Notre Dame President to Join March for Life, Form Pro-Life Task Force on Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 17, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Notre Dame President to Join March for Life, Form Pro-Life Task Force on Abortion

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 17
, 2009

South Bend, IN ( — In apparent attempt to regain favor with pro-life Catholics upset that Notre Dame invited pro-abortion President Barack Obama to give its commencement address and gave him an honorary degree, university president John Jenkins says he will attend the 2010 March for Life.

Jenkins is also setting up a task force to promote the pro-life perspective on campus.

"Coming out of the vigorous discussions surrounding President Obama’s visit last spring, I said we would look for ways to engage the Notre Dame community with the issues raised in a prayerful and meaningful way," Jenkins writes in a note to Notre Dame staff and students.

"As our nation continues to struggle with the morality and legality of abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and related issues, we must seek steps to witness to the sanctity of life. I write to you today about some initiatives that we are undertaking," he said.

"Each year on January 22, the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, the March for Life is held in Washington D.C. to call on the nation to defend the right to life. I plan to participate in that march. I invite other members of the Notre Dame Family to join me," Jenkins continues.

The Notre Dame president said law professor Professor Margaret Brinig will chair the Task Force on Supporting the Choice for Life along with theology professor Professor John Cavadini.

Jenkins says the task force is charged with the objective of giving him recommendations on the ways Notre Dame can "can support the sanctity of life."

He says possibilities include promoting a conscience clause, supporting pregnant women, and promoting adoptions.

Jenkins also touts the work of the Women’s Care Center pregnancy center and encourages staff and students to get involved in it.

"Our Commencement last spring generated passionate discussion and also caused some divisions in the Notre Dame community. Regardless of what you think about that event, I hope that we can overcome divisions to foster constructive dialogue and work together for a cause that is at the heart of Notre Dame’s mission," the Notre Dame president concludes.

The Jenkins missive is already drawing a poor response from pro-life Catholics turned off by his actions during the Obama graduation scandal.

"Apparently the irony was lost on Jenkins that while he will be preparing to protest against Roe v. Wade, the actual Roe, Norma McCorvey, will be preparing for her criminal trial for protesting at Notre Dame after she was arrested under orders from Father Jenkins," notes pro-life advocate Tom Brejcha of the Thomas More Society legal group.

Brejcha says Jenkins has "so far, refused to drop the charges brought against McCorvey and the rest of the ‘ND 88,’ the dozens of pro-life protestors arrested last spring for ‘crimes’ such as saying the rosary and wearing pro-life t-shirts," he said.

"Jenkins, of course, failed to mention that the decision has cost the University millions of dollars as large numbers of Notre Dame alumni have discontinued previous commitments to donate money to the school and as many as half of alumni have openly refused to make further donations to the University, citing the Obama invitation as the reason," he said.

Brejcha, president and chief counsel of Thomas More Society and a 1965 Notre Dame graduate, said he was very encouraged to read Father Jenkins’ email.

"Every statement or signal we had received from Notre Dame officials since last May had been hostile at worst and at best seemingly indifferent toward those in the pro-life movement who felt that the university had turned away from the pro-life movement or, worse, rebuked it," he said.

"It remains to be seen whether Father Jenkins is prepared to follow up this announcement with another decisive, positive and concrete step in the right direction — calling a halt to the ongoing prosecution of those arrested last May," he said.

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