On Wednesday, a petition to “Free the Notre Dame 88” was launched. The petition is co-sponsored by Human Life International (HLI), the Thomas More Society and LifeSiteNews.com. It is addressed to University of Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins, and urges him publicly to ask that the charges against the 88 pro-lifers who were arrested on the Notre Dame campus in May of last year be dropped.
“During the Obama scandal controversy, Fr. Jenkins repeatedly assured us that he and Notre Dame are 100% pro-life. Yet, now he is refusing even this tiniest of olive branches to these 88 pro-lifers,” said HLI President and Notre Dame Alumnus Fr. Thomas Euteneuer. “Asking that the charges be dropped will cost Fr. Jenkins absolutely nothing, but it could save the ND88 from a protracted trial process, and possible jail time. As long as this situation persists with Notre Dame’s cooperation, how can Fr. Jenkins possibly expect us to take him seriously?”
Members of the ND88 travelled to South Bend in May to protest the university’s honoring of Obama (whom pro-lifers have called “the most pro-abortion President in U.S. history”) at its commencement. In many cases their “protest” took the form of walking onto campus and praying and/or carrying pro-life signs. For this “crime” they were handcuffed, arrested, and thrown in prison.
At the same time, witnesses report that pro-Obama demonstrators were allowed to roam free throughout the campus.
Now the ND88 are facing charges of trespassing, with a maximum sentence of up to a year in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.
“Notre Dame seriously tarnished its image as a pro-life institution when it honored President Obama earlier this year,” said Tom Brejcha, Chief Counsel for the Thomas More Society, which is representing the ND88. “However, it is not too late for the university to restore its pro-life reputation. The first step in that direction would be to stop the persecution of these pro-life heroes by asking that the charges be dropped.”
While Fr. Jenkins has responded to concerned pro-lifers by claiming that Notre Dame does not have the power to ask that the charges be dropped, Brejcha called such claims “flatly wrong.”
“They always have the power to ask,” he said, adding that Notre Dame’s asking, “would have great weight with the prosecutor.”
Brejcha said, however, that despite repeated requests Fr. Jenkins has continued to refuse to do so.
“It is important for pro-lifers to let Fr. Jenkins know that we have not forgotten what happened on his campus last May,” said Brejcha. “We have not forgotten, and we will not forget as long as the ND88 are being forced to pay such a steep price simply for being pro-life.”
Sign the petition here.