Friday, February 8, 2008

Weis Gives Haywood Playcalling Duties

At his press conference today, Coach Weis announced that he would relinquish his duties as the primary offensive playcaller and hand those over to Mike Haywood, who, for the last three years, has served as the Irish’s running backs coach and “offensive coordinator.”

Among his reasons for making the switch, Weis stated that he wants to show more confidence in his assistant coaches and improve relations with his players.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about Weis’s decision. Notre Dame hired Coach Weis largely based on the idea that he was one of the greatest offensive minds in the game of football. During his first two years with the Irish, he demonstrated why he had this reputation, turning a somewhat-stagnant offense into one of the most potent scoring-machines in the country.

Last season, however, Notre Dame’s offense was anemic, going through three starting quarterbacks and ranking near or at the bottom in a number of offensive categories. To be fair to Weis, he was dealing with inexperience in virtually every position other than tight end. But his playcalling seemed simplistic, bland, and repetitive – anything but innovative.

Nonetheless, I still believe that Weis gives Notre Dame the best ability to win when he is calling the plays. It is true that Weis will have more time for his responsibilities as head coach, but many head coaches, both in college and in the NFL, act as the head coach and offensive or defensive coordinator. If Weis’s greatest strength as a coach is his playcalling ability, then why not utilize it?

Only time will tell if this decision benefits the Irish, but as of right now, I can’t help but be critical of it.


The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, is following in the esteemed foosteps of PM Neville Chamberlain in his recent call to incorporate aspects of Sharia law in England.

The part of the Times article that put it best:

One of Dr Williams's arguments in favour of including some parts of Sharia under a parallel jurisdiction to secular law was to aid social cohesion. Mr Blunkett told the Today programme on Radio 4 : "I think this is very dangerous because the Archbishop used the term affiliations.
"We have affiliations to football clubs, to cricket teams, to all sorts of things that aren't central to our citizenship and the acceptance of that in terms of a common society.
"We don't have affiliations when it comes to the question of the law. And when it comes to equality under the law, we have to be rigorous in terms of making sure people do not find themselves excluded from it because of cultural or faith reasons."

As someone who will be living in England for the next two years, I'm very glad to hear that there has been serious backlash against the Archbishop.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

A Clarification on the Bishops, 'Monologues', and Notre Dame

Dear Readers,

I would like to take this opportunity to remark upon a comment left on the post below concerning an article on the “Vagina Monologues” and the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine which appeared in the Feb. 7 edition of the Irish Rover.

The comment reproduced in-part a statement by Vince LaBarbera, Director of Communications for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and spokesperson for Bishop John D’Arcy. LaBarbera's statement was received by the Rover secondhand from the author of the comment.

LaBarbera has, as of this writing, made no discernable effort to contact the Irish Rover directly, nor has any employee of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Rather, an email message was sent by LaBarbera to a Notre Dame student with no connection to the Rover staff. That student then forwarded to the Rover LaBarbera’s message, which is reproduced in full below:

Bishop D’Arcy has reviewed the quotes reportedly attributed to him “in an email message leaked to the Rover” and said the remarks are not accurate. Bishop is not saying the publication should not be distributed; however, he is saying the remarks do not represent what he may or may not have said.

Bishop’s Office attempted to return the phone calls made by the Irish Rover on Wednesday, Feb. 6, but apparently the cell phone number left for a return call did not include the area code.

Vince LaBarbera, director

Catholic Communications Office

Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend

Now, this message raises a number of questions when considered along with the fact that I spoke with LaBarbara Wednesday afternoon, having contacted him on his cell phone in an effort to seek comment on the timeline of events which I assembled after speaking with various sources both inside and outside the University. This, incidentally, would indicate that LaBarbera did in fact have a phone number with area code by which to contact the Rover – in his cell phone's call log (in addition, that is, to the number left for him at the chancery office). But the point is moot, since in my conversation with him LaBarbara stated point-blank and without equivocation that he had no knowledge of the ongoing situation involving the Bishop’s Committee on Doctrine, the University, and Bishop D’Arcy himself. This compels one to conclude either that LaBarbera was dishonest during his telephone conversation with me; that he has no recollection of that conversation; that he was dishonest in the statement which was forwarded to the Rover; or that he as Director of Communications for the diocese had no knowledge whatsoever of a sensitive matter ongoing within the chancery office – a proposition that I find incredible.

