Gerard Bradley, a law professor at Notre Dame, has this wonderful piece about the Obama address at commencement and his receipt of an honorary degree. The basic question going forward into a new era: Will Notre Dame choose “prestige” or “truth”?
My question: Why not choose both? Granted, it may not be prestige in the world’s eyes to decline Obama’s honorary degree as Bradley suggests, but it would return Notre Dame to the place many people wrongfully think it currently holds–that of a bastion of orthodox Catholicism.
Everyone I’ve heard comment on the issue has said how Notre Dame is somehow a beacon of the Catholic Church in the United States. I strongly considered attending there for undergrad and grad school and not once did it come to my mind that it was premier for its Catholicism. It is premier for its ability to teach and form and produce a graduate that is better educated than many similarly situated at other schools. It is not–and it has specifically rejected the invitation to be–premier for Catholicism.
As Bradley notes, this intramural debate has gone on for decades at Notre Dame: shall we sell our soul to the education establishment to gain . . . what? If all but Christ is loss, then Notre Dame has been choosing to lose for quite some time now. So make no mistake. This decision is not a recent phenomenon, and it is not an attempt to bask in the light of our new president. Fr. Jenkins’ decision was to continue the inevitable institutional secularization begun years ago when Notre Dame unmoored from the bark of Peter.
Notre Dame, Our Lady, pray for us.