Web extra letters

Author: Readers

Domers error
I was pleased to see my uncle’s name, Creighton Miller, in the Winter 2002-03 issue under “Domers in the News.” My uncle was a very special person, dear to many Notre Dame alumni. I was saddened, however, to note that the brief mention contained three mistakes. Creighton died in May 2002 (not April) —a small mistake. The other two mistakes are not so small. Creighton’s father, my grandfather, was Harry Miller ‘09 (the 1908 team captain you mentioned). Creighton’s uncle was Don Miller ’25, one of the Four Horsemen. (Three other uncles, Gerald, Walter and Ray also played football and graduated from Notre Dame.) The Four Horsemen are part of Notre Dame lore; in addition, the University markets their image on many items of apparel, sports memorabilia, etc. I do think that you could be expected to check your facts, and so keep their names straight.

Diane Miller-Deasy (SMC ’72)
Dunwoody, Georgia

Editor’s note: We use interns to check our facts, and they do an excellent job. The mistakes you mentioned were corrected on a galley proof. Unfortunately an early computer version of the column, which did not include the corrections, was sent to the printer. The mistakes have been corrected on the web version. We apologize for the printed errors.

Loneliness at Notre Dame
I was disappointed to read that the “Screw Your Roommate” (SYR) dances at Notre Dame are moving off campus (“Have Alcohol Rules Changes Worked?” Winter 2002-03). I know that the world has changed since my SYR days in the mid-‘80s, and that the University has good reasons not to sanction the alcohol-soaked bashes that I remember; however, I still regret the demise of an event that was central to the concept of the dormitory as the Notre Dame students’ fraternity or sorority. From the pre-party planning, to the clearing of furniture from the study lounges, to the socialization at the dance itself, SYRs helped me believe that Sorin Hall was my house, and that my dorm mates were more than just co-inhabitants of the same building.


I vividly remember my freshman fall SYR as a night of firsts. It was my first formal college dance; my first date at ND; the first time I saw my dorm mates dressed up; my first margarita, complete with salt on the plastic cup rim; and the first time I saw anyone actually have fun in the study lounges—not counting some late-night mashing witnessed in the 24-hour lounge. Later that night, I had my first “deep” conversation with my roommates while lying on the floor of our corner turret room, light out, with Pink Floyd spinning on the turntable. I can’t remember what we discussed, but I’m sure it was pretty profound for 18-year olds with more alcohol than philosophy education in our systems.

It was also a night of lasts. It was the last “real” date I had with a woman—real in that I sincerely wanted and tried to feel the thrill of the opposite sex that I could clearly see almost everyone else around me was enjoying. It was the last night I could pretend that I was the same as my new friends and classmates, who were obviously experiencing a completely different rite of passage than I was. Because my high school friends and I had not dated or partied much, I had been spared this painful realization before. Even the double-entendre “SYR” bore its own little reminder of the divide between my fellow students and me.

I suppose that had SYRs been held off-campus in those days, I might have escaped most such reminders. I could have stayed at home in the still-intact study lounge, curled up with a good book —or perhaps a bad one, like The Joy of Abstinence or another sexual orientation programming tool. Maybe if all my fellow gay dorm mates had done the same, we would have discovered each other and established something resembling a normal social life. The University certainly did not help us to do so, and in fact suppressed attempts by gay groups to organize on campus. The milestones of young adulthood, which SYRs and numerous other experiences helped most Domers reach while still under the _in loco parentis _ protection of Our Lady, eluded many of us until years later, when we stumbled onto them in squalid and dangerous environments. Considering the lethal AIDS disaster that raged just beyond the protective glow of the Golden Dome during the 1980s, I can only wonder whether more of my gay classmates were saved or sacrificed by the University’s institutionalized denial of our validity as homosexual adults.

Despite these sad reflections, I am still glad that Sorin Hall became a (straight) party house once each semester. I enjoyed watching everyone else have fun, even if I could not fully participate. It was also good preparation for loneliness, prejudice and other challenges that I would face after graduation.

__Greg Fuhrman ’87
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania_

About the Pope
Andrew Nagorski writes: (in “The Power of John Paul II”) that “Karol Wojtyla will go down as one of the greatest popes ever, but he has left some extremely difficult issues to his successor.” (Winter 2002-03.) With age I realize more and more the importance of recognizing from time to time the silliness of some of my more serious thoughts. One day perhaps Mr. Nagorski will laugh to think of a journalist 2,000 years ago authoring: “The power of Jesus of Nazareth—This Jesus will go down as the true Christ, but he has left some extremely difficult issues to future generations.”

