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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (ChurchMilitant.com) - University of Notre Dame alumni are responding to the university's decision to reverse itself and provide contraception coverage to staff.
On Saturday, the Sycamore Trust, a group of alumni and friends striving to protect the Catholic identity of Notre Dame, released an open letter to Fr. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame. Church Militant spoke with the president of the group, William Dempsey, who commented, "When Father Jenkins announced that Notre Dame would voluntarily do precisely what it had sued to prevent, alleging it would be complicit in grave moral evil, the facts screamed 'pretend lawsuit.'"
In the letter, Dempsey and others expressed their concerns:
This is a serious matter, and we do not believe it should simply be allowed to pass. If there is an explanation, it should be given. If there is not, appropriate action should be taken to prevent a recurrence and to restore the university's reputation with the courts and the public. If a judicial inquiry is appropriate, it should be held.
The University of Notre Dame, as a Catholic institution, follows Catholic teaching about the use of contraceptives and engaged in the recent lawsuit to protect its freedom to act in accord with its principles. Recognizing, however, the plurality of religious and other convictions among its employees, it will not interfere with the provision of contraceptives that will be administered and funded independently of the University.
Previously, the Catholic college was complying with the HHS mandate under an "accommodation," which allowed for staff and students as part of the university health plans to be provided free contraceptives and abortifacients.
Dempsey claims that Notre Dame was not legally bound to include free contraceptives and abortifacients in its health plans.
"Bear in mind that the fiction that the Notre Dame spokespersons are peddling — that this is at the instance of Notre Dame's health plan contractors who really want to spend their money providing free contraceptives and abortifacients — is just that, a fiction," Dempsey told Church Militant. "In fact, Notre Dame is the moving party here. It is continuing voluntarily to operate under the so-called 'accommodation' that it had sued to be freed from, and under the 'accommodation' its contractors are required by law to provide this coverage."
"Notre Dame now, not the government, lays that obligation on its insurers and plan administrator," Dempsey added.
The alumni ended the letter requesting an explanation from Notre Dame: "We seek an exculpatory explanation or, failing that, remedial action to restore a proper relationship between Notre Dame and the courts."