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Pontifications

While the chief goal of the more strident opponents of Obama’s scheduled appearance at Notre Dame’s commencement has been to get the president dis-invited, a new effort is being organized to fire university president Father John Jenkins, CSC. The campaign has a website, ReplaceJenkins.com, and the initiative will be unveiled tomorrow (Thursday). The goal is to organize alums and donors until Jenkins is replaced by someone “who will uphold fundamental Catholic moral principles.” 

The groups has the usual disclaimers–that they are only doing what conscience requires, that they bear no ill will toward Jenkins or Obama, and that there is nothing political in their effort. And they are smart enough to know what really matters: They explain that donors can boycott Notre Dame’s General Fund but can give to two university-related pro-life funds that will apparently keep the donors eligible for football tickets. Whew!

Dan Gilgoff at US News breaks this story here. He reports that the effort is being led by a coalition of seven university alumni and financial backers, mostly based in Michigan. “When the Obama invitation happened, some of us said we have to draw a line in the sand,” David DiFranco, a Notre Dame alum who is helping lead the campaign, tells Gilgoff.

It is telling, I think, that DiFranco also says that conservative Catholics were already alarmed “by what they saw as the school’s liberal drift, including a school-sanctioned production of the Vagina Monologues and what he says is a shortage of orthodox professors in the theology department.” So it seems to be about more than Obama. And that rings true.

Will it work? They’d have to raise a lot of un-donations, and while outrage is deep in some quarters, it may not be broad. And will alums want to punish the whole university to get Jenkins’ head on a platter? I know nothing of the dynamics of Notre Dame’s administration, but I would think this kind of hardball would only stiffen the resolve of Jenkins and the Board of Trustees. But that’s just a guess.

Read the rest of Dan’s story… 

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