Letters from print issue


Author: Readers


A brief item in the news section noted that the library is discontinuing 1,500 electronic journal subscriptions and print versions of another 1,000 journals due to a budget crisis. It seems the publishers of the journals, according to the article, “have a captive audience and raise subscription rates faster than inflation.” An article on the very next page reports that Notre Dame’s tuition next year will jump to $36,930—a 6.9 percent increase. In fact, since my senior year (1977) tuition has increased more than 700 percent. It would appear the administration also has a captive audience and has no qualms about raising tuition rates faster than inflation. In fact, everything—television contracts, football tickets, books, fees, bookstore items, parking permits, etc.—is priced according to what the market will bear. It is hypocritical of Notre Dame to complain when the University takes the same approach.

Michael J. Milligan ‘77
Oklahoma City_

Tariq Ramadan

An article in the news section seriously misstates the controversy about Tariq Ramadan, invited to join the faculty this fall, when it reports, “Some Jewish leaders accuse him of being anti-Semitic for criticizing the Israeli occupation of land claimed by Palestinians.” The worry about Ramadan is hardly limited to “Jewish leaders.” The major French newspapers refused to print the article by Ramadan that gave rise to the controversy. In that article Ramadan singled out certain public figures whom he characterized as “Jewish French intellectuals,” not all of whom are Jewish. Seeing no rational basis for some of their positions (support for the war in Iraq, concern about the Pakistani regime’s connection to Islamic extremists), he accused them of abandoning universal principles and of basing their views instead on their attachment to the Jewish community and Israel. Ramadan’s accusation is controversial because he grouped individuals together on the basis of their supposed Jewishness and accused them of working against their own country in the interest of a foreign power.

Paul Franks
Notre Dame, Indiana_

(Editor’s note: Tariq Ramadan’s visa was revoked by the U.S. State Department a few days prior to his coming to Notre Dame. A related story is at Seen and Heard.)

Economic realities

Seldom have I read an article so breathtakingly dishonest as Teresa Ghilarducci’s “Made in the USA.” Take for example her assertion that “among developed democratic nations, the middle class thrives even though Europeans face the same technological changes.” The only way her construct works is to ignore France and Germany, where the unemployment rate is 10 percent compared to 5.6 percent in the United States. Moreover, 100,000 working-age Germans and French leave their countries each year due to the lack of economic opportunity and come to the United States, and the European middle class does not enjoy the same standard of living of the U. S. middle class. Lastly, the social welfare systems of both France and Germany are ready to implode.

Tom McFadden ’76, ’79J.D.
La Grange, Illinois

Although outsourcing and offshoring are common facets of market economics, Ghilarducci makes them sound evil. We all outsource: Not wishing to grow our own food, we get it from specialist producers; not wanting to calculate our taxes, we hire accountants. And if we obtain these services from a foreign country, it is offshoring. It’s bad for the economy that loses the work, but is it really bad? Not at all. It goes back to David Ricardo, who wisely realized that an economy can competitively produce certain products but should rely on other economies for goods or services another can produce more efficiently. That’s the free market that most economists believe really works. Today’s technologies make the global nature of comparative advantage work with lightning velocity; it’s controversial because it involves new paradigms that leave some forms of economics in the dust.

That the professor wants the whole pie to stay in America and raise wages only here is unsettling; that’s protectionist. Has she no concern for the rest of the world and the hope that we can help lift developing economies by sending part of our production of goods and services in their direction? Or does she feel we are not really an interdependent world?

Joseph W. Harrison ’59
San Juan Capistrano, California

Ghilarducci’s article was an accurate and concise description of one of the most pressing economic problems in our country. The solution she recommends not only makes economic sense but also makes people sense. The distinctions articulated in the relationship between efficiency and profits should be considered by every political and economic decision-maker as well as every CEO. What a voice in the wilderness of economic chatter. I hope the changes in the economics department do not silence such scholarship that supports Catholic social and economic teaching.

Jim Ullrich ’57
Knoxville, Tennessee


(Editor’s note: We received well over 100 responses to our summer cover package. Almost all of these can be read in their entirety at the magazine’s ReactOnline site at www.nd.edu/~ndmag/su2004/gayletters.html. This is a representative sampling of the responses we received.)

I am totally disappointed and disgusted that you have let homosexual students, alumni and parents use your publication to espouse their immoral agenda. The pope and Vatican recently pronounced that Catholic institutions must conform to Catholic doctrine and must not allow speakers on campus who divert from such basic norms of morality. You are in violation of this rule in that you are allowing an official publication to be used as a mouthpiece and sympathy column for these deviant groups who promote this lifestyle, which is in direct contradiction to the natural and divine law. I obviously know this way of thinking is very minor on campus, but under the guise of “tolerance and political correctness” you publish these articles from students and parents to try to get sympathy for their misery.

