Thursday, February 23, 2012

90+ ND Faculty and Staff Deem HHS Accommodation Unacceptable

More than ninety faculty and staff members from the University of Notre Dame have joined "over 300  leading scholars, university presidents and other academic administrators, activists, and religious leaders from a multitude of faiths... in a statement rejecting the HHS mandate requiring employers to provide, directly or indirectly, insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilizations, and contraceptives, and also rejecting President Obama’s so-called “accommodation” of religious liberty as a mere “accounting trick” that changes nothing of moral substance."

To read the full letter, click here. The names of the signers from the University of Notre Dame have been listed below:

Margaret F. Brinig
Fritz Duda Family Chair in Law
Notre Dame Law School

Daniel Costello
Bettex Chair Professor Emeritus
College of Engineering, University of Notre Dame

Ann W. Astell
Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame

Don P. Kommers
Robbie Professor of Political Science Emeritus
University of Notre Dame

Robert M. Gimello
Research Professor of Theology and of East Asian Languages and Cultures
University of Notre Dame

Tom Pratt
Dept of EE, College of Engineering
University of Notre Dame

David W. Fagerberg
Associate Professor
Department of Theology
University of Notre Dame

Peter M. Kogge
Ted McCourtney Prof. of Computer Science & Engineering Concurrent Professor of Electrical
Engineering, Univ. of Notre Dame

Michael J. Crowe
Cavanaugh Professor Emeritus
Program of Liberal Studies
University of Notre Dame

Msgr Michael Heintz, PhD
Director, Master of Divinity Program
Department of Theology
University of Notre Dame

John Uhran
Emeritus Professor, Computer Science and Engineering
University of Notre Dame

Thomas A. Gresik
Department of Economics
University of Notre Dame

W. David Solomon
Associate Professor of Philosophy
University of Notre Dame

Dr. Kirk Doran
Assistant Professor of Economics
University of Notre Dame

Tonia Hap Murphy
Mendoza Pre-Law Advisor
Associate Teaching Professor
University of Notre Dame

Jim A Seida
Viola D. Hank Associate Professor of Accountancy
Mendoza College of Business
University of Notre Dame

Jeffrey J. Burks
Assistant Professor of Accountancy
University of Notre Dame

Adrian J. Reimers
Adjunct Assistant Professor
University of Notre Dame

Patrick Griffin
Department Chair and Madden-Hennebry Professor of History
University of Notre Dame

Richard W. Garnett
Associate Dean and Professor of Law
University of Notre Dame

John Cavadini
Director, Institute for Church Life and Associate Professor of Theology,
University of Notre Dame

Christian Smith
William R. Kenan Professor of Sociology & Director
Center for the Study of Religion and Society
University of Notre Dame

Gary Anderson
Hesburgh Professor of Theology
University of Notre Dame

Harindra Joseph F. Fernando
Wayne and Diana Murdy Endowed Professor of Engineering and Geosciences,
University of Notre Dame

William N. Evans
Keough-Hesburgh Professor of Economics
University of Notre Dame

Alfred J. Freddoso
John and Jean Oesterle Professor of Thomistic Studies
Concurrent Professor of Law
Philosophy Department
University of Notre Dame

M. Katherine Tillman
Professor Emerita, Program of Liberal Studies
University of Notre Dame

Walter Nicgorski
Professor, Program of Liberal Studies
University of Notre Dame

Philip Bess
Director of Graduate Studies and Professor of Architecture
University of Notre Dame

Paolo Carozza
Professor of Law and Director, Center for Civil and Human Rights
University of Notre Dame

John F. Gaski
Associate Professor of Marketing
University of Notre Dame

Duncan G. Stroik
Associate Professor of Architecture
University of Notre Dame

Rev. Wilson D. Miscamble, C.S.C.
Professor of History, University of Notre Dame

Kenneth Garcia, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts
University of Notre Dame

Gerard V. Bradley
Professor of Law
University of Notre Dame

Amy Barrett
Professor of Law
University of Notre Dame

Sean Kelsey
Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor of Philosophy
University of Notre Dame

Gabriel Said Reynolds
Tisch Family Associate Professor of Islamic Studies and Theology
University of Notre Dame

William K. Kelley
Associate Professor of Law
University of Notre Dame

David O’Connor
Associate Professor of Philosophy and Concurrent Associate Professor of Classics,
University of Notre Dame

Joseph Kaboski
David F. and Erin M. Seng Associate Professor of Economics
University of Notre Dame

Vincent Phillip Muñoz
Tocqueville Associate Professor of Political Science
Concurrent Associate Professor of Law
Department of Political Science
University of Notre Dame

John O’Callaghan
Director, Jacques Maritain Center & Associate Professor of Philosophy,
University of Notre Dame

Daniel Philpott
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Notre Dame

Mary M . Keys
Associate Professor of Political Science
University of Notre Dame

Eric Sims
Assistant Professor of Economics
University of Notre Dame

Mike Pries
Associate Professor of Economics
University of Notre Dame

Edward Maginn
Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Associate Dean for Academic Programs, The Graduate School
University of Notre Dame

Angela M. Pfister, J.D.
Associate Director, Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture
Concurrent Instructor, Mendoza College of Business
University of Notre Dame

O. Carter Snead
Professor of Law
University of Notre Dame

Stephen F. Smith
Professor of Law
University of Notre Dame

Phillip R. Sloan
Professor Emeritus, Program of Liberal Studies and Graduate Program in History and
Philosophy of Science
University of Notre Dame

