Monday, November 30, 2009

What Happened to Notre Dame?

Here is an outstanding book review by Kenneth Whitehead featured in the November "Catalyst" newsletter from Catholic League on the downfall of the University of Notre Dame. The book is titled, "What Happened to Notre Dame" and is authored by Charles Rice. The book can be ordered online at or at your favorite online bookseller. Although the Obama incident in May 2009 set off a national outcry against the once-devout institution, its origins of secularism date back much further...

Many people were shocked when the University of Notre Dame, long thought to be America’s premier Catholic university, in May, 2009, invited President Barack Obama to be its commencement speaker and to receive an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. It was not the first time that Notre Dame had hosted a U.S. president, but since President Obama had come into office with such a pronounced and unapologetical pro-abortion stance—verified within the first few days of his administration when he quickly removed by executive order those obstacles to untrammeled abortion put in place by previous administrations—it was hard to understand how a Catholic university could single him out for special honors.

In 2004, in fact, the Catholic bishops of the United States had issued a statement on “Catholics in Political Life,” in which, among other things, the bishops had declared that:

The Catholic Community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors, or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.

Notre Dame’s honoring of President Obama was thus a direct contravention of the position that the Catholic bishops had expressly established on the question of honoring pro-abortion politicians. The bishop of the diocese in which Notre Dame is located, the Most Reverend John M. D’Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, pointedly declined to attend the university’s commencement and declared that Notre Dame had chosen “prestige over truth.”

In the controversy that blew up and lasted for several weeks after the announcement of Notre Dame’s invitation to the pro-abortion president, more than 80 American Catholic bishops publicly spoke out against it. This was an unprecedented public reaction by bishops, but then the university’s action was an unusually defiant and even crude and insulting rejection of the bishops’ responsibility to lay out and make clear what the proper reaction of Catholic institutions ought to be on one of the principal moral issues of the day. Equally unprecedented were the more than 350,000 signatures of Catholics who signed a petition protesting the university’s action and asking Notre Dame’s president, the Reverend John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., to rescind the invitation.

Thus, many Catholics were scandalized and, indeed, shocked that a Catholic university would turn out to have so little regard or respect for Catholic teaching on the very grave issue of legalized abortion in America—against which the Church’s opposition has been made so unmistakably clear in the numerous statements issued over many years by the bishops and the popes. Abortion is not just another neutral or indifferent or optional matter in the Catholic view.

According to Charles E. Rice, emeritus professor at the Notre Dame law school and the author of this new book which, ably and concisely, tells what did happen to Notre Dame, Catholics are right to be dismayed and scandalized by the university’s action. However, according to him, they should not have been shocked by it, or perhaps even surprised. For according to him, what happened to and at Notre Dame went back a very long time. He shows that Notre Dame “made a wrong turn four decades ago,” and has been acting on wrong principles—antithetical to authentic Catholic faith—ever since. Notre Dame, according to him, has not been a Catholic university in the true sense for quite a long time.

Professor Rice traces the university’s wrong turn back to something called the “Land O’Lakes Statement,” a manifesto issued by a group of Catholic academics and college presidents meeting in Land O’Lakes, Wisconsin, back in 1967. This Statement was subscribed to (if not largely inspired by) the very well-known president of Notre Dame in those days, the Reverend Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C. According to the Land O’Lakes Statement:

The Catholic university today must be a university in the full modern sense of the word, with a strong commitment to and concern for academic excellence. To perform its teaching and research functions effectively, the Catholic university must have a true autonomy in the face of authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical, external to the academic community itself. To say this is simply to assert that institutional autonomy and academic freedom are essential conditions of life and growth, and indeed of survival, for Catholic universities, as for all universities.

In practice, this claim to “autonomy and academic freedom in the face of authority of whatever kind,” amounted to a declaration of independence by the university from the authority of the Church. The Church was no longer seen as necessarily defining what was authentically “Catholic” and what was not. In no way did Notre Dame and the other Catholic colleges and universities that subscribed to the Land O’Lakes Statement cease to be subject to the rules and laws of the state, or of accrediting, licensing or of funding agencies and the like. It was just the Church’s rules that were effectively set aside. The Land O’Lakes Statement was very instrumental in the secularization of many Catholic institutions, beginning in the 1960s.

