Why I do care
Andy Hills | Wednesday, March 31, 2010
In the past few weeks, with the announcement of Christopher Hitchens coming to Notre Dame and the unearthing of more sexual abuse from Catholic priests, many people have turned their discussions again to religion and the Catholic Church. One common sentiment in these arguments is that non-believers (like the invited Christopher Hitchens) have no reason to criticize religion since they are themselves not religious. Furthermore, some people have even questioned why non-believers would bother to attend a school that is so ensconced in Catholicism if all they are going to do is argue about its Catholic policies. As a non-believer at Notre Dame, perhaps I can shed light on these two questions.
Perhaps those non-religious students still enjoy plenty of other things about the university. Rewarding experiences and community can be found in plenty of other areas besides religion. For example, perhaps unique to Notre Dame is its dorm life. While parietals and single-sex dorms might be a headache at times, the fellowship that is developed within dorms is unlike anything I hear about from my friends at other schools, including those in Greek life. It would be sad if Notre Dame’s Catholicism was the best thing it had going for it.
That said, remember that just because you are Catholic does not mean you own the school. This is just as much my school as it is yours. As such, I have just as much right to discuss and criticize the shortcomings of my school. In the same light, this is just as much my world as it is yours. Accordingly, I have the same rights to discuss and criticize the shortcomings of the world. An organization that covers up the sexual abuse is something I perceive as a shortcoming.
Just because I am not part of the group does not mean I cannot criticize the group. I am not part of many groups, but I can still criticize them. The Catholic Church is one of these groups. If I am part of the group, like in the case of the university community, I not only have the right to be critical, but the duty in order to make it better both for myself and my peers. So next time you think that because I’m not Catholic, this doesn’t concern me, and I should therefore stay silent, I ask you politely to remember that the Catholic Church is a powerful organization whose policies do affect me even though I don’t believe.