Letters to the Editor


Author: Readers

Editor’s note: The letters that appeared in the Summer 2005
print issue are marked with a double asterisk (**).

The passing of Ed Cronin

** While you accurately captured the tribulations Professor Edward J. Cronin ‘38 put us through with regard to our writing, what he really taught us was how to read. One of the great moments for me was the intellectual luxury of spending 75 minutes dissecting four paragraphs, one of which was, of course, “the greatest paragraph ever written.” He told us once in class he wanted his epitaph to read: “All his life a student, may he pass his finals.” I’m quite certain he has, colors flying.

Brian E. Bates ’79, ’86J.D.
Denver, Colorado

The other side of the page

** A liberal group forms its own newspaper, claiming The Observer has a conservative bias. A conservative group forms its own publication, claiming The Observer has a liberal bias. Sounds to me like The Observer is doing something right. Keep up the good work.

John O’Brien ’92

Code of conduct

** I was saddened but not surprised to read that Father Richard McBrien will consult on the movie script of The DaVinci Code. I suppose that someone with the temerity to criticize on national television the late John Paul II during his funeral would also find it acceptable to help write a script based on a book that spreads falsehood about the Catholic Church and denies the divinity of Jesus Christ.

Rosemary Bogdan
Ann Arbor, Michigan

We are informed, in your spring issue, that Father Richard McBrien, the Crowley-O’Brien Professor of Theology, has been hired as a consultant on the forthcoming Hollywood production of The DaVinci Code, and that the book "airs a number of provocative theories, including . . . that His (Jesus’) divinity was fabricated centuries after he lived. One would think, since our university is “where the Catholic Church does its thinking” that you could come up with a more accurate description of the DaVinci Code‘s theories than “provocative.” Say, for example, “heresy”? Or is Our Lady’s University so desperate for attention and acceptance that such things as defending the Faith do not matter as much anymore? I hope Father McBrien gets Tom Hanks’ autograph.

James T. Brennan, ’89
Bronx, New York

Dan Brown’s ludicrous when measured theories cited in your news column only emphasize the affinity that McBrien must have for the project. The first—that Christ was married to Mary Magdalene—is not a theory but a fantasy. The second—that Christ’’s divinity was only claimed centuries after his death—is demonstrably contrary to historical fact. Producers of the movie couldn’’t have found a more appropriate theologian for their purposes. Congratulations to McBrien for sliding into his proper niche!

Tom Riley ’82M.A.
Napa California

It was sad to note that in your Notre Dame News recap you alluded to DIOCESAN (not CSC) priest Richard McBrien has been HIRED to consult on the script for the movie version of The DaVinci Code, a fictional narrative about Christ’s human frailties that the Vatican strongly advocated against for serious Catholics. As one of the most prominent papal antagonists in the nation, McBrien compounds his criticisms of Vatican pronouncements at every opportunity. This was validated with his recent jocular statement on 60 Minutes, “the election for a new pope is a nonevent.” As a statement in Irish Rover revealed, he rarely wears his Roman collar except for photo-ops or TV interviews. The tragedy, the Catholic populace at large presume he speaks for the official position of the Notre Dame hierarchy. How a sincere Catholic can accept his self-serving mouthings is a puzzlement. As a former priest in the Hartford, Connecticut,. diocese, it would be interesting to see what kind of endorsement he would get from the then adjoining bishop of the Bridgeport, Connecticut, diocese, now the Cardinal Archbishop of New York. As the axiom goes, “you’re known by the company you keep.” I think the administration better return to basics in terms of what Catholic disciplines Father Sorin intended as his tribute to Our Lady. Would you really want McBrien to be the instructor in a theology course for one of your kids/grandkids?

Conspicuously missing from your recap of “Domers in the Media” is likely the most prominent of all: Arch Ward, sports editor of the Chicago Tribune from early 1930s—late ‘50s. He was Rockne’s sports publicity director at ND. While at the Tribune he also was responsible for creating the All-Star Baseball game (then based on fan vote) and still in vogue today but they players make the selection. He also created the College All-Star football game in mid-30s wherein the best college stars (again, by fan election) were pitted against the professional (now NFL) champions. This game was later nixed after pro owners did not want their draft picks subject to injury in the All-Star game. Too, they moved up their summer practices to mid-July which pre-empted a traditional early August game. It always sold out Soldier’s Field in Chicago. He also initiated boxing’s Golden Gloves amateur competition and Silver Skates.

