If an institution does not defend innocent life, it can be called many things, but it should not be called Catholic.
There was a brief glimmer of hope back in 2012 when those who believed that the most well-known Catholic college in the U.S. might actually be… well… Catholic. That was when the University of Notre Dame filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana seeking relief from a mandate by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that required the university named for Our Lady to provide through their insurance plans (or a third-party administrator) contraceptives, sterilization procedures and abortifacients.
The university which had infamously honored the most pro-abortion president in our country’s history was suing the administration of that same president. Some cheered. Some felt betrayed. Some simply scratched their heads. Unfortunately, among those scratching their heads was Circuit Judge Richard Posner who ruled against Notre Dame, noting the university’s “awkward” delay in challenging the so-called “accommodation,” and questioning why the university initially complied with the accommodation if it was so antithetical to their Catholicism.
At the time, Fr. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president, clarified his intentions by saying, “at its core this filing is about the freedom of a religious organization to live its mission.” But exactly what Notre Dame’s mission is must be called into question now that the Trump administration reversed the HHS Mandate and the university has reportedly decided to not only provide contraceptive coverage but actually supply contraceptives in its wellness center.
The university’s website states on its mission statement website that the university is committed to “a sacramental vision” which “encounters God in the whole of creation.” While admitting in a statement that “the use of artificial contraceptives to prevent conception is contrary to Catholic teaching,” Fr. Jenkins added that “many conscientiously disagree with this particular teaching.” So, in short, the University of Notre Dame “encounters God in the whole of creation” except if enough employees and students disagree?