A consideration of our mission

The editorial “No Man Can Serve Two Masters,” published in Issue 3 of the Irish Rover, has received over 29,000 views online, as well as countless written responses, both in the pages of the Observer and sent personally to the author. Major national publications, including the American Conservative, First Things, National Catholic Register, and National Review produced articles supporting the Rover’s articulation of the incoherence of university LGBT policy and practice and responding to the campus controversies it sparked.

Prior to publication, the Rover’s editorial team did not anticipate such an explosion of campus controversy, primarily because these views have been consistently articulated by the Rover since our founding. Yet, in the midst of the ongoing conversations surrounding the last editorial, many readers may wonder about the purpose of the Rover. In the past weeks, the Rover has been accused of instilling violence with its opinions and reporting, and its writers have been attacked verbally for expressing their views. So why do we write?

The Rover is a mission-oriented newspaper, and we openly acknowledge the perspective that this mission fosters in our journalism. Our viewpoint becomes apparent by the selection of the stories we cover, however, not by editorialized reporting.

The Rover exists as such in order to defend the university’s Catholic mission, articulate conservative principles, and engage in collegial debate. Through these three principles, the Rover seeks to uphold the Catholic character of the university. Every article we publish seeks to promote this vision.

Defend the faith and honorable traditions of this great university.

The Rover promotes the Catholic mission of the University of Notre Dame because this mission is central to the university’s identity. As Catholics, we believe that the pursuit of truth through reason is most fruitful when fostered in dialogue with the truths of faith. Notre Dame can build upon centuries of the Catholic intellectual tradition by embracing the faith for which she was founded. In keeping with the mission of the university, the Rover seeks to define our ethical responsibilities at the university through the teachings of the Church, not despite them.

Our particular focus on the university’s Catholic identity results from the increasingly secularized landscape of American higher education. Based on the sharp decline in Catholicity of other prominent Catholic universities, it would be naïve to dismiss Notre Dame’s Catholic mission as unthreatened. We refuse to stand silently and allow Notre Dame to follow a path leading to mere nominal Catholicism.

Articulate conservative values.

The Rover’s political stance is secondary to our commitments to faith; it flows from our primary commitment to the vision of human flourishing articulated by the Church. As politics editor Sean Tehan articulated in an article earlier this year: “Politics is not an end in and of itself, nor is it the focus of this life. However, Catholics have a clear role to play in the greater debates about life, debates with clear political implications and which shape this side of the eschaton in preparation for the next.”

The Catholic Church has always held a position on life, marriage, and sexuality which today is considered “socially conservative.” As a newspaper serving a Catholic university, it is essential that the Rover articulate these positions.

Engage in collegial debate.

The university must be a place where students and faculty can openly pursue truth. Notre Dame’s mission statement affirms, “As a Catholic university, one of its distinctive goals is to provide a forum where, through free inquiry and open discussion, the various lines of Catholic thought may intersect with all the forms of knowledge.”

Through our commitments to the promotion of the Catholic character of the university and the articulation of conservative principles, the Rover offers a unique voice in campus dialogue. By articulating the truths of the Church, the Rover seeks to ensure that the voice of the Church is not silenced by secular ideology.

The Rover hopes to continue discussions that secular culture considers closed. We aim to articulate a perspective that invites readers to think critically about the role of Catholic identity in all aspects of life at Notre Dame. And we write to defend those teachings of the Church that are hard to accept, those that are more readily ignored.

Notre Dame remains an exemplar of Catholic life and culture. Yet, as a dynamic community in an ever-changing world, Notre Dame has much to discern. And so we write.

Featured art: Unknown artist, “He Was Reading The News”, appears in “Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes”, London, New York: George Routledge and Sons, 1877