It was primarily to counter this pernicious secularization of Catholic higher education that prompted Pope John Paul II to issue his apostolic constitution on universities Ex Corde Ecclesiae (“From the Heart of the Church”) in 1990. Subsequently, the U.S. bishops issued their own “Application” of Ex Corde Ecclesiae for this country in order to try to modify or even reverse the secularization of so many Catholic colleges. However, the fact that Notre Dame nevertheless felt justified in honoring President Obama in defiance of the bishops’ policy indicated that the bishops still have a long way to go to restore the integrity of Catholic higher education.

In this book, author Charles E. Rice accurately and effectively chronicles some of the deleterious effects of this straying off the right path of authentic Catholicism on the part of Notre Dame (and many other Catholic institutions!). By declaring the teaching authority of the Church to be “external” to the university, as the Land O’Lakes Statement did, these institutions, in effect, set themselves up as competing moral authorities to the Church. Henceforth, the university would decide what was right and wrong according to its own criteria, regardless of the Church’s teaching.

Professor Rice discusses a number of cases where Notre Dame went off the moral tracks long before the Obama invitation. As early as the 1960s, for example, the university was holding conferences with such organizations as Planned Parenthood and the Population Council to examine whether there might not be an alternative “Catholic” position on birth control different from the traditional teaching which Pope Paul VI reaffirmed in 1968.

Later, in 1984, Notre Dame famously provided the platform for New York Governor Mario Cuomo to inform the world that Catholic politicians could be “personally opposed” to abortion while enabling and promoting it through the public offices held by them.

Then there was the inexplicable refusal of Notre Dame president Father John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., to come out against campus performances of the obscene play “The Vagina Monologues.” Professor Rice records a statement of Father Jenkins that no anti-Semitic play or speech would ever be permitted at Notre Dame since it would be “opposed to the values of a Catholic university.” Yet over a number of years Father Jenkins could never bring himself to affirm that this wretched play crudely exploiting women and depicting, yes, actual violence against them was even more opposed to those “values.”

The arguments of Father Jenkins aiming to justify the Obama invitation are no more convincing than his arguments justifying the performance of this obscene play on campus. They are embarrassing, in fact. One can only wonder how the trustees of Notre Dame could countenance such leadership as that of Father Jenkins. Professor Rice recounts the whole sad tale of the commencement fiasco in several brief but hard-hitting chapters. It is all here, not only the serial missteps of the university administration, but the admirable, dignified, and prayerful counter-steps, mostly led and inspired by students. The book thus fulfills the promise of its title in answering the question, in adequate and carefully documented detail, of what happened to and at Notre Dame.

In addition, the book contains a very informative Introduction by long-time Notre Dame Professor Alfred J. Freddoso throwing further light on the whole affair. It also reprints the inspiring talk to the Notre Dame Response Rally by Father Wilson D. Miscamble, C.S.C.—showing, thankfully, that not all of the Holy Cross fathers on the campus are of the caliber of Father Jenkins!

Although Professor Charles E. Rice thus provides as lucid and cogent account of the whole Notre Dame/Obama affair as could be expected—and abundantly shows what happens when the Church’s teaching authority gets laid aside!—it still remains something of a mystery how America’s one-time premier Catholic university came to such a sorry pass. One tantalizing clue, however, perhaps lies in the reported statement of former ND president Father Theodore Hesburgh that before a university can be “Catholic,” it must first be a “university” as understood by the secular “modern world.” This was to get it exactly backwards: a university must first be in conformity with the Catholic Church as “the teacher of truth” (Vatican II, Dignitatis Humanae, 14) before it can be a true Catholic university.

Kenneth D. Whitehead’s latest book is "Mass Misunderstandings: The Mixed Legacy of the Vatican II Liturgical Reforms" (St. Augustine’s Press, 2009). He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Catholic League.

Copyright © 1997-2009 by Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Six Things We Can Be Thankful For...

As we gather with family and friends to celebrate our blessings at Thanksgiving, we should remember how fortunate we Americans are to live in a free and just nation.

America was founded upon sound conservative principles grounded firmly in human nature and not in radical idealism. And today, we see that these principles, though under attack from the Left, are still very much alive.