You also omitted a former editor of Scholastic, David Condon, who returned to ND in fall ‘43 after a discharge from the Army with a health problem, subsequently worked for the sports dept. of the South Bend Tribune for a short period before being hired by the Chicago Tribune. He took over Arch Ward’s column “In the Wake of the News” in the mid-50s and continued to write it on a daily basis for approximately 25 years. As Shakespeare would intone, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

Bill Waddington ’45
f_ormer sports editor,_ Scholastic

For sometime, I have wondered if Father Richard McBrien could do anything that the Notre Dame Administration would consider inappropriate. There have been numerous examples of Father McBrien’s criticism of the Church and the Holy Father both in print and on television. As my wife reminded me, articulate dissident priests are given a lot of face time on TV when Catholic issues are discussed. The most recent example was during the funeral of Pope John Paul II when Father McBrien was asked by a TV reporter is he was impressed by the many millions who were in attendance. I don’t recall his exact response, but he essentially said that those millions in attendance supported the Pope but how about the many other millions who did not.

In your magazine you wrote that the producers of the scurrilous (my words) Da Vinci Code, have hired Father McBrien to consult on the script. So we can assume this movie will show Jesus as probably married to St. Mary Magdalene ( I don’t expect her to be referred to as Saint in the movie, however). As the movie ends and the credits are displayed, we can be sure that Father Richard McBrien, Crowley-O’Brien Professor of Notre Dame, will be included to demonstrate the stories authentically. Perhaps as the credits are rolling we will hear a bit of the Victory March as well.

So now I have an answer to my original query. There is nothing that Father McBrien can do or say that the administration of Our Lady’s School would consider inappropriate and a source of embarrassment.

Robert A. Warwick
Plano, Texas

Bodies and souls

** The article “Lost Souls” by Jeffrey Hammond crystallized for me what I have found puzzling about the pro-life movement’s conceptualization of a variety of life issues. Hammond writes about “the body-obsessed nature of contemporary culture” and states, “Within a soul-less culture, death is a failure.” In the Terri Schiavo case, I could not understand why biological life was the pro-life goal and why death was considered a horrific outcome. For religious persons, death would be the gateway to union with God. I would think salvation would have priority over biological survival. My basic question: Is biological life the ultimate religious value?

Mary Ann Lamanna ’77
Omaha, Nebraska

The Genetics of Belief: New theory. Man not made in the image of God. Rather, God’s image made into man.

Lost Souls: “Nothing is, but thinking makes it so . . .”

Thanks for another wonderful issue. I cut out the articles on football to share with the man who delivers oxygen for my wife. He’s an ND fan, but not a grad—something of a rarity here in Volunteer country.

Don Barkman ’69
Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Jeffery Hammond’s “Lost Souls” addresses the key critical issue of our time. We do not know who we are and therefore cannot choose well to address our needs. However, an important distinction should be made. We do not have a soul. We are the children of God, eternal and love. We are souls. When we see our self and others this way, as eternal children of God, the issues of today will be resolved.

Erik Larson ’76
Great Neck, New York

Jeffrey Hammond, in “Lost Souls” astutely identifies many of the ills of our society, but I have three bones to pick with him. First, I don’t find comfort in living a fiction, no matter how much utility it has. Somehow it bothers my sense of integrity. There are other ways of knowing than just the logical, empirical method. I can show you only my physical body, but my experience proves to me that I am far more than that. I personally find the “dimension” of myself much more interesting than my physical body, and that is plenty interesting. What need have I of a fiction? Hammond offers some thought provoking definitions of soul.

Secondly, why the attack on alternative medicine and organics? Perhaps Hammond was critiquing an extreme, as he did in other sections of his article, but it did not seem so. It seemed a blanket rejection of the “embrace” of alternative medicine and organic foods. My doctor tells me I am clinical proof that some alternative medicine works. I and my friends and family spend a large proportion of our food dollars in health food stores. But I would never agree with Hammond’s statement, “Everything that ails us has a physical origin and a physical remedy.” Quite the contrary. I see the body as an expression of the soul. If the soul is ill, that can be reflected in the body. That said, some bodily ills are caused by environmental or genetic factors. It makes sense to me that, physically, our bodies are what we eat, and it further makes sense to me that I can improve my health simply by eating foods that promote health. I would suggest that Hammond dialogue with people who frequent health food stores. I have even been told by a proprietor of one (recognizing the limits of physical treatment) that I needed to treat my soul more than my body. Surprising?