Richard A. Lamanna
Emeritus Professor of Sociology
University of Notre Dame

Fr. Ronald M. Vierling
Rector, Morrissey Manor
University of Notre Dame

Rev. William R. Dailey, CSC
Visiting Associate Professor
Notre Dame Law School

Thomas A. Stapleford
Associate Professor, Program of Liberal Studies
University of Notre Dame

Thomas P. Flint
Professor of Philosophy
University of Notre Dame

Daniel J. Costello, Jr.
Bettex Prof. of Elec. Engr., Emeritus
University of Notre Dame

Nicole Stelle Garnett
Professor of Law
University of Notre Dame

James O'Brien
Associate Teaching Professor
University of Notre Dame

Matthew J. Barrett
Professor of Law
Notre Dame Law School

Marian E. Crowe
Adjunct Assistant Professor
Visiting Scholar, Program of Liberal Studies
University of Notre Dame

Trent Dougherty
Department of Philosophy
Baylor University
Visiting Research Professor
University of Notre Dame

Charles E. Rice
Professor Emeritus
Notre Dame Law School

Thomas Gordon Smith
Professor of Architecture
University of Notre Dame

Dr. Dan Hubert
The Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy
University of Notre Dame

David S. Younger
Assistant Director
Italian, Classics, German, and Russian Programs
Office of International Studies
University of Notre Dame

Kelley M. Shrock
Operations Specialist
University of Notre Dame Investment Office

Bartley Burk
Social Sciences/Hispanic Cataloger
Hesburgh Libraries
University of Notre Dame

Judy Hutchinson
Assistant Director
Office of International Studies
University of Notre Dame

Craig Tiller, RA, LEED®AP
Senior Director, Project Management
Facilities Design and Operations
University of Notre Dame

Joseph A. Reimers
Technology Support Assistant III
University of Notre Dame Kresge Law Library

Michael A. Zenk
Director, Post Award Financial Management
Office of Research
University of Notre Dame

Mary K. Daly
Program Coordinator, University Life Initiatives
Institute for Church Life
University of Notre Dame

Michael A. Mogavero Ph.D
Director of Undergraduate Studies
The University of Notre Dame

Greer Hannan
Program Coordinator
Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture

William G. Schmitt
Communications/Media Specialist
Institute for Educational Initiatives (IEI)
Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE)
University of Notre Dame

Joseph S. O'Hannigan
Senior Associate Director of Executive Programs
Mendoza College of Business
University of Notre Dame

Diane C. Freeby, SMC '88
Editor/PrayND, Notre Dame Alumni Association
University of Notre Dame

Al Bucci
Director of Regional Development
University of Notre Dame

Judy Madden, M.A.
University of Notre Dame

Richard F. Klee Jr. CPA
University Tax Director
University of Notre Dame

Lynn M. Hubert
Director of Regional Development
University of Notre Dame

Beth Bubik
Life Initiatives Program Coordinator
Notre Dame Alumni Association

Anthony Monta
Associate Director, Nanovic Institute for European Studies
University of Notre Dame

Luke Conway
Associate Regional Director of Development
University of Notre Dame

William E. Dotterweich
Chairman of the Advisory Board
Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture

Donald L. Stelluto, Ph.D.
Associate Director,
Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study

Elizabeth Kirk
University of Notre Dame Fund to Protect Human Life

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Kathryn Lopez: Where are the women? They are the young leaders at Notre Dame.

In a recent article for the National Review, Kathryn Lopez writes about attending the 2012 Edith Stein Conference, hosted and organized by undergraduate women at Notre Dame. 

Lopez writes about the Conference:
A group of young women there invited me, among others, to speak about the “vulnerability” of all things, at their seventh annual Edith Stein Project conference. Stein — a canonized saint who was killed at Auschwitz —  was both a Carmelite sister and a philosopher and university professor. The women of Notre Dame find in her a role model in both the intellectual and the spiritual realms — a courageous, well-integrated life. 
These students were — to quote the title of their conference — “Encountering Vulnerability,” with a rare healthy, honest openness to tried and true models. They cited Pope John Paul II as saying, “No amount of economic, scientific, or social progress can eradicate our vulnerability to sin and to death.” In conference materials, the undergraduates commented: “This gives us good reason to guard ourselves carefully in situations where we could be harmed; however, in trying to protect ourselves, we often come to fear our vulnerability.”
The young women — who were joined by many of their male classmates — were interested not in political mantras but in practicalities: How do we confront reality rather than coming up with policies and pills to help us try to escape the inescapable? 
The task of the weekend conference was to ask, as its organizers put it: “Perhaps there is a flip side to vulnerability. In addition to examining ways in which it may be misused, we must also consider its value. If vulnerability is intrinsic to us as human beings, is there a proper place for it in our identity and our relationships?” 
The answer lies, in part, in Saint Paul, who recognized that “it is when I am weak that I am strong.” And the exploration of the “defenseless vulnerability of love” is a weekly task at Notre Dame, as part of the Identity Project, in which students meet each week to reflect on Catholic teaching on women, femininity, and masculinity. The answer, too, is in their identity as Christians who present themselves regularly for Mass and Reconciliation, seeking sustenance from Providence, which no earthly power or principality can match. 
The Edith Stein conference and the weekly related meetings attract almost as many young men as women — not surprisingly, inasmuch as their discussions are about the complementary nature of men and women. “Women and men have to understand femininity and masculinity if they are going to relate to one another in any kind of healthy way,” explains Margaret Kennedy, a junior and an accounting major. 
Notre Dame has been criticized for giving cover to the Obama administration, particularly through having awarded the president an honorary degree at its 2009 commencement. But there is something different happening there in the wake of the HHS mandate. One of the first people I heard from after the president’s faux “accommodation” was law professor Carter Snead, who has circulated a letter declaring the president’s position “unacceptable” — a letter hundreds of academics and other leaders have signed. 
The young men and women of the Stein Project have no illusions about the challenges they face on campus and beyond. “I understand that I am not living my life only for myself,” Kennedy tells me. “And I am making choices that reflect that.” Confronting vulnerability is at the top of the list. “What we typically think of as a negative is actually a positive,” she says: Feminism dictates that “we’re not allowed to be vulnerable, but we cannot escape that vulnerability. By hiding ourselves from it we don’t actually escape it.” 
“Contraception,” she says, “is but a mask,” covering up our vulnerabilities. It’s like alcohol, she adds: “a way not to confront our fears or take responsibility for our actions.”Claire Gillen, a history major graduating in May, is getting married to her high-school sweetheart that same month. “Adults, especially, tell me I’m too young, I should be established in a career,” she says. But as for the students, “Honestly, I know very few people who don’t want to get married. They’re happy to see someone truly happy.” They are tired of forced war-between-the-sexes hostilities. 
In reality, the answer to the question “Where are the women?” — which every abortion-advocating feminist group is now milking for fundraising — is: on the committee’s secondpanel. Those who asked the question the most, as an act of political showmanship, didn’t stick around long enough to meet the woman, Dr. Laura Champion, who runs Calvin College’s medical services. And the more long-term answer is: They are the young leaders at Notre Dame, who have a lot to teach those who have been suppressing or denying reality for all too long about who we are and what we need and want.
For Lopez's full article, click here.

