Tag Archives: Notre Dame

She Stands Ready to Shine – Like the Greater Catholic Church

The roof at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is gone. The spire has burned to the ground. Even a small segment of its vault ceiling collapsed in the catastrophic fire that engulfed the landmark Parisian cathedral on April 15.

But amid the extensive fire, water, and smoke damage, the cathedral, built in the 12th and 13th centuries by scores of masons and craftsmen long forgotten to history, is still standing, much like the greater Catholic Church.

“You can argue that for all the scandals, all the difficulties, the crisis of vocations that the Church is facing in the West, the Church is still there, and as Catholics we need to continue to add our stones to this edifice,” said Jean-Hugues Monier, a French native who grew up in Paris.

Monier, 53, who is a member of Legatus’ New York City Chapter, noted how millions of Catholics the world over held vigil and prayed that the iconic cathedral would be saved as Parisian firefighters battled the flames for hours.

Through the night and into the next day, the faithful gathered along the Seine River to pray and sing hymns. Catholics took to social media to share their own photos of Notre Dame Cathedral and express their sadness and solidarity with the French people who worshipped in one of Christendom’s most beloved churches.

“It seems everybody has a story that is linked to Notre Dame,” said Monier, a partner with the Corporate Finance & Strategy practice at McKinsey & Company in New York. When he lived in Paris, he often attended Mass and other religious ceremonies at the cathedral.

“Especially for young Parisians, the silhouette of Notre Dame is an integral part of the city,” Monier said.


Monier, who has been honored by the French government as a knight of the National Order of Merit for his active contributions to FrancoAmerican friendship and economic collaboration, will have a role in the rebuilding of the beloved cathedral. He is on the U.S. board of the The Friends of Notre Dame of Paris, a nonprofit which is gathering pledges for the restoration.

The Friends of Notre Dame of Paris had already been raising funds for years to help pay for renovation work. The cathedral, which is owned by the French government, had fallen into a state of disrepair long before the fire.

“When a cathedral is old like that one, you need to have repairs,” Monier said.

Rebuilding Notre Dame to its former glory is expected to require several years and upwards of $1 billion to complete.

“This will be a complex rebuilding,” Monier said. “It will be a couple of years before anyone is even able to physically enter the cathedral because of the damage.”


In the immediate aftermath of the fire, several prominent business leaders around the world and others were reported as having pledged hundreds of millions of dollars and euros to rebuild the cathedral. Monier said sustaining that level of commitment will be important.

“This is like running a marathon,” he said. “You not only need pledges in the beginning, but you need to keep that going.”

Monier said he hopes to establish an endowment that will pay for necessary ongoing repairs and maintenance to the 850-year-old structure, which was already undergoing extensive renovations when the fire broke out. Investigators are treating the fire as accidental.

“Every time you do reconstructions and renovations to these older buildings, you run the risk of fire,” Monier said. “I hope we can stop the next one from happening.”


Miraculously, the cathedral’s two pipe organs and its three 13th-century rose windows sustained little or no damage. Many religious works of art and relics, including the Crown of Thorns, were moved to safety early on in the blaze. One firefighter was reported as suffering serious injuries, but there were no fatalities.

As he watched live news reports of the fire, Monier, who is a Knight of Malta, spoke with friends and associates in France and prayed for the cathedral.

“It’s interesting in this day and age, when we are bombarded by the 24- hour news media cycle, that this hit a little bit of a pause button, where people were reflecting on the beauty that was being destroyed,” Monier said.

The fire broke out on Monday of Holy Week, which granted another layer of spiritual significance for Catholics, especially when the first pictures from the cathedral’s burned-out interior showed sunlight reflecting off a golden cross at the altar.

“Everybody was fearing it was going to be complete devastation inside,” Monier said. “But in reality, and I still find this absolutely shocking, the structure of Our Lady of Notre Dame was kept intact.

“For me, I connected that to our faith,” Monier said. “That after fire, after death, there is a resurrection.”

