Story? What Notre Dame story?

thegoldendomeLet's face it, progressives are on a roll at the University of Notre Dame, America's most symbolic Catholic institution. First, you had that visit to campus by President Barack Obama, to receive an honorary doctorate -- in the face of clear proclamations by the U.S. bishops asking Catholic institutions not to grant these kinds of honors to those who clearly oppose core teachings of in the church's moral theology.

Conservatives screamed. Notre Dame stood firm. Victory for the Catholic left.

You remember that story, right? It was in all the newspapers.

Now, the Catholic left has won another major victory in its struggles to change, or reform, or edit, the ancient teachings of the Catholic faith. Here's a chunk of a news report about the decision by campus leaders to send five students to that recent gay-rights march here in Washington, D.C. The funding?

Five students belonging to the school's Progressive Student Alliance were given an undetermined amount from the university's student activities fund -- from fees assessed to students -- to drive to Washington, bunk with friends and participate in the National Equality March. ...

Since the news broke Tuesday in the Observer, the student newspaper, comments and postings about the school's sponsorship of the trip have ricocheted on Catholic blogs and some gay outlets.

But there's the rub. Since day one, GetReligion has been arguing that the religious left does not receive enough coverage in the mainstream press. This is clearly a win for the Catholic wing of the religious left. Yet the story quoted above is from veteran religion scribe Julia Duin of the Washington Times. If you do a Google News search of relevant terms, you'll discover that this story on the religious left is only receiving coverage in the gay press and in news outlets -- religious and secular -- that are usually called "conservative."

Where is the mainstream coverage of this important liberal victory? Or, is the problem that conservatives brought up the subject and, thus, this is now a story that leaders on the Catholic left do not want to see covered? It's certainly an important story.

Right now, campus leaders are silent, while progressive students are happy.

Dennis Brown, spokesman for the university, did not answer questions from The Washington Times about why one of the nation's pre-eminent Catholic institutions approved the trip, although he did email a brief statement saying the PSA sponsored the journey. And in a short phone conversation, he said the PSA only needed approval from a faculty adviser to spend money on the trip.

PSA President Jackie Emmanuel told the Observer that the school funding was "a wonderful surprise."

"They haven't always been supportive of us in the past," sophomore Joanna Whitfield told the publication. "But we're thrilled."

Once again, here is the key element that is missing in mainstream reports about these Notre Dame stories. Who are the faculty leaders on both sides, on the right and left, on the pro-catechism side and the pro-doctrinal change side? What are their names? Who is celebrating? Who is answering questions? What's the story here?

Duin's report sets this liberal victory in context, showing that campus leaders have zigged and zagged on related issues.

Last year, the PSA presented a petition with about 3,000 signatures of students, faculty and staff to the office of the school president, the Rev. John I. Jenkins, asking the school to add sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination clause.

Although the school has not done so, it does have a Core Council for Gay and Lesbian Students consisting of eight undergrads, the majority of whom are gay, and four administrators from the school's student affairs division. Sister Sue Dunn, a Dominican nun who is the council's co-chairwoman, said her office was not involved in the student trip to the equality march.

The school's campus ministry office also has an annual retreat for gay students, organizes a "solidarity Sunday" each fall to pray for "increased inclusion of all members of the church" and maintains a room of gay/lesbian reference materials.

The Notre Dame left has won symbolic victories, while facing at least one setback, in response to that 3,000-signature petition. It sounds like there is quite a bit of news to cover here and many of the details are on paper, in public. So where is the mainstream coverage of this important, symbolic win on the left?

Photo: From the University of Notre Dame

Please respect our Commenting Policy