Finally, the sweeping conclusion that popular spirituality’s are “suspiciously easy” compared to traditional religion is unwarranted. Both can be lived superficially. Having had a crisis of faith during which I explored both, I can testify that neither is easy. Self-esteem workshops are hard work. Traditional religion needs updating in many areas and needs to be presented more accurately from the pulpit. Many of the “popular” spirituality’s challenge traditional religion in this direction.

Thanks for input into the dialogue.

Cathryn Schiesser
Parent of an alumna

Genetics of disbelief?

Chet Raymo’’s treatise on “The Genetics of Belief” espouses the view that God isn’t necessary, because evolution explains life. It also suggests that scientists should be the high priests of a new, enlightened, pantheistic religion. The latest discoveries of astronomy and cosmology support the belief that the universe was created. Advances in cell and molecular biology indicate the presence of numerous biological systems that are irreducibly complex, and thus not explainable by Darwinian mechanisms. Readers of Notre Dame Magazine would do well to read, among many excellent resources, Norman Giesler and Frank Turek’’s I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, Lee Strobel’’s The Case for the Creator, and Hugh Ross’ works (see www.reasons.org). Just because people don’’t always follow what Jesus commanded doesn’’t mean that God doesn’’t exist and that he didn’t send His son to save us.

Gary Giovino ’74
East Aurora, New York

This is so disappointing. Your "Genetics of Belief" article reads as though it should have come from the Atheist Annual rather than a Notre Dame quarterly.
If the latter claims to be a voice of the University, it seems to this reader that the school’s primary goal continues to focus on winning favor with the secular grade givers even at the expense of keeping the faith. Or am I missing something?

What say you, Monk, Ted and/or other CSCs?

Rog Pfeifer ’58
Glenden Beach, Oregon

In regard to Chet Raymo’s article, "The Genetics of Belief, how could anyone be other that somewhat skeptical of Geneticist Dean Hamer’s claims with regard to a god-gene, when Raymo himself qualifies his own enthusiasm for Hamer’s ‘findings’ by saying:

1) that Hamer’s description of his book is “somewhat disingenuous”; 2) that the title ad subtitle of Hamer’s book (The God gene: How faith is hardwired into our genes) is “somewhat misleading”; 3) that Hamer’s central thesis could be “frail.”

If a scientist and his claims can be misleading, disingenuous, and frail, all the more reason to question them, not only in the name of science but in terms of the obvious limits of science. It bears repeating: science is a method of inquiry, which by practice and convention is limited to the measurable. But neither science nor the scientist is ever in the position to demonstrate that “Only the measurable is real”. As long as man is not all-seeing, and all-knowing, his theories will remain theories, incomplete and open to challenge.

Also, doctor-novelist Walker Perry sounded a different note when he observed it: “It dawned on me that no science or scientist could address a single word to me as an individual but only as such and such a type- the catch is that each of us is always and inescapably an individual.” Do you suppose this has something to do with why we don’t say “my genes believe in God,” but rather “I believe in God,” or why we don’t say “my brain loves you,” but rather “I love you”? Could it be that there is something more going on than striving protoplasm?

Kenneth A. Stier, Jr.
Great Neck, New York

Keenen Hall

As a former resident from 1971-1975, I enjoyed reading your portrait of Keenan Hall and I congratulate the four residents whose significant accomplishments you described.

But may I suggest another resident you could have included in the section “They Lived There” who also met with a modicum of success?

As a senior in the fall semester of 1974, I remember a freshmen quarterback from western Pennsylvania who lived in Section 2 North. His first 2-3 years on the team, I don’t think he played a down. In fact, his status on the football team was once described as “sixth string” our of five quarterbacks. The only accolades he received his freshman year was as a guard on Keenan’s championship interhall basketball team. But after four years of hard work, personal sacrifice, a separated shoulder and a lot of perseverance, he led the Fighting Irish to a National Championship in 1978.

After graduating in 1979, he was drafted by a professional football team in San Francisco, California, and subsequently led them to four Super Bowl victories, the most in the history of professional football.

I believe his first name was “Joe.” His last name sounded like a state and began with a “M.”