BRIAN FRAGA is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

We Are (Not) Nothing

On Monday night of Holy Week, as the world sat transfixed by the images of one of the great symbols of our Catholic Faith, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, going up in flames, I and a small band of missionaries took to the streets of SoHo looking for former Catholics, themselves lost in a world without faith. Two memories both haunted and energized me that night. One was my first moment in the Notre-Dame Cathedral nearly 40 years ago. Although at that time I had fallen away from my faith, I found the experience of walking into the great cathedral, with its walls of stained glass glimmering in the morning sunlight, utterly mesmerizing. Instinctively, I knelt in prayer and, as spiritually lost as I was, I felt God there. The second memory that kept flashing before me on the Monday night occurred many years later, in SoHo in 2011. It is recounted in my new book, The Missionary of Wall Street: From Managing Money to Saving Souls on the Streets of New York.

Under a streetlamp in SoHo, a missionary stands alone as the night grows colder and darker. A group of French tourists stroll by. “Surely I’ve got some Catholics here! Why not visit the cathedral? It’s just three blocks away!” A young man within the group declares firmly, “We are not Catholic!”

Already, the tidal forces of the little group are pulling the young man to the edge of the circle of light under the lamppost. In moments, he will be lost in the darkness. Barely time here for one last plea. Turning toward the darkening group, the missionary cries, “Not Catholic? Aren’t all French people Catholic? What are you then?” Quickly, almost instinctively, the young Frenchman declares, “We are nothing.” As he speaks these words, he and the missionary lock eyes, both pondering this answer’s true meaning. And then, just like that, the young man from France slips into the cold darkness.

My experience that night in 2011 transformed me from a scared missionary to an energized seeker of souls, determined not to let another lost Frenchman be pulled away into the darkness by well-meaning but confused friends. For the reality is, however loudly our culture protests to the contrary, WE ARE NOT NOTHING. We are beloved sons and daughters of God. But when we deny Him, when we cut ourselves off from Him, we may begin to believe that we are nothing, that all is lost. We may then begin a slow descent into despair as we perceive our own cathedral of faith going up in flames.

Over the years, my work as a missionary on the streets of New York has left me with the firm conviction that, buttressed by a combination of such massive but unbearably light pillars of our faith as love, joy, and a kind of holy fearlessness, we can make a difference. We can find our lost Frenchman. And we can bring him back. Over more than a decade now, our missionaries in SoHo have spoken with over three million souls. We estimate that we’ve identified roughly one quarter of a million Catholics and brought 15,000 of them back to Church for the sacraments of Reconciliation and Communion. Joy, love, fearlessness…and the Holy Spirit. He is with us. We are not alone. And we are certainly are not “Nothing.”

Even secular France will find a way to rebuild Notre-Dame, hopefully to some semblance of its former grandeur. But will we, like the early apostles of Easter before us, help the Holy Spirit rebuild the Faith?

STEPHEN AUTH is chief investment officer of Federated Global Equities, and executive vice president of Federated Investors. He leads a team of 110+ portfolio managers, analysts, and traders who manage Federated’s $50+ billion in domestic and international equity and multi-asset investment products. He is author of recently released The Missionary of Wall Street: From Managing Money to Saving Souls on the Streets of New York (Sophia Institute Press).

Summit Speaker: Lou Holtz

Patrick Novecosky chats with Coach Lou Holtz, a speaker at the 2014 Legatus Summit…

Lou Holtz

Lou Holtz

In football circles, Lou Holtz is a living legend. He is the only college football coach to lead six •different teams to bowl games and the only coach to guide four different teams to the final top 20 rankings. Since stepping away from the sidelines, he has become an incredibly popular motivational speaker, author and football color commentator. Holtz, 76, is also unabashedly Catholic. Legatus editor Patrick Novecosky talked to him.

Were you always a football fan?

During World War II, when we moved and lived with my mother’s parents, my Uncle Lou played football in high school. I remember them taking us to the games. Then the war ended. My dad and uncles came home; they all loved the game and played it, so it was only natural that I would grow up loving it.

Was your family Catholic?

Very much so. Both sides of my family were Catholic. I went to religious grade school taught by nuns, and attended Mass every week. I thought everybody in the world was Catholic.

You’re one of the winningest coaches in football history. What’s been the sweetest aspect of your success?

People say, “Gee, you’re in the Hall of Fame, they’ve got a statue of you at Notre Dame, you’ve been on TV and are recognized as one of the best speakers in the country.” Well, that’s not me. My greatest accomplishment by far is my family. I take more pride in our family than anything else. All four of our kids are married and have children. They’re all involved in their churches, communities and schools.

