The government of the People’s Republic of China (I call it the politically incorrect “Communist China” to remind us of reality) and Zhejiang University (ZJU) have invited the University of Notre Dame to partner in establishing a small liberal arts college of 1,000 students on the Chinese mainland and to staff it, in part, with Notre Dame faculty.
The invitation was extended with full knowledge that Notre Dame is, indeed because it is, Catholic. Notre Dame is currently considering how it will respond to this invitation. The principal documents upon which this essay draws are a White Paper dated October 3, 2014, and the minutes of a “Town Hall” meeting of university faculty on December 5, 2014, discussing the White Paper.
Here are my conclusions and then I’ll give you the reasons for them:
The University of Notre Dame should not partner with Communist China in establishing a liberal arts college in China because Notre Dame is insufficiently Catholic in its motivation, because Notre Dame will be insufficiently Catholic in the formation of curriculum and in providing faculty for the college, and because the Communist Chinese will not be able to tolerate a faithful Catholic presence on the mainland.
My background at Notre Dame is a driving impetus for this essay. I graduated from Notre Dame with a double-major in theology and government, the latter with a concentration in political theory. This course of studies immersed me in the Western canon. My courses included “The American Founding” under Professor Walter Nicgorski, “Chinese Political Theory” under the late Professor Gerhard Niemeyer (1907-1997), and “History and Historians” under the late Professor Matthew Fitzsimons (1912-1992) in which my class presentation was on U.S.-Chinese Relations during World War II.
In the spring of 1971, I obtained funds and recruited a teacher and students to start a Chinese language program for credit to start in September. During the summer of 1971, President Richard Nixon announced that he would visit the People’s Republic of China. Notre Dame has taught Chinese continuously since September of 1971.
No Catholic or Catholic institution could receive an invitation like Notre Dame received without bringing to mind two principal Catholic missions to China. The first was the effort of St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552), a Spanish Jesuit, who, on his way to China, died on December 3, 1552, on Sancian Island within sight of the mainland. The second was that of Matteo Ricci (1552-1610), an Italian Jesuit, born two months before Xavier’s death, who obtained the respect of the Chinese emperor for his abilities in science. Fr. Ricci’s attempts at inculturation of the Faith with Chinese practices met with great controversy, called “the Chinese rites controversy.” There is no doubt that, under the right circumstances, a Catholic institution today would want to plant itself on Chinese soil and become part of the fabric of the Chinese people.
Digital Scan from Villanova University
Fr. Matteo Ricci, left, wearing clothes appropriate to a Chinese scholar, and convert Paul Xu Guangqi, a mathematician, from Athanasius Kircher’s China Illustrata (1667).
There are two questions. The first is whether Notre Dame, as a Catholic university, should do business in China at this time. If so, the second is whether Notre Dame, as a Catholic university, can do business in China.
Should Notre Dame, as a Catholic University, Do Business in Communist China at This Time?
Whether Notre Dame should do business in Communist China at this time is, first, a moral question. Notre Dame must evaluate the Communist Chinese continuous, long-lasting, violation of human rights. If doing business in Communist China would be wrong because it would legitimate, or appear to legitimate, Communist Chinese violations, then it should not only end its consideration of the invitation to establish a liberal arts college on the mainland, but might well reconsider ending or altering its current activities in China. If we take off our rose-tinted glasses, we plainly see that these Communist Chinese are bad guys. Let me list some ways:
• First, there is the prosecution of the Catholic Church, begun when the Communists took power in 1949 and continuing to the present. See here. Let me name names rather than deal in abstractions. I have inserted an Appendix that names some of the bishops, priests and laypeople who have been imprisoned – many released and re-imprisoned – many of them in their later years in life – some dying in prison. Lest the reader think these accounts can be dismissed as history, see the entry for Bishop Cosmas Shi Enxiang who died in prison in early 2015 after being held in secret for 14 years. The Communist Chinese prosecution extends, of course, to our Protestant brethren.
• When Father Thaddeus Ma Daqin, of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, the government-approved Catholic Church not in communion with the papacy or any part of the Catholic Church outside of China, was consecrated a bishop for the Association’s diocese of Shanghai in 2012, he surprised the congregation – and the Communists, by announcing that he would recognize the papacy. (He may have been one of those many members of the Association, including clergy, who are secret members of the underground Catholic Church which is in communion with Rome.) For that “indiscretion,” he was arrested, stripped of his title, and ordered into re-education, along with the priests and nuns of Shanghai, as currently as this past June and this month (September). See Breitbart.
• Protestant and Catholic Christianity, both government and underground, grow in China. The government churches grow visibly. From the point of view of the Communists, this poses a threat. Between January and August of 2014, officials of Zhejiang Province, the province in which the Notre Dame college would be located, destroyed 68 churches, including, according to Notre Dame Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures Lionel Jensen, the Jiangbei Cathedral that the Chinese government itself had celebrated as a tourist attraction.
Again, it is important not to deal with abstractions, so I have included a photo of this one example. More images of the destroyed churches are available on the Web. All of these churches were operated by the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and the building of the churches had been sanctioned by the government – until the government changed the rules on allowable width, and some such things in the building code, and applied the new rules retroactively, tearing down or torching churches not in conformity with the new rules. Another 30 to 40 government-approved Protestant churches were destroyed. The current head of China, Xi Jinping, was a longtime Party boss in this same province. Note that this destruction of churches is not only a current issue of religious freedom, but also a current issue of property rights, and the rule of law.
Above is the Government Catholic Jiangbei Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Nangbo, Zhejiang Province, (2005).
Above is the Government Catholic Jiagbei Sacred Hearth Cathedral after government destruction in 2014. It was built in 1872.
