The letters we publish here are edited for space and are representative of those we receive. We print only those letters referring to an article in the most recent edition of the magazine, not those responding to letters or commenting on issues not addressed in the recent edition.
South Bend baseball
The article on the Sappy Moffitt League (“Extra Innings”) narrates well baseball’s past in the city. Yet before the Industrial Revolution altered cities and before farms replaced entire ecosystems, baseball grew up in the wide open. When we gaze at a baseball diamond, I think we are entranced by diversity of coloration and species, the interplay between wood and leather — a proxy possibly, for the ecology we need and had and could have again, if we play right.
My own Sappy Moffitt squad, the Grand Kankakee Wetlanders, was named for the gorgeous Indiana watershed that was once one of America’s largest wetlands ecosystems, and which was almost entirely drained for farms and factories.
Ricky Klee ’02, ’18Ph.D.
For what it’s worth, the state-of-play for rec-league baseball in our town is less dire than the piece suggested. True, there is no “city-sponsored youth rec league,” but East Side Baseball-Softball continues to provide, as we have for decades, affordable and community-based baseball and softball to more than 700 kids. Our fields are immaculate, our fees are minimal and our teams win tournaments all over the country. There are few better places to be on a sunny June afternoon.
Richard W. Garnett
David McGrath’s “The Moral of the Story” is a thorough, accurate and meaningful description of abuse by a priest. There are so many stories that have happened to people many years ago with memories emerging years later.
As a member of two review boards for the Catholic Church since 2002, a lifelong Catholic and a therapist in private practice, I know that review boards meet with grown adults in a pastoral way and hear their stories from decades ago, as memories emerge years after the abuse in ways that this article so accurately describes. Many struggle with whom to tell (or not to tell) in their families. When the perpetrator is a trusted family friend and priest, the manipulation and betrayal are deep on so many levels and to so many people, most seriously to the victims. The family unit has an emotional system that works to keep things in balance. It is challenging for most to understand how a priest could take advantage of the vulnerability of a family in such egregious ways.
Kathleen Cotter Cauley ’72SMC
Falls Church, Virginia
I was saddened to read the article “Putting an End to It” by Terrence Keeley ’81. My heart goes out to him and his family, who had to endure the decision by their father to commit suicide. Having witnessed the passing of my mother with advanced amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, I can appreciate the anguish the family experienced. The lesson we witnessed with my mother was one of final perseverance. Her “embrace of the Cross” was edifying in a way words cannot express. Each step of her decline, from her inability to drive a car, walk, sit up, swallow food and ultimately breathe, required ever increasing trust in God. In the end, the final sparkle in her eye, which was the only way she had left to communicate, reassured us that her “Good Friday would indeed lead to Easter Sunday!”
Thomas Murphy ’84
I’m writing to express my disgust with the article about assisted suicide. Despite paying half-hearted lip service to Catholic doctrine regarding “physician assisted suicide,” the author paints a charming picture of the murder of his father-in-law. Most disturbingly, the article concludes with statistics regarding expenditures on vulnerable individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s, suggesting in the most sinister way that the murder of these people is in the common good. I did not expect a Notre Dame publication to advocate for the mass killing of the elderly and sick — the very people we are charged to care for as Christians.
We all recognize that a natural death may be more difficult for the dying individual and his loved ones. However, the Catholic Church has always held that our suffering is redemptive. A person who chooses an easy death not only denies himself the opportunity to unite his suffering to the Cross, but also denies his loved ones a chance to be made more virtuous by sharing in that suffering. It is not pretty or happy, but it is Calvary. We are made more compassionate, more virtuous, by caring for and suffering alongside our dying loved ones. We deny them and ourselves a chance for greater conversion when we artificially cut life short to avoid suffering.
I think it is reprehensible for a Notre Dame publication to put such a fine gloss on what is ultimately a great evil of our time.
Abigail (Allen) Blaser ’22J.D.
I extend my heartfelt sorrow to the Keeley family for the loss of Marc, whose suicide brought the family together in an unprecedented sharing of love. I imagine many of us are wondering if this could have happened without Marc’s killing himself. It’s a disquieting message — that the beauty of a family coming together around an ailing grandfather who didn’t want to burden his family is reason to support assisted suicide. The author’s last insinuation that euthanasia is a potential solution to the problem of vast government sums spent on aging, sick Americans is also disturbing. Let’s not be deceived into thinking we’re being charitable by supporting our depressed, sick parents’ decisions to “put an end to it.”
Cara Cook ’05
The article on assisted suicide was informative and touching, both from a technical side and a very personal one. What I would have added is that our faith teaches us that a life has meaning, and cutting it short by choice is probably altering God’s plan. My parents taught me how to die. Some of the most poignant lessons I learned from my father were conveyed in the 12 years of his illness and death. He was prayerful, loving, tolerant, strong and beyond kind to those who offered support and help. His glass was always half full. While my mother’s glass tended towards being half empty at times, she, too, taught me about acceptance and shared a peacefulness that was like a warm hug.
