A minor detail of the Notre Dame controversy has been various organizations and people springing up claiming to speak for the whole. For example, ND Response was organized to protest the visit. My second or third thought on this was “Who made them representatives?” Then I thought about it some more, and I thought of “Catholics for Sebelius.” Thinking some more, I thought about “Catholics Against Biden.” The more I thought about it, the more kept coming up with examples. Breaking outside religious examples, every campaign features front groups with catchy sounding names that imply they are representative of someone other than just themselves. It is so common place that I see people say Vox Nova believes or Vox Nova says when we have explicitly stated many times that Vox Nova doesn’t take corporate positions and won’t be for the foreseeable future.
I ain’t here to beat anybody up. This is a cultural trend. It has been happening for a while. At some point the priesthood of all believers morphed into the magisterium of all believers. A so common believe is that since I’m a member I can speak on behalf of. I’m still somewhat surprised when I hear in casual conversation an organization belief is stated and the reply will be, “Well, I don’t think you have to believe that.” Such isn’t a statement of the veracity of the organizational belief but rather a dismissal of the organization’s authority.
In the case of Notre Dame, there is a speaker for Notre Dame and he is Fr. Jenkins. Likewise, I’m sure there is some Student Senate President or something similar that can claim authority to speak on behalf of the student body. Don’t get me wrong, whoever is the head of the pro-life student group on campus, I also believe he has the authority to speak on behalf of that organization. But we also have a number of groups that try to claim some sort of authority that are little more than interlopers. There’s nothing wrong in principle with being an interloper; being an interloper just leads to less respect going into the game, so they try to avoid being identified as such. As for me, I just speak for myself.