Lawrence Dailey ’75
La Crescenta, California

(More letters to the editor)

Summer 2005
Letters to the Editor
Editor’s note: The letters that appeared in the Summer 2005
print issue are marked with a double asterisk (**). <!—InstanceEndEditable—>

<!—InstanceBeginEditable name="PAGECOUNT_TOP"—> <Page 1 Page 2 of 4 Page 3 Page 4><!—InstanceEndEditable—>

<!—InstanceBeginEditable name="BODY"—>
Dissension in Bush Country

** Notre Dame Magazine has embraced George Bush as a decisive man and a man of faith who brilliantly turned this country red in the last election. However, “Bush Country” left out any mention that the most vulnerable people in America are being disenfranchised economically, socially and politically and that we are in a vicious and unexplainable war. By being published in this magazine, what “Bush Country” really says is that an ideologically and politically driven right-wing religious agenda trumps Jesus Christ’s message of Christian love and compassion.

Thomas Biglen ’68
Big Timber, Montana

** Bruce Dold wrote that we went three years without a terrorist attack at home but did not include as terrorist our compulsive military appropriations, our cash outlay for war, the anguish of military families and the assault on our constitutional rights. He abuses the word “decisive” and uses it to mean acting for violence, citing Harry Truman’s A-bomb decision as an act of courage. In truth, what both candidates lacked was a grand idea and the courage to implement it. That idea requires dealing with the causes of terrorism without war and without inspiring fear as well as dealing with the behavior of all parties responsible—including ourselves.

Donald F. Cuddihee Sr. ’54
Greer, South Carolina

** I would like to express my gratitude to Bruce Dold for enlightening us to the reason for the Bush victory. Dold put into words, so eloquently, what many of us thought all along.

Julie Tortorelli
Barrington, Illinois

** Bruce Dold incredibly insinuates that except for the big cities Bush would have won New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois. Is this man serious? The major cities are the diverse, cultural, scientific and, often, educational centers of the state. Why doesn’t he conclude that if it weren’t for the mostly rural “bible belt” red states, Bush would have lost in a landslide. Bush, with good reason, never campaigned on his record. He exploited gay marriage, abortion, right-to-die and other religious and personal issues to gain his advantage.

Erin Murphy ’85
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Congratulations on a fine spring issue of the magazine. I am a class of ’53 graduate and spent 10 years on the Science Advisory Council and had one child graduate from Notre Dame.

Much has happened to the university since my day, and its falling away from the Catholic University I knew, and its hypocrisy and duplicity in allowing cover for Democrat and other Catholic politicians has been most disheartening to a place I have loved.

As a result most issues of the magazine have been less than pleasing. This issue was one of your best and was complete with some very cogent articles and letters. It was a pleasant surprise to read the article by Bruce Dold, which was out of character for Notre Dame these days. For the first time in years I read all the articles.

Once again congratulations and thanks for such a good issue.

Ralph J. Argen, MD ’53
Williamsville, New York

As a member of the Sorin Society and as a ’63 graduate, I would like to express my opinion of the spring issue.

On the introduction page you displayed a picture of George Bush with a mention of his March 4th discussion of Social Security matters. Since you are an equal opinioned and fair magazine I believe that you should not demonstrate oneside of an issue with the president’s picture. To be equally fair you should exibit other opinions such as exhibited by Senator John Kerry.

I suppose that you will also exibit the work of John Bolton who is an ND grad, even though the Congress is questioning his nomination to the United Nations as the representative of the United States and an advocate of nuclear power.

Be an open minded magazine.

Robert F Baer ’63
Bloomfield Hills, Michigan

Mr. Bush hardly “claimed the country as his own” (Spring 2005). His margin of victory was embarrassingly small for a sitting president, and it will take years to address and heal the huge divisions his policies and decisions have caused across America. America is not, in fact, “painted red,” nor should it described as painted in any one color. The red, white, and blue of our flag are supposed to remind us that we are one nation made up of many diverse women, men and children.

Marie A. Conn ’93Ph.D.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Since when has Notre Dame Magazine become a mouthpiece of George Bush ? Regarding the article “Bush Country” by R. Bruce Dold, I wasn’t sure if I was reading an article in your magazine or being preached to by someone trying to shine-up the image of the man who lied and led our country into a morally unjust war responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent children, women and men. The last paragraph says it all:

“George Bush tapped into that America. He won an election because he appealed to people who voted with their head and their heart and, yes, their faith—in him, in his priorities and in something greater.”

Greater what ? Greater love and peace in the world? No, sadly, just the opposite!