• Starting in 1999, and continuing to the present day, tens of thousands of followers of Falun Gong have been imprisoned, many tortured and killed. In the West, we would regard Falun Gong as non-religious and apolitical, but Communist China regards any mass organization not sponsored by the State as a threat. See the personal accounts and graphic images of torture on FalunInfo.net
• One systematic violation of human rights is coercive abortion. This forced one-child policy was first brought to light a generation ago by Steve Mosher, then an American graduate student in China, who is barred from returning. He is currently head of Population Research Institute and regularly issues reports on this and related issues. Here is a link to a Life Site News story, and graphic image, of a 7-month old killed forcibly in the mother’s womb. To our everlasting shame as Americans and as Catholics, Vice President Joseph Biden, a supposed Catholic, said, on Chinese soil in 2011, that he “understood” China’s policy because the Communist Chinese had adopted it to deal with China’s (supposed) overpopulation.
• This summer of 2015 Communist China embarked on a campaign to detain more than 200 human rights lawyers. See this link to one of many articles on the subject. One of the lawyers detained, Zhang Kai, represented the Christians whose churches had been destroyed. See here. The American Bar Association, which had opened an office in Beijing in 2004 to administer programs “to strengthen the Chinese bar, so that it can effectively advocate for citizens’ rights and for the rule of law” has remained mute about this Communist campaign for fear that the Chinese government would close its office. R.E. Precht, “A Moral Dilemma for the ABA,” Washington Post, Sept. 7, 2015, p. A17.
Chinese lawyer Zhang Kai, arrested after trying to represent the Christians whose government-sanctioned churches had been destroyed by the Communist Chinese.
• In May, 2015, the Communists proposed legislation, the “Foreign NGO Management Law,” to suppress the introduction of Western values into China. It is based on a 2013 document identifying “seven unmentionables”: Western constitutional democracy, universal values, civil society, neoliberalism, Western media, “historical negation,” and questioning the meaning of Chinese slogans such as “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”
Not only would the legislation affect cultural, educational and technical exchanges, it would bar foreigners from entry who have offended the Communist Chinese in such a manner. See Ira Belkin, executive director of N.Y.U. Law School’s U.S.-Asia Law Institute, and Jerome A. Cohen, the institute’s co-director and an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, “Will China Close Its Doors?,” N.Y. Times, June 2, 2015, And also see Editorial, “Blacklisting Scholars,” N.Y. Times, July 18, 2014. This year, 2015, Minister of Education Yuan Guiren ordered universities to “never let textbooks promoting Western values appear in our classes…[R]emarks that slander the leadership of the Communist Party of China” and “smear socialism” must never appear in college classrooms.” Jim Sleeper, “Innocents Abroad? Liberal Educators in Illiberal Societies,” Ethics and International Affairs.
Would Communist China allow the teaching of Dante (above), St. Patrick, Saints Cyril and Methodius,
Nazi doctors and the protection of human subjects, Martin Luther, Thomas More, Plato?
Returning to the topic of Chinese violation of religious freedom, Notre Dame Provost Thomas G. Burish said at the Town Hall that Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., the President of the university, had not, but would be, consulting with “religious leaders.” Those appointments had not been set up as of the December 5, 2014 Town Hall, and the leaders with whom he would like to meet could not be identified. Religious leaders whom I believe should be consulted would include:
• the superior of the relevant province of the Congregation of Holy Cross – since this matter deals not only with the mission of Notre Dame but also the possible deployment of priests and brothers of the Congregation to Communist China;
• the local bishop -- of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend;
• the Vatican congregations dealing with higher education and China;
• the Cardinal and retired Cardinal of Hong Kong; and
• notably the underground Chinese Catholics.
Since the Land O’Lakes declaration of 1967, however, the university has prided itself as independent of the local bishop and the Vatican, ignoring now for 25 years Pope St. John Paul II’s document on the right relationship between Catholic colleges and the Church: Ex Corde Ecclesiae (1990) It would be quite out of character for Fr. Jenkins and Provost Burish to consult their bishop, the Vatican, or the Hong Kong hierarchy on this Chinese issue. For example, they have shown no inclination to consult the local bishop with respect to, among other things:
• the staging on campus of the Vagina Monologues;
• the honoring of the extremist pro-abortion President Obama in 2009;
• the recognition of same-sex marriages in 2014; and
• the provision of contraceptives for students in 2014.
I cannot think of a single instance in his ten years as president that Fr. Jenkins has refrained from a plan based on criticism that his plan was not consistent with Catholic teaching.
What about the underground Catholic Chinese? Is it likely that Fr. Jenkins would expend much time or energy to engage, directly or indirectly, the underground Catholic Chinese on the prospect of the university partnering with Communist Chinese in establishing a liberal arts college on the mainland? Indeed, the Notre Dame administration may argue that there is simply limited time to consult -- although the Notre Dame administration made the time to consult on the issue of academic freedom with the University of Michigan, Duke University, New York University, and the University of Dayton. At the Town Hall, Provost Burish tried to hurry things along by stating, “I think [our internal conversations at Notre Dame] will have to come to an end sooner rather than later, because from China’s point of view[,] if we don’t go forward[,] they will have to look for another partner.” The schedule has been:
• April 2013: Vice Minister of Chinese Ministry of Education visited Notre Dame.
• October 2013: The Ministry of Education informed Notre Dame about ZJU’s International Campus.
• April 2014: ZJU visited Notre Dame.
• July 2014: ZJU and Notre Dame signed an agreement to explore a joint academic enterprise.
• Between July and September 2014: ZJU visited with ND campus architects and academic space planners and Notre Dame’s facility campus in London, and the Chinese invitation was issued to Notre Dame.
• October 3, 2014: White Paper distributed.
• December 3, 2014: Town Hall meeting with faculty.
