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Catholic crossroad

Letter to the Editor | Friday, April 18, 2008

While there has been much discussion of late concerning the “Vagina Monologues” and the proportion of Catholic faculty, these two issues have largely been treated as separate and isolated. Of course, they are not unrelated, but are part of the larger question of the identity and future of the University.

Is Notre Dame at a crossroad? Is it turning away from its tradition? If it is true that we become the sum of our choices, then the decisions made on these and a host of seemingly less than seismic matters could eventually change the very character of the University.

The fact that, from a humble start, Notre Dame became arguably the pre-eminent Catholic college known in every corner of the globe, was no surprise to Fr. Hesburgh who often placed it in the context of the original great universities, which were Catholic. But is that legacy assured? Many recent comments and editorials seem to think that it is.

They echo the advertising slogan “We can have it all,” implying that since our Catholic tradition is a given, in cases of conflict, our focus should be on greater academic freedom. I do not believe that Fr. Hesburgh would be so cavalier with our moral tradition. Point one, for example, he would not have permitted the Vagina Monologues on campus.

The future of Notre Dame as a beacon of Catholic truth will require courageous leadership by President John Jenkins. But it will also require the commitment of the rest of the Notre Dame family. More than a few alumni have indicated concern that their alma mater not become another Georgetown (i.e., faux Catholic).

It bears remembering that most of the Ivies, including Harvard, Yale and Princeton began as church affiliated schools. Something happened along the way. Is Notre Dame the next Georgetown? It is up to us.

John Moore

Wilbraham, Mass.

April 13