So, despite these tough times, Conservatives and Americans have much to be thankful for:

1. The United States Constitution. The single most important and timeless document of our nation's Founding, the U.S. Constitution lays the framework for a government that protects the natural and unalienable rights of every American. The Constitution, the key to our greatness and the bulwark of our liberties, offers an antidote to the Left's radicalism.

2. America's Armed Forces. The brave men and women of the armed forces have dedicated their lives to preserve and protect our liberties and defend the principles that inspired our Constitution. As President Harry S. Truman told Congress in 1945: "Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices."

3. A Conservative America. Recent Gallup polls find that an overwhelming majority of Americans – 40 percent – identify themselves as conservative, as opposed to liberal or moderate. After all, Barack Obama campaigned last year on promises of lower taxes, spending cuts and a stronger national security because he knows what principles appeal to the American people.

4. Growing Conservative Momentum. This year, the Left's big-government plans -- and there have been many – have sparked a big reaction from Conservatives around the country. From the April tea parties to the August town hall meetings to the September protests in Washington, concerned Americans have made it clear to politicians that they remain devoted to our founding principles even if their representatives have abandoned them.

5. The Sputtering Liberal Agenda. In part because of the firm conservative response, the liberal agenda is wobbling somewhat. While they continue to pose a grave threat to the nation, radical ideas like socialized medicine, new taxes on energy and handouts to Big Labor have been slowed or stalled in Washington. The Left has so far accomplished relatively little, but lest we grow overconfident we should remember that they still hold the levers of power.

6. Conservative Victories. The landslide victories of gubernatorial candidates Bob McDonnell in Virginia and Chris Christie in New Jersey – both states that the Left had counted on to remain in their camp – demonstrate a growing public demand for conservative solutions. Election Day saw other conservative successes as well, including a referendum protecting traditional marriage in Maine.

(Source: Amanda Reinecker, The Heritage Foundation)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

RC Blog Endorses Will Nance in GOP Race for Virginia's 37th Senate District

The Reagan Blog is proud to endorse political newcomer Will Nance in the December 1 Republican primary for Virginia's 37th Senate District. The primary and special election are the result of the election of Ken Cuccinelli as Virginia's Attorney General on Nov. 3. The primary will take on December 1 from 6 p.m. - 10 p.m. at Centreville High School.

The Republican primary includes three candidates -- Nance, former Fairfax Co. School Board member Steve Hunt, and former Bush 41 and 43 appointee Marianne Horinko. After listening to all three candidates in person, reviewing campaign literature, and listening to those with strong political ties in Northern Virginia, RC Blog felt most comfortable supporting Nance.

There are many in the Fairfax County GOP who feel that Hunt has "paid his dues", which he has, and deserves the nomination. There is no arguing that he has been a "team player" for many years and has even received the endorsement of several former Cuccinelli staffers and supporters. Nance has received the endorsement of several prominent national Conservatives, including Kay Cole James and Senator Santorum.

In considering both Nance and Hunt, RC Blog was disappointed that Hunt failed to mention any Pro-Life issues during his 10-minute presentation before the Fairfax County Republican Committee on why he deserves the nomination. RC Blog feels that Nance is the best and closest alternative to Cuccinelli as the 37th district's senator.

Don't forget to vote on December 1 at Centreville High School!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Statement by Former Attorney General Ed Meese on New York Terror Trials

Edwin Meese III, the Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow in Public Policy and Chairman of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation as well as the United States Attorney General between 1985 and 1988 released the following statement today on the proposed trials of terrorists in New York City, including confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

“It is clear that foreign terrorists and terrorist groups have committed acts of war against the United States, and that our national security requires that we respond accordingly. This means that President Bush’s prudent actions and the military response which he led should continue as our answer to these attacks.

Congress overwhelmingly reaffirmed their commitment to military commissions in 2006, which have historically been the way that we respond to acts of war. To abandon our two centuries of tradition and to substitute some new civilian procedure as a response to such attacks endangers the security of our country and our national interest.

It was a tragic mistake to decide to abandon the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, which was designed physically and legally to handle these types of cases. It is a further tragic mistake to now bring the detained war combatants into the United States and to employ civilian criminal procedures which were never intended for this type of situation.

