Prompted by the recent public discussion surrounding the 2016 Laetare Medal, the following memorandum offers a possible framework for how Notre Dame might, in the future, promote civility in public life and engage in dialogue with public figures (including the President of the United States) with whom we have strong disagreements, while also bearing witness to all the goods at the core of Notre Dame’s Catholic mission.
Mary O'Callaghan, a public policy fellow at the Center for Ethics and Culture and prenatal outreach coordinator for Michiana Down Syndrome, released an open letter to Indiana Governor Mike Pence regarding HB1337, which would ban abortion in the case of prenatal diagnosis of disability:
In this era of evidence-based medicine, prenatal diagnosis of disability is not guided by the truth. Instead, it is driven by fear and misinformation, with the result that children with disabilities are denied access, not just to some aspects of society, but to life itself. This is the ultimate form of discrimination; discrimination which was decried by the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, but over 25 years later is thriving in the field of prenatal medicine.…
The Center is pleased to announce that Director Carter Snead has been appointed to the Pontifical Academy for Life, the pope’s principal advisory group on the promotion of the consistent ethic of life in the Catholic Church:
“I am honored and humbled to serve the Holy Father and the Church as it continues its efforts to defend and bear witness to the inalienable dignity of every member of the human family, born and unborn,” Snead said.
“We are thrilled Carter Snead, and, by extension, Notre Dame, has been given this opportunity to serve the Church in our efforts to build a culture of life worldwide,” said University president Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
William Kelley, associate professor of constitutional law at the Notre Dame Law School and a member of the Center's Executive Advisory Committee, remembers Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, for whom he clerked in 1988-89:
The untimely death of Justice Antonin Scalia marks the end of a generation-long career on the Supreme Court in which he profoundly influenced the terms of legal debate in the United States. Those of us who were privileged to serve as his law clerks were witnesses to this remarkable achievement, which was the product of his intellect and his unyielding commitment to the rule of law. We were also witnesses to a life greatly lived.
Read the full article here. The Center extends its deepest condolences to Justice Scalia's family and friends.
Center Director Carter Snead (Notre Dame Law School) submitted a brief amici curiae with six other law professors on February 3 in the Supreme Court case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. The case will examine whether the Texas law known as HB2, which requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and for abortion centers to be held to the same standards as surgical outpatient centers, places an "undue burden" on women seeking an abortion. From the summary:…
The Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture and Notre Dame Law School are pleased to announce the Polking Family Fellowship, a newly established program to recruit and provide funding for top law school candidates who have a demonstrated passion for the Catholic mission of the Law School and who share Notre Dame’s commitment to the inalienable dignity of every human life from conception to natural death.
The Polking Fellowship aims to cultivate the next generation of leaders who understand that law and public policy are essential elements in building a sustainable culture of life.
Center Director Carter Snead (University of Notre Dame Law School), Remick Senior Visiting Fellow Michael Moreland (Villanova Law School), and eleven other law professors filed a brief amici curiae on January 11 in the Zubik v. Burwell case before the Supreme Court regarding the contraceptive mandate of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The brief argues that the mandate burdens the religious exercise of the Little Sisters of the Poor, one of the petitioners in the case, who object to having their employee health care plans used as a vehicle to distribute abortifacients and contraceptives.
Center Director Carter Snead addressed a reception hosted at the Synod on the Family in Rome October 20. The gathering, cohosted by the Center for Ethics and Culture and Cardinal Timothy Dolan (Archdiocese of New York), was attended by Synod fathers, clergy, and members of the media. Professor Snead spoke on the relationship between the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision Obergefell vs. Hodges and the work of the Synod:
In the domain of law and policy, expressive individualism holds that human desires are the source of fundamental rights. Expressive individualism underwrites the jurisprudence of abortion rights in the U.S. It anchors the arguments for unlimited access to dehumanizing and dangerous technologies of assisted reproduction. It undergirds the U.S. regulation compelling the Little Sisters of the Poor to facilitate access to contraception and abortifacients to their employees. And it justifies no-fault divorce. When operationalized in law and policy, expressive individualism often becomes a grave threat to the weakest and most vulnerable, who are seen as burdensome obstacles to the projects of the strong.
By contrast, the Church's vision of persons and our shared life together is one in which we are understood to be embodied souls (not mere wills), whose embodiment has meaning. We live not in isolation, but situated in relationships of solidarity and reciprocal indebtedness. Others have claims on us and we on them, whether we choose them or not. What is fundamental about persons is not that they can construct and pursue future-directed plans, but that they are made in the image and likeness of God, deserving of unconditional love and protection.
Read his full remarks here.
