The Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, ex-Notre Dame president, dies at 97

Nick Anderson
Washington Post
27 February 2015
Link to Original Article:
www.washingtonpost.com/national/the-rev-theodore-hesburgh-ex-notre-dame-president-dies-at-97/2015/02/27/e1becf8a-be79-11e4-b274-e5209a3bc9a9_story.html

(Excerpted)

The Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, a transformative figure in Catholic higher education who led the University of Notre Dame for 35 years and wielded influence with U.S. presidents on civil rights and other charged issues of his era, died Feb. 26 on the university campus. He was 97.

Notre Dame announced the death but did not cite a specific cause.

Father Hesburgh, president of Notre Dame from 1952 to 1987, was considered one of the most important university leaders of the past century. On his watch, the Midwestern school once known mainly for Fighting Irish football became an academic powerhouse that was the pride of Catholic America.

Notre Dame went on a building spree in that time, including a 14-story library now named for Father Hesburgh. The university’s enrollment doubled and its endowment soared. Top scholars joined the faculty, lured by his vision of creating “a Catholic Princeton” in northern Indiana.

Beyond the campus, he spearheaded a movement among Catholic universities in the 1960s to assert autonomy from the Church hierarchy and put governing power in the hands of the laity. Some clerics thought it was folly to cede control. But Father Hesburgh called it a practical reform that brought more expertise into the leadership of increasingly complex institutions.

And in 1972, Notre Dame admitted female students for the first time. “Our women students brought a good measure of gentility,” Father Hesburgh later wrote, to what had been “a kind of rough, raunchy, macho place.”

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Father Hesburgh sought to shield the university from Church intrusion on academic freedom. In 1954, he rebuffed a Vatican request to withdraw from circulation a book Notre Dame had published that contained views on religious freedom opposed by some conservative theologians.

“Notre Dame would lose all its credibility in the United States, and so would I, if an official in Rome could abrogate our academic freedom with a snap of his fingers,” Father Hesburgh wrote.

In 1967, following the liberalizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council, he helped coordinate a “Statement on the Nature of the Contemporary Catholic University” signed by leading Catholic educators.

“To perform its teaching and research functions effectively, the Catholic university must have a true autonomy and academic freedom in the face of authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical, external to the academic community itself,” the group said in a manifesto known as the Land O’Lakes Statement.

Critics said the statement went too far, accelerating the secularization of Catholic institutions. Proponents said it laid the foundation for a productive relationship between the Church and Catholic academia.

“You would be hard-pressed to find a more seminal moment in the development of Catholic higher education in the last century,” said John J. DeGioia, the current president of Georgetown, the nation’s oldest Catholic university. “The basic idea was, we joined American higher education as an authentic partner in developing the contemporary American academy. Up until then, there was a question as to whether Catholic universities were really part of the mainstream.”

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3 comments on “The Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, ex-Notre Dame president, dies at 97

  1. Sadly, this loathsome chunk of excrement didn’t go on trial for his crimes against the Church and the faithful during his regrettable lifetime. I suppose I can only hope that it’ll go something like this for him one of these days:

  2. “And in 1972, Notre Dame admitted female students for the first time. “Our women students brought a good measure of gentility,” Father Hesburgh later wrote, to what had been “a kind of rough, raunchy, macho place.”

    Hesburgh echoed the thought of many “men” in the conciliar church at that time, and today. Unfortunately he and his modernist and effeminate comrades got their wish. Notre Dame and the conciliar church as a whole are a lot less “macho” and a lot more “gentile” thanks to the homo and radical feminist presence in the Church, and in Her former Catholic Colleges and Universities. Promoted by apostates like Hesburgh for the last sixty or so years. Unless he repented before his death, I would bet that Hesburgh need not worry about staying warm for eternity.

  3. God have mercy.

    Good riddance.

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