The perfect ironic conclusion to yesterday’s paean to tolerance and dialogue at Notre Dame: The leader of a Catholic school sneering at student protesters for practicing freedom of speech in defense of Church teachings. Rarely have liberal Catholicism and campus Orwellianism meshed more beautifully.

Speaking on Trinity’s campus in Northeast Washington, McGuire said that “a half-century of progress for Catholic higher education is at risk of slipping back into those insular, parochial pre-Vatican II days” when academic freedom was not valued within the Catholic Church.

“The real scandal at Notre Dame today is not that the president of the United States is speaking at commencement,” McGuire said. “The real scandal is the misappropriation of sacred teachings for political ends. The real scandal is the spectacle of ostensibly Catholic mobs camping out at Notre Dame for the specific purpose of disrupting the commencement address of the nation’s first African American president. This ugly spectacle is an embarrassment to all Catholics. The face that Catholicism shows to our new president should be one marked with the sign of peace, not distorted in the snarl of hatred.”

McGuire continued, “The religious vigilantism apparent in the Notre Dame controversy arises from organizations that have no official standing with the church, but who are successful in gaining media coverage as if they were speaking for Catholicism. . . . They have established themselves as uber-guardians of a belief system we can hardly recognize. Theirs is a narrow faith devoted almost exclusively to one issue. They defend the rights of the unborn but have no charity toward the living. They mock social justice as a liberal mythology.”

Included among the snarling, hateful vigilantes who dared to speak for Catholicism despite their renegade belief system: At least 55 American bishops. No matter, though. According to McGuire’s spokesman, her remarks drew the same kind of fawning applause The One himself received yesterday at ND. I know I’m known as a big-tent guy when it comes to the GOP, but er, how big is the Church’s tent, exactly, when its intellectual leadership is dumping publicly on kids who stand up for life? And since when does peaceful protest not qualify as a “sign of peace”?