It is the honour and responsibility of a Catholic University to
consecrate itself without reserve to the cause of truth. This is its way
of serving at one and the same time both the dignity of man and the good of the
Church, which has "an intimate conviction that truth is (its) real ally ...
and that knowledge and reason are sure ministers to faith"
~John Paul II
Ex Cord Ecclesiae
I've been thinking about truth lately, and while I've avoided the often repeated pitfalls of "What is Truth" I have been able to gain some perspective while pondering 'What is true and who am I' which are pretty foundational questions, the answers that we give the first guide the second.
When I first converted, some of the people who knew me in the years before I became Catholic asked me in one way or another why I wasn't an evangelical any longer. The best answer that I could give was that I didn't believe what evangelicals believe. The reciprocal, and positive, response to that is that I do believe what Catholics believe.
Initially this was a "good enough" answer, but now that I've been Catholic for eight years (well, in a month) not only do I believe what Catholicism teaches, but I have, in fact, become Catholic. It is more than simply the belief structure and sect that most closely matches my personal theological and philosophical leanings, it is a point of identity. When I judge myself, taking long looks in the mirror, I judge myself by the standard of this identity. There are times where I live out my Catholicity and there are times where I am not very catholic. The antidote to that is obviously repentance, confession, reparation.
Notre Dame, its catholicity at the very least, functions essentially the same way. It can call itself a catholic yet the truth of it's identity is revealed in it's actions. Its the difference between being a father and being a Dad. Catholicism demands more dedication than Brother Love's Travellin' Salvation Show. Its not enough to claim to be ardent and practicing, you actually have to do it. Or else, an antidote is needed; repentance, confession and reparation.
Every Catholic University, without ceasing to be a University, has a relationship to the Church that is essential to its institutional identity. As such, it participates most directly in the life of the local Church in which it is situated; at the same time, because it is an academic institution and therefore a part of the international community of scholarship and inquiry, each institution participates in and contributes to the life and the mission of the universal Church, assuming consequently a special bond with the Holy See by reason of the service to unity which it is called to render to the whole Church. One consequence of its essential relationship to the Church is that the institutional fidelity of the University to the Christian message includes a recognition of and adherence to the teaching authority of the Church in matters of faith and morals.
Notre Dame has been wandering in the woods for quite a while now. From actively dissenting and defiant faculty, campus activities such as the Vagina Monologues that depart from a genuine morality to awarding an honorary degree and providing a platform to speak to an ardent and practicing pro-culture of death politician, when does Notre Dame feel that it has 'consecrated itself without reserve to the cause of truth'?
Maybe the defiant faculty could be meandered around, certainly there are many faithful among them. QUestionable activities by some students can be explained. By no estimation or requrement are all students Catholic. However as the Keynote speaker at a formal event, not only taking a position of honor, but even being awarded an honorary degree, the pesident of the school, Fr. John Jenkins is acting directly, on behalf of the institution defying the Church and her Bishops.
It may not be common use any more to call this a culture war. The Keynote speaker himself said that culture war is so 1990's while mocking the pro-life movement during the campiagn. The language has changed. Maybe we can call it the Homeland Contengiency Contingency Operation. The fact is that this is a culture war regardless of what you would like to call it. This is more important than Kooky professors who teach kooky things. Its more important than Vagina Monologues. Its more important than Nine Trillion (!!!) in deficit spending or releasing terrorists into the United States. It is more important than Teleprompters and Pirates. Its more important than Capital Punishment and Clown Masses. This is the trump card in the deck.