What Fr. Jenkins said at Notre Dame…

“Torn by division…”

University President Fr. John Jenkins acknowledged the controversy surrounding President Barack Obama's presence at Commencement in his remarks Sunday.
University President Fr. John Jenkins acknowledged the controversy surrounding President Barack Obama's presence at Commencement in his remarks Sunday.

Editors Note:  

[As of 7:30 p.m. West Coast time no transcript of Fr. Jenkins remarks can be found. Here are the “highlight’s” according to the ND Observer…]


james mary evans

The University president’s remarks and introduction of Obama did not shy away from the firestorm that erupted after the initial announcement of the 2009 University Commencement speaker and the differing opinions of the Church and the president on the protection of life. 

Jenkins described Notre Dame’s hope for the 2009 graduates, as well as recognized they are entering a world that is “torn by division.” 

“Differences must be acknowledged, and in some cases cherished,” Jenkins said, expressing a sentiment that was later echoed in Obama’s address. “But too often differences lead to pride in self and contempt for others, until two sides – taking opposing views on the same difference – demonize each other. Whether the difference is political, religious, racial, or national – trust falls, anger rises, and cooperation ends … even for the sake of causes all sides care about.” 

Jenkins said “the supreme challenge of this age” is “easing the hateful divisions between human beings.””If we can solve this problem,” he said, “we have a chance to come together and solve all others.”

Notre Dame, as a Catholic university, is “specially called,” Jenkins said, to meet this challenge.

“We are called to serve each community of which we’re a part, and this call is captured in the motto over the door of the east nave of the Basilica: ‘God, Country, Notre Dame,” Jenkins said. 

He said in serving the church, the University can “persuade believers by appeals to both faith and reason.”

“As we serve our country, we will be motivated by faith, but we cannot appeal only to faith. We must also engage in dialogue that appeals to reason that all can accept,” Jenkins said.

Quoting Pope Benedict XVI from his 2008 remarks delivered on the South Lawn of the White House, Jenkins said “genuine faith does not inhibit the use of reason; it purifies it of pride and distorting self-interest.

“Tapping the full potential of human reason to seek God and serve humanity is a central mission of the Catholic Church,” he said. “The natural place for the Church to pursue this mission is a Catholic university.”

Graduates of Notre Dame, following in an academic tradition spanning nearly one thousand years, Jenkins said, go forth with the duty to “serve the common good.”

Out of this duty, he said, we seek to foster dialogue with all people of good will, regardless of faith, background or perspective. We will listen to all vies, and always bear passionate witness for what we believe.

“Insofar as we play this role, we can be what Pope John Paul II said a Catholic university is meant to be – ‘a primary and privileged place for a fruitful dialogue between the Gospel and culture.'”

Addressing the attention surrounding Obama’s visit to the University, Jenkins said “we honor all people of good will who have come to this discussion respectfully and out of deeply held conviction.” 

He said the majority of the debate about the president’s visit had centered on Notre Dame’s decision to invite and honor Obama, while “less attention has been focused on the president’s decision to accept.”The crowd erupted in applause at these words, and Jenkins made clear the invitation to Obama does not signal agreement on all of the president’s stances. 

“President Obama has come to Notre Dame, though he knows full well that we are fully supportive of Church teaching on the sanctity of human life, and we oppose his policies on abortion and embryonic stem cell research,” Jenkins said, again interrupted by applause. 

“Others might have avoided this venue for that reason,” he said, “But president Obama is not someone who stops talking to those who differ with him.”

Jenkins turned to address Obama directly after again pausing for applause.

“Mr. President: This is a principle we share,” he said. 

Quoting a pastoral constitution from the Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, which states, “Respect and love ought to be extended also to those who think or act differently than we do in social, political and even religious matters. In fact, the more deeply we come to understand their ways of thinking through such courtesy and love, the more easily will we be able to enter into dialogue with them,” Jenkins said that in order to begin that process, “we can start by acknowledging what is honorable in others.” 

Praising the president for “the qualities and accomplishments the American people admired in him when they elected him,” Jenkins closed his remarks by introducing Obama to the crowd.


5 thoughts on “What Fr. Jenkins said at Notre Dame…”

  1. How inspiring – to the abortionists – were Obama’s words on abortion to the Notre Dame audience. One would have thought that he could be, at least, a little original. But, no, he mouthed the same old mantra that all the proaborts have been saying to 30 plus years. Here is what he was really saying:
    1. Let’s set a standard for what children we allow to be born.
    2. Let’s kill those children who happen to get conceived by chance because they may not come up to our standards.
    3. Let’s use human beings for the benefit of other, more worthy human beings because we are all expendable.
    And learned professors and clergy clapped for this monstrous nonsense.

    1. Camille–

      Monstrous nonsense. The perfect headline. (I’ll be using this)…

      As I said here:

      “On Sunday, May 17th, at 2 p.m. in the afternoon Herod is scheduled to walk into Joyce Center on the Campus of Notre Dame University in St. Joseph County, Indiana. In the 2 hours that Herod will spend paying homage before the Body of Christ with words, 275 innocent children will perish within the wombs of their mothers in the United States. The total number of infanticides carried out by Herod’s soldiers in the lands of this new world Bethlehem will number 3,288 that day; a number that may well match the death count of Holy Innocents in the small town of Bethlehem and surrounding areas following Jesus’ escape from Herod into Egypt.”

      And it has come to pass… The spiritual evil underlying the beast of abortion has had his day at Notre Dame, the numbers don’t lie or “fudge” the reality, and there is nothing new under the son.

      Let us be thankful that 80 or so Bishops stood up on behalf of the dignity of children in the womb and pray for those others who remained silent…

      Grace. Blessings. Peace. Life…

  2. Fr. Jenkins is illogical. He constantly contradicts himself and sound reason. He indulges in oxymorons. How can one “appeal to reason that all can accept” when the premises contradict each other. There is only one reasonable position and that is truth. Neither he or President Obama can abide with that. They both belong to Pontius Pilot’s Club.

  3. In fact a certain recipient of an honorary degree at Notre Dame (my Lord, what an indignity for our Mother…we owe her prayers of reparation0 is in fact complicit in the murder of thousands of innocent infants in the womb. I guess one could plead ignorance due to the science being above one’s pay grade. Then one might not be culpable. Are you culpable, when you are merely taking stands that permit you to be elected by the ignorant population of educated and brain washed people like the students of the Class of ’09, who can’t seem to ferret out the real truth as opposed to that other truth.

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