Catholic character more complex
Letter to the Editor | Thursday, September 20, 2007
Greg Yatarola (“ND’s Catholic – Don’t be surprised”, Sept. 18) appears to believe that the glossy brochures and booklets designed to sell Notre Dame to awestruck high school seniors tell the full and complete story of life at Our Lady’s University. While, at first glance, this may be true (the literature should at least be an approximation of the truth), it becomes painfully obvious with only a modicum of inquiry that this view is, indeed, false. No admissions publication could ever hope to be so exhaustive. While I applaud the author on his ability to ruffle feathers (something that I, too, enjoy), I am nonetheless puzzled by his piece. Though he purports to “have no right to say whether you should be at Notre Dame,” his opinion is thinly veiled. I am curious, then, to know exactly what Mr. Yatarola believes are the core components that make Notre Dame so obviously Catholic. One would be remiss not to highlight the opening Mass of the academic year, our flourishing chapter of Right to Life, and single-sex dorms as evidence of Notre Dame’s Catholic character. But I suspect that Mr. Yatarola would not want to discuss the University’s resistance to the goals of the Campus Labor Action Project, or to the efforts of those students who seek to bring fair-trade produce to the dining halls, as further proof. Maybe Mr. Yatarola would rather appeal to campus staples like Zahm’s semiannual Bun Run, the ROTC program, University President Father John Jenkins’s relationship with the Board of Trustees, or the fact that women comprise only 19.5 percent of tenured and tenure track faculty. These, too, are facts about Notre Dame, a premier Catholic institution. Does that mean that they also make Notre Dame Catholic? Surely the author remembers the debacle created when Jenkins suggested that the Notre Dame community critically engage the intersection of its dual role as both a Catholic university and a Catholic university – must we revisit this tired debate? While I cannot claim to speak for the rest of the “sad PSA misfits,” I will say that many of my friends at Notre Dame do not consider themselves the “typical Domer.” Many, indeed probably most of them are Catholic, yet they struggle with the same issues that I find troubling. But that is the crux of what makes them such good Catholics – they recognize the problems with the system and are using their faith to inform their actions as they “speak truth to power.” I invite Mr. Yatarola to attend a meeting of the Progressive Student Alliance when he is available; we meet on Tuesday nights at 9:30 in the Great Hall, where we try to make Notre Dame a better place, Catholic or not.