all you want about secularizing Georgetown, the truth is that there simply is little alternative.

    But the church can still control, as Jenkins shows here.

    Notre Dame ’85

    • #18
    • May 22, 2012, at 1:29 AM PDT
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  19. Paul A. Rahe Contributor

    There is a reason for the precipitous decline in the number of Jesuits and CSC priests. When these orders lost their way and spent more time pushing leftwing politics than preaching the Gospel, next to no one was willing to sign up. The same is true in the “liberal” dioceses. Up in the diocese of Portland, Maine, there are ten diocesan priests under the age of fifty. In Lincoln, Nebraska, however, where the Gospel is preached, there is a surplus of priests.

    Some years ago, I was a job candidate at Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. When I mentioned that I had attended a Jesuit high school and that one of my grandfather’s cousins was a Jesuit, the Dean decided to show me the Jesuit presence at Holy Cross. He took me to the graveyard.

    • #19
    • May 22, 2012, at 3:44 AM PDT
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  20. Paul A. Rahe Contributor

    Doublet.

    • #20
    • May 22, 2012, at 3:44 AM PDT
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  21. Robert Lux Inactive
    Paul A. Rahe: There is a reason for the precipitous decline in the number of Jesuits and CSC priests. When these orders lost their way and spent more time pushing leftwing politics than preaching the Gospel, next to no one was willing to sign up. The same is true in the “liberal” dioceses. Up in the diocese of Portland, Maine, there are ten diocesan priests under the age of fifty. In Lincoln, Nebraska, however, where the Gospel is preached, there is a surplus of priests.

     He took me to the graveyard. 

    I’m a graduate of Loyola High School in Los Angeles (oldest still existing high school in all of LA). I’ve been out of touch with the place for almost 20 years. Recently ran into a fellow alum. He told me there are only two — two!! — Jesuits left at the school.

    I couldn’t believe it. In my day — the late 80s — there were at least 30.

    • #21
    • May 22, 2012, at 3:59 AM PDT
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  22. Tim Hughes Inactive

    Back in the late ’50s when I was an ND student, the joke was CSC stood for “Come Sweet Cash.” After reading the Rev. John Jenkins, CSC, statement — especially paragraph 2 — I believe it’s about the money. Notre Dame would not be joining in this suit if the cost in dollars and cents would not be so great.

    • #22
    • May 22, 2012, at 4:35 AM PDT
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  23. KC Mulville Inactive
    Paul A. Rahe: When these orders lost their way and spent more time pushing leftwing politics than preaching the Gospel, next to no one was willing to sign up. 

    No, that’s way too simplistic. There are lots of reasons for the drop, and politics is hardly the major one. 

    Besides, the Jesuits’ public persona was highly political long before the dropoff started occurring in haste around Vatican II. If people were repulsed by left-wing politics, you wouldn’t have seen that bottom drop out all at once like it did, since the political stance hadn’t changed much at all. 

    • #23
    • May 22, 2012, at 5:20 AM PDT
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  24. Mothership_Greg Inactive

    I find this letter to be “weak sauce”.

    We have engaged in conversations to find a resolution that respects the consciences of all and we will continue to do so.

    Please, someone, explain how a woman’s conscience is offended if she has to pay for her own birth control? Her own tubal ligation? Her own Ella?

    Let me say very clearly what this lawsuit is not about: it is not about preventing women from having access to contraception, nor even about preventing the Government from providing such services. Many of our faculty, staff and students — both Catholic and non-Catholic — have made conscientious decisions to use contraceptives. As we assert the right to follow our conscience, we respect their right to follow theirs.

    I don’t have a problem with the first sentence, but the second two are screaming “it’s no big deal if Catholics use contraception”. It is undoubtedly true that many Catholics use contraception, but is it too much to ask that a priest DEFEND THE TEACHINGS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH? Here’s how I would put it:

    • #24
    • May 22, 2012, at 5:43 AM PDT
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  25. Mothership_Greg Inactive

    Let me say very clearly what this lawsuit is not about: it is not about preventing women from having access to contraception, nor even about preventing the Government from providing such services. Many of our faculty, staff and students use contraceptives. While we respect their right to do so, the teaching of the Catholic Church is absolutely clear, and no religious institution can maintain its independence if it is forced by the government to violate the tenets of its faith.

    I’m sure it could be worded much more strongly, as some of the bishops’ letters have been.

    • #25
    • May 22, 2012, at 5:51 AM PDT
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  26. Grendel Member
    Tommy De Seno: Father Jenkins is the kid who killed his parents and is now looking for sympathy because he is an orphan.

    I have no sympathy for Notre Dame. · 

    I agree with you. Coming next: signs and wonders in the sky, fish swimming out of the sea, wolves seen in churches. Film at 11.

    • #26
    • May 22, 2012, at 6:01 AM PDT
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  27. KC Mulville Inactive
    Douglas

    Unfortunately, I think the answer is “you don’t”.

    Maybe. But I’m holding on to the idea that the Catholic laity aren’t meek little sheep. They’re fully aware, and some of them can stand toe-to-toe with any cleric.

    And … the bishop is still the religious authority. That’s why they give him the big stick. So long as the school claims to be Catholic, whether it’s run by lay people or ordained clergy, the bishop is still ultimately responsible for what’s taught.

    The big difference (I think) is that clergy take a vow of obedience. The bishop can command a cleric’s conscience in a very powerful way. (After all, a cleric goes celibate precisely to serve the church at the command of the bishop; why surrender so much if you’re not going to serve and follow commands?)

    Lay people have a “charism” all their own. It’s different than a vowed cleric, but it’s no less filled with grace.

    Maybe the church, as a whole, needs to make some adjustments to lay leadership of traditional Catholic institutions. After all, experience shows it’s not an automatic “evolution.”

    • #27
    • May 22, 2012, at 12:17 PM PDT
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  28. Patrick in Albuquerque Inactive

    Not a direct response to your question but —. As you know for sure, in the US there are less than half the Jesuits we had in 1960. And most of the remaining are old men. So there aren’t enough Jesuits to go around. I’ve come to the conclusion that they should get out of the college biz and concentrate their efforts on high school. I’m trying to help that along by making no more contributions to my college alma mater in Denver. Go Cristo Rey!

    KC Mulville: But for the most part, all of these administrative decisions were made by lay people.

    So here’s a question … how do you hold lay Catholics accountable? · 1 hour ago

    • #28
    • May 22, 2012, at 12:37 PM PDT
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  29. Bill McGurn Contributor
    Bill McGurn Post author

    If the Obama administration wins in the S.C. on health care, I wonder if they wouldn’t seek to accommodate the religious exemption on the contraceptive mandate.

    Otherwise, this will only get more messy for them. And I think it means it will be hard, for example, for Joe Biden to show up at Catholic universities and such to defend the administration’s mandate. 

    • #29
    • May 22, 2012, at 12:56 PM PDT
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