Continuing its response to the controversy over President Obama’s speech at the prominent Catholic institution, the University of Notre Dame has announced the creation of a coordinator for pro-life initiatives. The new coordinator says she is honored to hold the position and will work to advance the Catholic identity of the university.
The Task Force on Supporting the Choice for Life, which ended its service in May, recommended to Notre Dame president Fr. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., the creation of structures to implement its previous recommendations and to continue its work. Fr. Jenkins then created the position of coordinator for university life initiatives and appointed 2010 Notre Dame graduate Mary K. Daly to the post.
Daly served as president of Notre Dame Right for Life and was a spokeswoman for NDResponse, a coalition opposed to the honoring of President Barack Obama. She will coordinate present efforts to implement the task force’s recommendations and will serve as a liaison between various university departments and offices to advance collaboration on life issues.
According to the University of Notre Dame, she will also seek ways to “broaden and deepen respect for the sanctity of life” at the university and beyond.
Her office will be located in the Institute for Church Life and she will report to John C. Cavadini, the McGrath-Cavadini Director of the Institute for Church Life who was a co-chair of the task force. She will also organize a faculty advisory committee to be chaired by Cavadini.
Daly responded to an inquiry from CNA in a Tuesday afternoon e-mail.
She said she was “very pleased” that the university created a permanent position dedicated to increasing the institution’s “witness to the culture of life.”
“I am grateful and honored to have been invited to work with the university on these initiatives,” Daly commented. She said her position will also help support and enhance the university’s mission and vision “as a Catholic institution of higher education.”
The new coordinator explained that fostering “a respect for the sanctity and dignity of life, from conception to natural death” will be one of her priorities, as will be fostering an increase in understanding of “the major life issues.”
Daly reported that discussion of possible action and initiatives has been “very lively.”
In addition to implementing the task force’s recommendations, she said the coordinator will support academic scholarship on life issues from both students and faculty. The coordinator will also create education efforts to inform the campus on life issues.
Daly told CNA her position will strengthen the university’s support both for student-led right-to-life initiatives and for pregnant and parenting students.
Commenting in the university’s press release, Fr. Jenkins thanked the members of the Task Force on Supporting the Choice for Life for their “exemplary” service.
“I look forward to continued progress in this important area as we work together in future years,” he commented, according to the University of Notre Dame.
Fr. Jenkins has followed several recommendations of the task force, such as personally participating in the National March for Life in January in Washington, D.C. The task force also recommended both the development of principles for charitable giving and the adoption of a statement on the university’s support for Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life.
Notre Dame law professor Charles Rice has been critical of some of the university administration’s responses, saying Notre Dame should have had an official presence at every March for Life since 1973. Last year Rice said any changes would be “cosmetic” unless charges are dropped against pro-life protesters arrested at the time of the 2009 commencement.