Father Wilson Miscamble, a Holy Cross priest and History professor at Notre Dame spoke at a rally organized by ND Response today and praised the students and their firm support of life.
Fr. Miscamble began his address, provided by Pewsitter.com, by reflecting on the founding of the University of Notre Dame noting that the Holy Cross priests "aimed to serve Christ here. And they sought to evangelize in His name under the patronage of the Blessed Mother."
Fr. Miscamble noted that though the school "faced horrendous tribulations during its initial years," the priests never gave up. "Under God’s providential care, our university did recover and grow. Father Sorin … his determined band … and the generations of Holy Cross religious and their lay collaborators who followed them built something special."
"These folk built Notre Dame into a distinctive place that nurtured its students’ religious and moral development, as well as their intellectual lives. Notre Dame challenged them to serve God and neighbor. And, as it did so, it proudly proclaimed its Catholic identity and its loyal membership in a Church that was and is unafraid to speak of moral truths and foundational principles and beliefs," the priest continued.
"Now friends, jump ahead to today. The formal leadership of the University still proclaims its fidelity to this vision," Miscamble said, however, "The words have not been matched by deeds. Instead of fostering the moral development of its students Notre Dame’s leaders have planted the damaging seeds of moral confusion."
He explained that by honoring President Obama, the administration has not only let its students down, but it has "betrayed the loyal and faith-filled alumni who rely on Notre Dame to stand firm on matters of fundamental Catholic teaching – and so to affirm the sanctity of life."
"The honor extended to Barack Obama says very loudly that support for practically unlimited access to abortion – and approval for the destruction of embryonic life to harvest stem cells – are not major problems for those charged with leading Notre Dame." The priest went on to quote Bishop John D’Arcy of the Diocese of South Bend who said, "Notre Dame chose ‘prestige over truth.’ How embarrassing for an institution dedicated to the pursuit of truth to settle for temporary attention over eternal honor."
Fr. Miscamble asked that his audience reflect on the Holy Cross religious who have served Notre Dame and the Church for ages. "In some ways, the task before us today is tougher than theirs. In those early days, the problems were clear – but so too was the mission.
"Now we are engaged in a more intellectual and spiritual struggle. Will we be true to the founding vision? Can we resist the subtle and not so subtle temptations to surrender our distinct religious identity --and conform to the reigning and rather barren secular paradigm of what a university should be?"
Though Obama’s visit suggests that Notre Dame’s leaders have "succumbed to this temptation," Fr. Miscamble said that "when we look back on these days, I have a sense that what will stand out is how a group of dedicated prolife students, wonderful alumni, and ordinary Catholics who cherish this place refused to acquiesce in the Administration’s willingness to wink at its most fundamental values in exchange for the public relations coup that attends a presidential visit."
He continued: "The people who refuse to give up – and I speak especially of you students ---have taken on the role of teachers here. While the administration and many of the faculty sold out easily for the photo-ops etc, you and some of your alumni sisters and brothers showed the benefits of your Notre Dame education. You held firm to the foundational principles of respect for life and for the dignity of every person. You are the ones who have understood what really matters. You refuse to just go along. You have made your voice heard and led the way to a better future."
"You represent the very best of Notre Dame. You – along with your good professors and faithful alums – are the ones who can help Notre Dame recover from this painful and self-inflicted wound. You will not find it easy, and you will have moments where you will be discouraged. But you must remember there is so much that is good at Notre Dame that you can never relent in your efforts to call this place to be its best and true self --proud of its Catholic identity and its loyal membership in the Church."
Fr. Miscamble drew his address to a close calling on the crowd to move forward. "Let us take our instruction from the Lord, in the words that the great champion of life, John Paul II, used at the outset of his papacy: BE NOT AFRAID. --Let us labor in this vineyard, so that Notre Dame might regain its true soul … be faithful in its mission as a Catholic University … and truly become the "powerful means for good" that Father Sorin dreamed about."