Lou Pizzini ’59Ph.D.
Fort Myers, Florida

R. Bruce Dold writes, “In the first presidential election since the September 11 terrorist attacks, there’s no doubt that many people considered which candidate would keep them safe and decided it was Bush. This was an election conducted in a time of war, and America has never cast out a president during wartime.”

Which of those two consecutive sentences are we supposed to believe? Which does Dold believe? Is there no doubt that people purposefully chose Bush, or was it the case that, as in every case in the past, they simply rubber-stamped their ballot for the incumbent?

As a student of the late E.J. Cronin, I can only imagine what might have happened if one of us had tried that logic in his seminar. In fact, the thought gives me a bit of a chuckle. I’d have enjoyed that moment very much indeed.

Pete Peterson ’71
Queensbury, New York

“How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?” Intelligence is normally distributed (statistically speaking) across the population. By definition, half the population is of below average intelligence. Bush has found his audience.

Thanks to R. Bruce Dold for accurately shedding light on how a polarizing president like George W. Bush won re-election, when domestic and international news appeared overwhelmingly negative.

The reason is simple: George Bush has a clear vision for this country, while the Democratic Party has none. One doesn’t have to agree with the Bush vision to admit he has one. It was put best when a frustrated Democrat recently said “the Republican Party is the party of bad ideas; the Democratic Party is the party of no ideas.”

Democrats also seem to be consumed with hate. In the last few months, we’ve heard Howard Dean, on the eve of reaching the top of the Democratic Party, declare “I hate Republicans and everything they stand for.” Since then, he’s characterized Republicans as both “evil” and “brain dead.” And it’s Republicans who are accused of being hateful. It’s not at all surprising Democrats have lost five of the last seven presidential elections and have not held solid majority in either house of congress in over a decade.

For many reasons—from imagined attacks on their patriotism, to their open worship of an America-loathing propagandist, Michael Moore, to the comments of their party leader—the Democratic Party will continue their march into the political darkness, until they decide to grow up.

This country needs two strong political parties, for it is best served when two strong parties provide counterbalance and keep the other from achieving absolute power.

Julian Cangelosi ’95MBA
Tulatin, Oregon

After reading Mr. Dold’s “Bush Country” it made me feel we were voting for a Pope instead of a President. Always vote on the issues. Deficits as far as the eye can see. The mess in Iraq. Loss of jobs. And as Dold said, “Bush won.”

Then the author goes on to say “many people considered which candidate would keep them safe and decided it was Bush.” Hey, 9/11 happened on Bush’s watch, not Kerry’s.

Finally Dold goes on to say Bush is “likely to enhance his stature by appealing to the middle” in his second term. No way. More “old time religion.” I go to his lead-in for the article, “how can 59 million people (sic) be so DUMB.” I agree.

Paul Stutzke ’58
Goodyear, Arizona

I am a bit disturbed about the portion of the article by R. Bruce Dold where he comments “Say that again?” in response to Senator Kerry’s answer to one of the questions in the second presidential debate. The question was “Suppose you were speaking with a voter who believed abortion is murder, and the voter asked for reassurance that his or her tax dollars would not go to support abortion, what would you say to that person?” Bruce might have been better advised to more fully consider the complexity and implications of this question to a professed Catholic presidential candidate and not dismissed his “professional explanation” in such a cavalier manner. A careful reading of Senator Kerry’s actual response might have drawn readers to a very different conclusion other than the one Bruce was portraying as a “telling moment”. The conclusion of Senator Kerry’s answer cab hardly be characterized as “Now, I believe that you can take that position and not be pro-abortion.” That is a gross distortion and not up to journalistic standards. I can’t comment on the remainder of Bruce’s article but this portion was very questionable. I think we can expect quite a bit more in the way of integrity from your contributing writers and particularly an editorial page editor of the World’s Greatest Newspaper.

Ray Bayless ’53
Evanston, Illinois

I read Bruce Dold’s “Bush Country” article on the moral value of the administration and how the President has taken the war on terror to the “enemy’s territory”. Is this a view espoused by ND? Does Bruce Dold have any grasp at all of the situation?