• Spring semester 2015: as of October 2014, this was the target date for Notre Dame’s decision on whether to move forward.
• Fall 2017: as of October 2014, this was the target date for starting the school in China.
Notre Dame is part of the Church. Notre Dame is an arm of the Body of Christ with Christ as its Head. And that is why Notre Dame should care so deeply about how the other parts of its Body are mistreated by Chinese authorities. It would be wrong for anyone in the Free World, and certainly Christians, not to consider what these witness for the Faith would say about the Chinese invitation to Notre Dame.
Let’s try a thought experiment. If your brother was imprisoned without cause, would you agree to occupy an office next door to his jail and agree to provide a service to the captors? If the prison of the Christians were abutting the property of the proposed Notre Dame college, would it make a difference to Notre Dame? What if the jail were a mile away? How far would the jail have to be before it would be “out of sight, out of mind”?
Let’s try a second thought experiment. What if Communist China were imprisoning activists on issues such as homosexuality or climate change or polar bear cub hunting or air pollution in Beijing? How would Notre Dame evaluate this Communist Chinese proposal? Not well I presume.
If a business opens operations in China, it must concern itself with the issue of human rights abuses. If a public or private university opens operations in China, it must concern itself with the issues of human rights abuses and academic freedom. If a Catholic university opens operations in China, it goes to another level. It must concern itself with human rights abuses, academic freedom, and the persecution of its brothers and sisters. As Jesus asked Paul on the way to Damascus “Why are you persecuting Me?,” the Catholic university must say to itself, “These people are persecuting us, the Body of Christ.”
As I reflect on, and pray about, the matter, however, I believe that a conversation with the suffering Church of China would show them supportive of Notre Dame opening a liberal arts college in China. They would favor it -- as long as it was done for the right reason. The right reason would be to save souls (yes, I hear someone say this is quaint, old-fashioned theology that assumes there is sin, hell, and a need for salvation and a savior), or to bring the Chinese to Jesus Christ, or to be “fishers of men.” (Luke 5:10). The suffering witnesses to the Faith would be offended, however, if Notre Dame did it for some secular glory. They, and all devout Catholics throughout the world, would perceive any affirmative response by Notre Dame to the Chinese invitation to be a gift to the Chinese people.
The current Notre Dame administration – Fr. Jenkins and Provost Burish, both of whom obtained their bachelor’s degrees from Notre Dame -- is incapable of viewing things in this manner and these men cannot be rehabilitated. They, and other officers of the university, see the invitation as a chance for Notre Dame glory, a chance for Notre Dame to keep up with, if not eclipse, its secular “preferred peers.” (See George Weigel’s recent essay on this in First Things, Aug. 12, 2015) Only if these men are replaced with a Catholic president and a provost sympathetic to the Catholic mission of the university would Notre Dame be in a position to bring the gift of liberal arts education to the people of Communist China.
--Notre Dame Cannot Proceed at This Time Because It Has the Wrong Motivation
So, let’s take a moment to examine Notre Dame’s motivations. The proponents of this deal provide only reasons of secular glory to move forward. The rationales provided in the White Paper are:
• partner “with one of China’s leading research institutions;”
• “play a creative and innovative role in the advancement of higher education in a country of critical importance to the world’s future;”
• “advance Notre Dame’s global academic reputation;”
• “promote worldwide Notre Dame’s unique and successful blend of teaching, research, and service;” (I note, first, that all “research institutions” blend teaching, research and service, and second, Notre Dame’s “blend” would be promoted worldwide when Notre Dame advertises about what it would be doing in China to a world audience.);
• “offer opportunities for Notre Dame faculty and students to gain valuable experience teaching and studying in China.”
It is clear from the White Paper that Notre Dame would undertake this project to promote itself in the eyes of the world, to help its faculty, to help its American students -- not to help the Chinese people, not to promote the Faith or to bring souls to Christ. I suppose that the reference to reforming higher education in China is some acknowledgement that the Chinese people will benefit. I discuss below the prospects of this.
What does Notre Dame’s “Catholic character” have to do with Notre Dame pursuing the establishment of a liberal arts college in China? The White Paper answers that it “guides scholarship, teaching and service toward promoting global peace and social responsibility.” Really. Seriously. Is this different from any other American university having only domestic American ambitions? So, the author of the White Paper, the person in the Notre Dame administration responsible for shepherding this entire process, J. Nicholas Entrikin, Vice President and Associate Provost for Internationalization, is either totally incapable of articulating why a Catholic university should continue investigating this proposal or didn’t think the readers of his White Paper, the faculty of the university, would care. Indeed, only 50 of Notre Dame’s 1,000 faculty members attended the Town Hall.
Perhaps the poor turnout reflected a belief that the administration had already decided to move forward. Although Vice President Entrikin denied this to be the case, he stated at the Town Hall that “clearly a school of global affairs indeed has to be global.” That is, if Notre Dame has a School of Global Affairs then, ipso facto, it has to have foreign outposts. Indeed, Notre Dame had announced on October 3, 2014, two months before this Town Hall, that the university was establishing the Keough School of Global Affairs, its first new school or college since 1921. The founding dean, R. Scott Appleby, stated at the time: “Notre Dame is poised to join the distinguished company of select universities that have been pioneers in international education and global outreach.” See Notre Dame news here. Even prior to this, Notre Dame had already decided to have “global gateways” in, among others, London and Beijing. See Notre Dame news here. (There was some question at the Town Hall as to whether the proposed liberal arts college in Haining, 30 miles northeast of Hangzhou and 75 miles southwest of Shanghai, would replace the planned Beijing “global gateway.”)