In any case, the leaked email stated that while the source was not writing “on ‘behalf’ of Bishop D’Arcy,” the source was nevertheless “writing at his request.” The leaked email then went on to state the following:

“He [Bishop D’Arcy] has asked me to circulate this information to those who should know it, so that people are aware of a situation on campus.”
It later reiterated:
“Bishop D’Arcy has asked that this information be circulated on campus, so that people are made aware of this situation. It cannot be brushed aside as unimportant. He feels that it is scandalous and very sad that the University (Fr. Jenkins) has decided not to stand in solidarity with the bishops.”
So, the statement which was received secondhand from Mr. LaBarbera on Thursday evening is inconsistent with both the original email leaked to the Rover and with information derived from several sources both inside and outside the administration, all of whom corroborated the story as reported in the Irish Rover. While the credibility of the leaked email’s author may indeed be called into question, it is unlikely that the email itself was intended to mislead anyone, its initial recipients most of all.

The loyalty of the Irish Rover – a Catholic, independent student publication – to Bishop D’Arcy has never before been questioned, to my knowledge, by any party in any forum. Indeed, we have in the five years since the paper’s founding been Bishop D’Arcy’s most ardent supporters, and have steadfastly sought to advance the positions of the Church, both local and universal, on a myriad array of issues pertaining to Our Lady’s University. That has not changed. It will not change.

The procedures implemented in writing the article in question were well within the mainstream of journalistic standards, and bore a preferential option for prudence and discretion. Every one of the many sources contacted on background for the article corroborated the facts as they were reported, and as of yet none have been credibly called into question.

Thus, as editor-in-chief of the Irish Rover, I stand by the story as reported one-hundred per-cent. Should any new developments come to the fore, they will be reported on this website or in print as editorial discretion will allow.

In Notre Dame,

Matthew V. Smith

7 February, 2008

Romney drops out for the GOP cause

If you haven't heard already, Romney has officially suspended his campaign, thereby offering the chance for conservatives to rally 'round McCain who has proven himself to be the GOP frontrunner. Regardless of who you were supporting in this Republican Primary, Romney's move truly is the "Republican" thing to do and he should be applauded for this act of humble conservatism. As this Primary campaign evolves into a National campaign, Republicans now have the upper-hand, being able to coalesce as the Democrats continue to duke it out.

Prospects are looking good.

Bishops Balk at 'Monologues', Walk from Notre Dame

Because I've received so many requests, I am posting below the full text of the Irish Rover article, published today, concerning the decision of the bishops of the Committee on Doctrine to move their Feb. 11-12 meeting off-campus. The article will appear in print on campus later this afternoon.
7 February, 2008

University of Notre Dame

Members of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine have abandoned plans to host a meeting at Notre Dame amid concerns that their presence could be construed as an endorsement of the ‘Vagina Monologues,’ the controversial play which is tentatively scheduled to be performed on campus March 26-28.

The two-day meeting, which is to begin Monday, will now take place at the convent of the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration in Mishawaka, according to a source close to Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop John D’Arcy. In an email message leaked to the Rover, the source said that D’Arcy “feels that it is scandalous and very sad that the University (Fr. Jenkins) has decided not to stand in solidarity with the bishops.”

The email, which was circulated Wednesday among several dozen members of the Notre Dame community, also stated that University President Fr. John Jenkins had been asked by the bishops to ban the ‘Monologues’ on campus this year. After he refused, the bishops decided to move the meeting “as a sign of their disagreement” with the performance of the polarizing play on Notre Dame’s campus, the email said.

In addition, the bishops have relocated their accommodations from the Morris Inn on Notre Dame’s campus to the Inn at St. Mary’s, according to a source familiar with the planning process.

