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South Bend Bishop Blasts ND’s VM Decision

Thursday, March 13, 2008  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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From Catholic News:

John D’Arcy, Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, has responded to the decision by the president of Notre Dame to allow the performance of the Vagina Monologues, calling the play “pornographic” and “spiritually damaging.”

“As bishop of this historic diocese, entrusted with the spiritual welfare of all those who live within its borders, including the students at our beloved Notre Dame, I believe that, once again, I must publicly and respectfully disagree with Father Jenkins’ decision,” Bishop D’Arcy said, in a written statement posted on the website of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

Bishop D’Arcy’s statement is here. Key graphs making the obvious point:

Father Jenkins has informed me that, while he thinks that this play is a bad play, he believes that permitting its performance under certain conditions, namely, in an academic building without fundraising and with a panel discussion afterwards in which the Catholic perspective is represented, is consistent with the identity of a Catholic university. In particular, Father Jenkins believes that reading the works of authors such as Nietzsche, Gibbon, Luther and Joyce, who in various ways espouse ideas that are contrary to Catholic teaching, in classes at Notre Dame, is comparable to permitting performances of “The Vagina Monologues” under the conditions specified.

As bishop of this historic diocese, entrusted with the spiritual welfare of all those who live within its borders, including the students at our beloved Notre Dame, I believe that, once again, I must publicly and respectfully disagree with Father Jenkins’ decision. I am convinced that permitting performances of “The Vagina Monologues” is not consistent with the identity of a Catholic university and not comparable to the long accepted academic tradition through which a wide variety of authors are read and discussed in classes at Notre Dame and in all institutions of higher learning.

In the first place, the difference between the works of authors such as Nietzsche, Gibbon, Luther and Joyce, and “The Vagina Monologues” is a difference, not of degree, but of kind. The former have written serious philosophical, theological and literary works, which have influenced Western thought. As such, their work has academic merit and is worthy of serious discussion and critique in a classroom setting. Father Jenkins believes that Eve Ensler’s play was written to shock and offend. How can one put such a play, which many consider pornographic, on the level of serious works such as the writings of Gibbon and Luther?

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