Vice President Entrikin noted at the Town Hall that two other Catholic universities had programs in China. Neither is as extensive as the proposal being considered by Notre Dame. One is Loyola University of Chicago’s Beijing Center for Chinese Studies. The other is the University of Dayton (UD). It is instructive to see the degree to which Notre Dame’s White Paper tracks the language on the UD webpage.. Excerpts follow and I have boldfaced some language.
The University of Dayton China Institute has elevated the University of Dayton into the realm of global American universities. In one of the fastest-growing innovation centers in the world, our engineers, scientists and students are collaborating with Fortune 500 companies in Suzhou Industrial Park, securing venture capital and bringing technology to the market. We are expanding faculty and student exchanges and fostering growth of academic programs in China.
In the Marianist tradition, we’ve always graduated students who combine competence with character and community-building skills. Yet graduates also need a more international perspective to compete in today’s job market. We are providing the world with American, Chinese and international graduates who can excel in their professions and collaborate in the workplace — locally and globally.
We've spent years forming strong ties with top universities in China. The University of Dayton has established partnerships with China Jiliang University, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing University, Nanjing University of the Arts, Nanjing University of Finance and Economics, Nanjing University of Science and Technology, Shandong University, Shanghai Normal University, Soochow University and Zhejiang University. A growing number of students are completing study abroad programs in China. Faculty teach at the Institute in our academic programs and serve as visiting scholars at our partner institutions. In 2012, a group of faculty spent a year studying Chinese culture, politics and business through the University’s Faculty Global and Intercultural Study/Travel Program. They visited the cultural sites they studied and worked on individual research projects.
The University of Dayton now enrolls more students from China than any other country outside the United States. The China Institute is another step toward the University's globalization.
Beyond bringing more Chinese students to campus, the opportunities for expanding faculty and student exchanges and delivering education in China are significant. We envision that the University of Dayton China Institute will:
• Foster more faculty exchanges;
• Create more student exchanges;
• Provide leadership training to executives in the Park;
• Offer certificate programs and other curriculum;
• Offer gateway programs to Chinese students, who will have the opportunity to enroll in undergraduate and graduate programs on campus.
In China, the Catholic population is on the upswing, within close proximity of our China Institute, there is a Catholic church by the Yangcheng Lake in the Park.
Priests in the archdiocese of Nanjing desire in-service training in theology and philosophy that we can provide. We would also welcome Chinese priests in our classrooms and as ministers to our Chinese students.
The archdiocese operates the Ark-Nanjing Special Education Center with support from the local government. Some students have autism. Others have Down syndrome. All have special needs. We see an opportunity for faculty and students in the School of Education and Health Sciences and students in our service-abroad programs to make a difference in the lives of these students.
Service opportunities abound in China, where religious communities often take a leadership role in running medical clinics, helping rural communities get clean water and providing legal aid. In the summer of 2011, University of Dayton engineering students worked on a wastewater treatment project on the outskirts of Shanghai.
We believe building community begins with building relationships, one at a time. That’s a mission that resonates in every corner of the globe.
Observe that the references to a Catholic church building, to the Archdiocese of Nanjing, and to Catholic priests are references to the Communist Catholic Church. Clearly, UD is establishing relationships with the government Church, not the underground Roman Catholic Church.
All of the above-quoted language by the University of Dayton (UD) shows that its Chinese venture is about UD, and its glory, and its faculty, and its American students. Yes, there’s the conventional reference to service. How realistic is it that American students are working with Chinese children having special needs, or on Chinese clean water projects, or . . . legal aid?!!
University of Dayton campus
Can Notre Dame, as a Catholic University, Do Business in Communist China?
The questions under this heading are whether Communist China can deliver on its promises and whether Notre Dame can deliver on its.
The Chinese want Notre Dame to help establish a liberal arts college because -- the Communist Chinese explicitly state -- Communist China, from 1949 to the present, 65 years, has no tradition of educating students in the liberal arts. Its focus has always been on engineering, science, mathematics.
Notre Dame’s liberal arts college would be one of six colleges on the Zhejiang Haining International Campus. ZJU is in discussions with the University of Edinburgh for biochemical sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for engineering; Imperial College of London for information technology, Wharton, Northeastern and Harvard regarding MBA, and Cornell and University of California-Davis regarding agriculture and life sciences.
The Notre Dame college would be residential, with instruction in English, and have 1,000 students, 70% Chinese and 30% international. There would be 10 majors in science, social science, the humanities, and the arts. The majors have not yet been selected. The faculty to student ratio would be 1:10, so there would be 100 faculty, the majority of whom would be Chinese. The others, from Notre Dame and other countries, would be “visiting” faculty and lecturers. Notre Dame would help design the curriculum.
Let’s ask an elementary question. What Chinese or international students, including those from Notre Dame, would be interested in attending such a school? Looking first at the international students, the general trend is that the number of American students studying in China is dropping.
Furthermore, international students, being fluent in English if not additional languages, can go anywhere in the world to major in the liberal arts. Why would they go to China? There is nothing in the documents I have reviewed to see how much of the content of the courses at the liberal arts college would be Western or Chinese. Given the lack of interest in the liberal arts by Communist China for 65 years, it would be unlikely that there are Chinese faculty capable of teaching either Chinese or Western humanities. Perhaps the Chinese faculty would only teach science and mathematics. What would prompt a non-Chinese person to leave his or her country to enroll in a four-year program in China that is not focused on the Chinese language, to major in liberal arts that is obtainable in their own country…to be taught by Chinese faculty who have no tradition in the liberal arts?
And what about the interest of Chinese students? If they are fluent in English, as required by this proposed college, why would they not attend school in an English-speaking country? Since higher education in China for decades has not incorporated the liberal arts, what would prompt a Chinese to undertake such a program – in China or elsewhere? How would a Chinese student with a major in the liberal arts, particularly with courses under foreign influence, fare in his or her career?