When the children were younger, we all went to Mass together on Sunday, then we went out to breakfast. Everyone would guess the amount of the check, and whoever was closest would get a dollar. They still do that with their kids to this day. The truth is you can’t take your money to heaven, but you can take your children.

Who do you call when you need advice?

I talk to my wife because there’s nobody who knows me better. She’s smart, level-headed and very religious. She reads her Bible for an hour-and-a-half every day. I trust her judgment.

How do you connect your faith with your philosophy for success?

I make five assumptions about people. I assume that everybody wants to be successful in their personal life. Two: I assume that everybody wants to be successful in their professional life. No. 3: Everybody wants to feel needed. Four: Everybody wants to feel secure about their future and five: I assume they want to get to heaven.

To reach all five of those, they just follow three rules. No. 1: Do what’s right. If you have any doubt about what’s right, pull out the Bible. Two: Do everything to the best of your ability. No. 3: Show other people that you care because everybody’s got problems.

Those are the only three rules you need. If you follow those three rules, you’ll always make good choices and you’ll reach those five things I assumed.


Cardinal Newman and Notre Dame

Patrick Reilly writes that Catholic higher education is in urgent need of renewal . . .

Patrick Reilly

Patrick Reilly

The 19th-century convert, theologian and scholar John Henry Cardinal Newman is on the road to sainthood. The Vatican announced on July 3 that Pope Benedict XVI had recognized the miraculous healing of an American deacon through Newman’s intercession. That completes the final step toward his beatification, which is expected to occur next spring.

Newman’s beatification carries great significance for the Church as Catholic higher education faces a difficult crossroads. Newman’s celebrated work, The Idea of a University, declared principles that resonate clearly today: the primacy of theology, the integration of knowledge, and the certainty that all truth comes from God.

Newman was critical of his fellow Oxford intellectuals, many of whom were enthralled with science and had come to distrust any religious truth that could not be proven by observation.

In his Essays Critical and Historical he wrote: “The Rationalist makes himself his own center, not his Maker; he does not go to God, but he implies that God must come to him…. Instead of looking out of ourselves and trying to catch glimpses of God’s workings … we sit at home bringing everything to ourselves, enthroning ourselves in our own views and refusing to believe anything that does not force itself upon us as true.”

Strikingly, Newman’s words written about 150 years ago paint an accurate portrait of contemporary America and American education. For the most part, teachers, professors and students — as well as politicians, physicians and others — sit on the thrones of their own expertise, their own ideas, their own causes with minimal regard for the Truth revealed by God.

Teaching and knowledge have become increasingly fragmented, with emphasis not on understanding reality, but on building expertise in marketable skills and knowledge. Genuine academic discourse and rational debate have given way to issue advocacy and political correctness.

Consider last spring’s spectacle at the University of Notre Dame, which claimed to engage in “dialogue” by publicly honoring the nation’s pro-abortion president. The leaders of the most-celebrated Catholic university in America don’t seem to have a clue anymore as to the meaning and practice of genuine intellectual dialogue, academic freedom or Catholic mission. But they were willing to thumb their noses at the U.S. bishops for a spot on the evening news.

So it’s not surprising that what alarmed Newman in the 19th century also alarms Pope Benedict today. Secularism has overtaken the West, with our schools and colleges leading the charge. During his April 2008 address to Catholic educators at The Catholic University of America, Pope Benedict said “the contemporary ‘crisis of truth’ is rooted in a ‘crisis of faith.’ Only through faith can we freely give our assent to God’s testimony and acknowledge Him as the transcendent guarantor of the truth He reveals.”

But for too many educators, faith is viewed as contrary to reason and truth. “In the United States, Catholic universities have been very apologetic, almost embarrassed by their obligation to adhere to the faith of the Church,” Cardinal Avery Dulles noted in a 2001 address to The Cardinal Newman Society. “For Newman … any university that lacks the guidance of Christian revelation and the oversight of the Catholic Magisterium is, by that very fact, impeded in its mission to find and transmit truth.”

Pope Benedict challenged American educators last year “to evoke among the young the desire for the act of faith, encouraging them to commit themselves to the ecclesial life that follows from this belief.” Is that what we find at Notre Dame? At Georgetown? At the University of San Francisco?

