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Notre Dame Fails...Again

This is bad news for those who have hope for Notre Dame University. Dr. Charles Rice has been writing a column for the Notre Dame Observer for many years. But this week, the editors refused to run his column on the Church's teaching on homosexuality. Joe from Defend Us In Battle writes:

Notre Dame... fails again.

This is hitting just now in a few well respected Catholic News outlets:

Dr. Charles Rice (Notre Dame Law School - Bio) recently wrote a column/piece for the Notre Dame Observer, as he does every few weeks. The topic this week is: The Church's Teaching On Homosexuality. Only... this week they didn't print it.

Here is the article: Dr. Rice's - "Right or Wrong?" Column: March 1, 2010 - Homosexuality.

The Editor of the Observer didn't print it for a variety of reasons...or so they say. None of the listed reasons was legitimate.
You've got to read the editor's letter and Dr. Rice's response. It's a great response to a very sad situation. Click here to read it.

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Anonymous said...

FYI, the Mobile Party comic (link) contains the following bit of horrible dialog:

“What is the easiest way to turn a fruit into a vegetable?”
“No idea”
“A baseball bat.”

I think Prof. Rice was wronged. He's unbelievably good at what he does and he's unfailingly charitable. That said, I do understand why an idiot college student would think an article condemning same sex acts might be inappropriate at this time. Just so you understand where the idiot is coming from.


Boots said...

To be fair, it's not Notre Dame that failed, it's the Observer. That paper, run by students (where there is no journalism program) is consistently a haven of the lefties on campus, so it doesn't surprise me that they would impose a bit of left wing censorship.

Maurisa said...

Left wing censorship? No way. The left wing doesn't censor, it practices sensitivity and restraint.

Truly, the way Dr.Rice has been treated by the Observer is outrageous.

His response was gracious and dead on. Hang in there, Dr. Rice!

Murph said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Murph said...

The Observer is an independent publication without oversight from Notre Dame University. I have two observations to make regarding this incident:
1. The blogosphere needs to regulate itself to keep from making injurious comments.
2. Catholic college students are burdened with the issue of political correctness. This editor fell on the wrong side of this issue, but I, for one, hope that he will be forgiven after perhaps being overwhelmed with a tough issue. I am glad that Dr. Rice's message has made it out to the public and I hope that this incident does not keep him from educating Notre Dame students (and the rest of us) in the future.

matthew archbold said...

This is from The Observer last month: "The Observer, though an independent newspaper, is representative of the community of the University of Notre Dame and the values it so cherishes."

matthew archbold said...

When Fr. Jenkins invited Obama ND defenders told us not to write off the school because it was only the administration that decided this.

Now when the student newspaper does something ridiculous ND defenders say that it's only the student newspaper that did this ridiculous thing.

At some point we have to accept that there's something very wrong at Notre Dame.

SherryTex said...

A bit of history: there is a cartoon that set the editor of the paper down this unfortunate path. The Assistant editor resigned because a cartoon published in the Observer caused a controversy. The cartoon was deemed hateful and discriminatory. I don't know what it was because it has been taken down and is unavailble for scutiny.

The editor seemed jumpy in response, not wanting to reignite this topic. Having read his responses; I think he did himself a disservice by not running the piece and by putting out false reasons for not doing so. But as editor, he tried to make a decision.

What is troubling, is the private correspondence between the editor and the Dr. has now become public fodder.

It's hard to move a heart by embarassing it to death.

The Observer is not the University; it is run by students, 18-21 years of age. At 21, I doubt I'd have been willing to hear even reasonable arguements and corrections of my catechism if they were generated by my being so publically examined by so many strangers.

To the main point, Notre Dame has not changed its policies, and as such, the University has not failed. Rice's comments, which would have been lost in the mass of the blogosphere as one more column are now being read and examined and thus people are discussing this very uncomfortable topic more than they would otherwise; so it has generated good.

Rick said...

A fish rots from the head first. Jenkins' spirituality or lack thereof sets the tone for the other educators and the educators the students. His abdication of personal responsibility in how the school runs shows no control whatsoever. Is he a formator or the one being deformed? This just shows you that being instructed even at the Ph.D. level does not automatically result into being educated. The ordination is wasted on him; his religious profession and community is also a wash. His secular education is also fruitless. He should just be replaced by his superiors, if they know better.

romishgraffiti said...