To watch videos from the conference, click here

For more information about the Edith Stein Conference and IDND, click here.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Are 98% of Catholic Women on Contraceptives?

In a recent blog post, Lydia McGrew considers the statistic dominating recent discussion: Are 98 percent of Catholic women using contraceptives?
Statistical data from the Guttmacher Institute

Simply put: The claim that 98% of Catholic women are using contraceptives is a false claim, derived in a manipulative way from the statistics included in this post. Linda McGrew elaborates of this falsification in her post:

The survey was limited to women between 15-44. Ah, well, that explains how we weren't including the elderly, but it also means that the silly "percent of all Catholic women" thing should be chucked out right from the beginning. More strikingly, as Neil pointed out to me after looking up the study, itexcluded any women who were a) not sexually active, where that is defined as having had sexual intercourse in the past three months (there go all the nuns), b) postpartum, c) pregnant, or d) trying to get pregnant! In other words, the study was specifically designed (as the prose discussion on p. 8 makes explicit, in bold print) to include only women for whom a pregnancy would be unintended and who are "at risk" of becoming pregnant. Whether or not it included women who considered themselves neither trying nor not trying to get pregnant (there are some such women in the world) is unclear. It's also unclear whether it included women who have had their reproductive organs removed because of some medical problem. Presumably the study was intended to exclude women in both of these categories, as neither would count as a woman "at risk of an unintended pregnancy." 
Now, consider what all of this means as far as the representativeness of the sample for Catholic women. Surely there are a fair number of Catholic women between 15-44 who are not "at risk of an unintended pregnancy" for various reasons. It is plausible that this number is higher among Catholics than among non-Catholics. For one thing, a faithful Catholic woman in this age category who is not married is supposed to be remaining celibate. Hence she won't fall into the "at-risk" category, and by the same token she won't have any use for the "services" that the Obama administration is mandating be provided. Similarly, married Catholic women are probably more likely not to be attempting to avoid pregnancy, even using Natural Family Planning, than non-Catholic women. One would think they are also more likely to be pregnant or postpartum. And so on and so forth. In short, the deliberate design of the study to cover only women who, at the time of the study, were having sexual intercourse while regarding a pregnancy as unintended would be likely to make it unrepresentative of Catholics and particularly unrepresentative of devout Catholics. Yet the study is now being cited to show the percentage of Catholic women generally who are not following the teaching of the Catholic Church in this area! What is wrong with this picture?...
The statistics in the Guttmacher study appear to be okay for the purpose for which the study was originally intended. The intention of the study was to answer something like the following question: "Among women of various religious groups who are now sexually active but do not wish to become pregnant, what percentage use different methods of avoiding pregnancy?" But the purpose for which the statistic for Catholic women from the study is now being used is to argue, "A very high percentage of Catholic women (or, perhaps, Catholic women of child-bearing age) are currently not following the Catholic Church's teachings on sex and contraception and have a use for contraception forbidden by the Catholic Church." 
For that purpose, these statistics are bogus... 
Upon reflection, I have realized clearly an additional major problem with the 98% statistic. It is including all the Catholic women whoexpressly told researchers that they used "no method" to avoid pregnancy. In the table, that is 11%. The 98% statistic is apparently derived by subtracting only the 2% who said that they used NFP from 100%. So women who said they used no method of contraception are apparently being included in a statistic about how many Catholic women use contraception. How's that for crazy? And that's in addition to the problems discussed already in the original post.

To read her entire post, click here.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Dr. Alveda King speaking at IUSB

via the Events Blog for the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture
Next Tuesday, February 21, Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., will speak on the campus of IUSB. This event was planned in response to the November lecture by Betty Cockrum, president of Indiana Planned Parenthood. It is sponsored by the IUSB Right to Life Club and St. Joseph County Right to Life. The event is free and open to the public. 

