Notre Dame’s president, the Rev. John Jenkins, … justified the birth-control decision by saying, in part, that Catholic tradition requires respect for “the conscientious decisions of members of our community.” Of course, Notre Dame community members can exercise their consciences without receiving university-provided contraception. And there is also the serious possibility that Notre Dame abused the legal process when it sued the Obama administration for relief. If the university had standing on religious-freedom grounds, how can it now explain its decision to facilitate coverage of birth control?
Notre Dame’s leadership has embarked on a campaign to put the university on the same footing as the nation’s other elite schools. In so doing, it often has renounced its obligation to shape the moral landscape of the society it inhabits, and, more importantly, to form its own community properly.
The Catholic Church is never more effective than when it when it acts as a countercultural force. It offers the modern world a radically different vision of human sexuality from the one most young people are taught. With the decision to provide birth control, Notre Dame has forfeited its chance to stand in moral opposition to a utilitarian sexual culture. It has chosen to stop speaking to the kind of life that makes people whole.
When the administration recently announced that undergraduates would be required to live on campus for at least six semesters, Father Jenkins defended the rule by saying the university makes no apologies about being a place of faith. “If that’s what they want, they should come here, but if that’s not what they want, there are many other places—great places—to go to,” he said.The connection between Notre Dame’s Catholic identity and its campus-residency rules is tenuous. But Father Jenkins still imposed this rationale on students who dislike the new policy. Why, then, does he refuse to assert Catholic identity as grounds for refusing to cover contraception?
(Alexandra DeSanctis in the Wall Street Journal, emphasis added)
Let me unpack the “possibility that Notre Dame abused the legal process.” I assume that Ms. DeSanctis is alluding to some sort of claim that Notre Dame could not, without violating its religious convictions, provide insurance coverage for contraceptives. Now it’s saying, in effect, “Oh. Never mind. Catholic tradition requires respect for ‘the conscientious decisions of members of our community,’ and that requires us to cover contraceptives.”
I sure as heck can see her point.
* * * * *
It is not bigotry to be certain we are right; but it is bigotry to be unable to imagine how we might possibly have gone wrong.
Bigotry is an incapacity to conceive seriously the alternative to a proposition.
A man … is only a bigot if he cannot understand that his dogma is a dogma, even if it is true.
(G.K. Chesterton) Be of good courage, you who are called “bigots” by those who are unable to conceive seriously the alternatives to their dogmas.