John D'Arcy of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese told students and
faculty at Notre Dame Law School Friday that he was "deeply saddened"
by university president Fr. John Jenkins' April 5 decision that “The
Vagina Monologues” would not be prohibited on campus.
"This is Notre Dame," he said, according to the Observer newspaper. "We dare to say it is the school of Our Lady. … This place has a special obligation."
The bishop gave his address on the pastoral role of the bishop. He said the Second Vatican Council had a strong impact on the role of the bishop, shifting it from “CEO and administrator to a pastor and evangelist.”
When asked about his relationship with university administration, Bishop D'Arcy connected his pastoral role to the recent debates on academic freedom raised by the “Monologues” incident.
"It is important to recognize the independence of the university and its academic freedom," he reportedly said. "But I have pastoral freedom. I cannot refrain from preaching the Gospel."
He told audience members Friday that the disagreement on this issue has placed his relationship with the current administration “under stress.” However, he retains his respect for the university.
Though he denounced Fr. Jenkins' decision not to ban the "Monologues," the bishop advised students to read the play and become informed about the surrounding issues.
He said his actions and decisions have been based on the late Pope John Paul II's definition of academic freedom. The Catholic teaching states that members of a university should be treated with academic freedom so long as the rights of the individual members are maintained, the bishop said.
The bishop rejected a student's suggestion that Notre Dame was no longer a Catholic university. "I think among the major universities it is by far the most Catholic," he said. "I have great affection for it, and so does [Pope] Benedict [XVI]."