Dr. King will speak at 7 p.m. in The Grille, which is the university’s student cafeteria located in the Administration Building. This is the large building that faces Mishawaka Avenue at the northwest corner of the campus. The cafeteria is at the south end of the building. Parking will be free in any campus parking lot. The nearest parking is in those lots that are off South Esther St.

We encourage all of our members to attend this important event—and please bring anyone you think might be interested in hearing Dr. King. We also encourage you to help spread the word through your churches and neighborhoods.

Friday, February 17, 2012

In Defense of Religious Freedom

In an essay featured in First Things Magazine, Catholics and Evangelicals together seek to defend religious freedom. Among the nearly 70 signers/endorsers are some Notre Dame faculty members: Gary Anderson (Theology), John C. Cavadini (Theology), Lawrence S. Cunningham (Theology), and Daniel Philpott (Political Science).

The essay reads:

Eighteen years ago, this fellowship of Evangelical and Catholic pastors, theologians, and educators was formed to deepen the dialogue among our communities on issues of common concern, to explore theological common ground, and to offer in public life a common witness born of Christian faith. Since our founding in 1994, we have addressed, together, such important public policy questions as the defense of life, even as we have proposed to our communities patterns of theological understanding on such long-disputed questions as the gift of salvation, the authority of Scripture, and the call to holiness in the communion of saints. We hope that this collaboration has been a service to both Church and society; it has certainly drawn us closer together as brothers and sisters in Christ, and for that we are grateful to the Lord of all mercies.

At the beginning of our common work on behalf of the gospel, it did not seem likely that religious freedom would be one of our primary concerns. The communist project in Europe had collapsed; the commitment of Christian believers to defeat totalitarianism through the weapons of truth had triumphed; and throughout the world, a new era of religious freedom seemed at hand.

We are now concerned—indeed, deeply concerned—that religious freedom is under renewed assault around the world. While the threats to freedom of faith, religious practice, and religious participation in public affairs in Islamist and communist states are widely recognized, grave threats to religious freedom have also emerged in the developed democracies. In the West, certain religious beliefs are now regarded as bigoted. Pastors are under threat, both cultural and legal, for preaching biblical truth. Christian social-service and charitable agencies are forced to cease cooperation with the state because they will not bend their work to what Pope Benedict XVI has called the “dictatorship of relativism.” 

Proponents of human rights, including governments, have begun to define religious freedom down, reducing it to a bare “freedom of worship.” This reduction denies the inherently public character of biblical religion and privatizes the very idea of religious freedom, a view of freedom such as one finds in those repressive states where Christians can pray only so long as they do so behind closed doors. It is no exaggeration to see in these developments a movement to drive religious belief, and especially orthodox Christian religious and moral convictions, out of public life.

Given these circumstances, we offer this statement, In Defense of Religious Freedom, as a service due to God and to the common good. The God who gave us life gave us liberty. The God who has called us to faith asks that we defend the possibility that others may make similarly free acts of faith. By reaffirming the fundamental character of religious freedom, we contribute to the defense of freedom and to human flourishing, in our countries and throughout the world.

In making this statement, we confess, and we call all Christians to confess, that Christians have often failed to live the truths about freedom that we have preached: by persecuting each other, by persecuting those of other faiths, and by using coercive methods of proselytism. At times Christians have also employed the state as an instrument of religious coercion. Even some of the greatest leaders in the history of Christianity failed to live up to their own best ideals. As the Second Vatican Council’s declaration on religious freedom, Dignitatis Humanae, put it, “In the life of the People of God, as it has made its pilgrim way through the vicissitudes of human history, there has at times appeared a way of acting that was hardly in accord with the spirit of the Gospel or even opposed to it.” It is this memory of Christian sinfulness that gives us all the more reason to defend the religious freedom of all men and women today.

Click here to continue reading this article.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Alma Mater with ND Right to Life

Watch ND Right to Life sing the Notre Dame Alma Mater in front of the Supreme Court Building, after the 2012 March for Life.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Former Dean, Carolyn Woo, Objects to HHS Mandate

Catholic Relief Services (CRS), one of the world's largest charitable relief organizations, recently released a statement objecting to the HHS Healthcare Mandate. According to Dr. Carolyn Woo, former Dean of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business and current President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, the mandate "would compel Catholic institutions to acquiesce to practices that run counter to our deeply held religious teaching... This is clearly at odds with our long-held American tradition of religious liberty."

Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, Chairman of CRS's Board of Directors, also objected to the Mandate, stating, "CRS serves people according to need, not creed. We are motivated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and our Catholic identity compels us to cherish, preserve, and uphold the sacredness and dignity of all human life... To forgo this would be to deny our very essence... It is our hope that over the next year, the Obama Administration will realize the harm that this rule will cause to institutions such as Catholic Relief Services."

To read more on CRS's statement on the Mandate, click here.

