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ND Faculty vs. Bishop Jenky

Yes, that Bishop Jenky...NCR reports:

Almost 50 University of Notre Dame faculty members have urged Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Ill., to "renounce loudly and publicly" his recent comparison of President Barack Obama with Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler.If he does not do so, they said, Notre Dame should seek the bishop's immediate resignation from the university's Board of Fellows.


The Notre Dame professors said Jenky's comparison of the HHS regulation to the attacks on the church by Bismarck, Clemenceau, Stalin and Hitler was "profoundly offensive.""Bishop Jenky's comments demonstrate ignorance of history, insensitivity to victims of genocide, and absence of judgment," they wrote in the letter. "We accept that Bishop Jenky's comments are protected by the First Amendment, but we find it profoundly offensive that a member of our beloved university's highest authority, the Board of Fellows, should compare the president's actions with those whose genocidal policies murdered tens of millions of people, including the specific targeting of Catholics, Jews, and other minorities for their faith."The faculty members' letter, addressed to Notre Dame's president, Holy Cross Fr. John Jenkins and board president Richard Notebaert and released Friday, called for a university statement "that will definitively distance Notre Dame from Bishop Jenky's incendiary statement.""Further, we feel that it would be in the best interest of Notre Dame if Bishop Jenky resigned from the University's Board of Fellows if he is unwilling to renounce loudly and publicly this destructive analogy," the letter states.

Read the letter here.

About the Author

Eric Bugyis teaches Religious StudiesĀ at the University of Washington Tacoma.



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"Almost 50 University of Notre Dame faculty members . . . ."That doesn't like very many faculty members. How many tenure-track faculty members does the University of Notre Dame have?

I am glad to see the faculty take aa stand, but what if they are not supported by the Administration and he is a CSC also.Not a public word from fellow bishops -- no surprise there...Besides being dumb, un-historical, and intemperate, he crossed a political and legal line, I think, and where this will go will be intersting.If only he'd had my mother to vet his speech as she always tried - mostly successfully -- to do to mine...

This hierarch is a real "winner".(yes, offered in sarcasm)

" Not a public word from fellow bishops no surprise there "The stupendously loud damnation in that simple statement should make every bishop or bishop's minion who is/are lurking here hid their heads in utter and complete shame.The protection of the egregious and profane by the cowardly and get-along is a far cry from what a "successor to the apostles" should be.If Bishop Jerky had supported same-sex marriage you can believe that the cacophony would have been reverberating from episcopal palace to episcopal palace - and Bill Donahue's crib as well.

The only way this is going anywhere is if among those "50" faculty members there were influential members of the Indiana Province of Holy Cross priests. It is this group that calls the shots at ND.The "South Bend 50" may get Jenky to resign from the ND "Board of Fellows" but my guess is that ruffling ND feathers will only enhance Jenky's standing with his dons in the Vatican.Watch for Cardinal George to enter the fray on Jenky's behalf."Shake down the Thunder from the Sky ..."

I think it's no small accomplishment to make it onto the faculty at Notre Dame, so this is not to belittle any of the 50, but still, there were no "big names" in the list of signers.

In 2000, the university had 729 full-time tenured and tenure track faculty (Notre Dame Fact Book (NDFB), 2000, Table 11.1: 207).

I previously said that it needed more signers there and it's a sad commentray IMO that there aren't!Of course, a few weeks ago we had Melinda Henenerger writing extensively abour sexual assault on the campus there and not a peep pro or con in the major media.I fear institutional protection, enforced from top down, is the rule there and who does that sound like?My guess is that the 50 had enough courage to stand up to an obvious injustice and deserve credit, but ;ike so many things in Holy Mother today it just falls on (for public consumption) deaf ears.

I agree that those faculty who signed the letter deserve credit for signing it.But I am disappointed that more faculty did not sign the letter. (Thanks, Claire, for the information about the number of tenured and tenure-track faculty at Notre Dame.)

"All I could say is what Nicholas Cafardi, a Catholic law expert, said: "I have known many very saintly nuns in my life but very few saints who work in chancery offices!"John Coleman SJ on the America Blog

In fairness to the ND faculty, it is not easy to get signatures on letters, and a lot depends on how the letter was publicized. If the organizers did not have access to email lists they may have had to rely on the help of colleagues to get the word out and that can be a spotty venture.