David O. Cantu ’81
Clearwater, Florida

‘Change the Church’ disturbing
Your feature article “Keep the Faith, Change the Church” was really great! I have a suggestion to improve your magazine. Tell everyone to stop sending money. I am certain your magazine will improve immediately beyond belief! Also your University should beg all who donate funds to stop immediately so your school can improve and be the best of all by a great margin.

Sound kind of stupid when applied to your own organization, doesn’t it? I think the author has too large an ego or some similar problem.

There are lots and lots of wonderful people in our church who are struggling to get our church back on its feet. I am deeply disturbed that you should even allow such a person to have available space in your magazine. Maybe you need to rethink your situation and grow up. Maybe you have not lived through enough hard times to be able to handle a bump.

Luther G. Anderson
Oakland, Michigan

“Keep the Faith, Change the Church!” featuring peacenik and Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) heretic Jim Muller ’65 made me cringe. Has not the Church changed enough already for the worse? Isn’t the entire sex problem we face today because many in the Church have not kept faith with her traditions and magisterium? And, of Muller’s peace boondoggle: All antiwar activists ought to analyze their legacy from America’s failure in Vietnam: hundreds of thousands “collaborators with Americans” murdered by victorious North Vietnam; hundreds of thousands of others dead in contiguous countries where they fled; a million fleeing boat people, including the former North Vietnam minister of justice, who rejected all he had fought for when he saw the outcome of the actions of his former ideologues; and starvation in 1974 when in prior years, even during the war, South Vietnam exported food thanks to American rice and support. Antiwar activists can also claim the killing fields of Cambodia as resulting from their efforts. The “peace” legacy of antiwar people is way worse than any imagined outcome of committed Americans fighting to victory.

But the best paean to all antiwar activists is the following letter from Cambodian Prime Minister Sirak Matak to the American ambassador’s offering to evacuate him as the Khmer Rouge were about to murder him and 20 percent of the Cambodian population because we Americans abandoned them:

I thank you very sincerely for your letter and for your offer to transport me towards freedom. I cannot, alas, leave in such a cowardly fashion. As for you, and in particular for your great country, I never believed for a moment that you would have this sentiment of abandoning a people which has chosen liberty. You have refused us your protection and we can to nothing about it.

You leave, and my wish is that you and your country will find happiness under the sky. But, mark it well, that if I shall die here on the spot and in my country that I love, it is no matter because we all are born and must die. I have only committed this mistake of believing in you, the Americans.

Please accept, Excellency and dear friend, my faithful and friendly sentiments.

(Read that *three *times so it bites deep like it should!)

No doubt all this is too much for those unwilling to fight and unwilling to trust the true Church. The legacy of the anti-war people and their current “let’s change the Church” propaganda is worse than any imagined reasonable alternatives. The entire gang of oxymoronic VOTF and Phyrrhic antiwar activists is not worth one Sirak Matak who honorably loved freedom and his country—and probably his church too.

Past and recent events prove liberals in the Church have done, like antiwar activists, enough harm already.

Samuel A. Nigro, M.D.
Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Our Church Today
I always enjoy reading the ND Mag, but the most recent issue (Winter 2002-03) was exceptional. I would urge every member of the ND family to read the four feature articles regarding our Church today. I ask this not with the thought of looking for agreement with the various authors, but because each is thought provoking in its own right and even more so collectively. We owe it to ourselves and to our faith to challenge the “administrators” of our religion from time-to-time because, after all, they are only human.

Guy J. Bentivenga, ’57
Frankfort, Illinois

Priest Scandal
I applaud Scott Appleby for his well-balanced (Winter 2002-03 issue) article on the problems in the Catholic Church. It is easy to agree that the bishops need to be accountable, in temporal matters, to the laity.

I was disappointed that Scott skipped over the problem of clerical homosexuality that seems to be at the root of most priestly sexual abuse. Granted, not all homosexual priests are abusers, but certainly nearly all the known priest-abusers are homosexual.

In a perfect celibate world, a priest’s sexual orientation would not matter. Alas, such a priestly world seems not to be the reality. Some surveys have suggested that half of all homosexual priests are sexually active (presumable with other homosexuals). Some have observed that these sexually active priests apparently do not consider themselves to be breaking their vow of celibacy because, in an exercise of Clintonesque obfuscation, they limit their definition of “sex” to the marriage act.

