I was pleased with the attention given in the autumn 2004 issue to the University’s study abroad aspirations as part of Notre Dame’s latest strategic plan, and I am delighted to report that some of the items are now reality. We now have two programs in China—the Shanghai program launched in 2001 and a new program in Beijing. The Beijing program and a new year-long program at the University of Bologna in Italy are precisely designed to address the call for a bilingual student body. And in November, the Association of International Educators recognized Notre Dame for the excellence of its student abroad programs.
“A Theology of Immigration” is one more of the unending, pathetic, shortsighted and unproductive commentaries on that subject. Father Dan Groody’s bias begins with the bland term “undocumented aliens” versus “illegal immigrants,” and continues as he discusses Mexicans—their poverty, hunger, desire for freedom, etc. I have worked in Asia, Europe, Latin America and North Africa, and billions of people throughout the world have the same problems. Why are Mexicans any more deserving? Are not other humans equally in need?
The problems with the world’s impoverished nations are not their lack of physical resources, talented people or work ethic. It is not the fault of the United States either. It is the political, moral, social and economic systems their countries have established. These poor would be better off if the author and others like him directed their efforts to improving conditions in these countries, or encouraging those nations to improve their own conditions. If we are overrun with “open borders,” we will have many of the same problems these people are trying to leave.
In all of Father Dan Groody’s article I did not see one comment about the responsibility of the Mexican government to reform itself so the Mexican people do not have to leave to find work, education and health care. It seems to be the canon of socialists and leftists that, while they decry the United States as an evil, imperialistic society, they also believe the United States should somehow be willing to import the world’s poor and uneducated and give them the good life they cannot expect at home. Mexico has oil wealth and Mexicans have the right to vote, so why do they not right the wrongs that keep them poor?
I write to applaud the magazine for publishing the articles on the Latino immigrant population, but the history of Latino life in America is too often ignored. Although there has been significant upward mobility among acculturated Mexican-Americans born in this country, the history of these citizens remains one of uneven economic and social development. For example, despite many individual success stories, Mexican-American youth account for a significant proportion of school dropouts and people living in poverty. Moreover, these American citizens send far too many young men and women into the American penal system. On the other hand, each year many young Mexican-American men and women enter the U.S. Armed Forces, out of heartfelt desire to serve the country of their birth. Less exotic perhaps than their immigrant cousins, these Americans suffer as the light of social concern shines elsewhere, despite their patriotism and commitment to this country. I am sure there must be a gospel vision capable of shining light into this forgotten corner of the American Latino experience, without any decline in the level of concern for the immigrants that this nation increasingly relies upon and must learn to embrace.
Marc S. Rodriquez
I am outraged that you have used your magazine for a partisan political attack two weeks before the presidential election. The article by Scott Appleby (“Questions of Conscience”) is a thinly disguised attack on John Kerry’s religious position. We have enjoyed your magazine for more than 20 years, but this is beyond the pale and not in keeping with your usual offerings.
Robert N. Schwartz
Silver Spring, Maryland
“Questions of Conscience” was very intelligent until the author addressed the issue of pro-choice politicians. His assertion that such a politician is respecting the priority and inviolability of conscience and that somehow that justifies the voting for laws that allow the taking of human life is really very disingenuous. The only way the inviolability of conscience could be given higher priority than the protection of the unborn is if such a politician really did not believe that even before birth human beings are entitled to full human rights. Such a position is in direct contradiction to Catholic teachings and could only be explained as being the result of poor catechesis or faulty conscience formation.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Reading “Questions of Conscience” I felt as if my years at Notre Dame had once again come into focus. I recalled how my conscience, indeed the direction of my life, had taken shape in those fondly remembered years. Appleby put that experience into a world view that is about respect for human life. It is, however, a respect for life in its broadest terms, not in its narrowest, one-issue sense. To focus on pro-life or pro-choice fails to focus on the much broader picture of our role in the world. To fail to recognize and act upon man’s inhumanity to man and nature is the greatest sin. The candidate who has the broadest grasp of the “right to life” and who knows that America can only lead if we demonstrate an understanding of human rights in all its manifestations has my vote.
Stephen Michael Murray ’61