The U.S. Constitution protects American citizens and visitors from the moment they are suspected of criminal wrongdoing through a potential trial. These same protections are not, have never, and should not be granted to enemy combatants in war, since it is clear that regardless of the outcome of the trial, these detainees will likely remain in the custody of the United States.”

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Deathblow to Obamacare

From today's Heritage Foundation "Morning Bell" e-mail...

A report released Friday by the non-partisan and independent Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency in charge of running Medicare and Medicaid, blows the lid off of every one of Obama’s claims. All of the following quotes are from the report itself:

Health Care Costs Increase: “In aggregate, we estimate that for calendar years 2010 through 2019 [national health expenditures (NHE)] would increase by $289 billion, or 0.8 percent, over the updates baseline projection that was released on June 29, 2009.” In other words, Obamacare bends the cost curve up, not down.

Millions Lose Existing Private Coverage: “However, a number of workers who currently have employer coverage would likely become enrolled in the expanded Medicaid program or receive subsidized coverage through the Exchange. For example, some smaller employers would be inclined to terminate their existing coverage, and companies with low average salaries might find it to their - and their employees’ - advantage to end their plans … We estimate that such actions would collectively reduce the number of people with employer-sponsored health coverage by about 12 million.” In other words, Obamacare will cause millions of Americans to lose their existing private coverage.

Millions Pay Fines Yet Remain Uncovered: “18 million are estimated to choose not to be insured and to pay the penalty associated with the individual mandate. For the most part, these would be individuals with relatively low health care expenses for whom the individual or family insurance premium would be significantly in excess of the penalty and their anticipated health benefit value.” In other words, 18 million Americans will either face jail time or be forced to pay a new tax they will receive no benefit from.

Millions Lose Medicare Advantage: “Section 1161 of Division B of H.R. 3962 would set Medicare Advantage capitation benchmarks … We estimate that in 2014 when the MA provisions would be fully phased in, enrollment in MA plans would decreased by 64 percent (from its projected level of 13.2 million under current law to 4.7 million under the proposal).” In other words, 8.5 million seniors who currently get such services as coordinated care for chronic conditions, routine eye and hearing examinations, and preventive-care services would lose their existing private coverage.

Millions Placed on Welfare: “Of the additional 34 million who are estimated to be insured in 2019 as a result of H.R. 3962, about three-fifths (21 million) would receive Medicaid coverage due to the expansion of eligibility to those adults under 150 percent of the FPL.” In other words, more than half the people who gain health insurance will receive it through the welfare program Medicaid.

Seniors Access to Care Jeopardized: “H.R. 3962 would introduce permanent annual productivity adjustments to price updates for institutional providers… Over time, a sustained reduction in payment updates, based on productivity expectations that are difficult to attain, would cause Medicare payment rates to grow more slowly than and in a way that was unrelated to, the providers’ costs of furnishing services to beneficiaries. Thus, providers for whom Medicare constitutes a substantive portion of their business could find it difficult to remain profitable and might end their participation in the program (possibly jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries).” In other words, the Medicare cuts in the House bill are so out of touch with reality that hospitals currently serving Medicare patients might be forced to stop doing so. Thus making it much more difficult for seniors to get health care.

Poor’s Access Problems Exacerbated: “In practice, supply constraints might interfere with providing the services by the additional 34 million insured persons. …providers might tend to accept more patients who have private insurance (with relatively attractive payment rates) and fewer Medicaid patients, exacerbating existing access problems for the latter group.” In other words, those 21 million people who are gaining health insurance through Medicaid are going to have a very tough time finding a doctor who will treat them.

Reacting in part to Friday’s CMS report, Robert J. Samuelson writes in today’s Washington Post:

The disconnect between what President Obama says and what he’s doing is so glaring that most people could not abide it. The president, his advisers and allies have no trouble. But reconciling blatantly contradictory objectives requires them to engage in willful self-deception, public dishonesty, or both.

There is a reason why as more Americans learn about Obamacare, the less popular it gets.

Friday, November 13, 2009

How Bad was George W. Bush?

If George W. Bush had been the first President to need a teleprompter installed to be able to get through a press conference, would you have laughed and said this is more proof of how inept he is on his own and is really controlled by smarter men behind the scenes?