At this juncture, it is worth noting that the Chinese constitute the largest group of foreign alumni of Notre Dame. Did any of them major in liberal arts? If so, what prompted them to do so and how did they fare upon returning to China? How many returned to China?
I guess I’ll proceed on the assumption that there would be 700 Chinese and 300 foreign students willing to enroll. I turn to the question of whether the Chinese could deliver on their promises. It is difficult to believe that the Chinese academic personnel who have been in conversations with Notre Dame are on the same wave-length as Communist Chinese government officials. Vice President Entrikin said at the Town Hall that Notre Dame is dealing with the academics, not the government, but his White Paper is replete with references to the Chinese government: “China’s national interest…is motivating the national, provincial, and local governments to invest in the development of new higher education and R&D campuses with foreign partners.” He then cites New York University-Shanghai and Duke-Kunshan.
Moreover, it is the local Chinese government paying $616 million to build the ZJU campus. Whatever the Chinese academics give can be taken away by the Chinese government. In fact, as we see from the description of the church destruction campaign (in the very province in which this liberal arts college would be sited), what the government has given the government can take away.
Would Communist China allow the teaching of Palestrina (above), Augustine, Aquinas, Shakespeare, the law of war?
It is inconceivable that a liberal arts program would not reflect Western values, organically developed from Christianity. And any program in the humanities would implicitly reject Communism. So the Communist Chinese government would, sooner or later, reject a liberal arts college fashioned by the University of Notre Dame.
Our analysis could end there, but I turn to the question of whether Notre Dame, for its part, could deliver on its promise to construct a curriculum for, and to teach, liberal arts, particularly the humanities and social sciences – music, art, history, architecture, government, theology, philosophy, literature, anthropology, sociology, psychology -- in Communist China. To be sure, Notre Dame is doing some business in Communist China already. Notre Dame and Chinese officials have visited each other’s countries. Notre Dame has semester and/or full-year abroad programs for the Chinese language in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong (and Taiwan).
Notre Dame has summer programs in China in business and culture, in engineering, in music, in architecture, and in the Chinese language. Indeed, Notre Dame plans on expanding its current 40 study abroad opportunities world-wide to 160, with fewer semester- and year-long programs in favor of full summer, partial summer, and January term program – because fewer students want to be away from its South Bend campus for periods as long as a semester, much less a year. (“The Meeting Minutes of the College Council, College of Arts and Letters [of the University of Notre Dame], November 11, 2014,” available online.)
These current endeavors are, and future endeavors of the same type would be, short-term, narrow in scope, and easy to cancel. This is far different from a four-year program with 10 majors in liberal studies for 1,000 students in residence.
While the White Paper states the hope that Notre Dame could have an impact on China, that it could help reform higher education in China (a hope expressed by the Chinese academics themselves), the White Paper admits that the Chinese do not know what liberal arts education is about. Provost Burish at the Town Hall said: “When [ZJU] President Lin [Jianhua] came to campus and when [Notre Dame Dean of Arts and Letters] John McGreevy and I met with him…He has some concerns because he doesn’t understand exactly what a liberal arts education is.” Dean Appleby was part of this conversation: “[I]t occurred to me then and now how radical the liberal arts are when you place them in a setting which is not used to questions that are so directly raised about virtue and moral formation and spiritualty.” Vice President Entrikin added an observation about theology. Theology was “a topic of interest to [the Chinese visitors …T]hey have questions about it: Is [theology as a course or a major] proselytizing? Is this academic? What is the nature of this?” On the question of having religious practices on the Chinese campus, Vice President Entrikin stated that ZJU needs time to think it through.
Theology Professor John Cavadini asked at the Town Hall if the Chinese college would have a chapel and, if so, who would be allowed to attend. And he asked if theology would be taught. He asked “if we’ll be able to be ourselves in China.” On its campus in South Bend, Notre Dame is a residential community in which every residence hall has a chapel with the Blessed Sacrament reserved in it. (See L. Cunningham, The Chapels of Notre Dame (2012).) Counting the chapels in the residences, plus others on campus, there are 57. Chapels are so important to Notre Dame’s conception of itself that it has chapels at the university’s facilities abroad -- in London, Dublin, and Jerusalem. Even when the campus had many fewer buildings in 1934, Father John O’Hara (1888-1960) (later president of the university, bishop and cardinal) saw it as a “City of the Blessed Sacrament,” rivaling the Vatican. So, why hadn’t the question of chapels arisen before the Town Hall? Was it too much to think about during the eight months between the visit of the Chinese delegation in April 2014 and the Town Hall of December 2014? Or was it not on the radar of Provost Burish and Vice President Entrikin?
Notre Dame takes pride in having 85% or so of its undergraduates living on campus. Thus, those evaluating the Chinese proposal must like the prospect of the Chinese college being residential. But Notre Dame has always had priests, and in recent years, nuns, and devout laity, as live-in rectors in its residence halls. In addition to serving as members of the faculty and in the university’s administration, it is one of the ways in which members of the Congregation of the Holy Cross are “present” to the students of the university. Yet, the Chinese proposal would have only Chinese administer the student residences. Relevant to this question is the job notice for “Specialist for Residence Life” for the Kean University site in China, quoted in Elizabeth Redden, “Chinese Communists Preferred,” Inside Higher Education, July 23, 2015: “Membership in Chinese Communist Party is preferred.”
Notre Dame Business Professor Anne Tsui, who had spent 15 years recently in Communist China at its universities and had spoken to a friend, a dean of one of its universities, about this Chinese invitation, said that Notre Dame could assume that the Chinese have “done their homework” on the university and, to answer Professor Cavadini’s question, wanted Notre Dame “the way we are, the way we educate our students, the way we teach values, the way we teach service to society…”
Credit: U.S. Army Military History Institute
American soldiers attached to a Chinese division send a message from the field.