CEC Director Remarks on HHS "Compromise"

From the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture:

O. Carter Snead, Notre Dame Law School professor and newly appointed Director of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture, has released a response President Obama's supposed "compromise accommodation" rejecting the proposed plan.  Read the full statement below.
Director's Remarks
For Immediate Release                  February 10, 2012 
President Obama’s proposed adjustments to the new Health & Human Services rule requiring Catholic institutions, including the University of Notre Dame, to provide health care plans covering contraception, sterilization and abortifacient drugs continue to violate religious liberty, according to O. Carter Snead, professor of law at the University of Notre Dame.  
“Today’s ‘compromise accommodation’ is nothing of the sort,” Snead said. “The original uproar across the ideological spectrum was in reaction to the administration’s requirement that virtually all religious employers cover abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization in violation of their strongly held beliefs.  
“Today’s rule still requires religious institutions (on pain of ruinous treasury fines) to purchase insurance that covers these same objectionable services.  It is irrelevant that the rule requires the insurance company (rather than the religious institution) to explain to employees that the policy purchased for them by their employer includes the 5-day after pill. For institutions that self-insure, the situation is even worse; they will be forced to contact their employees and pay for such services themselves. 
“It is no answer to suggest that the religious liberty of such employers is being accommodated because they are not “paying” for the objectionable services.  First, it is naïve to imagine that the services are truly cost-free and that these costs will not be passed along to the employers who purchase these plans.   More importantly, the simple fact is that under this policy the government is coercing religious institutions to purchase a product that includes services that they regard as gravely immoral.  
“We should ask ourselves why President Obama has sustained the narrow exemption for churches, religious orders, and auxiliaries? This is tantamount to the admission that this policy, just like the previous one, runs afoul of religious liberty.”

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Leaders Call Obama Statement "Unacceptable"

Early this morning, a letter was signed by five leaders, calling a recent statement by President Barack Obama "unacceptable." The signers were: Mary Ann Glendon (former Vatican Ambassador), Robert George (Professor, Princeton University), O. Carter Snead (Law Professor, University of Notre Dame), John Garvey (President, Catholic University of America), and Yuval Levin (EPPC Fellow).

The letter has been copied in full below:

Today the Obama administration has offered what it has styled as an “accommodation” for religious institutions in the dispute over the HHS mandate for coverage (without cost sharing) of abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception. The administration will now require that all insurance plans cover (“cost free”) these same products and services.  Once a religiously-affiliated (or believing individual) employer purchases insurance (as it must, by law), the insurance company will then contact the insured employees to advise them that the terms of the policy include coverage for these objectionable things.
This so-called “accommodation” changes nothing of moral substance and fails to remove the assault on religious liberty and the rights of conscience which gave rise to the controversy.  It is certainly no compromise.  The reason for the original bipartisan uproar was the administration’s insistence that religious employers, be they institutions or individuals, provide insurance that covered services they regard as gravely immoral and unjust.  Under the new rule, the government still coerces religious institutions and individuals to purchase insurance policies that include the very same services.
It is no answer to respond that the religious employers are not “paying” for this aspect of the insurance coverage.  For one thing, it is unrealistic to suggest that insurance companies will not pass the costs of these additional services on to the purchasers.  More importantly, abortion-drugs, sterilizations, and contraceptives are a necessary feature of the policy purchased by the religious institution or believing individual.  They will only be made available to those who are insured under such policy, by virtue of the terms of the policy.
It is morally obtuse for the administration to suggest (as it does) that this is a meaningful accommodation of religious liberty because the insurance company will be the one to inform the employee that she is entitled to the embryo-destroying “five day after pill” pursuant to the insurance contract purchased by the religious employer.  It does not matter who explains the terms of the policy purchased by the religiously affiliated or observant employer.  What matters is what services the policy covers.
The simple fact is that the Obama administration is compelling religious people and institutions who are employers to purchase a health insurance contract that provides abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization.  This is a grave violation of religious freedom and cannot stand.  It is an insult to the intelligence of Catholics, Protestants, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims, and other people of faith and conscience to imagine that they will accept as assault on their religious liberty if only it is covered up by a cheap accounting trick.
Finally, it bears noting that by sustaining the original narrow exemptions for churches, auxiliaries, and religious orders, the administration has effectively admitted that the new policy (like the old one) amounts to a grave infringement on religious liberty.  The administration still fails to understand that institutions that employ and serve others of different or no faith are still engaged in a religious mission and, as such, enjoy the protections of the First Amendment.
John Garvey
President, The Catholic University of America
Mary Ann Glendon
Learned Hand Professor of Law, Harvard University
Robert P. George
McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University
O. Carter Snead
Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame
Yuval Levin
Hertog Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center

The Diginity Question

Amidst all the heated debates surrounding the recent federal mandate that will have a profound effect on the Catholic Church and her institutions in this country, there is one that is of particular interest as it lies at the root of any ethical-political discussion; the dignity of the human person. However, in particular, these debates have taken a recent form by some to argue over the dignity of the woman beyond. I have in mind here, in particular, Emily Bieniek and Joel Moore's "Dignity in contraception" and Anne Reser's "A woman's dignity".

There is no doubt, of course, that the question of one's dignity it utterly important and therefore, utterly controversial. However, I hope to shed a little light on the issue. In the first article, beyond the series of claims against the 'forms of rhetoric that the RTL group chose to utilize that should not be allowed,' Bieniek and Moore make a most curious point: "People throughout the United States and across the globe use condoms and contraception to protect themselves and their loved ones in a variety of difficult circumstances that include, but are not limited to: protecting against consequences of domestic violence and rape, preventing the spread of HIV and other STDs and ensuring that they can feed the children that they already have. These people are not undignified. In fact, they are actively taking steps to improve their situation with bravery and dignity."

