Challenge Grant: Our Boosters will match donations up to $45,000. We have $36,934 to go. Please donate!
Click here to advertise on

Notre Dame: Shaking the Foundations

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Mar 30, 2009

When the President of Notre Dame decided to invite President Obama to give this year's commencement speech and to receive an honorary degree, a number of student organizations banded together to make their moral opposition clear. Perhaps their most telling objection was stated thus:

Fr. Jenkins has placed some of his students in a moral dilemma as to whether they should attend their own graduation. Many pro-life seniors, along with their families, are conflicted about whether to participate in the commencement ceremony. The lack of concern for these devoted sons and daughters of Notre Dame, who love this University and the Catholic principles on which it was built, is shameful.

This is a remarkably pointed comment, and it strikes at the very heart of what it means for a university community to be a Catholic community. It would, in fact, be a wonderfully effective strategy if the combined forces of the various interested groups on campus could bring about a significant boycott of the commencement exercises by the seniors who are about to receive their degrees. Obviously the student body is divided on this issue, and that division probably mirrors to some degree that of the faculty. But it would not surprise me if the student body is, by percentage, more pro-life than the faculty, and substantially more pro-life than the current administration.

Sometimes students have led the way in promoting authentic reform at colleges and universities. In general, for example, it has been the students who have been most insistent that crucifixes be returned to classrooms, despite widespread opposition among faculty members, in universities where they had once been removed. Indeed, considering the moral cesspool that most college campuses have become, the ability of substantial numbers of students to take their Christian faith seriously is nothing short of astonishing.

I don’t have inside information about the student body at Notre Dame, but I highly recommend to them a boycott of graduation, which would be very dramatic even if as few as 25% of graduating seniors could be induced to participate. This would be a public embarrassment for the University that could not be hidden. The bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, John D’Arcy, has already announced that he will not attend the commencement exercises, breaking a 25-year run. If a significant number of seniors should join the bishop, it just might send a message that would shake Notre Dame’s current administration to its foundations.

This is an opportunity for effective witness of almost unlimited magnitude, the like of which arises only rarely in any one lifetime. I think the students involved realize this. Let us hope—and pray—that they do not miss their chance.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Our Fall Campaign
Progress toward our year-end goal ($125,313 to go):
$150,000.00 $24,687.05
84% 16%
Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

There are no comments yet for this item.

Fall 2014 Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on

Recent Catholic Commentary

The Church Moves On, Slowly 5 hours ago
Is Cardinal Kasper losing his grip? 9 hours ago
The Pope is not the problem October 23
Do not confuse sacramental discipline and Catholic doctrine. October 23
Ignatius Press into the Breach: Trumping the Kasper Proposal October 22

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Key synod report calls for 'gradualism' in Church response to irregular family situations CWN - October 13
As synod concludes, bishops issue message, approve document; Pope weighs in CWN - October 20
Cardinal Parolin: UN must protect innocents from Islamic State CWN - September 30
Synod of Bishops opens with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica CWN - October 6