He Changed Notre DamePosted: March 11, 2015
He Changed Notre Dame
by JBS President John F. McManus
Theodore Hesburgh was born (1917) and raised in Syracuse, New York. He claimed to have aspired to be a priest from the age of six. Some of his seminary training occurred at Notre Dame, much of it in Rome. Ordained in 1943 and assigned to Notre Dame as a member of the Holy Cross Fathers who built the institution, he won appointments as the leader of its religion department in 1948, vice president in 1949, and president in 1952. Many remarked that at 35, he was unusually young to be given such a prestigious post.
In 1950, he participated in a Ford Foundation project, his first known contact with America’s leftist establishment. In 1961, his acceptance of appointment to the board of the Rockefeller Foundation (he was later named its chairman) raised more eyebrows because of its funding of pro-abortion and population control organizations. He later arranged a private meeting with Pope Paul VI for John D. Rockefeller to request that the Catholic Church relax its strict stand against contraception. In 1968, after the Pope condemned that practice in his Humanae Vitae encyclical, Hesburgh publicly supported an outspoken priest member of the Notre Dame faculty who defiantly opposed the Pope’s condemnation.
In 1969, the Notre Dame leader added his name to an ad placed in The New York Times extolling the efforts of the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) to force instruction about sex to youngsters in school, even those in primary grades. In his 1974 address to the Catholic Press Convention meeting in Colorado, he referred to anti-abortion partisans as “mindless and crude zealots.” He would later allow Notre Dame to host the annual convention of the Planned Parenthood Federation, the nation’s foremost abortion provider.
As early as 1967 at a gathering of American Catholic colleges leaders held at a Notre Dame Retreat Center in Land O’Lakes, Wisconsin, Hesburgh steered the group into eliminating unwanted church influence at their schools. The official statement emanating from that gathering declared that “the catholic university must have true autonomy and academic freedom in the face of authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical.” That attitude, a virtual secession from all Church authority, immediately spread throughout Catholic higher education and gave impetus to most Catholic institutions tolerating uncatholic attitudes and practices, replacing clergy on their boards with lay persons, and downgrading instruction in the Catholic Faith.
The long-serving president of Notre Dame would later call for making the world “somewhat divine” in a work where he promoted a form of New Age pantheism he called “Christian Humanism.” Along with several other New Age promoters, Hesburgh held membership on the advisory council of Planetary Citizens whose “Human Manifesto” called for creation of a world order while supporting “a United Nations capable of governing our planet…” Also a member of the advisory board of the World Federalist Association, a well-known opponent of national sovereignty, he exhibited the very opposite of patriotism toward his country. Nevertheless, he received the Sylvanus Thayer Award from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1980 during a ceremony in which he “trooped the line” of the assembled cadets. He was the only Catholic priest ever named to Harvard University’s Board of Overseers and even served as this board’s president from 1994 to 1996.
Accepting membership in the world-government-promoting Council on Foreign Relations in 1966, he never ceased agreeing with its desire to eliminate national sovereignty in favor of United Nations rule over the planet. In 1991, he told a convocation at Notre Dame that he supported the “new world order” that would include strengthening the UN, providing it with its own military arm, and divesting the United States and other permanent Security Council members of veto power over Security Council resolutions. The CFR rewarded him for his loyalty to its goals by naming him one of its directors (1976-1985) and naming him chairman of its Membership Committee, a post he held for several years.
When the most pro-abortion president in our nation’s history, Barack Obama, received an invitation from Hesburgh’s successor to deliver the 2009 Commencement address at Notre Dame, President Emeritus Theodore Hesburgh sought to defuse widespread protests by defending an outspoken pro-Obama faculty member and publicly agreeing with the plan that included granting Mr. Obama an honorary degree.
Father Hesburgh’s career clearly indicates that he was un-American, un-Catholic, and unworthy of the adulation he regularly received during his life and at his death in March 2015.
Mr. McManus joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966 and has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.