This immediately calls to a mind a sentiment along similar lines from the Holy Father that caused a bit of hype itself. In chapter 11 of "Light of the World", Benedict XVI states: "She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality." You are quite right then to note that at times, those who use contraceptives do so for a somewhat-noble reason; that is, they perceive themselves to be protecting life rather than destroying it. This is, however, few and far between. Furthermore, I note it to be somewhat-noble as the contraceptive 1) still functions as a life-preventer rather than a life-supporter and 2) leads to a contraceptive culture which is, while subtle, most dangerous. As the Holy Father furthers elaborates: "As a matter of fact, you know, people can get condoms when they want them anyway. But this just goes to show that condoms alone do not resolve the question itself. More needs to happen. Meanwhile, the secular realm itself has developed the so-called ABC Theory: Abstinence-Be Faithful-Condom, where the condom is understood only as a last resort, when the other two points fail to work. This means that the sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalization of sexuality, which, after all, is precisely the dangerous source of the attitude of no longer seeing sexuality as the expression of love, but only a sort of drug that people administer to themselves. This is why the fight against the banalization of sexuality is also a part of the struggle to ensure that sexuality is treated as a positive value and to enable it to have a positive effect on the whole of man’s being."

This then leads into Ms. Reser's article. One of the two claims I take Ms. Reser to be making is that a woman's dignity it not tied to "her ability and desire to produce children." She states "Who I am as a person is not in any way related to the reproductive state of my uterus." This is actually more in line with the sentiments of Pope Benedict, and the article she is responding to, than she might think.

To begin, it is important to note that one's dignity, as an imago Dei, is something utterly mysterious, transcendent, and immeasurable. Now I say she is on to something here because she is quite right to take issue with a sentiment that views women as merely child-bearing animals; as if their sole function is to bear children. The same applies, of course, to men who are not mere seed-dispensers. This utilitarian view of "the other" leaves absolutely no room for the beauty and mystery that is a human person; we do not equate a persons dignity with his functions but rather discern his nature, his essence, from his function and in that resides the dignity of the person. (I recommend glancing at St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologiae, Ia, q. 29, a. 1, corpus here)

The irony in this, of course, is that precisely what Ms. Reser takes offense to is precisely what Benedict warns against as the result of a contraceptive culture. Sex is utterly stripped of its meaning; one looks at a woman (or man) merely for the sexual pleasure she/he might dispose and not the love and intimacy that can be shared between the partners. Contraceptive sex allows for all the pleasure without the so-called "consequences" that is a new created life. One may disagree on this point but it is important to note that right reason always, always, sides with life over death. This is precisely the eternal act of God and essence of Christ's resurrection from death! This is the fundamental and foundational point of any ethical or political stance that stands in accord with God and His Church ; a stance for life and against death (note this a Catholic commentary rooted in Catholic tenets, not modern liberal tents).

However, this is not to say that women (and men) aren't distinctively dignified in their ability to procreate. What rarely gets noticed in this discussion is the most dignified position man holds in the whole order of Creation; man, in a way both brute-animals and angels can't, shares in God's creative action. Yes, two dogs can produce a puppy but they cannot do so except from their innate nature to reproduce; its is merely habitual and devoid of any meaning for animals. Angels, of course, by their very nature, are incapable of reproducing. We however, participate in God's creative act, as images of God, in a most profound way; we do so rationally and rooted in a unitive love.

For this reason (and I have quoted this before), the Code of Canon Law clearly notes, “For matrimonial consent to exist, the contracting parties must be at least not ignorant that marriage is a permanent partnership between a man and a woman ordered to the procreation of offspring by means of some sexual cooperation.” (Can. 1096 §1.) The two go hand in hand and cannot be divorced. This speaks to Ms. Reser's mere hind-sight consideration, then, that as one who is not in a position to bear children and raise a family, that she "should defer the process until a time at which it would be responsible and healthy for all involved" This is similarly confused. Fundamental to our nature as free-willed rational agents are the notions that Omne agens agit propter finem” and “Omne agens agit propter bonum.” That is to say, all agents act for an end...and an end that is good for him. That is not to say that a married couple, with all the rights and privileges of engaging in sexual intercourse, is not capable of, as you note, withholding from conceiving a child at certain times under Natural Family Planning (NFP). This, however, must be done with an eye to a culture and motive rooted towards life, not death or contra-life (contraceptive). However, and its not unusual to view NFP as simply another form of contraceptive, to draw out the distinction is beyond the scope of this post. Thus, at this point, I can merely assert with the Tradition of the Church that, while NFP can be used in an evil manner, it is not inherently evil as contraceptives are.

Now, this brings us to a fundamental point (and brings up the second point Ms. Reser mentions: her issue with the notion of being "
sexually available to any man.") What is the end in mind when we have sex. Now, I must grant that when one is "in the moment," I highly doubt that a rational discursive act is taking place in his/her mind as to the end. However, the end is innate to us; re recognize it immediately. Is it pleasure or procreation. If pleasure, is it pleasure for myself or for the other. What the contraceptive culture allows for is sex to be merely about pleasing myself...again having the pleasure without the so-called consequences. The end in fact is two-fold. It feels good for a reason but the that is not the sole end; bodily pleasure. What is the first commandment God gives Adam and Eve in the garden; to be fruitful and multiply. God planted in our hearts the innate desire to have sexual intercourse with our spouse but the consideration of procreation is also positively essential. We engage in sex because it feels good but not only because it feels good; that leads very dangerously to using the other as merely a tool for my own sexual pleasure. In a contraceptive culture, the other merely becomes a tool and in that, we are incapable of recognizing one's dignity in 'their intelligence, in their determination and drive in their kindness and loyalty' or more importantly, in the fact that they are a image of the Creator.

