The key to a college’s Catholic identity is “what goes on in the classroom, who’s teaching and what they’re teaching,” writes the chairman of the Sycamore Trust, a group of alumni striving to protect the University of Notre Dame’s Catholic identity, in a letter to members this week.
Chairman William Dempsey writes that by that time the Sycamore Trust was formed in 2005, “With the honorable exception of the law and business schools, Catholic faculty representation [at Notre Dame] was in free-fall and had already plummeted far below the level the university had declared essential to its Catholic identity.”
Ex corde Ecclesiae, Blessed John Paul II’s apostolic constitution on Catholic universities, states that, “In order not to endanger the Catholic identity of the University or Institute of Higher Studies, the number of non-Catholic teachers should not be allowed to constitute a majority within the Institution, which is and must remain Catholic.”
Dempsey acknowledged that there has been some success at Notre Dame in hiring faithful Catholic faculty members, but expressed that there is not much immediate hope for more. He stated:
The result is that a secular rout no longer threatens. The downward Catholic faculty trajectory has been arrested. There has even been a slight upward tick.
But there is scant hope for more, for Father Jenkins [Notre Dame’s president] has established an annual hiring goal for Catholics that will not increase, and may decrease, Catholic faculty representation. Nor is there reason to expect the faculty to do better.
So the Sycamore Trust is committed to continuing its work, because the Trust “anticipate[s] neither the end times of Catholic identity nor its restoration.”
After eight years of Dempsey’s organized effort to restore Catholic identity at the University named after Our Lady, together with the work of The Cardinal Newman Society exposing scandal while promoting healthy developments, Notre Dame has exhibited greater attention to Catholic identity in some ways—for example, the University’s decision to renew its lawsuit against the Obama administration to halt the HHS mandate.
Dempsey listed other ways that Notre Dame has become more committed to Catholic identity, including:
…the departure of abortion and embryonic research supporters from the Notre Dame board of trustees; the disappearance of the Vagina Monologues and the Queer Film Festival; the withdrawal of notices for student internships in pro-abortion organizations; and the withdrawal of Father Jenkins from the board of an organization that promotes abortion and contraception.
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