Would Communist China allow the teaching about the American military in the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theatre during World War II?
I must say that the homework would appear to be a bit thin since the Chinese weren’t sure about the nature of liberal arts generally and the nature of theology specifically. I observe that, if the Chinese had done their homework, they learned that this current administration has major disagreements with Catholics and Catholic teaching. They have learned that there are Catholics and Catholic institutions that do not adhere to papal teaching. And so, while the Chinese realize that Notre Dame is not under the thumb of the American government, they also know that Notre Dame has an estranged relationship with a number of members of the Catholic hierarchy, priests and faithful. The Chinese might favorably compare the Catholicism of Notre Dame to the anti-papal Catholicism of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.
I have already listed some ways in which the current administration is unCatholic. There is more. These are questions of the faculty and curriculum. Concerning faculty, there is a falling percentage of faculty who promote, or are at least sympathetic to, the Catholic mission of the university. It is not a question of whether a faculty member is a baptized Catholic. The university has always been blessed with a number of faculty who, while not Catholic, are sympathetic to its mission and promote its mission.
I had at least two non-Catholic theology professors. One of them, a Methodist, was quite vocal about loving being at a university where questions of God and faith and truth could be discussed. A non-Catholic member of the faculty spoke at the Town Hall. Professor of English and of the (Great Books) Program in Liberal Studies Henry Weinfield, a professor at Notre Dame for 23 years, stated that “it seems to be ludicrous that Notre Dame should establish a college of sorts with China when the Vatican is essentially excluded from China. That seems to me ludicrous and self-destructive and in a way ridiculous.” He did not receive an answer. (Some faculty members have found this Chinese proposal so objectionable that they have resigned from the Committee deliberating on it.)
Given this state of affairs, are there enough faculty members who could represent Notre Dame, as a Catholic university, in developing the partnership with ZJU?
Next the curriculum. The university is currently engaged in its periodic reexamination of its curriculum. We will see what happens this fall, but if the university cannot infuse its curriculum for its students on the Notre Dame campus with its Catholic mission, it could not do so for students in Communist China. Notre Dame cannot give to the Chinese people what it does not give on its home campus. It cannot say in China what it does not say in South Bend. If it is not truly Catholic in South Bend, it cannot be truly Catholic in China. Notre Dame cannot reap where it does not sow and if Notre Dame sows sparingly it will reap sparingly. (2 Cor. 9:6.)
One test is the university’s requirements in theology and philosophy. In the 1960’s, four three-credit courses were required in theology and four more in philosophy. Then it was diluted to two of each. Then it was diluted as to content, so that the university no longer required courses having Catholic content.
We would expect a Catholic Notre Dame to unabashedly explain to the Communist Chinese that Catholics teach the liberal arts to enable students to seek the truth and that Catholics fully expect that the truth thus sought will eventually be the person of Jesus Christ. Neither Notre Dame personnel nor the Communist Chinese should misunderstand me. I am not talking about indoctrination or prosyletizing, but we believe that people who seek truth, beauty and goodness will eventually find Jesus Christ. Can the Communist Chinese tolerate such an orientation?
The current Notre Dame administration has much in common, however, with the American culture and the Communist Chinese government. Neither the American culture nor the Communist Chinese government are sincere seekers of the truth. Only a university – administration and faculty – that acknowledges that there is a huge chasm between its truth-seeking mission and the surrounding secular American culture could also see a disjuncture between its truth-seeking mission and the Communist Chinese culture.
Here are some specific questions I have:
1. Shall Notre Dame include the following disclaimer on the Net and in all literature “Not Affiliated with the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association”?
2. Since almost all Chinese students are lone children, with no siblings, aunts, uncles or cousins, what is Notre Dame’s experience with how they relate to college residential life?
3. Vice President Entrikin stated at the Town Hall that Notre Dame was told by American universities in China that, as long as a topic is academic, it can be discussed in the classroom. But even if this is true, does it extend to hallways, auditoria, conferences, in residences. Can the Chinese, students or faculty, at this projected college approach Notre Dame faculty, and Catholic students from around the world, like Nicodemus by night, or by day, to inquire about the truth?
4. Notre Dame wouldn’t want to be “in your face” but it must insist on celebrating the Feast Day of the Chinese Martyrs on the Universal Church Calendar. And Notre Dame should not countenance classes or exams on Christmas or Easter or any Sunday.
5. Would this project affect any programs in, or travel to, Taiwan?
6. Should Notre Dame insist on allowing crucifixes in faculty offices, faculty residences, in the rooms of individual students?
7. Should Notre Dame insist on allowing Catholic/Christian professors to start class with short prayers, like that of the late Government Professor Edward A. Goerner (1929-2012): “Send us, O Lord, the Holy Spirit among Whose gifts are wisdom and understanding.”?
8. Will members of the underground church be barred from enrolling? Will members of the official church be barred? Encouraged to matriculate?
9. Will there be conferences, symposia, lectures? And will these be open to the public?
10. Will religious residents and visitors be allowed to wear Roman collar and habit?
11. Is the truth of a statement determined by statistical methods? Is philosophy confined to formal logic? Would a faculty member be allowed to argue for the truth of the statement, rather than simply the truth that it was said, in President Kennedy’s Inaugural that “the rights of man come not from the generosity of the State, but from the hand of God”?
12. Can Notre Dame’s interest in educating minorities of people of low income be maintained in China? See New York Times here.
13. Do the Chinese expect foreign educational institutions to behave in China the way the Chinese Confucius Institutes behave outside China?
14. Will Notre Dame try to curry favor with the Communist Chinese by relaxing or ending its boycott of Chinese-made goods for its official apparel? See Bloomberg News.