-Michael Black is a contributing blogger for Notre Dame Right to Life. He graduated from Notre Dame in 2011 and is currently a seminarian for the Diocese of Covington

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Contraceptives and Control

Elliott Pearce, ND'11, continues recent debate on artificial contraception. His article may be read by clicking here, and it has been copied below:

I would like to reply to Notre Dame Right to Life officers' Jan. 31 letter, "Contraception and Dignity," touched off when it sternly condemned the use of artificial contraception. I am going to argue on behalf of the original letter's position by responding to some of the arguments made by "Contraception and Dignity," Feb. 3.
Emily Bienek, Joel Moore and John Galeziewski argued contraception can mitigate the harmful consequences of domestic violence, rape and drunken hook-ups. This argument fails because these problems cannot be solved by contraception. If women are really so afraid of being assaulted by friends, boyfriends, husbands and strangers they feel they must be taking contraception at all times to prevent unplanned pregnancies, our society suffers from a far greater problem than a lack of reproductive choice.
I would rather make the world safe from violence against women than hand out birth control pills to potential rape victims. Similarly, the fact that many Notre Dame students regularly get so drunk that they cannot control their behavior contributes to a host of problems of which unplanned pregnancies are only one. We can better resolve that issue by helping students drink responsibly than by constantly struggling to reduce the harm they do to themselves and others when they are drunk.
Bienek, Moore, Galeziewski and Anne Reser all made the point artificial contraception helps women by allowing them to regulate how many children they have and when they have them. This allows women to pursue other goals before starting a family and to responsibly regulate the size of their families once they have them. Abstinence before marriage and NFP during marriage can do the same things. Researchers at the University of Heidelberg in Germany found NFPis as effective as "the pill" at preventing conception, and (forgive the cliché) abstinence remains the only 100 percent effective means of preventing pregnancy and STDs.
John Galeziewski suggests NFP, even when properly used, is no different than other forms of contraception. On the contrary, NFP does not upset the delicate chemical balance within a woman's body in ways that could damage her health, as hormonal contraceptives do.
It also does not fundamentally change the nature of the sexual act by chemically or mechanically eliminating one of its key functions, something all forms of artificial birth control do as well. Finally, NFP makes sex more intimate for couples that use it by giving them a greater understanding of the natural reproductive process and how to work within it to plan their families.
Anne Reser deplores the fact "there are still people who believe that a woman's dignity is somehow tied to her ability and desire to have children." I believe she has misunderstood "Contraception and Dignity" on this issue. At the risk of putting words in the authors' mouths, I believe the people behind "Contraception and Dignity" would not call a woman's reproductive ability the sole source of her worth. Rather, they would assert that a woman derives her dignity from all of the various and wonderful gifts God has bestowed on her by making her in His image, and that her ability to create and nurture life within her own body is merely one of these gifts, though it is an awe-inspiring and very important one.
Women do not need artificial birth control to protect themselves, plan their families or affirm their dignity. They can avoid unplanned pregnancies and STDs by abstaining from sex before marriage and regulate the births of their children within marriage by using NFP. They can better respect themselves by embracing their ability to bear children as an important part of their nature than they can by denying the beauty and significance of one of the greatest abilities of any human person, which they alone happen to possess. The only thing women (and men) "need" artificial contraception for is to have sex whenever they want and with whomever they want. Modern society thinks sex should be like television: entertainment on demand. Those of us who believe that sex is a total, loving and fruitful gift from one person of incommensurable dignity to another believe sex was meant for something more.
Elliott Pearce
Knott Hall
Feb. 3

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Regrounding the HSS Mandate Debate

The issue of contraceptives is not a new issue; however, due to recent mandates from the Nation’s Capitol, we have seen a recent increase in excitement and energy with regards to the dialogues revolving around the use, and dispensation, of contraceptives. This letters considers Mr. Evan Graham’s “Protecting the right to choose,” which in itself serves as a response to the letter the Notre Dame Right to Life Club published on Feb. 1.

Typically (and this is evident by the ‘dialogue’ between Mr. Graham and NDRTL), the discussion has two parties talking right past each other. You have, on the one hand, one noting that a contraceptive act halts the potentiality of life (the natural result of a sexual encounter) and, on the other hand, the claim that a woman has a right to choose, not only whether or not she can use contraceptives (that is, that it should be readily available and the choice of contraceptives is up to the woman, rather than the government), but whether or not she carries the baby that would be conceived in the womb. (N.B. I am avoiding the discussion of abortion here; I merely mention the choice to engage in sexual, and therefore reproductive intercourse, and choose not to conceive altogether).

There are a good number of points, then, that Mr. Graham glosses through rather quickly. First he states that it is a choice of whether or not the contraceptives are used. He then jumps immediately to the point that it is a most difficult choice. He then jumps to a quite different discussion in hopes of justifying his point on the right of the woman: his direct repudiation of the original article’s quote of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. After fundamentally disagreeing with the Church, he switches gears once again and enters the current debate of whether or not a religious institution ought to be required to provide contraceptions.

Undoubtedly, there are some at Notre Dame, even Catholics, who disagree with the Church’s teaching on contraceptives. Yet, the Church teaches "Without the [unitive and procreative] aspects the sexual act is stripped of its meaning, and man and woman fail to give themselves to each other in complete love." (§ 2399) These two cannot be separated. One can truly not be unitive if they are procreative and vice versa. The decision, he argues, “whether or not to have children involves many factors in a person's life, such as finances, the woman's job and the current health of both parents.” I add the same goes for getting married. The mistake here is separating the procreative from the unitive. As the Code of Canon Law clearly notes, “For matrimonial consent to exist, the contracting parties must be at least not ignorant that marriage is a permanent partnership between a man and a woman ordered to the procreation of offspring by means of some sexual cooperation.” (Can. 1096 §1.) What Mr. Graham offers is a mere hind-sight consideration to validate the contraceptive; these same issues and factors are to be considered before the marriage is even contracted.

