O. Carter Snead, the William P. and Hazel B. White Director of the Center for Ethics and Culture, issued the following statement addressing questions related to John Waters's presentation at the Center's 18th Annual Fall Conference:
The history of the Mother and Baby Home at Tuam is a source of great pain for many people both in Ireland and throughout the world. We recognize and share that pain.
As is the case with all of our speakers, the topic and title of John Waters's talk at this year's conference were provided by him. He will not deny the facts of the case (nor will he challenge the research that has uncovered these facts by Catherine Corless) but rather will analyze its portrayal in the media and popular culture in relation to other contested political matters. Professor Patrick Deneen, moderator of the session, will ensure that challenges to this argument (and its premises) are raised directly with the speaker for his response.
Our annual fall conference is a forum of dialogue and engagement among thoughtful persons of good will, who often disagree strongly. It features presentations from all points along the ideological spectrum, and all presenters at the conference speak for themselves and not on behalf of the University of Notre Dame. There are many in attendance at the conference and at the university who will no doubt forcefully and respectfully raise challenges and critiques to Mr. Waters during the question period of his presentation.
Mr. Waters has made presentations at our annual Fall Conference in the past on subjects including Irish poetry, history and meaning of rock and roll music, responding to poverty, and the nature and flourishing of persons. On every occasion, he has proven to be exceptionally thoughtful, intellectually honest, and humane.
We have every expectation that Mr. Waters' session will be spirited and characterized by civil and thoughtful engagement.