The meeting had been organized in part by Prof. John Cavadini, Chair of the Department of Theology and one of six official consultants to the Committee on Doctrine. Cavadini could not be reached for comment as of this writing.

“Only a couple of [the Committee’s seven] bishops were involved with the decision,” which was arrived at only after the bishops had done “everything they possibly could” to come to an agreement with the administration, said a source within the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Secretariat for Doctrine – the Committee’s Washington, D.C.-based administrative arm – who asked not to be identified.

“Cardinal Levada was in the loop,” said the source, referring to the American-born Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Levada, who is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at next week’s meeting, served as Archbishop of San Francisco until 2005, when he was asked by Pope Benedict XVI to succeed him as head of the Vatican dicastery charged with overseeing doctrinal orthodoxy.

Rumors about the change of venue and the reasons behind it began to circulate over the weekend, but went unconfirmed until the Rover began to investigate them Wednesday. The decision itself was made roughly two weeks ago, the source said.

“We understand that not all are in full agreement about the propriety of allowing performances of this play on campus,” said Dennis Brown, Asst. Vice-President for News & Information in a statement to the Rover. “Because of concerns about the play and its potential performance, we have worked collaboratively with the bishops to move the conference out of respect for everyone involved.”

In a telephone conversation, Brown declined to elaborate further on the situation.

The Committee on Doctrine is chaired by Most Rev. William Lori, Bishop of Bridgeport. Other members include Archbishops Jose H. Gomez of San Antonio and Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, as well as Bishops Leonard Blair of Toledo, Robert McManus of Worcester, Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, and Allen Vigneron of Oakland. Chicago Archbishop Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., is a consultant to the Committee.

The strong desire of the bishops not to be seen as endorsing the ‘Monologues’ forced Fr. Jenkins to choose between hosting their meeting and standing by his previously stated position that the play may be performed without a fundraising component, so long as it is done within an academic setting.

This year, the ‘Monologues’ are being co-sponsored by the faculties of the sociology and anthropology departments. Prof. Mark Schurr, Chair of the Department of Anthropology pointed out that, “we are not endorsing the monologues; we are just sponsoring a discussion around them.” He explained this as teaching a “different intellectual perspective” to which members of the faculty do not necessarily subscribe.

Although both departments have already voted unanimously to sponsor the ‘Monologues,’ the event must first be approved by the College of Arts & Letters. “The Dean’s office has not yet received a proposal for the performance,” Dean Mark Roche said via email Wednesday evening.

“Both departments made the sponsoring of the Vagina Monologues contingent on putting together satisfactory academic panels,” Prof. Schurr said. “Unless that happens, we will not be able to sponsor it.”

The academic panels in question are still being put together by the event’s five student organizers. One of them, senior Lisa Rauh, commented that, “they have tentative approval, which is conditional upon it being an academic event, as determined by Father Jenkins’ criteria.”

In order to complete their proposal to the Dean’s office, the student organizers must finalize a list of faculty members who will participate in the post-play dialogue. Rauh said that the proposal would tentatively be submitted to the Dean’s office for approval as early as next week.

As to the fate of the proposal, Rauh was confident that “we have accounted for every single aspect of what it is to put on an academic event at Notre Dame.” She also said that the play’s performance has received “conditional approval,” pending their completion of the academic panel proposal.

The sponsoring departments tread carefully while searching for appropriate dates to host the performance. “We didn’t want to have it on ‘V-Day,’” the culmination of a worldwide campaign against sexual violence towards women, explained Schurr.

Scheduling around other campus events was also necessary in order to accommodate the needs of the students and administration. Specifically, Schurr noted how Junior Parent’s Weekend might be a bad weekend to have the play because, “some parents might be offended or upset.” Ultimately, the organizers settled on the week following Easter.

Even though the performance and accompanying academic panels have not yet been cleared by Dean Roche’s office, the leadership team of “The Vagina Monologues” was able to hold auditions this past December with tentative approval from the administration. They were also allowed by the Student Activities Office to put up posters advertising the try-outs. With dates set for March 26th through the 28th, performance space has already been reserved in DeBartolo Hall, according to Rauh.