A quick count says that 18 of the 60 signers are language teachers, and there are a number who teach art. There are 8 philosophy teachers. No science teachers except two in psych. Two math teachers. Hmmm. Where are the hard sciences faculty?

Well, sure, email lists would facilitate contacting the faculty.But I assume that Notre Dame has a printed faculty directory that includes the email address for each individual faculty member. Who organized the letter? The organizer(s) could have sent out an email message to individual faculty members.If I were organizing the letter-signing effort, I would skip over untenured faculty and send a message to tenured faculty, even if there were, say, 400 tenured faculty. It really is not that hard to type in individual email addresses when each one ends

Where are the hard sciences faculty?

Agreeing with the bishop, perhaps, or rolling their eyeballs at the silliness of the arts people.You can demand the disgrace and ostracism of someone because he's said something you disagree with, but don't expect the wider world to go along with you.

I wondered why no one signed from the theology faculty.

As one of the signers, let me note the following: We became aware of Bishop Jenky's comments on Thursday, April 19. By Friday, April 20, a letter had been drafted and signed by 49 faculty members and sent to Father Jenkins. That letter was published by the Huffington Post. Between Friday and Sunday, an additional 46 faculty asked to have their names added, and the letter with 95 names was printed in Monday's edition of the student newspaper, the Observer. Today, more faculty have signed on, and I believe we have 119 people now. Hopefully the list will keep growing. Most of the signers are tenured and, while I am not terribly afraid of retribution, I think we have made it clear that junior faculty need not feel like they should sign. Personally, I think it is a fairly prestigious group! But you can judge for yourself by looking at the 95 names printed in the Observer.

Ninety-nine percents arts people, Richard. Why arts people should be conspicuously intolerant, I don't know, but it is a sign of the times.

Perhaps the folks who teach physics, mathematics, chemistry, engineering, did a double take and said to themselves, "Hey, you know, maybe he has something there." What are the similarities between Stalin, Hitler, and Obama? All believe(d) in a very strong centralized government; one that needs to be able to override legislative and judicial entities. All believe(d) that man, as an individual, has no historical significance, that the "traditional" Christian religions are in need of being emptied and refilled with up-to-date notions of moral and ethical conduct. For Hitler this mostly consisted of mythical (not to say mystical) beliefs in "Aryan supremacy" and complete control of industrial production. Stalin was also for the complete control of industrial production, and in addition, the global propagation of Marxist and pseudo-Marxist ideology, as well as the destruction of all Jews and the Hebrew religion; he also attempted to create bogus Catholicism (which mostly amounted to repackaged Marxism). The characteristics of Obama's brand of Christianity may be gleaned from what he absorbed from the good reverend Wright. He understands the grave threat to his agenda that traditional Jews and Christians pose. Remember his statement about "If we are to effect the fundamental transformation of America, etc., etc. This was not idle prattle, but rather the clarion call to all left radicals that he indeed intended this. What are the fundamentals of America? The Constitution, the Executive, Judicial, and Legislative branches, the limitations on the federal government, you all know the list. But I've rattled on too long here; sorry about that.

The hypocrisy of academics rarely ceases to amaze. Were this a leftist professor making similar or more offensive comparisons they'd be lining up to defend him and calling those who seek his ouster a threat to free speech.

And if he were made out of chocolate, maybe they would eat him.But he's not a professor and he's not made of chocolate--he sits on a governing board, and that's something else entirely.

David Smith,I'd suggest charitably that you review the list again to correct your wildly inaccurate statement above. 99% arts? There are historians, philosophers, mathematicians, social sciences and more, all represented amply. Did you even read the list before making your comment?Thank you to Richard for the update on the signatories. This is an excellent initiative and a good example to others. Catholics do not think like Bishop Jenky by and large, and it is to the credit of the ND faculty that they have spoken up against such poisonous views.

