In Response To The Anti-Gay Cartoon In Notre Dame’s Observer

First, a word from the president … of the University of Notre Dame:

The Jan. 13 issue of the University of Notre Dame’s student newspaper The Observer included a cartoon that was inappropriate and offensive.

“The University denounces the implication that violence or expressions of hate toward any person or group of people is acceptable or a matter that should be taken lightly,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president.

In accordance with Notre Dame’s Spirit of Inclusion, a formal statement adopted by the officers of the University in 1997, at Notre Dame “we prize the uniqueness of all persons as God’s creatures” and welcome " all people, regardless of color, gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, social or economic class, and nationality."

Further, “we value gay and lesbian members of this community as we value all members of this community. We condemn harassment of any kind” and “we consciously create an environment of mutual respect, hospitality and warmth in which none are strangers and all may flourish.”

The University respects The Observer’s status as an independent, student-run newspaper and appreciates that the editorial staff has issued an apology in its January 15th issue and that the cartoon’s authors also have expressed their regret. Notre Dame administrators will work with the Observer staff, as they say in their editorial, to “move forward, and….to promote…a culture of acceptance and support for all.”

In the wake of the publication of this cartoon, which has been widely covered in the media, all I could think was "here we go again." Certainly Fr. Jenkins’ words are welcome, especially when he says, “we value gay and lesbian members of this community as we value all members of this community. We condemn harassment of any kind” and “we consciously create an environment of mutual respect, hospitality and warmth in which none are strangers and all may flourish.” But as a Catholic institution, Notre Dame can only go so far.

Face it.

Please understand, this is not a slam at Catholicism. I do not believe Catholicism is limited to the Vatican, which many in the media seem to believe. All religions is local, to paraphrase former Speaker of the House Thomas "Tip" O’Neil. Church is what happens when I go to my parish and worship with my community. Our Catholic parish is open to all.

But Notre Dame is a bit more "on the map" than my parish is in the south suburbs of Chicago. As a Domer, I appreciate Fr. Jenkins words, but he needs to go much further. What does that mean? For that, I defer to Tom O’Brien ‘86, Michael August ‘96, Steven Saftig ’03, and Liam Dacey ‘04, officers of the Gay and Lesbian Alumni/ae of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College (GALA-ND/SMC):

As officers of the Gay and Lesbian Alumni/ae of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College (GALA-ND/SMC) for the past two years, we have encountered people on campus who disagree with us on many issues. What we have not encountered from the student body, faculty, or administration is the lack of respect evidenced by the publication of this hateful cartoon from other members of the Notre Dame community.

This is not a question of free speech. If the editors weren’t concerned with community standards, they wouldn’t have rejected the first version of the cartoon. No, the decision to publish it demonstrates a serious lack of judgment and lack of commitment to the Catholic belief in human dignity and stance against violence.
We know that the cartoon does not reflect the feelings of a majority of the people on the ND campus; and we have been heartened by many of the responses appearing in the Observer. But this will hurt the university unless it is clear that Notre Dame does not tolerate violence against any members of its community.

The author and editors seem to have missed the point of a Catholic education if they cannot see that LGBT students, faculty, staff and alumni are indeed members of the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s family and should be treated as such.

We make every attempt to share with people outside of campus the positive steps being made to improve the lives of the LGBT community at ND and SMC. Sometimes this takes convincing, even with our own membership. The publication of the cartoon is a prime example of why Notre Dame ranks first in The Princeton Review’s list of the most unwelcoming campuses for gay and lesbian students. The noise being generated by this will drown out any good news about the work being done by the students, faculty and Core Council. That’s not good news if you care about our university’s reputation.

The administration needs to take the lead in responding by holding panel discussions with the Observer, the faculty and the student body. GALA’s more-than-900 members are ready to join with the rest of the Notre Dame community in stating that the free flow of ideas can only occur if we respect each other.

Tom O’Brien ‘86, Michael August ‘96, Steven Saftig ’03, and Liam Dacey ‘04
GALA ND/SMC Officers

It’s time for Notre Dame to bring that respect to life. Fr. Jenkins and the University of Notre Dame Trustees need to step up.

Notre Dame’s Observer Apologizes for Gay-Bashing Cartoon

From NBC Chicago:

The independent student newspaper at the University of Notre Dame has published a staff editorial apologizing for a cartoon that made a joke about violence against gays.

“What’s the easiest way to turn a fruit into a vegetable?” one character ask another in the cartoon.

“No idea,” the second character replies.

“A baseball bat,” the first character says.

The editorial Friday says The Observer newspaper created an “egregious” error in judgment with the cartoon published two days earlier. Assistant managing editor Aaron Steiner said the newspaper plans to reveal the results of an internal review on Monday.

