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Notre Dame president rejects students’ request for dialogue

April 16, 2009

Saying that “conditions for constructive dialogue simply do not exist,” University of Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins, CSC, has rejected a request to discuss the university’s decision to award President Barack Obama an honorary degree. Father Jenkins withdrew an offer to meet with 25 students after the Notre Dame Response Student Coalition requested that the dialogue be open to all members of the coalition.

The coalition had also asked Father Jenkins to take specific steps to uphold an institutional commitment to the sanctity of human life:

We request that you take concrete steps to demonstrate that the University of Notre Dame is “firm and unwavering” in its commitment to defending human life in its most vulnerable stages. We ask that you promise now and going forward to use the moral authority of your office and the prestige of Our Lady's University to speak out on behalf of the cause of life in a meaningful, concrete and sustained way.

More specifically, we request that you promise to take the following actions:

1. The University publicly makes the institutional and permanent promise that the University of Notre Dame will not engage in, promote or allow practices offensive to life (e.g., research involving human embryos in any way, including on biological materials derived from embryo- or fetal-destructive techniques on-campus, or off-campus in collaboration with others);

2. The University will formally support pro-life initiatives on campus through financial and personnel resources. In particular, that you will appoint a pro-life ombudsperson at the level of associate provost to ensure that appropriate attention is paid to life issues at the beginning of life in both teaching and research at the University of Notre Dame. The appointee should be a person who has a deep and demonstrated commitment to the cause of unborn life.

Additionally, we hope that you will consider the following ways in which the University can take up the cause of life as its own by publicly speaking out against the injustices against the unborn: through the “What Would You Fight For?” commercials aired on NBC during football season, by leading the Notre Dame students in the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., by designating the topic of next fall’s forum as a celebration of life in its earliest stages, and by speaking out in other prominent forums.

 


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