Michael W. Herb ’58
Edmonds, Washington

Some time ago I was somewhat surprised that the University had invited George W. Bush, the president of the United States, to use the Joyce Center on March 4th for him to speak in support of his program to destroy Social Security by an arrangement to divert, at individual options, up to one third of a person’s otherwise payment of payroll taxes for Social Security to private funds. I would like to raise the question as to whether the University will invite opponents of the Bush plan to speak at a comparable forum in support of Social Security and the need to reform current funding of the program to assure that we and our children will see the benefits of the program. So far I have heard nothing to show any intent by the University to offer such forum for speakers in support of Social Security who oppose the President on this issue. Unless the President’s plan is shelved, we are far better off at this time leaving the system as it is until political agreement can be reached on changes to truly improve the system from the revenue standpoint, instead of creating an additional revenue drain on the system.

I was even more surprised to receive earlier this week the Spring 2005 edition of Notre Dame Magazine and find a 4 page article entitled “Bush Country” by the Editorial Page Editor of the Chicago Tribune, the theme of which is that the last presidential election was in the end determined by “moral values” of the President, which makes a mockery of the very words. Immediately before the vote on the resolution of the Congress authorizing the president to use military force and invade Iraq if he determined it to be a threat to the security of the United States, the administration gave to members of Congress whose vote was in doubt a copy of a forged Export License of Niger authorizing the export of tons of weapons grade uranium to Iraq. The forgery was confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. Also the President had his Secretary of State tel the U.N. Security Council and the world that they knew the locations where weapons of mass destruction were, even though the security agencies of our Government stated they had no evidence of the existence of such weapons in that country. This was then the rationale for the invasion and occupation of Iraq (which the Vatican has declared an unjust war), resulting so far in over 1,700 American deaths and the deaths of over 100,000 people in Iraq.

While all this was going on, we have arrived at a situation never experienced in my life time where we as a nation are despised in almost every country in the world. So much for moral values. Here at home we hear such things as the President saying to the world, as part of his propaganda to support privatization of Social Security, that the full faith and credit of the United States on its bonds funded by surplus Social Security revenues is worthless as the funds were spent on other things and the Government will ignore its obligations, thus rendering the Social Security surplus reserves worthless. No wonder that the Dollar is at all time lows and foreign central banks are getting rid of Dollar dominated reserves. Again, we are telling the world what our moral values are ad I don’t think they have much respect for them no matter how many times we repeat the words. Once more, will Notre Dame Magazine present articles stating the other side of the coin?

I am sorry to have to go into these details, but I have devoted a good part of my life to further the interest of the University to the extent of my capability and have had great respect for what it has stood for over the years as the leading Catholic university of which I have been proud to be an alumnus. I am currently a member of the Board of Directors, and have served as a past President, of the Notre Dame Club of Long Island. I have worked hard over the years to develop the Club to what it is today, and I am sure the Alumni Office records will confirm this. So please when you plan a forum, or a magazine article, no national or world wide issues, in all fairness consider both sides of the issues and let them be recognized.

Joseph A. Mannion ’43
Plainview, New York

It was with increasing fury that I read R. Bruce Dold’’s article “Bush Country” in the spring issue. This subtle and clever panegyric of the corrupt Bush administration tied in with the corrupted Catholicism and seeming acceptance, nay, promotion, by many Catholics of the evil of the war in Iraq cannot be left unchallenged.

I have long held a number of personal views that differ with the Catholic Church and its policies. Don’t get me wrong, I like most Catholics. Why, I even married one. Nevertheless, I have always at least been able to admire the Church’s moral consistency on certain issues. The Fifth Commandment, for example, says “Thou shalt not kill.” Therefore, no taking of life, no abortion (given the dubious assumption that “life” begins at conception), no capital punishment (so popular among the “Christian” right), no stem-cell research, and no unjust wars.

Whooooa, hold up on that last one for a minute. NO UNJUST WARS?!

This one seems to have been conveniently ignored or forgotten by the official Catholic Church and many, many Catholics in this country. This evil insanity that President Bush has perpetrated in Iraq fails every single criterion set for the waging of a just war that have evolved over centuries of Catholic theology, with one possibly arguable exception.

Bush’s personal, dirty little war is immoral, illegal and patently unjust.

I defy any Catholic, clergy, scholar or laity, to mount an honest and compelling defense of the morality of this war. Or is “Thou shalt not kill” just the Reader’s Digest condensed version of the Commandment? Are there some sub-clauses in there I’ve not been privy to?

The official Catholic Church in this country seems to be viewing the old Fifth like Polyphemus the Cyclops: With only one eye. Or at least with one eye closed or winking.

