The Notre Dame Community Stands Up Against Violence

Author: Merlot Fogarty

As a Catholic institution, The University of Notre Dame is morally obligated to stand up for defenseless, underprivileged, and vulnerable human beings whensoever their rights are violated or their lives are endangered. 

In the context of ongoing campus debate over the morality, legality, and justice of abortion, Notre Dame is uniquely positioned to be the model for Catholic institutions committed to protecting students, women, and the sanctity of life. She can, and must, do so in accordance with her Catholic faith. 

Those who debate abortion have one privilege: the privilege of already having been born. No one is threatening members of the Notre Dame community’s right to be protected from having their heart stopped with chemicals, getting ripped from limb to limb by surgical instruments, or being left for dead on a medical table after a botched procedure designed to end their life.

Those who are truly threatened by this violence don’t have the voice to speak up for themselves.

By contrast, academic reputation, tenure, and the ability to publish in national media outlets are all privileges that should not be weaponized to insulate their holders from criticism under the guise of “academic freedom”. We encourage all members of the Notre Dame community to exercise their freedom of speech in ways that respect the dignity of all human beings, even those with whom we disagree, and those who are not considered “persons” by our laws. It is privileged hypocrisy to demand protection from offensive language and crude online comments while simultaneously advocating for and offering to help others commit immediate, physical violence against helpless human beings. 

We strongly condemn any conduct by Notre Dame faculty, students, or community members who engage in dehumanizing and violent actions, threats, and messages toward anyone, especially the preborn, the most vulnerable and least protected members of our society. 

We call on our allies in the Notre Dame community to express their support for University President John Jenkins’ witness to the sanctity of human life. Whether at the March for Life, through his public statements, or in the pages of the Chicago Tribune, his advocacy for a culture of life and the protection of all members of our society is admirable. We similarly commend all those in the Notre Dame community who stand against the violence of abortion, who speak the truth, and who fight against institutions that celebrate the bloodshed of the preborn. 

The fundamental mission of a university may be to “create knowledge,” but only in the context of the prevailing truth of the Catholic Church: human life has inherent dignity from the moment of conception, and abortion is a grave moral wrong that disrespects the dignity of life. Academic freedom does not promise freedom from criticism, even by another member of the University community, nor does it mean utter indifference to any action that a faculty member undertakes.

Notre Dame maintains a high standard of conduct that prohibits violations much less serious than that of the Fifth Commandment. Notre Dame should make it clear that helping, or offering to help, a student procure an abortion is an unspeakable act of violence that results in the death of another human being, that it is outrageous, unacceptable, and dangerous for our entire community, and that it will not be tolerated at the University of Notre Dame. 

After Dobbs, abortion advocates are redoubling their efforts to exclude any pro-life positions from the public sphere. They demand fealty from every corporation, media organization, and university that might share their values, and then call for “neutrality” from the handful of institutions, like Notre Dame, that will not live by their lies. They pretend that every attempt to stand up for Christian values is an act of violence, while the ubiquity of their own values is simply the way of the world. 

Fortunately, the University of Notre Dame does not maintain a “policy of neutrality” between truth and lies, or good and evil, wherever they happen to be published. The University community will stand against its enemies, internal or external, and continue to defend truth, goodness, and beauty, wherever they are to be found. We will continue to defend life. 

You can support Notre Dame Right to Life’s mission here and express your support for the University’s witness to life here.