If George W. Bush had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to take Laura Bush to a play in NYC, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had reduced your retirement plan's holdings of GM stock by 90% and given the unions a majority stake in GM, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had made a joke at the expense of the Special Olympics, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had given Gordon Brown a set of inexpensive and incorrectly formatted DVD's, when Gordon Brown had given him a thoughtful and historically significant gift, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had given the Queen of England an iPod containing videos of his speeches, would you have thought this embarrassingly narcissistic and tacky?

If George W. Bush had bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had visited Austria and made reference to the non-existent "Austrian language," would you have brushed it off as a minor slip?

If George W. Bush had filled his cabinet and circle of advisers with people who cannot seem to keep current in their income taxes, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had been so Spanish illiterate as to refer to "Cinco de Cuatro" in front of the Mexican ambassador when it was the 5th of May (Cinco de Mayo), and continued to flub it when he tried again, would you have winced in embarrassment?

If George W. Bush had misspelled the word "advice" would you have hammered him for it for years like Dan Quayle and "potato" as proof of what a dunce he is?

If George W. Bush had burned 9,000 gallons of jet fuel to go plant a single tree on Earth Day, would you have concluded he's a hypocrite?

If George W. Bush's administration had Okayed Air Force One flying low over millions of people followed by a jet fighter in downtown Manhattan causing widespread panic, would you have wondered whether they actually get what happened on 9-11.?

If George W. Bush had failed to send relief aid to flood victims throughout the Midwest with more people killed or made homeless than in New Orleans, would you want it made into a major ongoing political issue with claims of racism and incompetence?

If George W. Bush had ordered the firing of the CEO of a major corporation, even though he had no constitutional authority to do so, would you have approved?

If George W Bush had proposed to double the national debt, which had taken more than two centuries to accumulate, in one year, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had then proposed to double the debt again within 10 years, would you have approved?

So, tell me again, what is it about Obama that makes him so brilliant and impressive?

Can't think of anything? Don't worry.

He's done all this in his first 10 months – so you'll have three years and two months to come up with an answer.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Heritage Foundation Videos on Death Tax and School Choice

Click the link below to watch two short videos produced by The Heritage Foundation. These videos were debuted at the Heritage Foundation's President's Club meetings in Washington this week. Great work by the city's No. 1 think tank. Glad they are on our side!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Pittance of Time

Happy Veterans Day 2009! Thanks to S. Hill for sending this video...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"McBollinelli" Sweep is Complete

The speeches are over in Richmond...

The three Dems have made their concession speeches and the three GOPers have made their victory speeches.

The Cuccinelli speech was great as he focused on First Principles and his plans as the Commonwealth's top lawyer. He also broke out a McBollinelli broom for the three-man sweep.

In addition to these three victories, one of Virginia's most liberal delegates, Chuck Caputo, is looking like he will be overtaken by Conservative Jim LeMunyon in Western Fairfax County.

Still too early to tell what is going to happen in New Jersey or NY's 23rd House District.

In looking forward to next year's gubenatorial elections, the RC Blog has targeted Wisconsin Conservative Scott Walker as one of the top conservatives in the nation and we will work hard to help him get to Madison.

Virginia Conservatives Projected to Blow Out Liberals

Polls closed only 20 minutes ago in Virginia, but it looks like a Republican sweep of the Commonwealth's top three slots (governor, lt. governor, and attorney general) for only the second time in Virginia's history.

Living in Sen. Cuccinelli's senate district, we proudly supported him in his campaign for AG on the day of his announcement on March 30, 2008. We here at the RC Blog are extremely proud of him and the campaign he ran, both in the primary and in the general election.

With 2 percent of the votes in, Cuccinelli leads Steve Shannon by 34%. Leads by Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling are similar.

Wasn't it only 12 months ago that we were all told by the "experts" that the "Age of Reagan" was dead?

More posts to follow tonight....

Monday, November 2, 2009

45th Anniversary of "The Speech"

Last week marked the 45th anniversary of Reagan's legendary 1964 speech, "A Time for Choosing". This is as pertinent today as it was in 1964... Enjoy! is an independent site and is not affiliated with any official web sites, associations, or organizations associated with President Reagan. Any views expressed or content included on this site do not necessarily reflect the views, positions, or opinions of any of the organizations or individuals named, linked, or advertised.

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