Letters to the Editor

Author: Readers

I was disheartened to read in the winter 2002-2003 issue that students have written sarcastic counterslogans next to the antiwar messages put around campus by the Notre Dame Peace Coalition. That students would resort to ridicule as a means to deal with a call for peace is disturbing. That Notre Dame Magazine would appear to legitimize such a response by writing about it in an offhand manner, rather than challenging it, disturbs me as well. Blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed and brave is the work of the Notre Dame Peace Coalition.

Eric Haas ’84
Albuquerque, New Mexico

The Alcohol Policy
As a Notre Dame alumnus and president of Diageo’s Guinness Bass Import Company in North America, I commend Father Malloy and Father Poorman on their principled efforts and good intentions to end abusive drinking on campus. I know this matter challenges the best thinking of college administrators, parents, alumni and students as well as members of my industry. Even though drinking rates among young people are now at historic lows, we all remain concerned by the irresponsible practices that can be disruptive at best and destructive at worst to the well-being of college students.

I think most would agree the best way to end the irresponsible use of beverage alcohol is by teaching, modeling and reinforcing its responsible enjoyment. When enjoyed responsibly by those adults who choose to drink, beverage alcohol can be part of a healthy, harmonious life. Helping college students understand and practice this in their adult lives should be among the seminal goals of any alcohol policy for nearly every college in our culture. For the most part, that is a goal of the Notre Dame policy, even if some have not grasped that point.

If there is a legitimate concern about the policy, it is in the artificial, misinformed distinction it makes between spirits and other forms of alcohol (wine and beer). Alcohol is alcohol, a fact recognized by government agencies, policy organizations and chemists. Responsible or irresponsible consumption does not belong to the drink; it belongs to the person who lifts the drink.

David Eickholt ’69
Stamford, Connecticut

As I read the story on the new alcohol policy, I could not help but think of Chad Sharon (see below for link to story) and of my own experiences as a freshman and later as a resident assistant. As freshmen, very few of us ventured to off-campus parties during our first semester bur rather were content to travel in packs from one dorm party to the next./P>
The article boasts that recent policy changes have apparently resulted in the decrease of “overall drinking and partying in the dorms.” Upperclassmen interviewed support this conclusion but also add that student drinking has “only relocated to off-campus locations.” Herein lies my concern. Perhaps it is an unintended side effect of the alcohol rule changes that more students are feeling compelled to take their social activity off campus, away from the protection offered by the University. Would it not be wiser to acknowledge that many students will continue to use and abuse alcohol, and that they will be safer doing so under the watchful eyes of concerned rectors, R.A.s and dorm mates than they would be among the urban perils of South Bend?

As an R.A., I accompanied a freshman to the hospital after a dorm SYR to be treated for alcohol poisoning; I am keenly aware of the extremely negative effects of binge drinking, and I respect the efforts of the administration to reduce such problems. However, as I read this article, which seems to declare a partial victory over alcohol abuse on campus, I must challenge the administration to consider whether this is truly a victory and, if so, a victory at what cost.

Maria Guarraci ’99

Miracle Baby
“Miracle Child” was disturbing. The author describes how he and his wife were subject to the mercy of the woman who volunteered her uterus to carry their child. Although the surrogate ultimately chose not to abort, the author concludes that “we have to change some laws.” Does he realize that he and his wife already ran afoul of a different kind of law? The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Techniques that entail the dissociation of husband and wife, by the intrusion of a person other than the couple (donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus), are gravely immoral. These techniques (heterologous artificial insemination and fertilization) infringe the child’s right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage. They betray the spouses’ right to become a father and a mother only through each other.”

Brian W. Donnelly, M. D. ’81
Pittsburgh Pennsylvania

Having experienced the loss of children, I know that there is no equity in or control over who gets to bear a child and who does not (“Miracle Child” by Michael Pirkowski). The author’s desire, however, to “change some laws” is misguided. The laws grounded in reproductive choice that the surrogate used are ultimately the same laws that made their ability to choose a surrogate a legal reality. And how unfortunate the Pirkowskis did not choose to grow their family with adoption. Choosing an extreme option such as surrogacy reinforces the myth that children must be our genetic amalgam to be “ours.”

Kathy Lund Dean ’88
Pocatello, Idaho

And things Catholic

The winter issue gives off the odious scent of your ongoing gripe about the common Mother of us all. Why all this unseemly attention to the church and the Holy Father issue after issue after issue? Are you so caught up with worldly wisdom that you can’t see beyond it to the splendid reality? Until you get some writers who can, just quit writing about the church and stick to some good secular topics about which you can say some good things. We want a much more positive magazine!

John Gueguen ’56, ’58
Urbana, Illinois

It is so disappointing to see Notre Dame Magazine on another crusade to indoctrinate its readers with its liberal bias. I refer specifically to the “Power of John Paul II” article by Andrew Nagorski. In the final three paragraphs of his article Nagorski faults John Paul’s refusal to allow “serious discussion of the church’s position on birth control” and his “opposition to discussing either celibacy or the ordination of women.” It is time for the author and for Notre Dame Magazine to grow up and accept the teachings of the church.

The church will never (indeed, in service to Truth, can never) change its position on birth control. Artificial birth control is a grave moral disorder—always has been, always will be. No amount of discussion will change that. No amount of popular opinion will change that. Truth is not subject to popular opinion or democratic vote. Nor will there be any change in the church’s position on celibacy or ordination of women. It won’t happen. Grow up and get used to it.