During President Jenkins’ first year in office he was confronted with the contentious issue of whether or not to continue to allow the play to be performed on-campus. After months of deliberation and discussion, he determined to permit “The Vagina Monologues” at Notre Dame. At the time, Bishop D’Arcy responded to the decision with disappointment, and posted a notice to that effect inside the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

After being performed on campus in 2006, “The Vagina Monologues” was held last year at a Unitarian church off-campus. Schurr attributed this to the lack of organization among the students then involved and the insufficiently compelling case made to the administration.

Kathleen Donahue contributed to this report.

Matthew V. Smith is Editor-in-Chief of The Irish Rover. Contact Matt at,

Copyright 2008, The Irish Rover. Do not reprint without attribution.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Super Tuesday: Or How I Came to Stop Worrying and Love McCain.

So, I'll admit, as a resident of Florida, voting last week, I cast my valuable absentee ballot for Mitt Romney. However, he did not win.

But my fellow Romneyites and I kept that flame of hope alive as Super Tuesday rolled around. And then, again, Romney failed to pull through, winning 7 states to McCain's 9. (With the delegate count being 201 to 605). So...what now?

It appears the McCain train is rolling, with a 707 to 312 delegate lead. Insurmountable? No, but with only 22 states (and 1264 delegates) left, the prospects don't look good for the former Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

I will not jump on the Vote Hillary if McCain Wins bandwagon.

As Ann Coulter apparently will be doing if that happens.

However although it remains to be seen who will ultimately capture the Republican nomination, with the honorable senator from Arizona appearing to be the most likely, its time to face the facts. McCain is a far better choice than Hillary (or Obama) (or Kucinich) (just joking).

His stance on Iraq and other foreign policy issues is certainly conservative which is a must for our future leader. His personal life would not be an issue or a focus (unlike a Clinton White House). Domestically, although McCain isn't a lock-step Conservative, and I hate his Campaign Reform, he happens to think well and deeply and possesses the ability to unite a severely fractured country (also a problem with Hillary).

This is a contentious issue among the Rover staff, however, I can personally endorse McCain for President (assuming Romney loses) (and Ron Paul) (joking) (kinda).

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Call to Conversion

Imagine that the world truly were coming to an end, or, perhaps less hyperbolically, that the world was coming to the point of some major “destabilization.” Assume that this destabilization would result in the death of millions of people across the globe, not to the mention the likely extinction of hundreds (if not thousands) of animal and plant species.

In the face of such catastrophe, on the one hand, there are those who preach that we must do whatever we can to stop this chain of events and, indeed, not to try and do so would be a paradigm of sin, the most serious lack of love for one’s neighbor. On the other hand, as they are most heinously portrayed, there are those who will not change their lifestyles when approached with the truth and insist on preaching inactivity and skepticism. These men and women are the obstacle to those who wish to perpetuate common welfare and global stability, they say.

As accurately and effectively as I could, I have tried to portray the situation which Dr. Darcia Narvaez in her Feb. 5 Viewpoint, “A call to conserve,” establishes. She is well-justified in her opinion, of course; all people across the world have a right to life. And yet, her article displays a most serious flaw in moral reasoning, which which Pope Benedict in his latest encyclical, Spe Salvi, addresses.

Lent, she says, “offers us the opportunity to practice reducing our gluttonous consumption of earth’s limited resources” and that to become to lazy in this regard would be a “sin against charity.”

But really, Lent offers us the opportunity to find God in our lives again and to rediscover him as our beginning, our end, and the reason why life is worth preserving. Lent cannot be reducible to merely secondary goals, but must always have in mind the ultimate goal, God himself. In short, gluttony is not a sin precisely because I am using up more than my fair share of resources, but because I offend God, whose resources they are and who has destined them to be used by all to grow closer to him. To lose sight of God, therefore, is to lose the basis for any sort of real moral judgment.

