Notre Dame President Apologizes for Lou Holtz, Embarrasses University

University of Notre Dame President Fr. John I. Jenkins once again has revealed his moral obtuseness. I’m no stranger to criticizing Notre Dame’s “leader,” and, frankly, it should be done by others much more frequently than it has been. Evidently, harsh feedback is the only way faithful, orthodox Catholics can communicate to him that they detest his mealy-mouthed spinelessness.

During the third day of the Republican National Convention last week, legendary Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz blasted Joe Biden, the Democratic Party’s nominee for president, as a “Catholic in name only” because of his (and vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris’) truly radical support for abortion. They “abandon innocent lives,” Holtz said.

This is straightforward and true. For Catholics, abortion is a grave, mortal sin against innocent, defenseless human life. And the Biden-Harris ticket, not to mention the Democratic Party more generally, backs taxpayer-funded “legal abortion on demand, past fetal viability, until the moment of birth, with no restrictions, and to the exclusion of any pro-life laws in a single state.” 

Biden, a baptized Catholic, is what we would charitably call a “cafeteria Catholic”—one who picks and chooses from a “menu” of dogmas, doctrines, and teachings of the Church what he will believe, based on convenience and what aligns with his own (poorly formed) “conscience.”

Naturally, Fr. Jenkins—slick, Oxford-educated “philosopher” that he is—decided the world needed even more of his banal, heterodox, totally-bereft-of-common-sense platitudes; so, he opened his mouth, confirming for everyone that he is a fool:

While Coach Lou Holtz is a former coach at Notre Dame, his use of the University’s name at the Republican National Convention must not be taken to imply that the University endorses his views, any candidate or any political party. Moreover, we Catholics should remind ourselves that while we may judge the objective moral quality of another’s actions, we must never question the sincerity of another’s faith, which is due to the mysterious working of grace in that person’s heart. In this fractious time, let us remember that our highest calling is to love.

There are several problems with this August 27 statement, addressed in ascending order of importance.

First, Holtz only name-dropped “Notre Dame” twice in his short speech, and neither use in any sense plausibly could be understood as an attempt to make viewers think the university endorsed his remarks. The first instance: “You know, there’s a statue up of me at Notre Dame. I guess they needed a place for the pigeons to land.” The second instance: “I used to ask our athletes at Notre Dame, if you did not show up, who would miss you and why?” Fr. Jenkins, in desperate search of a hook to make his virtue-signaling statement seem called for and relevant, grossly mischaracterized what Holtz said. If that’s par for the course for such a sophisticated, highly educated man, newsflash to any parents out there of Oxford students: Demand a refund immediately.

Second, while it is true that God’s grace works in the human heart in deeply mysterious ways, it is in some cases not that mysterious. It is simply insane to suggest that one is not permitted merely to observe that extreme, ghoulish support for abortion by a Catholic politician is more than just a little bit problematic. In fact, Holtz displayed remarkable restraint in his speech. Biden supports child murder. 

Why is it wrong, I wonder, for someone to point that out and to question whether such a person’s faith—which unambiguously teaches that abortion is a serious evil—is lacking? How does Biden square this circle, and why is it wrong for us to use our eyes and ears to perceive what is right in front of us and say so out loud, in plain English?

2016 Revisited

In reality, this is the alleged “problem” of 2016 all over again. Back then, we were told the election was about “character.” With that in mind, voters opted for Trump, a candidate who stood for them—even if he was unpolished, and all the “smart” people thought he was awful—rather than the focus-grouped, professional politician Hillary Clinton—a woman who stood against our nation’s interests and disdained a massive chunk of its people as “deplorables.” 

It seems Fr. Jenkins would prefer a quiet, putatively inoffensive, doddering old man who supports taxpayer-funded abortion up to birth to a loudmouth, unrefined braggart who stands, however imperfectly, against such a moral atrocity, such a gross injustice. In politics as in life, actions speak louder than words. Biden’s words and actions are nothing short of grotesque.

Abortion is a grave injustice, one “which metes out birthdays to the powerless according to the will of the powerful.” It is the fundamental issue of our time, different in kind from other so-called life issues, and to equate it with them is to betray a serious lack of moral vision. Remember that old quote about little ones and millstones, Father? It’s somewhere in that Bible you appear not to have dusted off in ages; I’d suggest rereading it. And weeping is encouraged!

Another Term for “Sin” Is Love Misdirected

Third and finally, our highest calling is to love, yes. But love, whatever it means, certainly does not mean excusing our society’s widespread practice of child dismemberment—there have been more than 61 million grisly, lust-soaked sacrifices to Moloch in the name of “liberty” since Roe v. Wade (1973)—because the other candidate is embarrassing to your “refined sensibilities.” 

If appearances like that matter to you more than human life, when you’re a publicly visible member of a Church that places the unborn at the center of its concern, you’re a moral illiterate. Period.

Fr. Jenkins thinks his position as Notre Dame’s president means people are dying to hear from him. Truthfully, we aren’t. Not if he’s going to sound like an excuse-making infanticide cheerleader.

I can’t really reliably tell you much of anything about the state of Fr. Jenkins’s soul, nor do I want to; that’s between him and God. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about it.

About Deion A. Kathawa

Deion A. Kathawa holds a J.D. from Notre Dame Law School and a B.A. from the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor. He is a proud Midwesterner and a Mt. Vernon Fellow of the Center for American Greatness.

Photo: Don & Melinda Crawford/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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