Sunday, February 25, 2018

University of Notre Dame abandons Catholic teachings

Now not a place for Catholic parents to send their children to.  Doubtful that the whited sepulchre who runs it believes in anything at all

The University has announced it is to be the sole funder, unaccompanied proprietor, and director of distribution of what it has solemnly declared for years to be an immoral service. But the Holy Spirit is not a consequentialist. God does not want us to weigh up pros and cons of adhering to the moral truth. And the greatest respect we can show others is to bear faithful witness to the truth.

As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s prophetic affirmation (in Humanae vitae) of the Church’s perennial teaching that contraception is always morally wrong, it is perhaps fitting that contraception, notwithstanding its widespread acceptance even among Catholics, is much in the news. The news has mainly had to do with the Trump administration’s courageous decision to nullify the Obamacare “contraception” mandate, at least for those employers who conscientiously object to being made providers of drugs and devices including abortifacients, as well as the Pill, IUDs, and other simple contraceptives.

The administration’s new regulations provide a total exemption from any legal duty to pay for these drugs and devices or even to facilitate their use in a remote way. My employer, the University of Notre Dame, is eligible to take that exemption. In fact, along with many other religious institutions, Notre Dame sued the United States several years ago to secure precisely that relief. And note well: these institutions sued for total exemption, even though they were already beneficiaries of an Obama-era “accommodation” that relieved them of any duty to directly fund or distribute contraception or abortifacients.

In its lawsuit, Notre Dame cited chapter and verse of Church teaching. Its pleadings and supporting papers amounted to a sound, and at times moving, argument that it would betray the faith if it were to accept even the watered-down involvement of the “accommodation.” The University said, basically, that, to remain faithful to its beliefs, it could not be involved in any way whatsoever with a process designed to provide contraceptives to its employees, its students, or their dependents. Just so.

Yet, in spite of its sworn declarations that Catholic faith precludes doing so, the University announced in late 2017 that it would decline the proffered exemption and instead stay the course prescribed to it by the Obama administration. This decision surprised many observers (though, truth be told, not this one). Notre Dame’s choice came under withering public criticism, on and off campus, from (among others) the University Faculty for Life and the Sycamore Trust, an alumni group dedicated chiefly to encouraging Our Lady’s University to live up to its stated Catholic mission.

On February 7, the University changed course yet again. In a letter to the entire campus community, President John Jenkins, CSC, announced new “steps based on Catholic principles that nevertheless provide access to some of the coverage that members of our community seek.” In one “step” Notre Dame rightly repudiated any role in providing abortifacients (such as Plan B and ella) for, as Fr. Jenkins wrote, these things destroy “an innocent human life.”

Sadly, however, Fr. Jenkins chose to go all-in on contraceptives. He wrote: “the University will provide coverage in the University’s own insurance plans for simple contraceptives (i.e., drugs designed to prevent conception).” This “step” is really a giant leap into immorality. Under the Obama administration’s “accommodation,” Notre Dame did not directly fund contraception and was only peripherally involved in providing access to it. Now the University is to be sole funder and proprietor of a contraception giveaway, with only the logistics of it delegated by Notre Dame to its plan administrators. What it solemnly declared for years to be morally impossible is, suddenly, the substance of Notre Dame’s free choice.

Many on campus will congratulate Fr. Jenkins for a wise and even Solomonic decision. Many others will disagree, in silence. But there can be no doubt that Notre Dame, according to its own sworn declarations, has betrayed the Catholic faith. Fr. Jenkins and all others involved in making this fateful, gravely wrong choice should be rebuked. One expects that, now, the local bishop will have no choice but to publicly do so. Leave aside the prospect that anything Bishop Rhoades could do or say would cause Notre Dame yet again to change course. His duty to protect all the faithful in his care from this grave scandal will compel him to speak out.

