More than a year after the University of Notre Dame’s president denounced The Vagina Monologues for its “graphic descriptions of homosexual, extramarital heterosexual and autoerotic experiences,” Notre Dame students have been forced to move the play off campus. Likewise, students at Saint Louis University have moved their Monologues performance off campus after the university provost refused to support it.
The play had been an annual event at both universities for the past five years, despite vocal opposition from Catholic leaders including Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop John D’Arcy.
“Faith and reason are reunited in harmony at these prominent Catholic universities,” said Patrick J. Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society (CNS). “Catholic educators at Notre Dame and St. Louis University have joined 200 other Catholic colleges by no longer supporting a sexually explicit play that attacks women’s dignity.”
Last year the newly appointed president of Notre Dame, Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C., rallied alumni and faithful Catholics worldwide to his side when he announced his opposition to the Monologues and questioned its consistency with Notre Dame’s Catholic identity. Fr. Jenkins later bowed to activists’ pressure and allowed the play to be performed on campus, but only after restricting the event to a classroom and preventing ticket sales. The performance was sponsored by the English and Sociology Departments.
The student newspaper The Observer reports that no academic department is willing to sponsor the event this year, although the Sociology Department pledged support every other year, guaranteeing more controversy next Valentine’s Day—renamed “V-Day” by promoters of the Monologues. Without academic sponsorship, students have not been permitted to advertise the event or auditions.
The provost of Saint Louis University blamed “outside complaints” for his refusal to support the play. Students rejected his offer to support a more appropriate play.
In addition to the annual protest, CNS is encouraging and supporting students and faculty who produce alternative programs to responsibly address the serious issues of women’s dignity and violence against women. One of the alternative programs CNS is helping to promote is being hosted at Notre Dame later this month and with the full support of the University.