Thursday, April 27, 2006

Pro Ecclesia*Pro Familia*Pro Civitate: Bishop D'Arcy Issues "Pastoral Response" to Father Jenkins' "Closing Statement"

Read it here!
Father John Jenkins, CSC, shared with me his decision and the rationale that supported it at the same time he shared it with the press, the afternoon before it was released to the public. Holy Week and the beautiful pastoral responsibilities it brings followed immediately, but now, with these responsibilities completed, I am able to respond to the decision and the material that accompanied it in a way that is more adequate, and thus try to fulfill my pastoral obligation.

A bishop is bound to preach the Gospel. In fact, if St. Paul is taken at his word, it seems that this obligation relates directly to his eternal salvation. “If I preach the Gospel, this is no reason for me to boast for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it.” — 1 Cor. 9, 16. Surely, this sacred responsibility does not relate only to the preaching of the Gospel on Sunday at the holy liturgy, though that is always central. It also requires the bishop to apply the Gospel and the teachings of the church to the questions of the time, and, indeed, to his own pastoral decisions. If we do not accept that, there is the danger that the Gospel would become irrelevant and the ministry of the bishop greatly weakened.

Academic freedom
In the discussion which Father Jenkins initiated with his talk in January to the university faculty and later to the students, and also in his closing statement, he spoke about academic freedom and the Catholic character of Notre Dame.

In “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” Pope John Paul II, himself a longtime professor in a Catholic university, wrote with clarity about academic freedom at a Catholic university. Among other things, he said that a Catholic university:

“… possesses that institutional autonomy necessary to perform its functions effectively and guarantees its members academic freedom, so long as the rights of the individual person and of the community are preserved within the confines of the truth and the common good.” — “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” 12.

Although Father Jenkins cited “Ex Corde Ecclesiae” in his closing statement, he did not cite its teaching on academic freedom or related matters, and this would have seemed especially relevant in a closing statement on academic freedom in relation to Catholic character. This teaching simply carries forward teaching on the freedom of inquiry stated earlier by the Second Vatican Council (“Guadium et Spes,” 59) and the 1966 Declaration on Catholic Education, where freedom of inquiry is founded on the same principles. These principles, the rights of individuals, the truth and the common good, also constitute central parts of Catholic social teaching and Catholic ethics. Indeed, if properly understood, they do not restrict academic freedom, but enlarge it and give it a color that is truly Catholic.

Nowhere in his comments does Father Jenkins speak of these principles or the tradition of freedom of inquiry that is based on them. I found this difficult to understand and trust that this teaching was not considered irrelevant.
Catch the rest!

Let's have some more Shepherds with spine, please!

How ironic that Notre Dame, that quintessential Catholic University, wouldn't reference a single Catholic teaching on academic freedom when confronting the VM. Unfortunately, Foolables zealots of the play won out over the cooler consideration of Fools.

Fr. Jenkins may have intended to turn the public showing of VM into a teaching moment of pastoral opportunity. The failure of ND to address Catholic Teaching on the issue during this "dialog" undermines any teaching moment Fr. Jenkin's intended. Unfortunately, he capitulated ND's spiritual character for the insidious fruits of secular messiahanism of the rankest sort.

May Bishop D'arcy's pastoral letter give him the kick in the a-s he needs to do the right thing!