Fr. Jenkins’s announcement is, however, worse than all that. The harm to so many persons’ minds, bodies, and souls unleashed by Notre Dame’s embrace of contraception is great, and perhaps incalculable. But, in the course of rationalizing his decision, Fr. Jenkins supplied a primer about how Catholics should make all sorts of morally important decisions that is not only mistaken, but catastrophic for the moral life.

Here is the relevant part of Fr. Jenkins’s announcement. First, he affirmed that contraception is “contrary to Catholic teaching.” But then he observed that “many [people on campus] conscientiously disagree with this particular teaching.” Fr. Jenkins wrote that Notre Dame “must be unwavering in our fidelity to our Catholic mission at Notre Dame, while we recognize that among the values in our Catholic tradition is a respect for other religious traditions and the conscientious decisions of members of our community.” He stated that a “tension exists between establishing policies in accord with Catholic teaching and respecting the religious traditions and decisions of the many members of our community.” This “tension” is particularly acute when it comes to healthcare. Fr. Jenkins also noted that, several years after submitting to the Obama accommodation, “some of those enrolled in our health plans—an increasingly diverse group—have come to rely on access to contraceptives through enrollment in our plans.” Ergo, according to the university president, Notre Dame will become a contraceptives distributor.

The grave and potentially disastrous error in Fr. Jenkins’s reasoning is that nothing in it has the slightest tendency to morally justify helping others—even people we respect deeply—to do what is morally wrong, even if they happen to believe otherwise. Our moral duty to respect others’ choices does not have anything to do with giving them the means to do evil. If the person working next to you shares his plan to, say, patronize a prostitute, it would be wrong to give him the cash to pay for it. There may be nothing you can do to stop a friend whom you generally respect from entering an adulterous relationship or from cooking the books of his small business. But surely one is morally bound not to give him the keys to one’s apartment for his assignations or to file a false tax return for him. Indeed, everything that Fr. Jenkins says about the campus community’s attitudes toward contraception would apply almost equally to abortifacients. Yet even he recognizes that paying for Plan B or ella would be wrong, no matter how much we might respect those who would take those drugs. The only reason Fr. Jenkins reversed course on February 7 was to eliminate the modest role Notre Dame played, per the Obamacare “accommodation,” in facilitating access to abortifacients. By that same measure of how much complicity in others’ immoral choices is too much, Notre Dame is much more obviously guilty of contraception than ever before.

In truth, one should not respect another’s specific immoral choice at all. Everyone’s immoral choices should be regretted, and their repetition discouraged, and their occurrences criticized appropriately. The word “respect” hardly leaps to mind to describe that complex of morally required responses. One can and should in general nonetheless respect the person whose immoral choice it is. Beyond that, speaking of “respecting” others’ immoral choices has to do with the moral and prudential limits on what one may, and may not, do to stop, or just to interfere in, their wrongdoing. Your adult brother might regularly use his laptop to access pornography. Anyone who respects him should remonstrate with him about his bad habit and dissuade him as best one can. It would be wrong, of course, out of “respect” to give him the web addresses where the sordid stuff he fancies can easily be found. But it would ordinarily be wrong, too, to take his laptop and throw it away. It would surely be wrong to lock him in his bedroom until he promised to stop.

As a matter of fact, Notre Dame’s practice until just a few years ago exhibited all the “respect” possibly due to those who want to contracept. Notre Dame rightly did nothing to make that immoral practice easier or cheaper. At the same time, Notre Dame did not discriminate in the workplace against those who chose to contracept. The University left everyone alone, if you will, to do as he or she wished in private.

The crucial mistake in Fr. Jenkins’s rationalization is to use the hazy fog generated by a sonorous phrase—“respecting” others—to cover up what he is really doing, which is to violate in and by his own deed the moral truth that he seems to affirm (that contraception is immoral). The central truth of the moral life is that everyone is invariably morally responsible for his or her own actions, no matter what others are doing or not doing. Neither Fr. Jenkins (nor I nor you) is permitted, much less obliged, by “respect” for any other persons to choose to aid their immoral plans, because doing so makes Fr. Jenkins (or me or you) guilty of that same immorality—just as Notre Dame itself alleged under oath in its lawsuit over the course of several years. Thus Fr. Jenkins has most regrettably muddied what it means to say that any norm of morality is, simply, true.