Catholic higher education is in urgent need of renewal — and of a growing cadre of leaders of that renewal. We need the witness of those who — like the 367,000 Catholics who signed our petition opposing Notre Dame’s honor to President Obama — refuse simply to give up on the Catholic colleges and universities that were founded, funded and attended by faithful Catholics for decades and even centuries.

“Now is the time for a ‘second spring’ in Catholic university education in the United States,” Fr. C. John McCloskey wrote in a paper last year for the Center for the Study of Catholic Higher Education. “This reform and renewal will have consequences far beyond our borders — into the universal Church. It is our moment to evangelize and engage and apply the saving balm of the heart and mind of Christ to our society, which suffers much more from internal decay than it ever will from outside terrorists.”

All this will come about by prayer — and the Church would greatly benefit from a modern patron of Catholic colleges and universities, sharing the title with St. Thomas Aquinas. Perhaps it is no small matter that Newman’s approved miracle healed a spine. Cardinal Newman, ora pro nobis!

Patrick J. Reilly is president and founder of The Cardinal Newman Society, a national organization to help renew and strengthen Catholic higher education.

The Notre Dame moment

What honoring President Obama means for Catholic higher education in America . . .

President Obama receives honors from Notre Dame on May 17

President Obama receives honors from Notre Dame on May 17

Faithful Catholics were almost universally outraged when President Barack Obama received an honorary degree from Notre Dame University last spring. Catholic college and university leaders across the country watched closely as the event put a spotlight on the increasingly problematic consequences for Catholic schools honoring pro-abortion politicians.

“This was the perfect storm,” said Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, an organization committed to renewing and strengthening Catholic identity at America’s Catholic colleges and universities.

“The most notable Catholic university in the country invites the high-profile president of the U.S. who had just taken some very disturbing actions with the federal funding of stem-cell research and abortion overseas,” he said.

Catholic identity

Catholics were initially angered by Notre Dame’s invitation to have Obama speak at its May 17 commencement. But discontent turned to outrage when they learned that the university would also award the president an honorary doctorate of laws.

Notre Dame president Fr. John Jenkins said the honor didn’t mean the university endorsed all of Obama’s positions. Yet critics questioned whether the same award would have been given to someone who endorsed slavery, supported racial segregation or practiced polygamy.

“There was great disappointment in Notre Dame for failing to act in conformity with its Catholic identity,” Reilly said.

Legatus member Timothy O’Donnell, president of Christendom College, agreed.

“It’s not that people should only focus on one issue,” he said. “But when a person is opposed to a fundamental Catholic teaching, you don’t invite that person if that college is trying to strengthen its Catholic identity.”

Obama’s Notre Dame moment has led some Catholic college leaders to reflect on their identity and where they want to go. “Generally, President Obama’s speech brought a heightened sense of importance to the Catholic identity of our institutions,” said Daniel Elsener, president of Marian University and member of Legatus’ Indianapolis Chapter.

“It’s clear that the Church does not want its institutions used as a platform for politicians to mislead or confuse the faithful,” he said. “The importance the Church places on key matters of faith — such as the enviable responsibility of leaders to protect life, especially the most innocent and vulnerable — must be clearly articulated and supported.”

Bishops’ role

Bishop John D’Arcy, whose diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend encompasses Notre Dame, vehemently opposed the Obama invitation, but the university’s leadership ignored him.

A total of 83 bishops —including five cardinals — opposed to Notre Dame’s decision to honor Obama. Though the university refused to budge, the bishops’ combined voice brought the issue to every kitchen table in the country.

Reilly noted that the faithful rallied behind the bishops with an unprecedented 367,000 people signing a petition protesting the Notre Dame invitation.

“The bishops are on record as finding this offensive,” he said. “They have stepped up.”

The bishops pointed out that Notre Dame was in direct violation of their 2004 document Catholics in Political Life which says, “Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

The left-leaning Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) — which represents 245 Catholic colleges and universities — echoed Notre Dame’s talking point that “the bishops’ document is unclear.”

“The 2004 statement was not directed at Catholic colleges,” ACCU president Richard Yanikoski told Legatus Magazine. “It was more concerned with whether or not a pro-abortion politician should receive communion. Catholic education is not explicitly mentioned.”

Yanikoski said the ACCU is currently working with the bishops’ education committee to revise the document. But Reilly said the ACCU wants to scuttle the guidelines.

