Catholic identity valued
Letter to the Editor | Monday, November 20, 2006
I would like to write in response to the Letter to the Editor that appeared on Nov. 15, titled “Attracting Diverse Students to Notre Dame.” There are a couple of good points the author makes as the article does recognize that the Catholic identity of Notre Dame is important and that diversity is also important. However, the article goes on to argue that Notre Dame should try to market its values as not specifically Catholic in order to attract people of other faiths.
The first problem with the argument is that the author declares Catholic values are not Catholic, but secular. What he probably meant to say was that people of many different faiths can relate to Catholic values because they are so universal, but calling the values secular is not the way to explain this. Catholic values are definitely not secular.
The second problem with the argument is that the author claims for Notre Dame to be more diverse, we need more diversity of religion, or we need to be less Catholic. Just because the majority of the students are Catholic does not mean the thinking that goes on here is not diverse. Notre Dame is certainly interested in attracting a diverse group of students, but diversity doesn’t solely refer to diversity of religion. Students of all different faiths choose to come here knowing the Catholic presence is strong. Over the years, it is one of the only Catholic schools in the country that has held on to its truly Catholic identity. When someone brings up Marquette or Georgetown, the name doesn’t mean Catholic the way Notre Dame does, and Notre Dame is proud of that. To purposefully attract students of other religions would deny words in Notre Dame’s own mission statement: “The Catholic identity of the University depends upon, and is nurtured by, the continuing presence of a predominant number of Catholic intellectuals.”
The final problem in the argument comes when the author concludes by saying that Notre Dame needs to attract students of other faiths in order to “compete with other prestigious universities.” Isn’t Notre Dame, as Catholic as it is now, as prestigious as other universities? The good thing about Catholic values is that they are universal, so if Notre Dame remains as Catholic as it is, that will not get in the way of finding the diversity the author of the article and I both want. Notre Dame can achieve diversity and prestige without reversing its long tradition of Catholic identity.