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Senior proud of Jenkins

Letter to the Editor | Wednesday, May 3, 2006

In regards to University President Father John Jenkins’ closing statement, I would like to applaud our President’s courage for tackling such a controversial issue in his first year. Certainly, such actions could be deemed as political suicide but great visionaries burden themselves with audacious goals.

I am sill gripped by a state of ambivalence on the issue. I have read the opinions of both supporters and detractors in the viewpoints; likewise, I’ve dialogued with members of the administration, faculty, alumni and fellow students. Often, Notre Dame is considered “too Catholic” by academics in the intellectual community – a bastion of community, courage and commitment. It is my impression that Jenkins’ course of action will not change that impression.

As one administration official explained to me, “Notre Dame’s BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is to be an elite academic institution while maintaining the core values of the Catholic Church.” Initially, I thought that Jenkins was submitting to political pressure for fear of being perceived as unpopular. However, I now believe that Jenkins’ statement was driven by a “bend but not break” mentality. In considering the life of President Emeritus Father Theodore Hesburgh, many did not always consider his progressive outlook to be exactly aligned with the Catholic Church. Nevertheless, history proved his detractors wrong, and Notre Dame was both empowered and blessed to have had such an extraordinary leader at the helm for over three decades.

As Thomas Aquinas once said, “virtue lies in the middle.” I am not implying that Jenkins compromised the integrity of the Catholic Church and sold out to the secular crowds. Being a devout child and, more importantly, leader of the Catholic Church does not always entail acquiescing to the status quo. Rather, it involves seeking and challenging the greater truths of the present, and consequently shaping a better path for the future. Those who advocate the position that Jenkins is playing a dangerous game on a slippery slope have their warranted concerns. As for me, I consider it an honor to graduate in the first class under the administration of Jenkins.

Matt SommaseniorOff-CampusMay 1