In conclusion, the University of Notre Dame should not partner with Communist China in establishing a liberal arts college in China because Notre Dame is insufficiently Catholic in its motivation, because Notre Dame will be insufficiently Catholic in the formation of curriculum and in providing faculty, and because the Communist Chinese will not be able to tolerate a faithful Catholic presence on the mainland.
Spero columnist James Thunder is a Washington D.C.-based attorney.
CHINESE CATHOLICS IMPRISONED
This is a list compiled in 2007 and updated this month.
The annual report for 2015 of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has a chapter devoted to China. See here: USCIRF Its “key findings” were:
In 2014, the Chinese government took steps to consolidate further its authoritarian monopoly of power over all aspects of its citizens’ lives. For religious freedom, this has meant unprecedented violations against Uighur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, Catholics, Protestants, and Falun Gong practitioners. People of faith continue to face arrests, fines, denials of justice, lengthy prison sentences, and in some cases, the closing or bulldozing of places of worship. Based on the alarming increase in systematic, egregious, and ongoing abuses, USCIRF again recommends China be designated a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). The State Department has designated China as a CPC since 1999, most recently in July 2014.
The website of the Cardinal Kung Foundation, last updated in 2011, states that “almost all underground bishops are either in jail, under house arrest, hiding with or without arrest warrants, in labor-camps, or under severe surveillance.” The Foundation has not provided more detailed information since 2011 because of the difficulty in tracking the constant imprisonments, releases and reimprisonments.
Lest the reader think these accounts can be dismissed as history, see the entry for Bishop Cosmas Shi Enxiang who died in early 2015 after being held in secret for 14 years.
Ignatius Cardinal Kung Pin-mei (Shanghai; 1901-2000; imprisoned 30 years)
Bishops (37 are listed)
Agostino Zhao Jingnong (Gansu; died 2004 at age 95 not in prison; imprisoned 13 years) [Hong Kong Sunday Examiner, 1/16/2005]
Aloysius Jin Luxian (1916-2013; Shanghai; imprisoned 1955-1982; consecration as bishop later recognized by Vatican) [UCANews 4/27/2013]
Andrew Hao Jinli (1916-2011; Xiwanzi, Hebei; imprisoned in 1958 for 10 years, then in a labor camp until 1981) [Zenit 3/10/2011]
Augustine Hu Daguo (1921-2011; Shiqian, Shihtsien, Guizhou; imprisoned or in forced labor, 1958-1968) [Zenit 2/27/2011]
Cosmas Shi Enxiang (1921-2015; Yixian, Hebei; imprisoned 1957-1980 and 1989-1993; arrested April 13, 2001 and held secretly until his death) [Zenit 2/2/15; AsiaNews 2/9/15
Joseph Fan Xueyan (1907-1992; Baoding; imprisoned 1958-1969, 1978-1979, 1980-1987; 1990-death; tortured before death) [Zenit 5/10/2005; N.Y. Times 4/25/02; AsiaNews 2/9/15
Joseph Fan Zongliang, S.J. (1918-2014; Shanghai; imprisoned 1955-1978). Times of Oman.
Francis Han Tingpi (Hongtong, Shanxi; died in 1992 at age 83 not in prison; imprisoned 21 years) [1/3/92 report]
Francis X. Ford, M.M. (1892-1952; Meizhou, Guangdong; arrested and killed)
Giuseppe Zheng Changcheng (Fuzhou; died 2006 at age 94 not in prison; imprisoned 28 consecutive years)
John Han Dingxiang (1937-2007; Yong Nian, Hebei; arrested about Dec. 1, 1999; whereabouts were unknown for one year; died in prison Sept. 9, 2007, at age 71) [Zenit 10/22/07; L.A. Times 9/12/07]
Joseph Meng Ziwen (1903-2007; labor camp 1951-1971) [Washington Post 1/18/07]
Han Qian (Siping, Jilin; arrest warrant issued; in hiding as of 2007)
Hao Jinli (1916-2011; Xiwansi, Hebei; under strict surveillance as of 2007; date of death from GCatholic.org
James E. Walsh, M.M. (1891-1981; Kongmoon (now called Jiangmen); imprisoned 1959-1970)
James Lin Xili (1918-2007; Wenzhou, Zhejiang; imprisoned 1955-1971, arrested in 1999 and under house arrest or hospitalized until death) [Independent Catholic News 10/5/09]
James Xie Shieguang (1917-2005; Funing (or Mingdong); imprisoned 1955, 1958–1980, 1984–1987, 1990–1992) [BBC Report 8/27/05; The Age (Australia) 8/28/05]
James Zu Zhimin (Baoding; imprisoned 1997 and held secretly to current) [Zenit 2/2/15]
John Chen Shi-zhong (1917-2012; imprisoned mid-1950’s-1981) [AsiaNews 12/17/12]
John Gao Kexian (Yantai, Shandong; arrested October 1999, died at age 76 in prison Jan. 24, 2005, where he had been since the 1990s) [Hong Kong Sunday Examiner, 1/16/2005]
John Yang Shudao (1919-2010; Fuzhou, Fujian; imprisoned 1955-1986, 1988-1991, 2001) [AsiaNews 8/3/10]
Julius Jia Zhiguo (Zhending, Hebei; age 75 in 2011; as of 2011 had been arrested 14 times; government threatened to take over his orphanage because of his loyalty to the pope) [Zenit 7/14/2010 and 1/13/2011])
Leo Yao Liang (1923-2009; Xiwanzi, Hebei; imprisoned 1956-1984, 2006-2009) [Zenit 1/12/10; N.Y.Times 1/5/10]
Li Lifang (or Difen) (d. 1992 in prison; Angua, Hebei; died in prison) [Zenit 5/10/05; date of death provided in AsiaNews 2/9/15
Li Si-de (b. 1928; Tianjin, Hebei; confined to top of a mountain; living in primitive conditions as of 2007)
Ma Zhongmu (Ningxia; under strict surveillance as of 2007)
Mattia Chen Xilu (1928-2008; Kinghsien; imprisoned or in forced labor 1959-1979) [Zenit 1/30/08]
Matthias Tuan In-min (died 2001 at age 92; Wanxian; 10 intermittent years in cotton and battery factories, and an additional 10 years in reform labor camps and indoctrination schools until 1979) [Zenit 1/12/01]
Michael He Jinmin (Ningbo, Zhejiang; died 2004 at age 87 not in prison, after 20 years in prison and labor camps) [Hong Kong Sunday Examiner, 1/16/2005]
Nicholas Shi Jin Xian (1921-2009; Shangqui; imprisoned two years; re-educated in a brick factory three years) [Zenit, 9/17/09]
Peter Li Hongye (1920-2011; Luoyang; imprisoned 1955-1970) [AsiaNews 4/26/11]
Peter Liu Guandong (1917-2003; Yixian, Hebei; paralyzed; under strict surveillance as of 2007; date of death from GCatholic.org.
