Tom and Jerry: Defenders of All Things Right and Good

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Jenkins' Leadership: Seeking the Truth

In a previous post, I chronicled Father Jenkins’ stepping up to the plate in the midst of The Vagina Monologues debate. During his address to the faculty he expressed his leadership style, “On matters of significance, I will always strive to make decisions, consonant with my authority, according to my most informed and considered judgment about what is best for this university and its mission. I will not lead by consensus, nor by majority vote, nor in response to the pressures that individuals or groups inside or outside the university may bring to bear. However, prior to making a decision on an important matter, I will, as appropriate and practicable, strive to solicit and listen to the views of relevant individuals and groups. Central to the obligations of my office are the twin responsibilities of listening to the views of members of this community prior to a decision, and then making that decision.” In other words, he will seek the truth as a basis for his decisions. A friend of mine, who holds a PhD in Theology from Notre Dame, called Jenkins “a genuine scholar.” The latter has demonstrated such in his approach to this controversy. Many on both sides of the debate think his decision is a no-brainer. But academic freedom and Catholic character are both core values of the University of Notre Dame. Insofar as they conflict, a delicate balance must be struck. Not doing so will lead to secularism on one side and to indoctrination on the other. Notre Dame will lose its soul if it becomes “Catholic” in name only. But, it would lose its credibility and effectiveness in engaging our culture if it sacrifices academic freedom. There is an answer, and Father Jenkins is leading the way toward finding it.

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