Washington Post reporter Michael Leahy won’t be rooting for The University of Notre Dame in their national championship game versus Alabama tonight. Why? The answer isn’t the players, the coaches or the matchups. It’s because of abortion, birth control, and the University’s lawsuit against the HHS mandate.
In what can only be classified as one of the most outrageous attacks on The University of Notre Dame and The Catholic Church, the Washington Postpublished a column by reporter Michael Leahy offering reasons that Catholics shouldn’t root for Notre Dame. Leahy, who is not above name-calling accuses the Church and the University for being “dogmatic, frustrating change and stifling dissent” as well as a being a “nag.”
But our coolness toward Notre Dame also reflected fissures within the Catholic Church, cracks widening to this day over birth control, abortion rights and the broader matter of whether any dissent — particularly tough questions of the Vatican — will be tolerated by the Catholic hierarchy.
And to this day, Notre Dame remains a political and social battleground for American Catholics. The university’s invitation for President Obama to deliver the 2009 commencement addressbecame a national controversy, with conservative Catholics opposing the president’s positions on abortion rights and stem-cell research. And last year, the university filed suit against the federal government, seeking to overturn a requirement in Obama’s health-care law that employers offer insurance plans including contraception coverage — a move that more politically moderate church members resented, concerned that Notre Dame would seek to deprive women, Catholic or not, of such coverage…
Add the consternation over the school’s effort to impose its views of contraception on non-Catholics under the health-care law, and it is easier to understand the ambivalence today about Notre Dame, both the institution and its gilded team.
In such instances, Fighting Irish certitude looks like censorship, and the university becomes an apt symbol of the church that guides it — dogmatic, frustrating change and stifling dissent…
In its defense, the university can point to the graduation rate of its football players — it’s the highest among the big teams in the nation, and this is the first time that the leader in graduation is also tops in the polls — as evidence that the school has its priorities in order. This seems to be Notre Dame’s lasting, self-imposed role in sports: the earnest ethicist, the dogged standard-maker, the nag — much like the church felt to me in my youth.
Terence Jeffrey writes more about this outrageous column at CNS News.
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