Thursday, October 23, 2014

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Alumni to Notre Dame: Arrange for Departure of Trustee Who Supports HHS Mandate

The Sycamore Trust, an organization of University of Notre Dame alumni, is calling on the fellows of the Notre Dame Board of Trustees to “arrange for the departure from the Board of Trustees” of a new member who has publicly supported the HHS mandate.

The Cardinal Newman Society broke the news last month that Notre Dame named to its Board of Trustees Katie Washington, who has publicly supported the HHS mandate and criticized the U.S. bishops’ opposition to it.

Washington, Notre Dame’s valedictorian in 2010 and an M.D./Ph.D. candidate at the Johns Hopkins University Schools of Medicine and Public Health, contributed in 2012 with fellow Johns Hopkins students to an op-ed which appeared in the Baltimore Sun, saying, “We … strongly disagree with any employer — religious or otherwise —that would refuse to provide full insurance coverage, including contraception, for its employees.”

The Trust, in its latest bulletin, calls the appointment “inexplicable, insupportable, and incriminating.”

The appointment, says the Trust, also violates the U.S. bishops’ “Application for Ex Corde Ecclesiae for the United States,” which states that “each member of the board must be committed to the practical implications of the university’s Catholic identity.”

“In light of this revelation, the appointee, Katie Washington, a 2010 graduate, surely cannot be thought committed to Notre Dame's mission as a Catholic university nor a reliable counselor on issues relating to the school's Catholic identity,” the Trust stated in the bulletin. “Worse still, her appointment undermines Notre Dame's position in its lawsuit against the mandate.”

The Trust has also created a petition for which it is requesting signatures from those associated with Notre Dame—such as students, parents, and alumni.

“We submit that this recent appointment was a serious mistake with potentially damaging consequences to the university’s effort to secure relief from the HHS abortifacient / contraceptive / sterilization mandate,” the petition states. “The appointment, that is, may undermine Notre Dame’s lawsuit because of Ms. Washington’s now widely known public support of that mandate and her belittling the religious liberty claims that Notre Dame and other Church and religious organizations have asserted.”

Furthermore, the petition points out that the courts have already called into question Notre Dame’s sincerity in its lawsuit against the HHS mandate.

The Trust writes:

Did Ms. Washington disclose, as she should have? Was there not even the most cursory vetting? Do it yourself. Type "Katie Washington" and "contraception" in Google and look at what comes up. Did Father Jenkins and Mr. Chairman Notebaert, then, know? Was the board informed? Did some or all know and go ahead anyway?

… Whoever bears responsibility, at all events this appointee should resign or be asked to leave the board immediately to limit the damage as much as possible.

The Trust reports that they have not yet heard back from the Notre Dame administration on any of these issues.  Currently, the petition has more than 900 signatures.

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