That Fr. Jenkins chose the other day to wrap his gross disservice to all who read his words in expressly Catholic refinements is especially scandalous. He wrote, earnestly, that this situation is one that demands discernment—something to which Pope Francis has called the Church in his various writings and addresses. Discernment, which has a long history in the Catholic spiritual tradition, is, of course, a process of weighing thoughtfully considerations for and against various courses of action. Yet it also demands prayerful attention to God’s guidance through the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

But the Holy Spirit is not a consequentialist. God does not want us to weigh up pros and cons of adhering to the moral truth. And the greatest respect we can show others is to bear faithful witness to that truth.


Horrific Sex Ed Curriculum Is Taking Over in This Virginia County, and Objectors Are Getting Steamrolled

I usually avoid really sick, appalling spectacles. I skip movies like “Saw.” But last Thursday I saw something worse. I went to the sex education committee meeting of the Fairfax County School Board. I have never seen anything as shocking.

Understand that I have sat through years of shocking meetings. My day job is monitoring and lobbying the United Nations. But I have never seen or heard anything like this. This meeting was a horror show. And a Soviet one at that.

The Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Committee advises the Fairfax County School Board for the content of the sex education lessons taught to students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

This group has come up with over 80 hours of sex education for these poor kids. And some of it is straight-up pornography.

Rich, Leftist, and Libertine

This school district in Northern Virginia, one of the largest and richest in the country, is among the most leftist in the country. No big surprise there. Twenty-five years ago, it was already promoting “Two Mommies” to the little tots.

But the sexual revolution ideology kicked into hyperspeed a few years ago. Fairfax leftists put transgender ideology into schools a full year before President Barack Obama’s Department of Education mandated it for the rest of the schools in the country.

Last year, the Trump administration canceled the mandate, though Fairfax County is clinging onto it.

This committee has long embraced the rest of the LGBT program. “Oral sex” is introduced to kids as young as 12. Thirteen-year-olds are told about “anal sex” 18 separate times in one year’s lessons.

The committee is made up of about two dozen people. They’re appointed by the overwhelmingly leftist Fairfax County School Board. Four voting members are students, chosen no doubt because they’re members of student LGBT clubs, and most other members appear to be teachers and administrators.

If the idea behind the committee is to get community input, why stack it with people on the county payroll?

The School Board’s Supreme Soviet

Last Thursday night, two regular citizen members of the committee tried to offer amendments to the curriculum. What happened to them is right out of the Politburo of the Supreme Soviet.

The subject was the phrase “sex assigned at birth,” which appears numerous times in the lessons. This is a politically charged slogan that teaches that it’s wrong for a delivery room doctor to say a penis means boy or a vagina means girl. A child should be left to his own gender choice later in life.

One citizen member made a motion to remove this phrase from the lessons and to simply use the word “sex” instead. Through parliamentary maneuvers, other members of the committee made sure the amendment was put off indefinitely without debate. The vote to cut off debate and never speak about it again passed 23-3.

The member who offered the amendment asked for a roll call, so that those voting to keep in “sex assigned at birth” would have their names associated with their votes. The motion for a roll call was killed by voice vote.

No debate, no accountability.

Another citizen member made a motion that, somewhere in the numerous lessons about various contraceptive methods taught beginning in eighth grade, there ought to be something about the possible health risks of certain contraceptives.

This, too, was shut down without debate, by a vote of 23-3. A roll call of the vote was shouted down by voice vote.

Hush, Adults Are Listening

The first citizen member made a motion to include a discussion in the lessons about the health risks associated with hormonal and surgical “transitioning.” This, too, was not allowed.

One county employee member asked why there was no lesson on anal sex for the seventh graders. There was oral sex, but why was anal sex missing? The chairman of the committee assured her that the anal sex begins with lessons in the eighth grade.

