FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE/AP) - Bishop John D'Arcy has responded to a letter written byUniversity of Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins to BishopOlmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix. A spokesperson for the Diocesesaid in a written statement that Bishop D'Arcy had to respond inorder to make corrections, since Fr. Jenkins "talking points" hadbeen made public.
Bishop Olmsted criticized Father Jenkins for his invitation toPresident Barack Obama to receive an honorary law degree at NotreDame's May 17 commencement.
Bishop D'Arcy will not attend graduation ceremonies because ofPresident Obama's views on abortion.
The "Statement to the Faithful" will appear in the April 26issue of Today's Catholic.
Bishop D'Arcy said the meaning of the 2004 statement by U.S.bishops is clear and if Jenkins had questions, he should havesought counsel from D'Arcy, not other university presidents. Hesays Jenkins' statement gives a flawed justification for theinvitation.
The following is the full text of Bishop John D'Arcy's "Statement to the Faithful"
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Recently, Father John Jenkins, CSC, in a letter of responseto Bishop Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix, who had written him,critical of the decision to invite President Obama to speak andreceive an Honorary Degree of Law at Notre Dame, indicated that itwas his conviction that the statement Catholics in Political Life(USCCB) did not apply in this matter. Father Jenkins kindly sent mea copy of his letter, and also at a later meeting, asked for aresponse.
In an April 15th letter to Father Jenkins, I responded to hisletter.
Now the points made in his letter have been sent by FatherJenkins to the members of the Notre Dame Board of Trustees and havebeen publicized nationally, as well as locally in the South BendTribune. Since the matter is now public, it is my duty as thebishop of this diocese to respond and correct. I take up thisresponsibility with some sadness, but also with the conviction thatif I did not do so, I would be remiss in my pastoralresponsibility.
Rather than share my full letter, which I have shared with somein Church leadership, I prefer to present some of the keypoints.
1. The meaning of the sentence in the USCCB document relative toCatholic institutions is clear. It places the responsibility onthose institutions, and indeed, on the Catholic community itself.
“The Catholic community and Catholic institutionsshould not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moralprinciples. They should not be given awards, honors or platformswhich would suggest support for their actions.” (Catholics inPolitical Life, USCCB)
2. When there is a doubt concerning the meaning of a document ofthe United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, where does onefind the authentic interpretation? A fundamental, canonical andtheological principal states that it is found in the local bishop,who is the teacher and law-giver in his diocese. (Cannon 330, 375§§ 1 & 2; 380; 381 § 1; 391 § 1; 392, &394 §1)
3. I informed Father Jenkins that if there was any genuinequestions or doubt about the meaning of the relevant sentence inthe Conference’s document, any competent canonist withknowledge of the tradition and love for Christ’s Church hadthe responsibility to inform Father Jenkins of the fundamentalprinciple that the diocesan bishop alone bears the responsibilityto provide an authoritative interpretation.
4. I reminded Father Jenkins that he indicated that he consultedpresidents of other Catholic universities, and at least indirectly,consulted other bishops, since he asked those presidents to sharewith him those judgments of their own bishops. However, he chosenot to consult his own bishop who, as I made clear, is the teacherand law-giver in his own diocese. I reminded Father Jenkins that Iwas not informed of the invitation until after it was accepted bythe President. I mentioned again that it is at the heart of thediocesan bishop’s pastoral responsibility to teach asrevealed in Sacred Scripture and the Tradition. (Lumen Gentium, 20;& Christus Dominus, 2) I reminded him that it is also centralto the University’s relationship to the Church. (Ex cordeecclesiae, 27 & 28; Gen. Norm., Art. 5, §§ 1-3.)
5. Another key point. In his letter to Bishop Olmsted and in thewide-spread publicity, which has taken place as the points in theletter have been made public, Father Jenkins declared theinvitation to President Obama does not “suggestsupport” for his actions, because he has expressed andcontinues to express disagreement with him on issues surroundingprotection of life. I wrote that the outpouring of hundreds ofthousands who are shocked by the invitation clearly demonstrates,that this invitation has, in fact, scandalized many Catholics andother people of goodwill. In my office alone, there have been over3,300 messages of shock, dismay and outrage, and they are stillcoming in. It seems that the action in itself speaks so loudly thatpeople have not been able to hear the words of Father Jenkins, andindeed, the action has suggested approval to many.
In the publicity surrounding the points Father Jenkins has made,he also says he is “following the document of thebishops” by “laying a basis for engagement with thePresident on this issue.” I indicated that I, like manyothers, will await to see what the follow up is on this issuebetween Notre Dame and President Obama.
6. As I have said in a recent interview and which I have said toFather Jenkins, it would be one thing to bring the President herefor a discussion on healthcare or immigration, and no person ofgoodwill could rightly oppose this. We have here, however, thegranting of an honorary degree of Law to someone whose activitiesboth as president and previously, have been altogether supportiveof laws against the dignity of the human person yet to be born.
In my letter, I have also asked Father Jenkins to correct,and if possible, withdraw the erroneous talking points, whichappeared in the South Bend Tribune and in other media outletsacross the country. The statements which Father Jenkins has madeare simply wrong and give a flawed justification for hisactions.
I consider it now settled – that the USCCB document,Catholics in Public Life, does indeed apply in this matter.
The failure to consult the local bishop who, whatever hisunworthiness, is the teacher and law-giver in the diocese, is aserious mistake. Proper consultation could have prevented anaction, which has caused such painful division between Notre Dameand many bishops, and a large number of the faithful.
That division must be addressed through prayer and action, and Ipledge to work with Father Jenkins and all at Notre Dame to healthe terrible breach, which has taken place between Notre Dame andthe Church. It cannot be allowed to continue.
I ask all to pray that this healing will take place in a waythat is substantial and true, and not illusory. Notre Dame andFather Jenkins must do their part if this healing is to take place.I will do my part.
Sincerely yours in our Lord,
Most Reverend John M. D'Arcy
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