Bishops, Notre Dame and Camaraderie

My blood would be boiling if I had not promised the Lord that I would surrender my temper to His loving care as one of my sacrifices this Lenten season.  So I cannot tell you that I am angered, but I sincerely am concerned about the example that is being set for Catholics around our nation due to the “deal” the United States Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine struck with Notre Dame University.

You see, the university had already scheduled the annual performance of the “The V—– Monologues” on one of the dates when the Catholic Bishops’ Committee was scheduled to hold a seminar there. In a public statement, Bishop John M. D’Arcy, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, told the local newspaper, “Because of the likelihood of the presentation of the play, “The V—– Monologues” at Notre Dame this year, the bishops made a collective decision to move the seminar off campus.”

It is said that the bishops entered into a collaborative effort with the officials at Notre Dame to resolve this problem and that due to this constructive alliance the problem has been resolved. The professors who were scheduled to be involved with the Committee on Doctrine seminar will simply go the off-campus location for the meeting. Isn’t that just peachy!

Bishop D’Arcy had already issued a nine-page pastoral response critiquing Notre Dame’s president Father John Jenkins’ decision not to cancel the play. That critique was made available for everyone to read two years ago. And apparently that is the most anyone can expect from the bishop in response to this ongoing scandal at one of the nation’s most widely known Catholic institutions.

What does this tell us about the state of the Church and her leadership in America? Well, to my mind it is further confirmation of the fact that the shepherds turn a blind eye to public scandals for the sake of what some would describe as the “common good.” Apparently Jane Fonda can be ridiculed for using a nasty word on a morning news program, but all the bishops can do is muster the courage to move a meeting so that the show can go on!

I’m sorry, but this is not the sort of response I would have hoped would come forth in light of what President Jenkins has chosen to do—ignore his responsibility to stand up for Catholic teaching and ban the play once and for all.

When Bishop D’Arcy wrote his commentary in February of 2006, he made the following point:

While some will find it hard to believe, it is true that this play depicts in an approving way a sexual relationship between an adult woman and an adolescent girl, a minor. Such an action, which is a crime in both civil and church law, is also considered a serious sin in Christian moral teaching. The play also contains explicit depictions of masturbation and lesbian sex, portrayed in a positive light.

For the full text click here.

So I am left wondering, though apparently only to myself, why it is that this same courageous bishop did not make it perfectly clear to Father Jenkins, the university and the Catholic people of his archdiocese, that such tripe would not be tolerated and the university, if it persisted in presenting the play, would have to remove the word “catholic” from any description of its identity.

Is that asking too much in this age of tolerance and camaraderie?  Dear God, I guess it is.