Frank Burke
Lansing, Michigan

For the life of me I can’t understand why, when it comes to child-abuse scandals, U.S. Catholics go through the mental gymnastics as found in Scott Appleby’s article, “The Do-It-Yourself Catholic Rorschach Test.” It’s obvious that the vow of celibacy, intended to create a caste of priest-eunuchs, has failed, so get rid of it. It’s that simple. Celibacy is not an article of doctrine, written on stone tablets and handed down to Jesus, Peter or Paul on the mountain top. So get rid of it. It’s that simple. Orthodox and Episcopal priests can marry, but the Roman Catholic can’t. Celibacy, in other words, is relative. It’s a human, religious convention. It’s that simple. So get rid of it. And spare us the lashings with the conceptual cat-o’ nine-tails.

John H. Zaugg ’61
San Francisco

In “Keep the Faith, Change the Church,” Jim Muller is quoted as saying, “I reached the painful conclusion that I must either attempt to correct these deep structural defects or leave the Catholic church.” Rather than lauding his comment as a heroic display of conviction to his cause, the reader must instead question the depth of faith of anyone who would so freely consider abandoning the Catholic church. If one truly believes in the awesome power and support of the Holy Spirit, one would find it rather difficult to so casually consider departing the faith.

Muller views centralized power in the church as the “underlying cause” for abuse by clergy and “institutional cover-up.” It is no wonder that he is an advocate for Voice of the Faithful (VOTF), a group that has no official position on birth control, mandatory celibacy for priests and women’s ordination. One must question whether it is the “centralized power” that Muller seeks to change or simply the position of the “centralized power” with which he does not agree. If Muller believes it is too much to ask the Catholic laity to trust in and abide by the decrees of the Holy Father, who is infallibly guided by the Holy Spirit, how is it that the church’s faithful will constructively adhere to the varied recommendations of one another? The strength of the Catholic church is in its centralization, the papacy. Mr. Muller would do well to see this as a wonderful gift rather than a scornful scourge.

Joseph A. DiFranco ’99
Dearborn, Michigan

I do not agree with Jim Muller that the problem in the church “is a concentration of power in the hierarchy.” Rather, the problem is an ineffectual hierarchy and the resulting concentration of power in liberal functionaries who overwhelmingly share VOTF’s view of the church and who already dominate in the parishes, schools and bureaucracy. The liberals who make up VOTF took real power in the church long ago. The true grassroots revolutionaries in today’s church are on the right, not the left.

Frank Maguire ’76
Potomac, Maryland

The successors of Peter have taught with absolute clarity that women cannot be ordained. To continue debating this topic is to reject the Magisterium, pure and simple. Yet Richard Conklin somehow thinks that an organization like VOTF, which cannot bring itself to assent to this, is “deliberately centrist.” With centrists like these, who needs leftists?

Robert Boucher ’86
Westminster, California

My heart goes out to Jim Muller. He just doesn’t get it. The changes he is proposing for our beloved church would turn it into another Protestant denomination. In 2000-plus years the Catholic church has never been and never will be a democracy. The reason more people aren’t joining the VOTF bandwagon is because they see the movement for what it really is: a group of humans (not God) caught in the sin of pride who will not be obedient to the Vicar of Christ.

In prayer and humility we can offer sacrifices for those leaders who have gone astray. They will receive their judgement from the Almighty. Sin will always be present because we are human, but just because someone sins doesn’t mean the structural organization that has been in place for 2000 years should be abandoned. Let us not put our will before God’s. That happened in the Garden of Eden. Please don’t glorify Mr. Muller’s divisiveness. What the church needs now are people who are dedicated to holiness, humility, prayer, sacrifice and obedience.

Jeanne Barrett
Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan

Jim Muller’s “Today, Boston . . . Tomorrow, the World” approach is reminiscent of other dictators of the past whose ego led them to believe that doing it “my way” has got to be better than any other way. Martin Luther and Adolph Hitler spring to mind.

It was, in fact, Luther who early on had the idea the church needed more democracy, but since when was the church a democracy? Did Christ give an equal vote to Peter, James and all the rest? Luther and Muller are correct in realizing the “church” certainly did drop the ball, and seriously! The answer is to correct those specific wrongs, not to “throw out the baby with the bath water.” The actions of those who violated trust abominably by “doing” and those who covered up the “doing” are totally unacceptable and must be successfully and permanently addressed. But to use that opportunity to reinvent the church is not only wrong but heretical. As sure as it’s Wednesday, there lurks that same old litany of . . . marriage in the priesthood, women in the priesthood, contraception and, oh, well, why not . . . abortion. Why is it that every liberal sees himself as a centrist and sees everyone who doesn’t agree as “far right”?

Gregory P. Sullivan ’54
Ridgewood, New Jersey

And some grievous errors

I write to address certain factual inaccuracies contained in Dave Devine’s article recently published in your magazine (“My Northern Exposure”). Devine’s article, which purports to be a fact-based reflection of our trip to Alaska, portrays me as a swashbuckling, binge-drinking, gun-loving tourist, ill-prepared for the rigors of snowcamping in the Alaskan tundra. On the contrary, I was well-prepared for the excursion. Devine’s assertions notwithstanding, when my boots caught fire (entirely Dave’s fault) I was not left standing in my socks. I had, in fact, foot protection to boot: another pair of hiking shoes as well as foot-stocking Goretex waders. And I greeted the burned boot with insouciance, not ire, as Dave would have you believe. While I realize that Devine’s liberal indulgence of some facts (for example, one of Devine’s friends recently pointed out that Devine cannot toss a football, let alone a burning boot, 50 feet) is simply part of storytelling, I cannot sit idly while Dave smears my good name for purposes of literary device.

Tyler Farmer ’95, ’00J.D.
Washington, D.C