How odd, to criticize as "intolerant" those who oppose hate speech. Is Bishop Jenky speaking as an official representative of the Catholic Church? It can't be great for US-Vatican relations if he is. It also won't help the bishops' religious freedom campaign if it becomes identified with Bishop Jenky's remarks.

Catholics do not think like Bishop Jenky by and largeRita,I'd suggest that you correct your unsubstantiated statement.

I applaud the courage and sentiments expressed by the Notre Dame faculty, but have aquibble, a wonder, and a question. The quibble is "we feel"-- seems like it ought to be "we think." we're always mixing up that one, but it is their "thought," surely influenced by their feelings, about this- not a "feeling".The wonderment is if more would sign if that last sentence were not there calling for his "loud [what's that mean?] and public" apology or whatever. Perhaps it is is more inclusive to simply state as a faculty that we disagree and disawow for the reasons stated. Although stronger in calling for him to recant, this is another issue.Finally, the question, as others have asked, is where are some of the more publically known names of facuty -- especially clergy?Just wondering....

Were this a leftist professor making similar or more offensive comparisons theyd be lining up to defend him and calling those who seek his ouster a threat to free speech.Sean,It would be an issue of academic freedom if a professor said something noxious. I think the rules for the Board of Fellows are somewhat different. A professor exercising academic freedom speaks for himself, not for the school. A member of the Board of Fellows is in a somewhat different position.

Bruce,Don't you even know that the opposite of unsubtantiated is substantiated, not incorrect?But I suppose you were just trying to be nasty.Sad.

Hey question: Will Fr, Jenkins respond and if so how?

TANGENT Speaking of talking back, according to LaStampa the priests are stirring in Germany, the U.S., and especially Ireland. Even the head of the Redemptorist order in Ireland is publicly defending a censured pmember of the order. This needs its own thread.

the question, as others have asked, is where are some of the more publicly known names of faculty especially clergy?If I thought my work conditions or my relations with the higher-ups might be threatened by my thus speaking up, I would hesitate to sign such a petition. Is it worth it? Bp. Jenky used inflammatory rhetoric, but it's just words, not actions. He didn't actually do anything. I'd rather protest something of more import than a preposterous speech. All that that speech does is undermine Jenky's credibility. Other than that, it has no impact. In terms of concrete actions, note that he is not calling for a would-be Catholic martyr to assassinate Hitler=Stalin=Obama, but simply to vote against Obama at the next elections. That's within the bound of democracy. No one's getting hurt.

I just had an idea: what if that speech is a diversionary tactic to distract the media from the trial in Philadelphia? If the media want scandal, then feed them some ridiculous made-up scandal, and thus keep them away from the real scandal!

Rita E. Ferrone 04/24/2012 - 6:40 am SUBSCRIBERDavid Smith,Id suggest charitably that you review the list again to correct your wildly inaccurate statement above. 99% arts? There are historians, philosophers, mathematicians, social sciences and more, all represented amply. Did you even read the list before making your comment?

Arts and sciences, Ruth. Arts college. Yes, of course I read the list.

Rita. Sorry. IPad :0)

BTW, Sean, I'm amazed by the hypocrixy of the right who try to defend the ugly with a "look at the other guy" (real or imaginary.)This just inhibits real solutions to the awfukl rhetoric of Bishop Jenky and how he should be brought up short about it.

Ann O. {12:05pm) -- You're right, the subject needs attention but more than a thread. We are Church Ireland is calling for a vigil next Sunday outside the Papal Nuncio's in Dublin on behalf of priests silenced in Ireland. The Austrian Pastors Initiative has reaffirmed its Appeal to Disobedience after hearing from the Pope on Holy Thursday and Cdl. Schonborn since then. We are Church Germany is preparing an Alternative to the Catholic Day for May 18 for open discussions of topics ranging from "the sexual violence behind Church walls up to the tolerated misery in the Mediterranean from necessary reforms in the Catholic Church". Various groups of priest and laity are communicating online, affirming mutual recognition and common interests, and also are then exchanging speakers in meetings. The Internet is enabling today, globally and near-instantaneously, a challenge for the Church similar to what the printing press did centuries ago, but the sanctions of old are gone, fortunately.