“Publishing commentary that seems to encourage or support hate against fellow human beings is inexcusable,” the editorial staff said.

As a Domer, I am beside myself, trying to understand how this slipped through the editorial process, how this made it to print.

All the editors of The Observer should resign.

This was inexcusable.

Honestly, these kids should be ashamed.

And that’s what they are.

Kids. Don’t advocate murder, ever again.  Because that’s what you did.

There’s still time for you to become adults.  Grow beyond this gaffe.  Step back.

You’ll be fine.

But you gotta eat crow on this one.  That’s all.

No Bowl for Notre Dame

Charlie Weis likely put in his last official appearance as Notre Dame’s football coach Friday night. It was the team’s annual football banquet. And, lucky for Irish fans everywhere, there will be no bowl game to suffer through this year.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Notre Dame’s disappointing season arrived at two punctuation marks Friday: Officially, there will be no bowl appearance, and dismissed coach Charlie Weis made what is likely his final appearance with the program in an official capacity.

Weis attended the team banquet Friday night, presenting team awards and speaking to players, coaches, staff, families and guests, according to a release that provided no further detail.

Weis did not address the team in full upon his dismissal Monday.

Earlier in the day, as expected, the Irish pulled themselves out of consideration for a bowl game. It’s the first time a bowl-eligible Notre Dame team hasn’t played in the postseason since 1996, after Lou Holtz resigned.

According to the Trib, Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate shared the MVP award.

I would have given the nod to Golden Tate alone. Jimmy Clausen is overrated. He’ll survive as a backup in the pros, but he won’t start.

Yes, I make predictions on matters relating to sports, which matter next to nothing anyhow.

Golden Tate has potential.

Charlie Weis Out as Notre Dame Coach

From the Chicago Tribune:

In a widely expected move, Charlie Weis is out as Notre Dame’s football coach, athletic director Jack Swarbrick announced today.

Swarbrick cut ties with Weis following a disappointing 6-6 season that ended Saturday with a 45-38 loss at Stanford. Weis has six years left on his contract.

“We have great expectations for our football program, and we have not been able to meet those expectations,” Swarbrick said. “As an alumnus, Charlie understands those goals and expectations better than most, and he’s as disappointed as anyone that we have not achieved the desired results.”

Swarbrick recommended the dismissal Sunday night to Notre Dame’s president, Rev. John Jenkins.

“We have established an evaluation process for all of our athletic programs that, in the end, results in a recommendation from Jack to me,” Father Jenkins said. “I accepted Jack’s decision and look forward to working with him on selecting a new head football coach who is the very best choice possible for the University and especially for our student-athletes.”

Whew.

Read more here.

Charlie Weiss Again Snatches Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

Unless Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick gets bizarre marching orders from above, today’s 45-38 loss to Stanford will serve as Charlie Weiss’ swan song. In a game full of spectacular offensive drives, Notre Dame’s defense collapsed time and time again to finally surrender the lead to Stanford’s resilient Hiesman-hopeful, Toby Gerhart.

From the Chicago Tribune:

The Irish ended up 45-38 losers to Stanford on a 4-yard touchdown run by Toby Gerhart in the final minute in a full-throttle race to test scoreboard capacity, blowing another double-digit lead and eradicating Weis’ slim hope to return and prolonging a miserable month.

The final score, really, was the only mystery here. Weis’ departure is expected within days, maybe hours, of the Irish’s early-morning return to South Bend, Ind., Sunday.

From the Sun-Times:

For all the media criticism of Weis, those attending his professorial weekly news conferences learned a lot about football. They learned that if an elite high school coach became an NFL offensive coordinator, his head would swim with Xs and Os. They also learned that an NFL offensive coordinator is just as overmatched coaching a team composed mainly of freshmen and sophomores.

That Weis spent so much time playing three-card Monte with young and inexperienced signal-callers heading into the 2007 season was the first sign of his failure to understand how to develop a young team. Instead of an identity, he gave them a split personality.

When his team needed a steady dose of Football 101, Weis delivered graduate-level courses. The program would never fully recover, and it would be a lack of fundamentals that would be largely responsible for where the Irish find themselves heading into today’s game at Stanford, which likely will be Weis’ last as ND’s coach.

Just when his teams learned how to block, they forgot how to tackle.

And a suggestion for ND’s next head coach from David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune:

An Irish change of the guard appears to be under way that, if governed correctly, will alter college football’s balance of power. As Charlie Weis coached what was believed to be his final regular-season game in an entertaining 45-38 loss Saturday night on the Farm, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops dodged rumors back in America’s heartland.

Bob Stoops at Notre Dame? With the schedule and talent in place, Stoops could promise his next recruiting class it will play in a national title game, and it wouldn’t sound like blarney.