This revealing moment was followed by another: The chairman actually apologized, with a nervous laugh, for using those graphic terms.

Did it not occur to her, or anyone else on the committee, that she was apologizing to the adults in the room for using words that are scripted into the lessons they have created for children?

It was clear to me that much of the reaction to these motions was a kind of animus toward traditional morality. The glee with which the majority cut off the legitimate concerns of the minority was breathtaking.

Christians as the Taliban

One new member of the committee is a Democratic activist named Daniel Press. He was the one who was most vociferous that these motions not only be trashed, but that they not even be discussed.

On his Facebook page he calls Christians the Taliban and has an image of Christ on the cross over the mocking words: “Total Winner.”

The other thing that struck me was the sheep-like attitude of most of the members of the committee. There were a few loudmouth ideologues, to be sure. One student member treated us to an anti-American diatribe ending with the charge that transphobia stems from white supremacy.

For the most part, the members were silent. But they were lickety-split to raise their hands whenever called upon to vote against debate, discussion, and accountability. That they could not allow.

Finally, it’s remarkable how fast such new and fantastical notions have entered the leftist mindset.

The notion of “sex assigned at birth” was itself born just a few years ago. And yet, these people are so certain of its truth, they clap hands on their ears to avoid hearing anything contradictory. Even more, they clap their hands on the mouths of anyone who might want to question this new tenet of faith.

This brings to mind two things: brainwashing, and bad religion.

The committee members may not know it, but they have been brainwashed to believe things that are simply not supported by either science or reason. Theirs is faith plain and simple, and the worst kind of faith, the kind that contradicts reason, the kind that can only be imposed. Theirs is a blind faith, taking as gospel whatever the sexual zeitgeist vomits forth.

And so what are parents to do? Opt their kids out of Family Life Education and take over the school board. One is easy, but both are necessary.

Sexual Stalinism, of the kind I witnessed a few nights ago, has no place in the education of our children.


Australian Parents To Take Part In International Sex Ed Sit Out

Australian school children are being increasingly subjected to early sexualisation through programs such as Safe Schools and Respectful Relationships and sex ed shifting from focusing on biology to teaching sex positivity. This is not a uniquely Australian phenomena with sex ed being taught at younger ages and in a lot more graphic detail in nations such as the United States and Canada. These new programs are mandated by governments in public schools with parents getting no say in the matter, if they are told about them at all.

Not surprisingly parents are fighting back against this government overreach in an area which used to be the realm of the parent who could best decide how to teach their children these sensitive topics. Part of the difficultly in challenging such programs is that the masses are not informed about what is contained in them, so much activism involves just communicating to the public the disturbing material contained in them so enough can begin to put pressure on the politicians who sign off on such programs.

To protest against the compulsory nature of the programs parents in the United States are planning a National Sex Ed Sit Out on April 23 where they will pull their children out of school for the day as an act of defiance against the education authorities. The sit out is being promoted by the Activist Mommy (Elizabeth Johnston), an Ohio mother of 10 who is America’s most prominent campaigner against graphic sex ed programs. The concept of a sex ed sit out has spread internationally.

Given Australia’s problems with such programs parents in Australia are planning to take part, the event has been shared on prominent parental activist pages. There is also an effort being undertaken to organise a Parents United for Kids Rally in each state and territory to coincide with the Sex Ed Sit Out for parents to take their message to the people mandating these programs.

The state of Victoria has the worst of these programs with it still teaching the uncensored Roz Ward version of Safe Schools and where the Respectful Relationships program which is supposedly taught to counter domestic violence was born. The Australian Christian Lobby recently presented a a 16,675-signature petition to the Victorian Premier’s Office against the Safe Schools Program. Victoria is facing a state election year with these programs likely to be a prominent campaign issue.

If enough students are absent from school on one day for a reason the education bureaucrats don’t approve of then the sit out will have achieved its goal of making policymakers take note of these parents concerns.


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