Catholic Bishop Kevin Rhoades rebuked the University of Notre Dame this week for hosting a pro-abortion “propaganda” event with an abortion doula in contradiction to its Catholic mission.
Writing at Today’s Catholic, a publication of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Rhoades said the “reproductive justice” event at the Indiana Catholic university is causing “scandal” by promoting the opposite of justice: the killing of unborn babies in abortions.
“… this lecture is simply a conduit for activist propaganda that is not merely wrong, but squarely contrary to principles of basic human equality, justice, dignity and nonviolence that the Catholic Church, Notre Dame, and many others (including non-Catholics) have affirmed for millennia,” the bishop wrote.
The March 20 event, hosted by the Notre Dame Gender Studies Program and John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology and Values, included an abortion activist named Ash Williams, “a Black trans abortion doula, public intellectual and abolitionist community organizer.”
According to an event ad, Williams “has been vigorously fighting to expand abortion access by funding abortions and training other people to become abortion doulas.” An abortion doula is a non-medical position that typically involves providing emotional support and encouragement to pregnant mothers as they abort their unborn babies, perhaps by driving them to the appointment, holding their hand during the abortion or sitting with them afterward.
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The bishop said it is “acceptable” for Catholic schools to present students with diverse opinions, including those that contradict church teachings, because “we should have the confidence to seek the truth and hear competing scholarly points of view.”
However, he emphasized that the school must not abandon those teachings in doing so.
In the case of the “reproductive justice” event, Rhoades said the purpose was not to educate students about different views on abortion; rather, the goal was to encourage them to become abortion activists.
“The Gender Studies Program and the Reilly Center (and the other units on campus supporting them) are simply providing Williams — a person who literally facilitates abortions — a platform for unanswered pro-abortion activism,” he continued. “… It is clear from the past and planned events in this series that the organizers are not conducting a neutral inquiry or exploring the debates within this field.”
Rhoades also criticized Notre Dame for allowing the event, saying the school has a responsibility to educate students about the sanctity of human life. He wrote:
For a Catholic university, … alongside obligations to pursue truth for the sake of itself, advance knowledge, and educate students, there is the responsibility to explore the religious and theological dimensions of the questions under study, provide service, and form students and cultivate the university community in a way that reflects the Catholic Church’s understanding of and commitment to the dignity of the human person, justice, mercy, and the common good.
The bishop said true justice means fighting against abortion, which violently destroys innocent unborn children.
“Justice, mercy, love of neighbor, and respect for human dignity require that we protect the weak and marginalized from violence — including the violence of abortion,” he concluded. “And true justice requires us all to join together to create a world in which mothers, fathers, children, and families are loved and protected.”
The University of Notre Dame in Indiana is a Catholic school that is supposed to uphold the dignity and value of every human life, born and unborn, in accordance with Christian teaching. However, its leaders repeatedly have faced criticism in recent years for employing pro-abortion faculty and honoring individuals who promote killing unborn babies in abortions.
Last fall, for example, according to the Irish Rover, Professor Tamara Kay was offering to help students abort their unborn babies by advertising abortions to students on her office door and on social media.
Around the same time, the Rover reported how the university refused to be a sponsor at the Right to Life Michiana for its 50th annual benefit on Oct. 27 after more than a decade of supporting the pro-life organization.
A few years earlier, its administrators faced criticism after naming pro-abortion Biden administration official Pete Buttigieg as a faculty fellow. In 2019, a group of its professors blasted pro-life advocates as racists during a campus event hosted by the Notre Dame Gender Studies Department. And in 2016, the university faced a strong public outcry after it gave one of its most prestigious awards to Joe Biden, despite his pro-abortion record.