April 17, 2009

Letters to the Editor

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Notre Dame must be a place that continues to encourage diversity of thought, reader says

I am a lifelong Catholic and a graduate of the University of Notre Dame. My husband has two degrees from Notre Dame, as does my daughter. My son is currently a sophomore at the university.

I could not be prouder to have President Barack Obama speak at my alma mater. Notre Dame is first and foremost a great university.

That means that ideas can be freely expressed and discussed in classrooms and on campus.

Notre Dame students are encouraged to develop their scholarship in the context of Catholicism, but this should not mean that information must be censored or controlled.

On the contrary, one must come to understand what it means to be Catholic while living in a secular world.

I urge Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins, university president, to stand his ground in welcoming President Obama.

It is my hope that Notre Dame continues to be a place that encourages diversity of thought and vigorous scholarship in an open forum.

- Annette Magjuka, Greenwood


How will we express our love for the unborn?

After learning about the invitation to President Barack Obama to speak to the 2009 graduates at the University of Notre Dame, I had very similar reactions to many of the readers’ responses in the April 10 letters to the editor section.

The very notion that Holy Cross Father John I. Jenkins would ever consider the invitation is at first appalling. I felt slapped on the cheek. Why would he want to send the message to the world that the Catholic community approves of President Obama’s lack of respect for unborn life?

But as soon as I said this aloud to my husband, a thought occurred to me. Jesus told us “If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other cheek” (Lk 6:29).

Maybe this event is the perfect opportunity for the Catholic community to come together and “turn the other cheek” to our president and show him the way.

The world will be watching how we handle ourselves that day. I think one of the letter writer’s responses last week that the invitation “has already set the Holy Spirit in motion” is true.

We don’t have to accept President Obama’s views, but we have an opportunity to express that.

How will we express our love of the unborn to the world—with hate and comdemnation for injusticeness or with prayers and Christ’s love to all?

- Michelle Hawk, Richmond


Controversy should motivate us to fight more for life

In the firestorm of debate over the University of Notre Dame’s invitation to President Barack Obama to speak at its commencement in May, many people seem to have turned their anger away from the tragedy of abortion and directed it at Notre Dame instead, accusing the university of “cafeteria Catholicism” and of abdicating its responsibilities to uphold the Catholic faith.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Inviting Obama to address the graduates is not an endorsement of his views on abortion or stem-cell research any more than inviting then-President George W. Bush to speak on the same platform in 2001 implied agreement with his position regarding capital punishment (also opposed by the Church).

A university must be a forum for an open exchange of ideas—even those which we abhor—so that we can form educated responses and arm ourselves with greater understanding in order to better fight what we believe is wrong. Hiding from opposing viewpoints or refusing to engage in debate only distances Catholics from the front lines.

It is easy to click the computer mouse to sign an online petition expressing anger at Notre Dame’s decision. It is harder to actually do something concrete, like donate money to a pro-life group or volunteer at a shelter for abused women. We wonder how many people who have pointed the finger in outrage at Notre Dame have picketed at an abortion clinic or answered the emergency hotline calls of women with unwanted pregnancies and nowhere to turn?

The scourge of abortion in the United States will not end by solely passing laws against it. As a society, we need to have a much greater respect not just for the unborn, but for those already born as well: a rekindled spirit of respect and love for all people and a willingness to work for justice.

At Notre Dame, students and faculty alike are challenged to live daily the Church’s teachings on social justice and respect for others.

Perhaps the uproar over the university’s Obama invitation will motivate Catholics even more strongly to seek an end to abortion—and the circumstances that lead to it.

- Stephen and Kathryn O’Neil, Indianapolis, Notre Dame Class of 1987


Our morals can be judged by the ways of society

It is difficult for me to believe that 54 percent of the Catholic population in the U.S that voted in the national election last fall supported the three top leaders for highest office—all of whom supported abortion openly.

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden and Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi have professed their support of abortion.

Two of them, Vice President Biden and Speaker Pelosi, say they are Catholic and one of them, Speaker Pelosi, believes that the Catholic Church supports abortion.

Abortion should not be a political issue, but apparently it is. Where was our Church leadership last fall? It does very little good to march to Washington now!

Is it possible our Church leaders fear they might alienate some Church members? If so, someone needs to spread one of the Church’s strongest messages and beliefs about right to life.

Do voters really understand the issues or just vote party lines? If they vote mostly party lines, the question is answered and we are in trouble.

There are those who say politicians who are pro-abortion have so many other good attributes that outweigh their one negative fault, and, on balance, they still get the voter’s support. That’s baloney! That’s an excuse.

The time to speak was last fall; the horses are out running now. When you are veering off the road, you put pressure on the steering wheel to correct your path. We should have put the pressure on last fall.

Maybe, just maybe, our morals can be judged by the ways of our society. Do you think corporate greed, sexual greed, food and drink greed and welfare greed, to name a few, have any connection to abortion? I do.

We will wake up but, again, it will be too late. As Catholics, we can make a difference, and we did by 54 percent.

- Cliff Dickman, Richmond

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