On Monday, October 5, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the controversial "End of Life Option Act" into law, making physician-assisted suicide legal in the nation's most populous state. Center Director Carter Snead called the decision "selfish and short-sighted" in a statement released today:
Quoting the highly personal terms in which Brown had cast his decision — “In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death,” the governor said — Snead insisted that “Gov. Brown and those like him — affluent, privileged, able-bodied and with supportive families — are not the ones who will pay the price for this new ‘freedom.’”
“What Gov. Brown should have been reflecting on instead,” Snead said, “was the poor, the disabled, the marginalized and the elderly who are now exposed to grave and lethal new risks of fraud, abuse, mistake and coercion. He should have been reflecting on those who are suffering from untreated, but treatable, depression or badly managed, but manageable, pain, people for whom the path of least resistance is now self-administration of lethal drugs.
Read the full statement here.
“For more than 175 years, the Little Sisters of the Poor have dedicated their lives to humble service of the most vulnerable among us,” said O. Carter Snead, William P. and Hazel B. White Director of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture. “Their work and witness embody the goods at the heart of the Evangelium Vitae Medal. Their unwavering defense of the unborn in the HHS mandate litigation, alongside their longstanding work to care for the elderly poor, offers a beautiful and powerful witness to the unique, inviolable dignity of every person, from conception to natural death. Their work is a testament to the radical solidarity and hospitality at the core of the Gospel of Life.”
The Center was pleased to cosponsor the Papal Pilgrimage made by more than 500 students, faculty, and staff from Notre Dame, Saint Mary's, and Holy Cross to see Pope Francis and participate in the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia September 26-27. Senior Sorin Fellow Michael Infantine spoke with Associate Director Ryan Madison about this historic visit.
The Center for Ethics and Culture mourns the loss of Amy A. Kass, brilliant teacher and beloved friend, who passed away on Wednesday. CEC public policy fellow Yuval Levin remembers her in a tribute at National Review:
Amy Kass, who died yesterday after a long and courageous struggle with cancer, was without a doubt the best teacher I ever saw in action. What she did so masterfully was, in a sense, simple: She would throw a great work of fiction in front of a group of eager, overconfident students, invite them to open it up and turn it over and over together, and then gradually help them discover that it had actually opened them instead.
Read the rest here. The Center offers its deepest condolences to her family and loved ones.
In an op-ed for Fox News, Center Director Carter Snead responded to the recent videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, in which Planned Parenthood executives are filmed discussing compensation for fetal organs harvested after an abortion.
"The American people should be thankful for Dr. Nucatola’s and Gatter’s words, and even for the coarse and graphic manner in which they were delivered," he said.
"In doing so, they offered a rare glimpse of the horrible truth about the nature and human cost of Planned Parenthood’s work. Thanks to them, Planned Parenthood’s slick corporate image as merely an altruistic defender of women’s health is shattered. Having its true face revealed, the path forward is clear. No minimally decent society can support an organization whose business is killing and harvesting body parts for money. Defund Planned Parenthood now."
Over at First Things, Center Faculty Advisory Committee member Francesca Murphy has published a piece regarding Notre Dame's current curriculum review and the perils of goal-based education.
"Faculty often quarrel over curricula. That’s as it should be. A curriculum, especially its core courses required of all students, is an educational institution’s constitution. To tell a young person he must take this or that course announces a university’s highest priorities. This makes a curriculum review a battlefield. At the University of Notre Dame we are presently conducting such a review, and a hot point for debate is whether the university should maintain its requirement of two theology and two philosophy courses. This requirement has long been thought essential to the Catholic mission of Notre Dame. But the “two theology, two philosophy” requirement may not survive this round of curriculum revision."…
Frank Bruni’s column on the Catholic Church’s treatment of women could inspire two masters theses in two disciplines. The journalism thesis would take on the shallowness to which opinion writing sinks when the subject matter is religion and women. The pastoral theology thesis would treat women in the Catholic Church today.
On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The last time the House considered this bill, Center Public Policy Fellow Maureen Condic testified before Congress that a fetus can feel pain even before 20 weeks. You can read an excerpt from her testimony below.…
Call for Papers
“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” —Goethe
The University of Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture is pleased to announce its sixteenth annual Fall Conference, "For Freedom Set Free," to be held November 19–21, 2015…
The Center for Ethics and Culture was pleased to bestow the 2015 Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae Medal on Supreme Knight Carl Anderson and the Knights of Columbus at the fifth annual Evangelium Vitae Medal banquet Sunday evening, April 26.
The following article was written by Center Sorin Fellow Lauren Saunee, who participated in the Center's Medical Ethics Conference in Rome over Spring Break. Lauren is a freshman majoring in science preprofessional studies with a minor in Catholic Social Teaching. She plans to attend medical school after her graduation. This piece originally appeared in the ND campus newspaper, the Irish Rover…