Kenneth McKenzie
Del Mar, California_

First, I want to commend the magazine for its vision and integrity in taking on this subject. I was especially moved by “God Gave Me a Gay Son” and “All the Way Home.” I can’t imagine anyone from any viewpoint reading these and not admiring their authors’ honesty and forthrightness. And yet, when reading them, I was already imagining that certain alumni would likely lament that their alma mater would give space to voices that ignore or belittle church teaching. As a recent alum and visiting faculty fellow, I couldn’t help but feel the exact opposite: The spiritual honesty and compassion and integrity that shines through most of these pieces embodies the spirit of Notre Dame at its best.

_Francisco Aragon ’03 MFA
Elkhart, Indiana

“What the Church Has to Say” is absolutely fantastic. It hits the nail right on the head. Homosexual “orientation” is not a sin. Homosexual “activity” is a sin. Homosexual marriages or civil unions are immoral and detrimental to society. Adopting children into those marriages or unions is gravely immoral and puts those children at risk. Why is there so much argument on this subject? The church has spoken quite clearly.

Edward D. DeBoer ’53
Signal Mountain, Tennessee

John Monczunski did an effective job in summarizing magisterial teaching concerning homosexuality in his article, “What the Church Has to Say.” One was struck, however, by his assumption that the Catechism of the Catholic Church_, official statements from Vatican congregations and the U.S. Catholic bishops comprise the totality of “the church.” Surely the church is much larger than this. Why did he not include the work of Catholic theologians who have followed different approaches? Or the experiences of gay men and women of faith who are already having a marked effect on Catholic communities? The Spirit is leaven in God’s church, constantly guiding and teaching us.

Don Brophy ‘56
New York City_

I am deeply saddened that the magazine has chosen to betray 2,000 years of Catholic teaching by endorsing homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle. In order for a person to be authentically “Catholic,” he must obey the decrees of the pope. We have no individual discretion in interpreting the Bible, and we cannot create our own morality. In no uncertain terms, the church has never wavered from its stance that homosexuality is a “gravely disordered condition,” as is the desire to commit rape or bestiality.

Homosexuals must be shown compassion and love, but only in an effort to help them overcome their temptation to sin.

Brendan C. Dwyer ’04
Olean, New York

As the mother of a gay son, I want to thank you for addressing this issue. No doubt you will be vilified for featuring this aspect of human life. There is much latent fear (as expressed in scripture) about this form of sexuality, and the fear boils over into hate and violence. The violence can be lethal, psychological, political and physical, all exacting a terrible human cost. I suppose that, because Notre Dame is a Catholic university, the church’s so-called moral stance must be featured in your magazine. But frankly the church—the institutional church—has blood on its hands for its promulgation of homophobic attitudes and policies. It has forgotten that each human being is created in the image of God. The language that issues from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding the homosexual population is horrific and is responsible for terrible harms wreaked on this population and all of us who love them.

Barbara Schlotfeldt
Tacoma, Washington

I want to thank you for devoting an issue to something that affects me daily. I am a gay Notre Dame alumnus, and I was very pleased to see that you finally included stories from gay people. I am often discouraged when the topic is debated by non-gay people. I often wonder how people would react if issues of race were only discussed and decided by members of one race. I would like to tell straight people that there are many gay people in our country who do not necessarily embrace all aspects of the so-called gay lifestyle and that many of us are invisible to your eyes. You pass us every day in the grocery store and the malls. And we just want what most straight people want.

Jeremy Mayernik ’92
Mishawaka, Indiana

Your summer issue gave me more than enough to ponder. “Gay” and “lesbian” are loaded terms. They usually imply overt sexual activity. The term “same-sex attraction,” however, focuses on orientation. The church has been quite clear that a homosexual orientation in itself does not devalue a human person, any more than a heterosexual bent. Any belittling of one who admits or is presumed to be of a same-sex attraction is just plain sinful_.

Baptism confers on its possessor the obligation of chaste living, whether single, married or celibate by choice or circumstance. Any organization, officially recognized or not, which contradicts this should (kindly, of course) be run out of town.

George Morgan, CMF, ‘52
Oak Park, Illinois_

Most gay people in this country were raised by loving parents who instilled in their children certain religious beliefs. For generations gay Christians have been told—not so subtly—that if you “choose to live the gay lifestyle,” you can’t be a member of our club and God will punish you severely. The ironic thing is that I had no choice in being gay (God made me that way), but I do have to make a conscious effort to “choose” to continue to be a Catholic every day in the face of church-sponsored hatred and discrimination.