O’Donnell says that although the policy is not perfect, Catholic colleges are still free to invite speakers who disagree with Church teachings. However, colleges may not honor such speakers.

Some bishops are taking measures a step further by enacting stronger diocesan policies. Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, Pa., enacted such a policy in his diocese in 1997. Catholic facilities cannot invite or give an award to a politician whose voting record is against Church teaching.

“When Hillary Clinton was honored at Mercy Hearst College last year during graduation, I objected strongly to her being invited,” said Bishop Trautman. “I declined to attend the graduation last year. This year we built bridges with the college and I attended.”

When a Catholic college invites pro-abortion politicians year after year, he said, local bishops should take action and question the college’s Catholic identity.

“Bishops have the authority to take away the title of ‘Catholic’ from a college,” he said. “To my knowledge it has never been done thus far.”

Overall, analysts say, the Notre Dame episode was a net positive for the Church.

“We’ve seen a real change in the conversation about Catholic higher education,” Reilly said. “Fifteen years ago it was difficult to talk about these kinds of problems. Now it’s conventional wisdom. It has brought U.S. bishops toward real action to correct real abuses. Notre Dame will be viewed as a watershed moment towards the strengthening of Catholic education.”

Sabrina Arena Ferrisi is a Legatus Magazine staff writer.


On that day …

Complaints began to flood Fr. John Jenkins’ office within hours of his March 20 announcement that President Obama would be this year’s commencement speaker. The national outcry continued until graduation day.

Obama told the 12,000-member audience at the May 17 commencement that in the abortion debate, “on some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable.” Although Obama pledged in the speech “to reduce abortions,” his policies are having the opposite effect.

Across campus, Priests for Life’s Fr. Frank Pavone offered an “alternate commencement” at the invitation of pro-life graduating students. Outside the university, police arrested at least 27 of the approximately 300 protestors.


Obama’s Catholic problem

Obama’s approval rating among white Catholics this year has dropped from 80-59% . . .

Patrick Novecosky

Patrick Novecosky

In just a few weeks, President Obama will deliver a commencement address at America’s most prominent Catholic university. That is, unless Notre Dame rescinds the invitation or the president cancels his appearance. Neither is likely.

Aside from the obvious scandal of having the most pro-abortion president in history speaking at a Catholic institution, it’s readily apparent that the president has a Catholic problem. When he was elected last November, he drew 54% of the Catholic vote. But between February and March of this year, Obama’s approval rating among white Catholics dropped from 80% to 59%, according to a Pew poll. It’s not hard to conclude that the negative reaction to his announced Notre Dame speech — in addition to a number of anti-life measures he’s introduced — contributed to his plummeting approval rating.

More than 30 bishops — including the local prelate, Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop John D’Arcy — have condemned Notre Dame’s decision to award the president an honorary degree and have him speak at its May 17 commencement. Nearly 300,000 have signed an online petition organized by the Cardinal Newman Society expressing outrage at the decision.

Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the university’s invitation caused “extreme embarrassment” to Catholics. “Notre Dame didn’t understand what it means to be Catholic when they issued this invitation.”

The invitation by Notre Dame president Fr. John Jenkins is in clear violation of the USCCB’s 2004 statement “Catholics in Political Life,” which says, “Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

Some have called for Notre Dame to be removed from Kenedy’s Official Catholic Directory, and some have lobbied Bishop D’Arcy to rescind Notre Dame’s status as a Catholic university. The truth is, Notre Dame hasn’t been a Catholic institution for years.

More than 40 years ago the leaders of several major Catholic universities and colleges — including those at Notre Dame — joined the Land O’Lakes rebellion, proclaiming that teaching and research at Catholic colleges and universities should be independent of the Church’s teaching authority in order to be “effective.”

Notre Dame’s administration has never repudiated the Land O’Lakes statement, nor does it require its theology faculty to submit to the Mandatum set forth in Ex Corde Ecclesia. It has clearly abandoned any claim to be a Catholic institution. If Bishop D’Arcy decides to withdraw Notre Dame’s Catholic status, he wouldn’t be changing anything. He’d simply be recognizing this fact.

Here’s another fact the president may want to take into account: The Catholic vote put him over the top in 2008. If he’s considering a second term, he must rethink many of his positions, which are in clear violation of Catholic teaching. If not, his time at the White House could be short-lived.

Patrick Novecosky is the editor of Legatus Magazine.