What a tough year it was to be Irish.

On the off chance Notre Dame is offered a bowl bid, we can only hope and pray AD Swarbrick spares us all the embarrassment.

Trib: Jimmy Clausen Gets Black Eye in Fight Outside Bar

Jimmy Clausen recieved a figurative black eye from Connecticut Saturday, losing in double overtime. It would appear an altercation outside a South Bend bar was enough to give him a real black eye.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Starting quarterback and team captain Jimmy Clausen was involved in an altercation outside a South Bend, Ind., bar in the hours after a double-overtime loss to Connecticut on Saturday, taking a punch to the face in the incident, sources told the Tribune.

Clausen suffered at least one black eye as a result of the punch, according to a source.

A spokesman for Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said he could not reach Weis for comment Monday night.

A South Bend police spokesman said Monday no police reports were filed over the weekend that involved Clausen.

The particulars of the confrontation are unclear, though a person answering the phone at CJ’s Pub, the bar in question, said the incident "absolutely did not take place inside the bar."

WGN-AM 720’s David Kaplan reported that it occurred at 2:30 a.m. Sunday.

Charlie Weis Throws the Game to Michigan

Commentary from an Angry Domer

Charlie Weis made sure Michigan would beat Notre Dame today. This Domer is not pleased.

And I love these quotes from Michigan:

A dropped TD pass didn’t deflate Tate Forcier. The Michigan freshman simply threw another one on the next play.

After LaTerryal Savory bobbled and dropped a reception that would’ve been a go-ahead touchdown with just seconds remaining, Forcier hit Greg Mathews for a 5-yard score with 11 seconds left, lifting the Wolverines to a 38-34 win over No. 18 Notre Dame on Saturday.

"It will go down in history as one of the greatest games in the Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry," Mathews said. "I’m glad I got a chance to play in it."

Armando Allen ran for a touchdown and got the 2-point conversion on a nifty Statue of Liberty play with 5:13 left after Jimmy Clausen threw his third touchdown pass to give the Fighting Irish (1-1) the lead. But Charlie Weis chose to throw instead of trying to run time off the clock and Notre Dame’s defense could not deny Forcier and the Wolverines (2-0).

"I think it was mistake that they were throwing the ball because they let us save our timeouts," Forcier said. "Those timeouts definitely came in handy.

"I wasn’t expecting them to throw the ball. It really helped us."

No kidding.

I was having dinner with a friend at a local Chinese restaurant watching the game. With Notre Dame in the lead, all Charlie Weis’ fair-haired boy Jimmy Clausen had to do was run the ball. Run time off the clock. Make Michigan use its time-outs. Just don’t, don’t, under any circumstances, don’t throw the ball. Don’t take a chance on an interception. Don’t throw the ball. Control the game. And, of course, don’t throw the ball.

But Charlie had other plans. Charlie wanted to make Notre Dame work for the victory, and give Michigan another chance.

Charlie ordered pass plays. And Clausen failed miserably, unable to connect with any of his receivers, some of his passes flying wildly off-target.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Clausen completed 25 of 42 passes for 336 yards and three TDs, but he missed some throws throughout the game that proved to be costly.

That kind of thing tends to happen when you’re over-confident.

My dad tells me Weis boasted before the game that ND had a superior team, that Michigan would be no problem at all.

Sorry, Charlie. That’s the kind of arrogance that loses ball games.

Congratulations to Michigan. Did Charlie Weis bet against the Irish? I doubt it.

But he made certain they wouldn’t win.

Notre Dame Welcomes Obama with Thunderous Applause

Graduating students, faculty and guests just welcomed President Barack Obama with thunderous applause.

Commencement activities have just gotten under way, and there is no doubt that Notre Dame loves Barack Obama.

A commentator on CNN is stressing the “all Catholic bishops” object to the president receiving this degree at Notre Dame.  The number is slightly more than 70, and that represents only 20% of all American bishops.

CNN needs to give more time to Rev. Jim Martin.  This talking head from EWTN is a loose cannon and a joke.

Watch live now on CNN: http://www.cnn.com

Notre Dame’s Pres Jenky Writes to ’09 Grads About Obama

Earlier this week, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., sent the following letter regarding Commencement to the Class of 2009.

Visit the ND website to view the Commencement ceremonies that will be broadcast live via streaming video. For the University Commencement Ceremony, the live video will be available starting at 12:45 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 17. The academic procession begins at 1:15 p.m. ET and the ceremony starts at 2:00 p.m. ET.

The text of the letter follows:

May 11, 2009

Dear Members of the Notre Dame Graduating Class of 2009:

This Sunday, as you receive your degrees at Commencement, your joy – and that of your families – will be shared by the faculty, staff, and administration of the University. We have had the privilege of laboring with each of you to inquire and discover, to teach and to learn, and we will send you off with affectionate and fond hopes for the future.