Greg Bourke ‘82
Louisville, Kentucky_

Thank you for the coverage of the lives of gay Domers. We are breathing, alive and diverse people, not some fringe issue to be glossed over. Too many gays are giving up on their faith and self-destructing. The church has the responsibility to minister to the needs of all people. Other churches are starting to minister to our needs; perhaps one day the Catholic church will follow.

L. Matthew Blancett ’02

I am so happy to finally see some acknowledgment of the gifts that our gay/lesbian/bisexual brothers and sisters have to offer our world and our Notre Dame community. It has long been a contradiction for a community that professes to care for each of its family members to simultaneously shun many of them for being exactly as God has made them. Every person has the ability to bring life into this world, and the biological definition need not be the only factor to determine how life-giving each person can be. Let us be better to one another, and not just seek to be more “tolerant,” but to truly look into the hearts of every person and see God in each other, and let our man-made policies reflect that openness and love.

Thank you for having the courage to publish this edition; I hope that the administration has that same courage to recognize campus groups such as OutreachND and United in Diversity, and to amend its legal statement of nondiscrimination.

_Christopher Alvarado ’94

We are very pleased and grateful to see the magazine dedicate an issue to a sensitive and courageous discussion of homosexuality from various perspectives. There are many misperceptions about the gay community today, often because people do not know much about it. You have done a great service to the many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) members of the Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s community.

We are the officers of the Gay and Lesbian Alumni/ae of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s (GALA), an organization that has been serving GLBT alumni/ae since its formation in 1993. GALA promotes solidarity and friendship among GLBT graduates, students and friends; supports OutreachND, the GLBT student group on campus; sponsors charitable, educational, social and spiritual activities; and strives to improve communication with the University and to increase the visibility of GLBT alumni/ae. We now have 1,000 members.

Coming to terms with being gay is often a very difficult process. Nearly one-third of suicide attempts among young adults are due to sexual orientation issues and the needless fear and shame often associated with them. Without support and affirmation among peers, these issues can turn into equally life-threatening conditions such as depression, nervous disorders and substance abuse. We are proud to offer a source of support. GALA has regional leaders throughout the country who would be delighted to speak confidentially, and GALA sponsors various local events. We encourage gay or questioning alumni/ae to visit our website (www.galandsmc.org) or contact GALA directly at administrator@galandsmc.org.

_Gus Hinojosa ’82, chair
David Pais ’72, vice chair
Kevin Heffernan ’93, secretary

As a straight male with several gay friends and acquaintances, I cannot understand for the life of me why so many feel threatened by people whose sexual orientation is different. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people share the hopes and fears of every person—the hope to love, the fear of loss, the joy of sharing life with another person, the pain caused by death. They have parents, brothers, sisters and even children. Our world will be much better off when we all agree that bigotry in any form and against any person is unacceptable and should be eliminated—not with a club but with love and respect, as God has commanded us to do.

William Wilson ’88
South Bend, Indiana

Thanks for including in the package a rundown of church teaching on homosexuality and the perspective of a Courage member striving to live the chastity to which we are all called. I was particularly interested in the piece by Tom Nelson. I, too, have dealt with a loved one’s struggles with same-sex attraction. What I found in my research, however, was quite different. Please consider: Robert Spitzer, the Columbia University psychologist who in October 2003 published a pivotal study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior demonstrating that therapy can cure homosexuality (Spitzer’s work is especially significant because he played a key role in the highly politicized decision in 1973 to remove homosexuality from the psychiatric manual of mental disorders.); Stanley Kurtz, the Hoover Institution sociologist who has documented the connection between “gay marriage” and the decline of the family in Scandinavia and Holland; Joseph Nicolosi, founder of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality whose recent book, A Parent’s Guide to Preventing Homosexuality_, explains the connection between “gender identification disorder” in prepubescent children and later homosexuality; and Richard Fitzgibbons, a psychiatrist with the Catholic Medical Association, who has analyzed the causes of same-sex attraction and what can be done to treat it.

If any place in our society is going to hold a fair and honest debate about homosexuality, it must be a Catholic institution like Notre Dame where faith and reason come together in the unity of truth.

James R. Dunlap Jr. ’84
Hamden, Connecticut_

Imagine a world where sexual orientation would be as insignificant as eye color. Imagine a world where all loving relationships would be valued and affirmed. Imagine how ridiculous all this Catholic angst would appear in such a world.

Robert F. Dailey ’74
Austin, Texas

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