The presence of aggressive homosexual cultures in many seminaries has repelled countless young men from pursuing a priestly vocation. Today, those seminaries that screen out homosexual applicants are overflowing with priest-candidates. Two examples are the seminaries in the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, and at Emmitsburg, Maryland).

No responsible parent would permit their male teenager to interface privately with an openly homosexual priest. Therefore, the only way a homosexual priest can experience a full pastoral ministry is to stay “in the closet,” living a lifelong lie. Any ministry depending for its viability on such keeping of secrets cannot long endure.

Most homosexuals are good people. It’s just that too many have an abysmal track record as priests. For nearly 20 years, Rome has advised the bishops that it is not acceptable to ordain homosexuals. Perhaps it’s about time our bishops discovered the virtue of obedience.

__Bill Dotterweich ’58
Fort Wayne, Indiana_

There appears to be almost universal agreement that the central villain of the abuse scandal is some form of “clericalism.” This view needs unmasking; it is the product of a privileged “clerisy.” Clerisy always includes some clergy but is a much wider concept. Clerisy is that power of worldliness which dematerializes the historical in Christianity while it materializes its forms of thought and action. Clerisy is more likely to be lay than clergy; it is most often academic or rentier or taxable in its dividends. Clerisy narrows the scope and focus of belief: it does not think Christianity can be humanism. It tends to dismiss the entire problem of humanism as aesthetic and trivializing. Clerisy is too fragilely optimistic to credit its own experience and will not see that all essential humanisms begin with a pessimistic openness toward the bondage of nature, process, and will. Clerisy clings to a life-lie; it does not think that a disillusioned ideal, a disillusioned religion is possible. Clerisy grows a protective cuticle of sin to shame contact with the groundlessness of creation. Latin Europeans are often not anti-clerical: They have merely undergone a long philosophical discipline in the observation of the “trahison des clercs.” Anti-clericalism is evasion and displacement. Clerisy represents all change in the church as the work of liberal ideology and ignores question about the development of the deposit of faith. Clerisy is a large investment in the preservation of special interests. Clerisy is unfeminine and delights in the paternity of Nobodaddy rather than in that of the Holy Spirit. Clerisy is intellectualism that fears the service of human wholeness. Clerisy always puts the blame on Rome; it economizes all questions into questions of political organization and ultramontane tyranny. But the modern political question is the question of man.

Joseph Ryan ’59
Yarmouthport, Massachusetts

Guidance for Bishops Wrong
To have Ed Cohen explain the bishops is like the undersigned explaining the Talmud. He did no better than with Kurt Waldheim.

The excesses by Steinfels and Appleby in Dallas were not productive. Professional guidance for the bishops was wrong in retrospect, as stated by Pope John Paul II.

The people sought by Father Daley “of heroic risk in proclaiming the gospel” are already here, worldwide, and in the hundreds of thousands. Let us encourage more Catholic institutions to be heroic in the spirit of Cardinals John Henry Newman and Avery Dulles, both converts. The vineyards of societal failures await.

It seems some are not familiar with the very active pastoral councils in each parish, since Vatican II.

James W. Ford ’43
Wilmette, IL

Statements Damning
In the winter 2002 edition of Notre Dame Magazine, associate editor Ed Cohen gave a one-page synopsis of a mini-conference purportedly on “ways to restore trust in the church.” It is difficult to glean the complete picture from a synopsis, however Mary Rose D’Angelo’s statements are damning even in a condensed version. She talks of “the church’s inability to promote the use of condoms to prevent AIDS . . .” Is she totally ignorant of the fact that every medical study to date has failed to show a decrease in AIDS spread? Her statement sounds like Planned Parenthood propaganda with its constant “give them a serpent when they ask for bread.” Has she really not heard of teaching the value of chastity?

Surely a respected university like Notre Dame doesn’t have to sink so low to find associate professors of theology.

Stephen G. Watson, M.D.
Van Nuys, California

Catholic Rorschach Test One-Sided
I disagree with much of what Scott Appleby wrote in his article, “The Do-It-Yourself Catholic Rorschach Test” (Winter 2002-03, p.22). I will address but one; that is the one-sided discussion about the involvement of lawyers in the claim and litigation process related to what the author has mischaracterized as “the most damaging and traumatic ordeal in the history of the U.S. church.”

