Saturday, April 15, 2006

More on academic freedom at Notre Dame

Last week Fr. John Jenkins, the president of the Universtiy of Notre Dame, issued his closing statement in the dialogue on academic freedom that he had initiated some months earlier on the northern Indiana campus.

This general topic had been focused a bit around issue of whether or not the play The Vagina Monologues should be performed at the Catholic university.

In his closing statement, Fr. Jenkins said that future productions of the play would be allowed on the campus provided that it happen in an academic context where Catholic teaching on human sexuality could also be presented.

This decision surprised some who have followed the story because Fr. Jenkins had previously expressed misgivings about the play because of it portrays human sexuality in ways that run counter to the Church's teaching on this topic.

In the days following the issuing of Fr. Jenkins' closing statement, David Solomon, a professor of philosophy at Notre Dame, wrote this op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal.


Although Father Jenkins called his announcement the "Closing Statement," the debate is unlikely to go away. More is at stake than the fairly standard, indeed humdrum, questions about "censorship" and "free speech" on campus. To some of us--and I speak as a Notre Dame professor--Father Jenkins's decision is one more step in a long process of secularization: It has already radically changed the major Protestant universities in this country; it is now proceeding apace at the Catholic ones.

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