Stories about Catholic issues spark the biggest response from our readers. People have strong feelings about their faith, and it’s a rare article about Catholic matters that doesn’t upset at least some of you. We even hear from alumni when we don’t address a topic they think we should take on.
This past year has been a challenging one for the magazine. World events have forced us to examine how we cover current affairs in a quarterly university magazine. You should know that our addressing issues of broad social, religious and political import makes us unique in the world of college publishing. We do it because the University believes it best serves its alumni and friends by giving them — in addition to everything else we offer — stories providing a Notre Dame perspective on compelling topics that affect their lives. That perspective is representative of a University which affirms the importance of dialogue leading to truth. The stories we publish are not necessarily the institution’s official position on complex matters, but are part of a continuing conversation enriching the life of the University.
Despite all that’s happening in the world, it’s been the scandalous activities of some Catholic clerics that has consumed a good deal of our attention. We have wondered, given our role and our production schedule, what we could add to all that’s been reported in the media elsewhere. We have listened to alumni urging us to engage the issues more fully; we have been sensitive to the caution lights shining in various quarters of this University. We surely have not dealt with this scandal to everyone’s satisfaction.
In our summer issue we heard from the chairman of Notre Dame’s theology department, and in a future issue we’ll hear from one of the prominent voices in the national debate as well as one of the leading lay advocates for change in the church. We will cover a conference the University is holding in late fall about the scandal.
Meanwhile, in this issue staff veteran John Monczunski offers an alarming view of the priesthood today, providing a sociologist’s perspective on the worrisome demographics of priestly vocations. Readers will have to wait a few issues for the local angle of that story. We have a writer working on the much more promising view of Holy Cross vocations, but we asked him to follow several candidates for a long period of time in order to get at the heart and soul of dedicating one’s life to God through the priesthood. Finally, about that reader response: While we do not do stories specifically to get a reaction, we’re glad it happens. It means we’ve made an impact. It means you’re reading and thinking and caring about the issues involved. That’s one of the aims of a Notre Dame education. Another, I think, is to have learned to respect those smart, reasonable and good-intentioned people whose thinking just might not align with yours.
Kerry Temple is editor of Notre Dame Magazine.