The truth is that “climate experts” have failed to persuade me and millions of other people that there is such an immediate and pressing danger. No one has given me enough proof that I must convert Lent into the opportunity to stabilize a crutch for human existence. Yes, even the environment cannot be more than a crutch if we don’t recognize that God is its creator and that all things, ourselves most importantly included, have God as their end.

Pope Benedict writes, “It is true that anyone who does not know God, even though he may entertain all kinds of hopes, is ultimately without hope, without the great hope that sustains the whole of life. Man's great, true hope which holds firm in spite of all disappointments can only be God—God who has loved us and who continues to love us ‘to the end,’ until all ‘is accomplished’ (cf. Jn 13:1 and 19:30). Whoever is moved by love begins to perceive what ‘life’ really is.”

I encourage all to use the next several weeks as the opportunity to know God anew in the light of the burgeoning Catholic faith which this great university takes great strides to foster and develop. May God always be the foundation for your moral life.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Good Morning, San Diego!

Thursday night it snowed eight inches in South Bend.
But Thursday morning I had boarded a plane for sunny San Diego - that's Spanish for "Saint Diego," as you Anchorman fans out there well know - so I traded the freezing temperatures for a chance to go swimming in the Pacific for the first time ever. (Yeah, it was cold, but 'it was there.')
Why the random jaunt? To attend the joint Intercollegiate Studies Institute / Liberty Fund conference on 'Law, Liberty, and the Rise of the West.' They put us up at the lovely Omni hotel, and 15 students from across the country went to town on our previously-assigned readings by such people as Max Weber and Christopher Dawson, seeking a deeper understanding of what caused what some call the 'European Miracle' - why Europe, of all places in the world, invented modern science and the Industrial Revolution, causing some serious problems but also raising the standard of living for the vast majority of the citizens of the West to levels that for most of human history would have been literally uniminagably high. As much as I am concerned about the "malaise of modernity" - and I am concerned very, very much about the listlessness that has overtaken many aspects of Western Civ - it's impossible to deny that it's better that our society is a thousand times more worried about, say, its incidence of depression than its incidence of infantile death. So grappling with the interplay of the various factors that have allowed Europe so disproportionately to influence human history compared to its size - its regional power structure that was culturally unified by the Church; its higher proportion of domesticable animals and no-need-for-irrigation farmland; its encouragement of innovation and incremental accumulation of capital - was a fascinating way to spend the weekend. We had six hours of guided discussion, which left afternoons free to explore Little Italy and Coronado Island, and evenings free to enjoy the generous hospitality of both ISI/Liberty Fund and the city.
As one of my fellow ISI Honors Fellows put it, 'ISI gave me the education I hoped for from college.' In one weekend I both learned more than some people I know learn in a month at Notre Dame - and I had more fun than some others do in that same month. For anyone interested in getting involved with such an awesome opportunity, go to

ND social life

For the past two weekends, I traversed across these great states of America to visit Colgate University and Boston College. My two weekends away from the dome gave me new perspective on what makes Notre Dame such a beloved place. Although these places were undoubtedly exhillerating weekend destinations, they certianly do not foster the same sense of community as Notre Dame does. My experiences at these other institutions were nothing short of culture shock. Coming from our parietal stricken single sex dorms, stepping into a residence hall where boys and girls are neighbors made me appreciate Notre Dame's unusually strict rules. It was as if a plane ride took me from an orderly world into a place where you can do just about whatever you want. I can safely say, after staying awake until four in the morning waiting for the boys to leave the room, that I truly appreciate parietals for the first time. Beyond the enforced rules that make Notre Dame such a "strict" place, the attitude of the students at these other schools was completely different than the one I have seen here. At Notre Dame, students are actually passionate not only about their learning, but also about making a positive difference in the world. Here the atmosphere is not just about getting good grades and being successful. The rare emphasis that Notre Dame students place on living a moral life is not prevalent at other colleges. Here we do not experience as much of the material driven popular culture as other schools do. Although every school has its faults, I am proud to say that I go to a place like Notre Dame with its single sex dorms, stringent alcohol policies, lack of fraternities, and general Catholicity.