Mr. Appleby says that this is a pathetic time for the lawyers who represent the victims. He also blames the media for not bothering to report that claimants pay their lawyers for representing them. This is a classic example of blaming the crime on the victim. It is not the victims who have intentionally perpetrated and permitted innumerable sexual assaults over many years. It is not the lawyers for the victims who committed sexual assaults. The media that reports the despicable acts of church representatives does not commit those acts. It is the immoral, criminal and cruel representatives of the church who perpetrated the assaults, taking advantage of their religious power and trust. It is leaders of the church who have repeatedly enabled and assisted some members of the clergy to commit these acts for motives that may have arisen from pride, selfishness and greed.

The author fails to call upon the church to disclose the millions of dollars it has spent paying the church lawyers $200, $300 or more per hour to defend and deny the claims of victims. Those lawyers are paid to hide the nature and extent of the trauma inflicted on countless victims, to use all available avenues to cover up the actions of the church, to attack the victims who are often psychologically fragile and vulnerable, and to buy off as many of the claimants as possible at the cheapest price. Mr. Appleby also neglects to mention that few of the victims have access to the financial power and resources available to the church through the generosity and faithfulness of church members.

When the lawyers for the church succeed in denying and avoiding legitimate claims, with the help of their paying client, the church, the claimants recover nothing. When the claimants recover nothing, their lawyers, under the contingent fee arrangements, are paid the agreed percentage called for by the contingent fee contract; whether that fee is 30 percent of 0, 40 percent of 0, or even 50 percent of 0, the result is the same. They lawyer is paid no fee. The lawyers for the church, however, are paid regardless of the outcome. The more successful they are in denying or defeating claims, whether legitimate or not, the more likely they may be to be hired for similar, additional legal work.

If Mr. Appleby is successful in having the attorneys’ fees (on both sides) fully disclosed and reported by the media, it may well be that the church will be found to have spent more in fees than the claimants have. Is he interested in an even-handed disclosure? Perhaps he could also address the efforts made by church lawyers to minimize the psychological and financial damages church representatives have inflicted on their victims. If the church is so victimized by those who have been traumatized, why has the church refused to disclose to the media all that the church and her representatives have done to those they have assaulted? Why has the church consistently denied and concealed the severity and extent of its responsibility?

Had lawyers for victims insisted on payment of hourly fees, and not agreed to be paid only if claims were successfully pursued against an intransigent church, this “traumatic ordeal” for the church might have remained hidden from view for decades to come. They consequence of the church’s past and continued concealment is that the “traumatic ordeal” suffered by the true sexual assault victims will likely continue.

Richard T. Lenz
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Where Does the Money Go?
The Winter 02-03 issue advises that increased football parking fees were to fund minor sports. This clarification is most welcome, as some unsophisticated folk might have thought that the parking (and ticket) increases related to the seven figure salary of the football coach (umpteen times what Miami pays Larry Coker), not to mention breach of contract reparations to Bob Davie, and perhaps a few bucks to Georgia Tech and/or Stanford. Davie’s success two years ago in guiding the team to a BCS payoff might have covered the brilliant decision to go to trial on a recent age discrimination claim?

Tom Mahoney
Buffalo Grove, Illinois

New Alcohol Policy Disturbing
In response to the winter story “Have the alcohol rule changes worked?”, please print this letter beneath one you receive that lauds Father Poorman’s crusade against Notre Dame binge drinking. I cannot believe such readers and Father Poorman are naive enough to think the new rules will do ANYTHING other than push student-life (and the same amount of drinking) further and further off campus. Good thing those cleaning ladies and Freshmen Flipside members see positive changes on campus! Binge drinking (defined by 3 or more drinks in a sitting) is forever gone at ND! (on campus, at least). How many off-campus muggings, robberies, abductions, cases of drunk driving, or simply instances of injury or sickness without an RA around will it take before the administration realizes that maybe all the drinking ON-campus wasn’t so bad?

Lawrence Hayes ’01
via e-mail

A Remarkable Man
Thank you for including a very interesting and appropriate article by Robert Leader in the magazine.

Professor Leader was one of the best of my college teachers and as a student, I looked forward to his classes on Art History.

During his class I only remember him talking about World War II once. This was during a discussion about Japanese ceramics. While he said he was wounded in the war, he didn’t say anything about the details or his feeling as he did in his article. Even then, I found it remarkable that he was not bitter about the war or Japanese people. I remember him saying “How could you hate a people who could produce such beautiful art.”

Professor Leader’s article only reinforced my opinion that he is a remarkable man.

Bill Dasso ’73
via e-mail