Claire notes that Bishop Jenky's speech is only speech and that he "only" calls for a vote against Obama. Even though that is questionable with IRS restrictions, I think the rhetoric deserves a very public rebuke and, if his own diocese won't do it, the institutions he is affiliated with should. It is that kind of rhetoric that inflames the unstable to do violent actions -- when you compare someone with Hitler and Stalin, you're only missing Mao and Pol Pot and you've the Mt. Rushmore of dictators that can influence those creazed individuals and groups.I can understand the "prudence" one might show in not putting one's name on such a statement, but I respect greatly those who take that risk and wonder what the rest are thinking! I can't imagine many of teh faculty identifying this as an exercise of responsible speech -- though it is free...

Hate speech? Really? Calling it hate speech is engaging in the same kind of excessive hyperbole that you are criticizing.As for the academic freedom angle, are you trying to tell me that a professor who is payed by a university, often tenured for life, is not "identified" with the university in the same way an unpaid fellow (who, BTW, nearly no one outside the ND community even knew was a fellow until these 50 professors brought it up) on a temporary appointment is?I'm sorry, but when it comes to academic freedom and open debate the left is a fraud. When I was in law school I don't remember the Federalist Society picketing and cat calling when Andrea Dworkin came to speak - Lambda Law et al. didn't have the same scruples when Ken Starr was invited by the FS. The left's approach to speech in and out of the academy is to squelch it when they disagree with it. Label it "outside the pale" or hate speech, or anything else to intimidate and just get them to shut up. I suspect these professors are far less offended by this than they are gleeful at the chance to pillory a man with whom they disagree using his own ill chosen words.And Abe, I'd love a chocolate prelate.

The list now has around 130 names, including 16 endowed chairs from the fields of Physics, Philosophy, Anthropology, English, History, Classics, Art, Theater, and Psychology.

Catherine --Why talk to Barbara Marx Hubbard? I can think of several reasons off the top of my head. First, there are practical reasons. Her brand of New Age theology promotes peace and the brotherhood of man. We might learn something from each other about how to further those ideals. The nuns especially are interested in ways to help others. Second, such New Age religions are attractive to many, many young people, and if we want to understand what the young long for, such New Agers might help us understand them. (We understand so little about their religious thought and aspirations that they are leaving in droves.) Third, they might learn some valuable theology from us.Yes, her theology sounds partly crazy == she seems to identify all things, as schizophrenics often do. I don't know if she herself has had a crazy schizophrenic "mystical" intuition, but her theology sounds like it is based on such an intuition, at least on somebody else's intuition. Nevertheless, her theology and others similar to hers are highly influential in our culture, so I think that it behooves us to find out just what she is talking about. We don't have to agree with someone to talk with them.What worries me are the people who think that even listening to those with whom we disagree is so dangerous that we should avoid them like sin. That is highly unecumenical. And, yes, I do think that such a religion as Hubbard's New Age one IS a religion, and if you think it's a good thing to dialogue with Buddhists, then why not dialogue with those New Agers? In fact, I see a lot of parallels between Hubbaard and Suzuki. Do you think the Apostles and their disciples should not have dialogued with the Zoraostrians, the Hindus or the Scythians? Of course not. So why the prejudice against New Agers?

The South Bend Tribune has a story on the controversy now.

In the rhetorical line of work, Your Excellency, it's important to husband your resources and to make the expression of your outrage commensurate with the iniquity you are denouncing, mindful that an uncaring future may cast up still greater evils at any moment. Yes, we know that you are mighty upset by this Obama contraception kerfuffle. You consider it an abomination and a desecration, and we stand as always in awe of your judgment.But consider that Obama may very soon order the Department of Homeland Security, which has by now exhausted every other means of safeguarding the nation, to institute the sacrifice of virgins. If you have already used up Hitler and Stalin, who will be left to compare him to? Catiline maybe, or Wile E. Coyote?In profound respect and loving submission, Your Excellency, we urge you to exercise restraint.

Perspective in a nutshell. Thank you, John Prior.Perhaps it is time to examine the minutes of the meetings of the Universitys highest authority, the Board of Fellows. His Eminence is obviously well practiced to orate as he recently did. Such effluvium doesn't come from an untrained mind and tongue. What does the record show?