For those of you who are undergraduates, I feel a special kinship. You arrived in your dorm rooms as I arrived in the President’s Office. You have learned much; I may have learned more. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to learn with you, come to know you, and to serve you during our time together at Notre Dame.

During your years here we have endeavored to train you in the various disciplines and urged you to ask the larger questions – discussing not only the technical and practical but also the ethical and spiritual dimensions of pressing issues. I have been proud of you as you’ve grappled with intellectual, political, and spiritual questions. But I have never been more proud than I have been watching the way you’ve conducted yourselves over the past several weeks.

The decision to invite President Obama to Notre Dame to receive an honorary degree and deliver the Commencement address has triggered debate. In many cases, the debate has grown heated, even between people who agree completely on Church teaching regarding the sanctity of human life, who agree completely that we should work for change – and differ only on how we should work for change.

Yet, there has been an extra dimension to your debate. You have discussed this issue with each other while being observed, interviewed, and evaluated by people who are interested in this story. You engaged each other with passion, intelligence and respect. And I saw no sign that your differences led to division. You inspire me. We need the wider society to be more like you; it is good that we are sending you into that world on Sunday.

I am saddened that many friends of Notre Dame have suggested that our invitation to President Obama indicates ambiguity in our position on matters of Catholic teaching. The University and I are unequivocally committed to the sanctity of human life and to its protection from conception to natural death.

Notre Dame has a long custom of conferring honorary degrees on the President of the United States. It has never been a political statement or an endorsement of policy. It is the University’s expression of respect for the leader of the nation and the Office of the President. In the Catholic tradition, our first allegiance is to God in Christ, yet we are called to respect, participate in, and contribute to the wider society. As St. Peter wrote (I Pt. 2:17), we should honor the leader who upholds the secular order.

At the same time, and born of the same duty, a Catholic university has a special obligation not just to honor the leader but to engage the culture. Carrying out this role of the Catholic university has never been easy or without controversy. When I was an undergraduate at Notre Dame, Fr. Hesburgh spoke of the Catholic university as being both a lighthouse and a crossroads. As a lighthouse, we strive to stand apart and be different, illuminating issues with the moral and spiritual wisdom of the Catholic tradition. Yet, we must also be a crossroads through which pass people of many different perspectives, backgrounds, faiths, and cultures. At this crossroads, we must be a place where people of good will are received with charity, are able to speak, be heard, and engage in responsible and reasoned dialogue.

The President’s visit to Notre Dame can help lead to broader engagement on issues of importance to the country and of deep significance to Catholics. Ultimately, I hope that the conversations and the good will that come from this day will contribute to closer relations between Catholics and public officials who make decisions on matters of human life and human dignity.

There is much to admire and celebrate in the life and work of President Obama. His views and policies on immigration, expanding health care, alleviating poverty, and building peace through diplomacy have a deep resonance with Catholic social teaching. As the first African-American holder of this office, he has accelerated our country’s progress in overcoming the painful legacy of slavery and segregation. He is a remarkable figure in American history, and I look forward to welcoming him to Notre Dame.

As President Obama is our principal speaker, there will no doubt be much attention on your Commencement. Remember, though, that this day is your day. My fervent prayer is that May 17 will be a joyous day for you and your family. You are the ones we celebrate and applaud. Congratulations, and may God bless you.

In Notre Dame,

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
President

Notre Dame Student HAD Swine Flu

Throw another pork chop on the grill; the swine flu frenzy is just heating up.

The Sun-Times reports in a headline today: “Notre Dame student has swine flu.”

Indiana health officials reported the state’s first confirmed case of swine flu Tuesday in a student at the University of Notre Dame.

Although there have been no confirmed cases in Illinois, the University of Chicago Medical Center is “investigating a small number of potential swine flu cases,” spokesman John Easton said late Tuesday. “None of these people is severely ill.”

Easton wouldn’t say how many people had been tested.

Read just a bit further down in the story, and you have to wonder what the squealing is all about:

The unidentified Notre Dame student “has fully recovered and is in good health” after seeking treatment for flu-like symptoms at the university’s health center on April 22, the school said in a statement.

The student has fully recovered and is in good health.

Oh.  So the student HAD swine flu, and is fine now.

Forget that.  Time to start screaming in the streets.  Light candles at the Grotto!  Maybe it’s time for ND students to “T-P” the Dome in panic.  What is the administration doing?  Call in the National Guard!  Put Notre Dame on lock down!

Or, make sure you cough into the back of your arm if you have a cough, don’t touch your face, and wash your hands as necessary.