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Cardinal Newman Society on Appointment of Fr. Jenkins

October 20th, 2009
Cardinal Newman Society (

'Notre Dame has suffered terribly in recent years because of a lack of leadership and commitment to its Catholic identity'. (Patrick J. Reilly)

ARLINGTON (Cardinal Newman Society) - On Friday, October 19, 2009, the president of the University of Notre Dame, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., was appointed to a second term as president.

“Notre Dame has suffered terribly in recent years because of a lack of leadership and commitment to its Catholic identity,” said Patrick J. Reilly, president of The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS).

“The Board of Trustees has once again neglected their responsibility to uphold Notre Dame’s Catholic mission by reelecting a president who has displayed public disrespect for the bishops and has permitted repeated scandals including the honors to President Obama and performances of The Vagina Monologues.”

Fr. Jenkins was first elected to a five-year term as president of Notre Dame on April 30, 2004, becoming the university’s 17th president. Chairman Richard Notebaert announced last Friday that the University of Notre Dame Board of Trustees elected Fr. Jenkins to serve a second five-year term.

On May 17, 2009, Notre Dame bestowed an honorary doctor of laws degree upon U.S. President Barack Obama, whose pro-abortion and other anti-life policies and statements have set him opposed to fundamental moral teachings of the Catholic Church.

Led by Bishop John D’Arcy of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese, in which Notre Dame is located, 83 U.S. bishops vocally opposed the honor for the pro-abortion president. They were joined by the more than 367,000 individuals who signed The Cardinal Newman Society’s petition at, calling on Fr. Jenkins to rescind the honor.

Fr. Jenkins acted in direct defiance of the 2004 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) statement “Catholics in Political Life”, which most bishops cited in opposing the honor for President Obama. The statement prohibits Catholic institutions from honoring “those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.” In June, 2009, the USCCB released a statement affirming Bishop D’Arcy’s “pastoral concern for Notre Dame University.”

The scandalous play The Vagina Monologues has been hosted more than once at Notre Dame on Fr. Jenkins’ watch. Despite growing momentum against the play, public opposition by Bishop D’Arcy and an annual CNS campaign informing Catholic college presidents of the dangers of the play, in 2008 Jenkins issued a statement officially approving the return of the Monologues after a one-year hiatus. In protest, a committee of bishops moved their theological seminar off the Notre Dame campus. Although the play did not return in 2009, Fr. Jenkins has not taken any apparent action to prevent future productions.

Fr. Jenkins also sits on the board of Millennium Promise, an anti-poverty organization which reportedly supports the distribution of condoms and encourages abortion services where legal.

In September 2009, Fr. Jenkins issued a statement announcing new pro-life initiatives at the University of Notre Dame. CNS has commended the show of good will, but noted that there are “serious steps that Notre Dame should take immediately to atone for its shocking betrayal of the U.S. bishops and the Catholic Church last spring.”

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