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Sheen doesn’t deserve Laetare Medal

Letter to the Editor | Monday, March 17, 2008

As a high school senior deciding where to make my home for the next four years, I chose Notre Dame for many reasons. Chief among them was my belief that Notre Dame was far more than a great academic institution and a storied athletic powerhouse. I believed that it truly stood for something. The commitment to the values and ethics championed by our university is what I believe sets us apart from many other schools around the country.

However, I believe Notre Dame’s mission conflicts with the recent decision to award actor Martin Sheen the Laetare Medal for his “humanitarian work.” The Laetare Medal is annually awarded to a Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the church and enriched the heritage of humanity.” Apparently, Sheen illustrates the ideals of the same church we belong to and enriches humanity by consistently condemning American policy at home and abroad by: Signing the “Statement of Conscience” of Not In Our Name, a radical anti-war group that has continually protested American response to the 9/11 attacks and for combating militant Islam; promoting a ludicrous conspiracy theory that claims President Bush, not Osama bin Laden, is responsible for the loss of over 3,000 lives at the World Trade Center and Pentagon; supporting ANSWER, a socialist/Marxist group that has praised terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, and extreme left-wing environmentalist organizations such as the Earth Island Institute; finally, touring Nicaragua during the Cold War in support of the anti-American Sandinista government.

Father Jenkins, a man for whom I have a tremendous amount of respect, said he “welcomes the opportunity to lift up [Sheen’s] example for our church, our country and our students.” Jenkins uses several examples to describe Sheen’s “accomplishments,” noting (among others) Sheen’s stance on “the waging of unjust war [in Iraq],” – or what Sheen spoke of as “the dogs of war slouching toward Baghdad.” It would be nice if Sheen would remember that the only reason he is able to say such outrageous things at all is because of those “dogs of war,” by which I mean American soldiers, fighting overseas. Frankly, I am disappointed Notre Dame could not have found another Catholic “genius” to bestow such an honor upon than one with so many questionable views and inexcusable stances.

Jay Rowley


Morrissey Manor

Mar. 10