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Jenky’s homily was accurate and commendable

Mark Gianfalla | Monday, April 23, 2012

This column is in response to the 55 members of the Notre Dame faculty (“Faculty call to distance Notre Dame from Jenky’s ‘incendiary statement,'” April 23), who took Bishop Daniel Jenky’s homily out of context and actually added their own analogies to their interpretation. Bishop Jenky’s homily demonstrated a great understanding of what it means and takes to be an active Catholic during our current generation.

I am glad that you accept the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, but anyone who reads or listens to the homily must be mindful of the careful wording used.

At no point does Bishop Jenky either compare President Obama’s policies to those of genocide, or downplay the severity of the holocaust or Stalinist genocide that occurred in Germany and the former Soviet Union. In fact, Bishop Jenky specifically curtails his comments to relate to the issues of health care, religious freedoms and the HHS mandate.

Everything that Bishop Jenky speaks about in his homily and draws analogies between can logically be connected through historical pattern, which Bishop Jenky states and clarifies. His homily is historically accurate rather than ignorant, and because he does not even mention the aspect of genocide, there is no way he could be insensitive to victims.

It is historically accurate to acknowledge the fact that Stalin and Hitler declared a war on Catholic culture and sought to destroy the Church’s influence around the globe. Bishop Jenky only warns that President Obama has started to make similar decisions, which in politics often indicates a future pattern that could develop into political intolerance or oppression of the Catholic Church and religious ministry, still nothing mentioned about genocide.

Although incorporating politics into a homily is not always appreciated by churchgoers, the Bishop should be commended for having the courage to speak out about an issue that is affecting the global Catholic Community and the Notre Dame community all the same.

The Diocese of Peoria even issued a statement standing behind Bishop Jenky, only lamenting the fact that his words were taken out of context by many. Should Notre Dame issue a statement denouncing the entire Diocese of Peoria and the national Catholic community that stands against President Obama’s HHS mandate?

If it were not for religious leaders like Bishop Jenky, countries like the United States would lose its religious freedom one mandate at a time. As a Catholic university that hold’s Our Lady’s affiliation close to our core, denouncing Bishop Jenky’s comments would only force more discord within the Catholic community at large.

Our University has a unique challenge of balancing its Catholic roots with its non-profit and secular restrictions. This incident is a great chance for Notre Dame to emerge in concord with the Church, and not fall victim to a liberal secular power sweeping across academia and the media. According to the Department of Anthropology, which is home to five of the professors associated with the original Letter to the Editor, “In addition to clarification, the best remedy for controversy is more speech” (Department of Anthropology website, Notre Dame). This statement appears in their event sponsorship guidelines, and many other Notre Dame colleges have similar policies.

Why not follow your own guidelines and simply disagree with Bishop Jenky instead of calling for a distancing by the University and his resignation from the Board of Fellows? If the faculty members who signed the letter are not in favor of this University’s Catholic identity, then they should distance themselves from it or step down from their positions instead of calling for those who have the Church’s and University’s best interests at heart to do so.

Mark Gianfalla is a freshman and a

resident of Morrissey Manor. He can be reached at mgianfal@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.