The decision “to hold off on having children or to not have children” is, then, equally a decision to get married or not get married. Further still, contrary to what he wrote, the procreative act defines the love expressed between two people in indescribable ways; the very procreative act allows man to take part in the great act of love that is God Almighty’s act of creation; his reditus of an outpouring of love.

This is not the current debate, however. Regardless of your moral leanings, the Church has a strong stance contra contraception. The current debate is rooted in our post-Lockean liberal state that is founded upon a notion of Natural Rights rather than the Natural Law. Fundamental to this then, is the right of religious freedom and the notions of separation of Church state. Conflated together in his article, Mr. Graham discusses the right of a woman on the private level to use a contraceptive and offers a counter-theology to the Church’s teaching on a woman’s right to use a contraception; yet he misses one last fundamental point to this recent spark of controversy surrounding the contraception debate at large -- that of religious freedom.

Just as people are entitled to their own religious beliefs, views on contraception, etc etc, so too are religious institutions entitled to choose whether or not they offer contraceptives. There is no doubt that there are students at Notre Dame, even Catholic students, who disagree with the moral code upon which the university is founded; the very ethos that permeates Our Blessed Mother’s institution. However, to state that the university is somehow failing to give a basic right to woman rests merely on a view that woman have a fundamental right to use a contraceptive. Further, the last point that it strips that “right” away from those who are not Catholic is to me quite absurd. We have in this country alone, a myriad of institutions of various backgrounds and foundations. Now imagine yourself who just happens to be an avid lover of all things pork decides to attend a Jewish institution;
would you honestly be offended or even surprised that pork is not served in the dining halls? Of course not!

Of course, this is the fundamental issue that is highlighted by the recent debate; whether or not a religious institution ought to be obligated and mandated to perform an act that stands in complete opposition to the religious views of the institution. Leaving the fact that one has a state-given right to contraceptives aside, this mandate atrociously disregards any notion of religious freedom in the name of a radical secularism. Under the guise of liberal politics and a free democracy, a prejudice against the Catholic Church and her teachings on the dignity of the human person runs free (Here, Newman's Apologia pro sua vita applies). What is accomplished in this country is a certain kind of plurality of religions where no religion has any authority to assert or proclaim its doctrines in the public sphere; for how can the Church tell a woman whether she can use a contraceptive? Religion, then, is pushed into a purely private and individualistic sphere. That this is problematic for the Church doesn't take much explanation: Christ commands his Apostles to go out and Baptize in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Yet, progressing even further, we now have the Church in a position in which it cannot uphold its owns fundamental teachings!

Students who choose to attend a Catholic university do so for a good number of reasons. In the choosing of a university it is evident that the ethos is going to be present in the university’s history and academic principles. Does it come as a shock to any, upon arriving on campus and seeing our Blessed Mother, gold upon the dome, that this university stands with a fundamental foundation in the teachings of the Church? Therefore, those who choose to attend a Catholic university should know and accept that they are involving themselves in a certain environment in which Catholicism is taught and lived out by the faculty, staff, and even the students. For a Catholic university to deny its Catholic roots, to compromise the Catholic ideals, to forfeit Catholic morality does a grave disservice to the institution, its faculty and staff, its alumni, benefactors, and most importantly its students, who have paid dearly for a Catholic education.

For Notre Dame to offer contraceptives is not an issue. If she wants to maintain her role as a Catholic university, she cannot compromise.
What is at stake here is not the right of one to use or not use a contraceptive; in this country, that is already the case despite the great danger a contraceptive culture can do to a society. What is at stake here is a question of religious liberty. Notre Dame does not and would not be forcing those in disagreement into agreement with Her Teachings; they attend or work there out of their volition (and this of course is quite right as a purely obligatory approach to religion and morality can never succeed). For those who feel that their “rights” are being infringed upon, as Mr. Graham claims is the result, there are numerous drug stores in South Bend or Mishawauka. But to ask a Catholic institution to offer contraceptives is as ridiculous as asking a Jewish family to eat pork. It is not a question of rights to contraception; it is a question of the government forcing a religious institution to perform acts contrary to their beliefs. That is to say, the government is committing a horrific overstep contra religious freedom. The rights of religious conscience and liberty for one cannot compromise the conscience and liberties of another; for then it is no longer liberty but tyranny. And tyranny has no place in a university; where the freedom to explore the realms of academia must prevail in order to continue to seek the truth for which man longs.

-Michael Black is Right to Life's first contributing blog author. He graduated from Notre Dame in 2011 with majors in philosophy and theology. He is a former member of Right to Life, and he is currently a seminarian for the Diocese of Covington.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Footprints Issue IV now available

Issue IV of Footprints, NDRTL's official newsletter, has just be released. You may view it by clicking here (or by visiting and clicking "Newsletter").

This issue includes:
  • The 2012 March for Life, including reflections by students.
  • A national meeting for pro-life leaders, organized by NDRTL
  • A letter from the officers of NDRTL on artificial contraception and human dignity (an abridged copy of this letter was printed in The Observer and may be read by clicking here).
  • And more!