Absolutely nothing related in any way to abortion is permitted. Bishops pontificate that Catholic politicians who do not actively oppose the state sanction of legal abortion should not be given communion or, at the very least, those base sinners should voluntarily deny themselves communion with the Church. They incite the malleable Catholic populace from the pulpit. Where are the bishops and theologians thundering against the evil and sinfulness of this war? Bishops proudly and self-righteously flaunt their allegiance to the pope’s directives on abortion, but deafening silence prevails about his teaching and guidance on the Iraq War.

If, as Mr. Dold asserts, that 52 percent of Catholics uncharacteristically voted for Republican Bush, then the Catholic Church and 52 percent of Catholics have aided and abetted great sin. To date, about 1,550 U.S. soldiers and an estimated 1 million Iraqis, mostly women, children and civilians, are already dead as a result of this war. And the beat goes on.

I have thought a lot about these facts and, as an experimental scientist, have formulated a working hypothesis as to why the Church has supported this war. I will use the acronym CCC to designate the Current Catholic Church and because three C’s can explain it, as they clearly did in Vietnam: Complicity. Active support of a militaristic central government that has not, at least yet, brought its sights to bear on Catholics. Cowardice. It’s pretty easy to take on a poor, unmarried, pregnant teen, but it’’s another whole matter to do battle with a powerful government. Crusades. Maybe this time we’ll beat them Muslims. [Remember Vietnam? The South was heavily Catholic. The North was mostly those evil, godless whatever they were.]

I note, with some degree of irony, that the “Domer’s Index” article in this same issue lists a total of 58 chapels on the ND campus. Seems to me that there must be a lot of chapels ineffectively or improperly used. And only three undergraduates at ND identify themselves as Muslims. In addition, another article indicates that the renowned Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan has had to resign the teaching position offered him at ND because his visa was revoked, not just denied but revoked, allegedly for unspecified matters of “national security.” The Department of Homeland Security could probably have told Notre Dame officials why, but then they’d have to kill them for reasons of national security.

I will sleep much better now, knowing that there will be neither a Ramadan nor a Ramadan on my alma mater’s campus in the near future.

It comes as little surprise to me that the editorial page editor of the Chicago Tribune would pen this “Catholic Pabulum” for our consumption. The Tribune was a fascist newsletter in the 1960s—complete with full-color editorial cartoon smack dab in the middle of the front page and its parent company’s slogan on the masthead, “American Papers for Americans.” A lot has changed in four decades. The cartoon and slogan are no longer there. But many things unfortunately remain the same. The _Tribune_’s perspective is unchanged. I suggest randomly reading some of the editorials posted on its Web site. An unjust, divisive war was being perpetrated by our government then; one goes on now and both with the hearty support of the Catholic Church.

Dold opines that Americans voted for Bush because they felt he was “a leader,” so necessary in time of war, with the obvious slant that this was somehow good. Well, I choose not to argue the “leader” appellation right now but would like to enumerate some other great national “leaders,” both past and present. How about Genghis Kahn? Now there was truly a great wartime leader. Don’t forget Hitler, Mao Tse-tung and Idi Amin. Fantastic . . . in the leadership category. And right on our southeastern doorstep, that jovial, bearded, cigar-smoking, swarthy imp—Fidel Castro! Apparently underappreciated in our country and by our government, but a leader, a leader of his people.

But leaders can make “mistakes,” Dold says. I guess we’ll have to ignore Idi’s cannibalism and Adolph’s mass-murder tendencies as “youthful indiscretions.”

Mr. Dold seems to ignore the fact that one can be both a great “leader” and also be evil incarnate.

P.S. I haven’t even touched on Commandments other than the 5th that President Bush and his band of administration fascisti have shattered or ignored.

How about that pesky one on “bearing false witness”? They lie all the time. They lie every time they open their collective mouth. They distort facts and truth to fit their pre-conceived agenda. They lie about things that they don’t even have to lie about. Is it allowable to lie persistently if it’s in the “national interest”? Is that one of them Commandment clauses I haven’t read? If I heard one of them say that the sun will rise tomorrow morning, I would immediately begin preparing to live the rest of my life in darkness.

And that one that frowns on stealing? To date nearly $170 billion stolen from current taxpayers and from future generations to fund the Iraq debacle. Praise Jesus they didn’t raise taxes now! At least they took care of me. I will have been long croaked before most of the bill is due.

Dr. James E. O’Reilly ’67
_Department of Chemistry
_ University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY

More letters to the editor

The magazine welcomes comments, but we do ask that they be on topic and civil. Read our full comment policy.