Friday, August 22, 2014

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Former Bishop to University of Notre Dame Passes Away

Bishop John M. D’Arcy, bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, died Sunday after a battle with lung and brain cancer. He was 80.

D’Arcy passed away on the 56th anniversary of his first Mass as an ordained priest, according to a statement from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

“I am filled with deep sadness at the death of a dear friend and brother bishop,” said current Bishop Kevin Rhoades. “We mourn the death of a good shepherd after the heart of Christ, a bishop who loved the Lord and his people with all his heart.”

Bishop D'Arcy was ordained a priest on Feb. 2, 1957, and installed bishop of the diocese on May 1, 1985.

While fond of Notre Dame, Bishop D'Arcy was also publicly at odds with certain decisions made by the University of Notre Dame, especially concerning the University's annual performance of The Vagina Monologues.

In 2004, Bishop D'Arcy issued a strong statement opposing the University's decision to present the Monologues. At that time, Bishop D'Arcy wrote:

Indeed, it can truly be said that woman, like man, can only find herself by giving herself to others. This has always been a welcome theme at Notre Dame. The theme, however, finds no place in the text in question. In that text, the physical is separated from the spiritual. The body is separated from love. The woman is separated from the man and is even placed in opposition to him. There is nothing of beauty here, nothing of love. There is much here which Notre Dame has stood against and has opposed in recent times, both in administrative decisions and in pastoral work. It is especially painful that this play is being performed at Notre Dame, the school of Our Lady, as many of her graduates call her.

The Vagina Monologues is offensive to women; it is antithetical to Catholic teaching on the beautiful gift of human sexuality and also to the teachings of the Church on the human body relative to its purpose and to its status as a temple of the Holy Spirit. The human body and the human person, in the tradition of the Church, must never be seen as an object.

This play violates the truth about women; the truth about sexuality; the truth about male and female, and the truth about the human body.

It is in opposition to the highest understanding of academic freedom. A Catholic university seeks truth. It is never afraid of truth, but it seeks it with respect for both reason and faith. Each gives light and guidance to the other. How has the light coming from faith, or indeed from right reason, been brought to bear on this decision?

Despite Bishop D'Arcy's, alumni, student and parent protestations, the University continued to present the play. In 2008, Bishop D'Arcy responded with a lengthy public statement to President Father John Jenkins' decision to continue to allow the performance on campus.

"I must publicly and respectfully disagree with Father Jenkins’ decision. I am convinced that permitting performances of “The Vagina Monologues” is not consistent with the identity of a Catholic university and not comparable to the long accepted academic tradition through which a wide variety of authors are read and discussed in classes at Notre Dame and in all institutions of higher learning."

In 2009, Bishop D’Arcy boycotted the University’s commencement ceremony where President Barack Obama was to deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary degree, due to the President's pro-abortion policies. In a statement released by the Diocese at the time, D’Arcy said he would not attend the event because “a bishop must teach the Catholic faith ‘in season and out of season,’ and he teaches not only by his words — but by his actions.”

Bishop D'Arcy stepped down from his office later that same year. Funeral services for Bishop D’Arcy have not yet been set, according to the diocese.

Catholic Education Daily is an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society. Click here for email updates and free online membership with The Cardinal Newman Society.

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