Peter Zhang (1915-2005; Hanyang, Hubei; imprisoned and in labor camps 1955-1979) [Independent Catholic News 10/05]
Raymond Wang Chonglin (1921-2010; Zhaoxian (Xingtai); imprisoned 1957-1979) [AsiaNews 2/3/10]
Su Zhimin (Baoding, Hebei; arrested Oct 8, 1997; whereabouts unknown since arrest, as of 2007)
Thomas Zeng Jingmu (b. 1920; Yu Jiang, Jiangxi; released from jail May, 1998, after serving 30 months; previously imprisoned 1958-76 and 1981-89) [Zenit, 10/31/00; 11/27/07]
Zhao Duomuo (Xuan Hua, Hebei; in hiding, as of 2007)
Gao Jinbao (held in a cage and refused water, then transferred to an undisclosed location) [Zenit 7/29/07]
Guo Ergrang (Baoding, Hebei; arrested 2001; in county prison; 10 hours per day in small cage, as of 2007)
Huo Junlong (Baoding, Hebei; arrested Aug 6, 2004, as of 2007)
Jiang Sunian (Chancellor of Wezhou Diocese, Zhejiang; arrested Sept 25, 2006; no visitors allowed; due to be released Aug. 2007)
Liang Aijun (held in a cage and refused water, then transferred to an undisclosed location) [Zenit 7/29/07]
Liu Deli (Yixian, Hebei; in jail since 1998, as of 2007)
Lu Genjun (Baoding, Hebei; arrested 1990, 1994, 1998, 2001, 2004 and Feb 17, 2006; whereabouts unknown since last arrest as of 2007)
Ma Shunbao (Baoding, Hebei; in jail since March 31, 2002, as of 2007)
Ma Wuyong (Baoding, Hebei; in jail since Aug 6, 2004, as of 2007)
Pang Guangzhao (Baoding, Hebei; arrested July 1, 2003; since released; not allowed to administer sacraments, as of 2007)
Shao Zhumin (Vicar General of Wenzhou diocese, Zhejian; jailed since Sept 25, 2006; no visitors allowed; released May 2007 due to illness that left him deaf; hospitalized, as of 2007)
Sun Jigen (to be ordained June 29, 2011 as coadjutor for the Diocese of Handan. The 43-year-old bishop-designate was taken away by police the Sunday prior to his ordination. Two priests of the diocese who were asked to meet with Religious Affairs Office officials regarding the bishop-designate have also disappeared). [Zenit July 1, 2011]
Wang Wenzhi (Yong Nian, Hebei; jailed since Dec 11, 2005, as of 2007)
Wang Zhenhe (Baoding, Hebei; imprisoned five years from March 1999; released; not allowed to administer sacraments, as of 2007)
Wang Zhong (held in a cage and refused water, then transferred to an undisclosed location) [Zenit 7/29/07]
Yan Jianwei (Baoding, Hebei; arrested Nov. 12, 2005, as of 2007)
Yen Shuangzi (Baoding, Hebei; in jail since July 2003; 10 hours per day in small cage, as of 2007)
Zeng Zhongliang (Yujiang, Jiangxi; arrested) [Zenit 11/27/07]
Zhang Chunguang (Baoding, Hebei; imprisoned four years from April 2000; released; not allowed to administer sacraments, as of 2007)
Zhang Zhenquian (Baoding, Hebei; in jail since Aug 2004; 10 hours per day in small cage, as of 2007
Catherine Ho (member of Legion of Mary; arrested 1955 with 100,000 priests and other laity for membership; imprisoned for 22 years) [CNS report]
Fan Fubin (seminarian; Baoding, Hebei; arrested Nov 12, 2005; whereabouts unknown, as of 2007)
Gu Xianggao (teacher in house-church group; beaten to death May 24, 2004) [Zenit, July 31, 2004]
Hua Huiqi (unofficial house-church leader; arrested and beaten, March 5, 2004) [Zenit, July 31, 2004]
Jiang Zongxiu (married woman; Guizhou; Protestant; beaten to death July 5, 2004, for handing out Bibles) [Zenit, July 31, 2004]
Li Yutao (seminarian; Baoding, Hebei; arrested Nov 12, 2005; whereabouts unknown as of 2007)
Wang Bin (seminarian; Yujiang, Jiangxi; arrested) [Zenit 11/27/07]
Wang Yongliang (seminarian; Baoding, Hebei; arrested Nov 12, 2005; whereabouts unknown, as of 2007)
Wang Chunlei (seminarian; Baoding, Hebei; arrested Nov 12, 2005; whereabouts unknown, as of 2007)