I am grateful their faith was strong and that they didn’t decide to “exit” this world before sharing their lessons on how to face my own death someday, and how to do it with grace.
Mary B. Bustin ’78
Lake Ozark, Missouri
The article provided a great and thought-provoking overview, but I thought it missed the most obvious conclusion: that the Catholic condemnation of assisted suicide goes back centuries when modern approaches were not available. He makes it obvious that the time has come to modify it. It is insensitive and even cruel to make end-of-life decisions that are extraordinarily painful when modern medicine offers other options. I am not suggesting that this applies to all potential suicides, but that there are exceptions when committing assisted suicide is not a sin. I am approaching my 92nd birthday. While I am in good health, this is a real issue for me.
Gerry Meisels ’52M.S., ’56Ph.D.
I am both deeply moved and challenged by the excellent piece on end-of-life moral choices. On the one hand, the choice of medically assisted death in the writer’s case allowed a cycle of generational damage to be broken. Three generations came together at the end in prayer, love and reconciliation. On the other hand, in making the choice to let things follow their natural course, the torn family relationships might never have healed and, perhaps, might even have worsened. Marc’s last days and moments would have been an agonizing, or drug-numbed, physical spiral into death.
The doctrine mandating the latter choice is rooted in the thinking from many years ago. It persists in our human consciousness — fear and denial of death. Much doctrinal change has occurred over the millennia. This is a tough one, but I believe its time has come.
Theron Pray O’Connor ’64
Modern medicine, antibiotics, surgery and chemotherapy have greatly extended my “normal life span” and given me a much longer and fuller existence. So, I should also take on the duty of determining when my time on earth should end instead of simply sinking into living unconsciousness — especially when the bill for this will be borne primarily by those who come after me. I have already decided that my presence here will be determined by whether I can continue to benefit others. When I reach the point of taking more than I can give, it will be time to choose another path.
Guy Wroble ’77
It was sad (and gross) to read Terry Keeley’s encomium for assisted suicide. Tellingly, after all the emotional and spiritual appeals, he ends with dollars and cents: U.S. taxpayers could save $1 trillion per year if we could just rid ourselves of those who “suffer from advanced stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s.” Of course, we could save even more money if we just killed everyone. Flannery O’Connor was right when she observed that tenderness without faith leads to the gas chambers.
Michael B. Buschbacher ’13J.D.
Terrence Keeley presents the grace of his father-in-law’s death and his hesitation to foist his “personal conception of God” on him. This reminded me of Mario Cuomo’s stance on abortion: “personally opposed” but who am I to impose my view? This is, of course, not a Catholic approach to reality. Christians are at all times called to be signs of contradiction. We must do this in prudence: Throwing the catechism at someone preparing for suicide is not likely to be effective. But we cannot betray the Gospel by presenting it as “my truth,” which is only as valid as “your truth.” This is to follow our world’s dictatorship of relativism rather than Christ.
Matthew Briel ’03
I found “Putting an End to It” quite disturbing and misleading. While it offers five paragraphs with accurate Catholic teaching about suicide, the message and conclusion of the article do not really address the issue: that a man is about to commit suicide to the grave detriment of his soul. As a matter of fact, the author writes of his father-in-law Marc, “Contrary to what Catholic teaching states, Marc and his family expressed fortitude, charity, justice, mutual love and a sense of the common good in ways we never dreamed possible.” How beautiful, one might say, but how wrong. What Marc did was to frustrate God’s ultimate plan for every human being. We are not created to take our own lives but to live them as God wants us to . . . with all the pain, sorrows and joys that human life brings with it. And then, according to God’s providence and goodness, we are to leave this life when and how he chooses.
Father Michael Giesler ’66
I plodded through David Shribman’s essay on humility (“The Fourth Virtue”) without discovering any clear picture thereof. Yes, it is an elusive concept, but the author is sure he knows it when he sees it and makes it a vehicle for sorting people he likes from those he doesn’t. Telling are the special swipes at President Donald Trump. Surely Trump could be excused for acknowledging some admiration from his followers, considering the years of ferocious attack he endured from the mainstream media. Shribman mentions the “desecration of Earth” as an example of one generation’s selfishness toward its descendants and which is therefore “humility’s opposite.” He does not touch on our generation’s pushing a massive national debt onto all future Americans. But none of this is unexpected from a woke publication such as Notre Dame Magazine.
Edward Ryan ’66
El Segundo, California
Stay off the bandwagon
When I read that Notre Dame is constructing a Center for Diversity and Inclusion, I let out a little sigh of disappointment. I was so hoping that Notre Dame would not jump on that bandwagon. Could the University lead the way in dismissing skin color and gender as irrelevant? Could Notre Dame be original and open centers for, say, “Authentic Character Development” or “Personal Integrity”? You get my point.