Love the word -- effluvium-- can't wait to use it in a sentence!It's impressive to see all those names and disciplines and I hope it is not impolite to note in this column and to ask what Cathleen Kaveny thinks about all of this. I respect her and perhaps the deliberation and discernment that is quietly behind the scenes and not ripe for comment. Still, I wonder and hope it not impolitic to respectfully inquuire...

When Leftists proclaimed President Bush a fascist or a murderer, they all patted themselves on the back and chortled that it was all about free speech.

Ken, you cannot compare random ramblings of people on blogs to official speeches of a bishop in his teaching office. You cannot use insults heard on the street as an excuse for effluvium from a bishop in a speech. Let's compare apples to apples. When Bush was President of the United States, which active US bishop said that he was a fascist or a murderer?David P: I agree. That's the first thing I liked about the dotCommonweal blog: a chance to learn new words!

I have heard several people say that Jenky is being taken out of context. Personally I think he sounds even worse if you read the whole thing. Besides Stalin and Hitler, he also draws parallels with the Roman Emperors and Judas Iscariot. He wildly distorts the issue -- he says Catholic Institutions will be forced to pay for abortion. Not so -- we are talking about paying for birth control, not abortion. In other words insurance will be paying for something that many people are going to get anyway, at least those who can afford it. He does this absurd fear mongering, basically saying that if Obama wins all our Catholic schools and hospitals "could easily be shut down" within a year. Does any one really think that Notre Dame and all the other Catholic Schools and hospitals across the country are goners if Obama wins? But yes, go ahead and read the whole thing and judge for yourself.

The issue again will be what ND leadership (Fr,Jenkins and Board) wil do.My intuition is that little otr nothing wil happen because they don't want to upset the big alumni contributors -some of whom may well lean to the righ tand hate Obama.As i many things in Holy Mother today, i beleive money (and spin to protect it) matters more than justice and honesty.So it goes.....

Speaking as someone who hates new age and non-new age mysticism of all kinds (I loathe the works of Thomas Merton), I think that Ann Olivier identified something that I think is critically, even glaringly absent from all these discussions: If you can't even listen to people like Barbara Marx Hubbard how on God's green earth do you plan to evangelize to the increasing number of people who see spirituality as she does (from what I can tell) as a force that radiates outward from the individual? Your whole vocabulary is going to sound like a foreign language. It already does to an awful lot of people. I also wonder at the struggle it must take to sustain the focus and commitment to a consecrated life, without having the "ordinary" elements of time suck to distract you. Most of us probably feel like we don't have enough time in the day to consider philosophical questions -- we have kids, jobs, etc. What if you had too much time? What if you had already read or heard a lot of authors? Maybe you wouldn't mind hearing from someone whose focus is radically different. If there is anyone I would willingly give the benefit of the doubt to, it's to women who have dedicated their lives however imperfectly to Christ and the Catholic Church. The rest of us are pathetic poseurs in comparison and our judgments should be informed by that recognition at all times.

Actually, I thought the homily started out not to badly - its first section had the makings of a pretty decent homily for Easter season.His initial, and probably fatal, wrong turn was to put Hitler and Stalin, and President Obama, in adjacent paragraphs, with the claim that the President "with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda, now seems intent on following a similar path." (Jean Raber, if you're reading, you once offered to send me a stack of freshman compositions to grade; I'm sorta doing that here).I suppose that, technically, Godwin's Law can't be invoked, because Jenky didn't make the analogy in an on-line discussion. But there should be an extension, or a corollary, or something, to Godwin's Law that would make it applicable to any public-square conversation.FWIW - the following bulletin article will run in our parish bulletin this Sunday or next, and presumably will run in many parish bulletins all over the US. It makes a different, less inflammatory, and more interesting historical reference. There is a call to action at the end, but arguably it is less partisan than Bishop Jenky's. just reinforces my opinion that individual bishops would be well-advised to check with the resources provided by their national conference before they start weighing in on issues of national moment. It seems that, almost invariably, the national conference's stuff is more well-considered and temperately expressed.

