The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Just doing his job …

Observer Viewpoint | Thursday, February 17, 2005

The highly publicized second annual Queer Film Festival began as a provocative exercise in inclusivity, and quickly became a firestorm of controversy. Few were spared the indignation of one party or another.

Professor Ted Warfield asks why Bishop D’Arcy has spoken out on the Festival and not about other campus events that do not necessarily showcase or coincide with the positions of the Catholic Church. The events he is referring to simply do not attract the same magnitude of attention as sensationalized issues like the ethics of war, abortion, or homosexuality. For evidence, examine the responses elicited by Fahrenheit 9/11, the Cemetery of the Innocents and now the Queer Film Festival, respectively.

Professor Ed Manier accused the bishop of “muddying the waters of intelligent public discussion,” and characterized him as failing to be “consistent” with his views or to “meet any other criterion of rational discourse” in his opposition to University sponsorship of the event. It would appear that the bishop lacks the intellectual rigor to take part in this discussion. While D’Arcy is not a career academic like Manier, he holds a doctorate in theology from the well-respected Pontifical Angelicum University in Rome. Listening to his homilies at the Basilica, I have found him to be quite intelligent and indeed capable of providing pastoral guidance to his diocese.

Manier advocates a disconnect in the relationship between the Church and Catholic universities in the United States. I would like to point out that the entirety of Notre Dame, down to the last building, is property of the Catholic Church and is entrusted solely to the Congregation of Holy Cross, a Catholic religious order. To deny the Catholic nature and ownership of Notre Dame in the name of such ambiguous things as “academic freedom” would be a farce and an indignity to the religious mission of the school. Where is one to draw the line between striving for an intellectual atmosphere and pursuit of fashionable political correctness?

D’Arcy has an official responsibility to articulate the Catechism and would be neglecting his episcopal duty if he did not make Catholics in his diocese aware of the fact that two of the presenters at the Festival are known for their open opposition to church teaching concerning the morality of homosexual acts. One wrote a blasphemous play in which Jesus and his disciples are depicted as active homosexuals. In a decision personally approved by Pope John Paul II, the other was ordered to stop misrepresenting Catholic teaching after a decade-long inquiry into her work.

It is of no difference to me whether or not certain departments of the University stage controversial productions. Members of the Notre Dame community are free to choose for themselves the degree to which they will support such events. I am concerned, however, at the fact that D’Arcy has been so sharply criticized for doing his job.

Matthew Smith


St. Edward’s Hall

Feb. 16