Tom and Jerry: Defenders of All Things Right and Good

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Some Questions for Father Jenkins

Last Wednesday, Father Jenkins, the President of the University of Notre Dame, sent an email to students and alumni. Therein, he expressed his congratulations to the graduating class for their accomplishments and emphasized that this commencement is their day. I could not agree more, and it is a shame that Father Jenkins’ decision to offer an honorary degree to the most pro-abortion U.S. President in history will likely overshadow their graduation day.

Father Jenkins reiterated his statement that Notre Dame is honoring Barack Obama for his accomplishments and positions on issues unrelated to abortion. This list of accomplishments somehow escaped the notice of the faculty of Arizona State University who refused to offer Obama an honorary degree precisely because the President has yet to accomplish much this early in his Administration. It seems Notre Dame has lower standards than ASU for awarding honorary degrees. It leads me to question if Notre Dame has any standards at all.

In that vein, I have a few questions for Father Jenkins. Is there any position a Notre Dame Commencement speaker could hold which, despite his or her other laudable accomplishments, would disqualify him or her from receiving an honorary degree? For example, would a proponent of eugenics, a denier of the holocaust, a white supremacist, an advocate of destructive medical experimentation on human beings or a suborder of genocide be denied an honorary degree from Notre Dame?  

If there exists some position so diametrically opposed to fundamental Catholic moral teaching so as to disqualify an otherwise worthy candidate from receiving honorary degree, then why is that position worse than ushering in an unprecedented expansion of legal protection and federal funding for the legalized murder of millions of innocent children?


  • Did you hear about the multi-million dollar deal signed between NBC and ND for the televising of ND football games? I'm sure that NBC's being in the tank for Obama had nothing to do with his decision to "honor" this politician.

    Tio Roger

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Monday, May 18, 2009 2:33:00 PM  

  • The current deal with NBC was announced on June 19, 2008. At that point, Obama had not won the presidential election, let alone been offered to give the 2009 commencement address.

    NBC has been televising Notre Dame football home games every year since 1991. As of the end of the 1989 college football season, CBS was abandoning college football coverage (they would eventually return some years later, televising SEC and Big East games), leaving ABC as the only national non-cable network with a college football package. Unfortunately, ABC still had a deal with the Big 10 and PAC 10, meaning games involving teams outside those conferences would be relegated to regional coverage. NBC sports, who was interested in getting into college football coverage but did not have the resources to cover multiple games at multiple venues, saw an opening, and offered ND a huge sum of money for rights to their home games. NBC and Notre Dame inked their initial deal in February 1990, with NBC set to begin its coverage in the 1991 season.

    The contract comes up for renewal every 4-5 years. Due to decreasing ratings over the last 15 years (matching Notre Dame football's struggles on the field), the current television contract is for quite a bit less money than the original contract.

    Perhaps, just once, could you actually do a tiny bit of fact checking into what it is you are talking about in regards to Notre Dame before you decided to post?

    By Blogger Jerry, at Monday, May 18, 2009 8:34:00 PM  

  • Jerry,

    I sincerely regret having upset you. You're right. I don't know Fr. Jenkins, and should not impugne his motives. As far as I know, he is a good and holy priest with his only goal the greater glory of God. And, it's also true that I know virtually nothing about Notre Dame.

    Tio Roger,
    Arizona State University, Class of '65

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wednesday, May 20, 2009 10:11:00 AM  

  • Sorry about the misspelling of "impugn".

    Tio Roger

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wednesday, May 20, 2009 10:15:00 AM  

  • Tio:

    Thank you for your message.

    I don't know what Fr. Jenkins' motives were regarding the Obama thing. From what I've heard, even those close to him often really don't know what he's thinking - he tends to play things really close to the vest. I was very disappointed by his actions throughout the whole episode, from the invite (which was inappropriate) and honorary law degree (which was a travesty; couldn't they made it for political science or something instead of law?), to his clumsy attempt to tell the bishops how to interpret their own document, to his drafting Mary Ann Glendon into the role of "rebuttal witness", all the way to the extended tongue bath he gave Obama during his commencement speech. All this from a guy who has marched with the pro-lifers (which Fr. Monk Malloy, the ND president when Tom and I were there, refused to do) and provided the start-up capital for the Center for Ethics and Culture.

    I sincerely hope that he is replaced at the end of his 6-year term, which will be decided next summer.

    By Blogger Jerry, at Wednesday, May 20, 2009 11:59:00 AM  

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