Catholic Notre Dame to allow Vagina Monologues, Gay Film Fest

Danny McCoy | April 07, 2006

SOUTH BEND, Indiana — Despite subject matter that goes against Roman Catholic teachings, The University of Notre Dame will allow The Vagina Monologues, a gay film festival and other events with similarly controversial subject matter on campus because universities should promote debate, the school's president said Wednesday.

�To be a university means that we engage in diversity of viewpoints that are vigorously debated, some of which will challenge Catholic understanding,� the Rev. John I. Jenkins said, according to the Associated Press. �I don't think we should be afraid of that. That's what it is to be a university.�

Eve Ensler�s play The Vagina Monologues is based on discussions with 200 girls and women about their feelings for the viewpoint of anatomy. The play has been banned from several Catholic schools throughout the country.

Before Jenkins, Rev. Edward A. Malloy allowed the play to be performed on campus five years ago. Jenkins continued the tradition this year but limited the performance to a classroom setting and barred ticket sales while he reviewed the matter.

The announcement �deeply saddened� Bishop John D'Arcy of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese, while Patrick J. Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, a group that has petitioned to ban the play from campuses in the past, called the decision "hypocritical."

Critics of the play, which deals with issues including homosexuality, orgasms and rape, say the subject matter goes against Notre Dame's Catholic character.

�The fact that he has studied this issue so carefully and attended the play and considered all of the implications and come to this conclusion suggests to me that he has total disregard for Notre Dame's Catholic identity,� Reilly told the Chicago Tribune.

Jenkins also approved the renaming of the Queer Film Festival to Gay and Lesbian Film: Filmmakers, Narratives, Spectatorships. The film festival focuses on gay and lesbian themes as portrayed in film and many school officials had wondered in recent months if Jenkins might ban the festival.

Jenkins announced the formation of a committee to discuss "gender relations, sexuality, and ways to prevent violence against women" and proposed new guidelines for sponsoring academic events.

Jenkins said in his statement that it should be left up to the academic departments what events should be held on campus. He said he will push for the school to adopt guidelines that promote academic subject matter that sparks debate.

�Chairs, however, must make informed judgments on whether provocative presentations have academic or artistic value, or are gratuitously offensive,� his proposal says. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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