The cartoon was deemed hateful and discriminatory. I don't know what it was because it has been taken down and is unavailble for scutiny.

The first response by RyanL has it. I'm a right-wing backnumber and even I think it was out of hand. And I can understand the editor's jumpiness without agreeing with it. Dr. Rice presented the whole teaching, but as this, and the shenanigans at St. Xavier in NY show, many Catholics only want half a teaching. That is they want the part about compassion while thinking endless repetion of it will whittle away the first half about it being wrong.

Ben said...


People standing outside the University use the term "Notre Dame" more or less like non-Catholics use "the Vatican". Many voices come out of a large community, and not all of them are equally representative. Whatever the "Observer" says about itself, it's not the official voice of the University. It should be taken less seriously than L'Osservatore Romano.

That said, of course there's something very wrong with Notre Dame. But there's a lot going on here that's very right, too--and we never seem to hear about that. When you only point out the negative parts of the University, and project them on to the whole, you can excuse those of us who are trying to have a positive effect from inside the community for getting a little defensive.

SherryTex said...

As a third generation family with Notre Dame Ties, (Grandfather and father and sister and brother in law and husband all ND grads, mother and self and grandmother (mother's mother) and cousins and aunts from Saint Mary's College next door, I want to be clear, I love Notre Dame enough to see it has many problems with its own fidelity to the Catholic Church right now.

Notre Dame is in crisis. The school wants to chose University over Notre Dame, and that is a fundamental problem reflective of tepid faiths, ill formed moral compasses and a lack of reverence for the Lady and her role, for which the school is named. There are many examples of this, from the Degree for Obama, to the choice of plays offered at the theatre, to the poor editorial judgement shown for the cartoon, and to this article's refusal.

The Observer incident however is merely reflective of casual Catholicism coupled with young editorial judgment and the lack of a seasoned responsible adult, providing reflection and assistance and oversight and wisdom.

The policy has not been changed, only the Observer editor, not Fr. Jenkins, censured the article for articulating the actual church teaching, not the administration.

what Ben said.

godandchocolate said...

Well said, Ben.

Most of those within the Notre Dame community realize that the Observer (along with the Scholastic, the student magazine) does not reflect the campus or student body as a whole. With a university as large and diverse (ideologically speaking, anyway) as Notre Dame, it's really difficult to point to ONE source people can go to for the story at Notre Dame. You have to be there, know the people, read the campus news outlets (the Observer, the Scholastic, the Irish Rover, nd.edu).

Incidents such as this are noteworthy, but they only help paint a picture. As Ben said, they can't be projected onto the whole, because that allows one relatively small incident to take away the hard work of hundreds of others, day in and day out.

It's laughable that the Observer calls itself "independent," as it enjoys University funding as well as University-provided offices. It asserts its "independence" whenever the student journalists wish to vocally make their opinions known (and the record shows that they have fallen on the liberal side of every major issue in the past 5 years or so), but they really have about as much true independence as a rebellious teenager. They behave like rebellious teens with poor judgment, too.

Notre Dame has its own creative minority of students and faculty, like Dr. Rice, who strongly object to the Observer's editorial standards. Why not encourage them as they fight for the truth at Our Lady's University, rather than indicting the University as a whole, or writing it off as a total failure?

jordantime said...


I have to agree with Ben. The Observer claiming to be representative of the Notre Dame student body does not mean that the Observer is actually representative of the Notre Dame student body. As a member of that body, I can tell you that it is not representative. Here's the thing: yes, it was the administration that made the wrong decision about Obama. Yes, it's the student newspaper that has made the wrong decision about Professor Rice. These two groups do not, by any means, encompass all of the University - in fact, these two groups do not encompass most of the University. The vast majority of the student body does not fall under either of these groups: obviously, students don't comprise any part of the administration, and most students are not at all involved in the Observer. So to say, based on a bad decision by the editors of the student newspaper, which is of course a small group of students, that Notre Dame as a whole has again failed is a little bit too strong. Please don't write off the "ND defenders" because of decisions made by very small parts of ND. As a student there myself, I can tell you firsthand that there is much more good going on there than people acknowledge, or seem to even want to.

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