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Filling in ‘the whole truth’

Observer Viewpoint | Monday, April 4, 2005

The column of Professor Rice on March 24, “The whole truth, and nothing but …” falls short of delivering the whole truth as promised. In at least one respect, the column resembles Dan Brown’s runaway bestseller “The DaVinci Code.” It deploys enough truth to be credible but not so much as to be accurate or fair.

To compare Rice’s viewpoint to the controversial novel may strike some as inappropriate and misleading. I felt the same when I read Rice equate several different inclinations: smoking, problem drinking, shoplifting, eating disorders and homosexual feelings. Rice persists in the clumsy, one-dimensional comparison because he prefers the University be resolute and uniform in its opposition to so-called disordered inclinations. Rather than be sensitive to the complexity of human experience and the reality of what science teaches us about human development, he prefers the University proclaim “the inclination to any disordered act is itself disordered” and explore no more.

While the argument may be technically correct, according to its source at least, it is not a big enough idea to fulfill Notre Dame’s promise as a Catholic University. An approach so exceedingly limited, so legalistic, and so inflexible is contrary to the intellectual spirit of the University. Moreover, quoting the argument to discourage those who seek justice – civil rights and social acceptance in society and the Church – for gays and lesbians is contrary to the core of the Catholic message: the enormous love that Christ had for humankind.

No one can forget the scandalous love Christ demonstrated for humankind, a love of such scandalous proportions – breaking bread with sinners and dieing on the cross in the manner of a common criminal – that the radical example lives on today. I hope the example will continue to challenge assumptions and question convention at Notre Dame. I applaud all the members of the University, past and present, who are open to the radical experience of that love and who feel challenged by it enough to open their hearts and their minds to the idea of change.

Edward Cottrell


class of 1994

March 31