I will be teaching a 4 session, adult ed (non-credit) course this Fall in '"Faith and Religious Liberty in the Early American Tradition" or some catchier title. I am trying to show the changes from 1607 to 1819 -- colonial, revolution, early national, and issues on the horizon. This kind of NCCB document will be an intersting study in fact and distortion.

"I will be teaching a 4 session, adult ed (non-credit) course this Fall in Faith and Religious Liberty in the Early American Tradition or some catchier title. "You mean like those music appreciation classes that are entitled, "From Bach to Rock"? How about, "From the Stocks to Barack"? :-)

I like it, but it's far broader than my topic....I could do "Jamestown to James Madison: America's Struggle for 'Religious Liberty'"What think you?

"If you cant even listen to people like Barbara Marx Hubbard how on Gods green earth do you plan to evangelize to the increasing number of people who see spirituality as she does (from what I can tell) as a force that radiates outward from the individual? Your whole vocabulary is going to sound like a foreign language. It already does to an awful lot of people."Barbara --Unfortunately, you are 100% right. Poor Benedict. He strikes me as extremely well-intentioned, but he doesn't realize how dreadfully narrow his perception of the world really is. He saw his "Year of the Priest" fizzle, yet now he hopes for some success with his "New Evangelization"? It's hardly likely. Sad all around.Maybe his Courts of the Gentiles will open up his mind a bit. And maybe not :-(P. S. I'll pray you discover a mystic who speaks to you :-)

Why does the professors' letter not mention Bismarck and Clemenceau?

And what about the barbarians? Jenky also insulted our ancestors by comparing Obama to them. Agree that the professors should have mentioned Bismarck. (The Kulterkampf, after all, had an impact on the Catholic Church in this country. Many nuns, fleeing Prussia, came to America and joined houses of their orders here. Those who didn't go down with the Deutschland. )The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran a front-page story Sunday about how those who heard Jenky's Easter rant were delighted with it and with him. Letters to the Editor today include one from a woman who compares Obama to Henry VIII.

Dear Editor,Through good fortune I came across a recent homily by the Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, Bishop of Peoria . In it Bishop Jenky reminded me of the miracle of Christianity and how it's fabric is now under attack by Barack Hussein Obama II and his radical appointees. Obama's assault on Christian places of warship, healing and learning are unconscionable. But the truth is that this same president has also placed the homeland of the Jewish people in a desperate situation. It matters not what Obama's motivation is. Regardless of whether his actions are from ignorance, arrogance or part of a sinister agenda, we can't afford 4 more years of this. If America is going to survive economically, or culturally, we must vote with our God given Constitutional rights in mind. We must vote for someone whose parents loved this country.Too many people have died protecting our inalienably , God given rights to let Obama or anyone else ignore them. Despite Obama's statements to the contrary, America is a Judeo-Christian society.

"ND Faculty vs. Bishop Jenky" should read "3.8% of ND Faculty vs. Biship Jenky" and, indeed, Bishop Jenky should be hailed for his bravery in speaking out. Yes, the well-publicized April 22 letter was signed by about 50 ND faculty, which is about 1,250 short of all the faculty. 50/1,300 comes to about 3.8% so we're talking a "roaring mouse" here. ND's faculty has been watered down now to only 50 percent Catholic, and it shows - the Obama love affair just won't stop in South Bend.So, is that abortion-loving, partial-birth abortion-loving Barack Hussein Obama (who's now admitted the girlfriends in his autobiography were all made up) anything like Hitler and Stalin as the Bishop fears might be the case? You bet. Abortion is America's holocaust. 3,000 times per day live, preborn babies are put to death in America's abortuaries for the sake of modernity and convenience. ND would do well to pack its Board of Trustees with men of honor and courage of the likes of Bishop Jenky. He's true to his word and true to the Church.

If anyone is still following this thread here is my op-ed piece that appeared yesterday. It starts "Many have claimed that Bishop Daniel Jenky's words were taken out of context when he described President Obama as "seem[ing] intent on following a similar path" to Hitler and Stalin. I have read his entire homily, and I find his words even more disturbing after doing so."

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