Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Esteemed and Faithful Catholic Notre Dame Professor Emeritus Charles Rice - Open Letter to Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins
"Notre Dame pro-life efforts being tarnished by trespass charges."
South Bend, Ind., Sep 23, 2009 / 06:08 am (CNA)
Respected Notre Dame law professor emeritus Charles E. Rice has criticized University of Notre Dame President Fr. John I. Jenkins’ announcement of new pro-life initiatives, saying they will be regarded only as a “cosmetic covering” unless charges are dropped against pro-life protesters arrested during President Barack Obama’s commencement speech.
In a September 21 open letter to Fr. Jenkins, Prof. Rice said that University Chief of Staff Frances L. Shavers was being “misleading” in saying that the 88 pro-life protesters arrested during President Obama’s appearance at the university were arrested for trespassing and not for expressing pro-life views. Prof. Rice explained that the protesters were arrested “not because they were there, but because of who they were, why they were there and what they were saying." "Notre Dame ought to state publicly that it has no interest in seeing those prosecutions proceed in any form and that it requests the prosecutor to exercise his discretion to dismiss all those charges unconditionally."
Prof. Rice highlighted the case of 79-year-old Fr. Norman Weslin, a longtime pro-life advocate who is a Lutheran convert, a widower and former Lt. Colonel in the 82nd Airborne Division. Rice called his arrest “one of the lowest points in the entire history of Notre Dame.” "It would have been better for you and the complicit Fellows and Trustees to dialogue with Fr. Weslin rather than lock him up as a criminal. You all could have learned something from him. His actions in defense of innocent life and the Faith have been and are heroic. Notre Dame’s treatment of Fr. Weslin is a despicable disgrace, the responsibility for which falls directly and personally upon yourself as the President of Notre Dame.”
Fr. Jenkins’ presentation of himself as a pro-life advocate while continuing to be the “jailer” of those offering an “authentic pro-life witness” would be “a mockery,” Prof. Rice charged, again calling for the charges to be dismissed.
"As long as you pursue the criminalization of those pro-life witnesses, your newest pro-life statements will be regarded reasonably as a cosmetic covering of the institutional anatomy in the wake of the continuing backlash arising from your conferral of Notre Dame’s highest honor on the most relentlessly pro-abortion public official in the world,” Prof. Rice wrote.