Monday, June 20, 2011

Notre Dame has no Catholic identity

                               A golden dome does not a Catholic university make

If I publicly declared myself independent of Catholic authority, would I still be entitled to call myself Catholic?  The question answers itself.   But to be sure we're not overlooking something, let's consult Webster's dictionary for assistance.  Here is Webster's definition of independent:

"not dependent: as a (1) : not subject to control by others : self-governing (2) : not affiliated with a larger controlling unit "

So, by declaring myself independent of Catholic authority, I am saying that I am not subject to Catholic authority, I am not governed by Catholic authority, and I am not even affiliated with Catholic authority. 

Which means I wouldn't be Catholic. 

If I nevertheless continue to hold myself out as Catholic, it could mean I am suffering from delusions; that is, I am unable to grasp the logical consequences of declaring myself independent from Catholic authority. 

Or it could mean I am perpetrating a fraud; that is, claiming to be Catholic while knowing I was not Catholic with the object of deceiving others into believing I am Catholic. 

Or, it could mean that I am a frivolous person, who is given to making statements without serious concern for their truth or falsity.  

One further point: after having declared myself independent of Catholic authority, I can in no case become Catholic again simply by claiming to be Catholic.  I can become Catholic again only by un-doing the act by which I became a non-Catholic.   In other words, I must again submit myself to Catholic authority.

Sorry to belabor the obvious.  I'm doing this because in the case of Notre Dame, all of the above becomes very confusing to practically everybody.  For an example of such confusion, read this.  

In 1967, Notre Dame, along with many other theretofore Catholic universities, declared themselves independent of Catholic authority.  They did this publicly.  They were very proud of themselves for doing it.  Even now, they post the instrument by which they became independent of Catholic authority on their website.  Ever since, Notre Dame has been no more Catholic than you or I would be if we declared ourselves independent of rightful Catholic authority.  Yet Notre Dame continues to hold itself out as Catholic.  Notre Dame is therefore either delusional, or it's perpetrating a fraud, or it's being frivolous. 

However, until it once again submits itself to Catholic authority, there is one thing Notre Dame assuredly is not:  NOTRE DAME IS NOT CATHOLIC.

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