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A call for respectful dialogue

Matthew Mleczko | Sunday, March 4, 2012

For several weeks now, I’ve sat by and quietly read the ongoing debate over the HHS regulation requiring employers to provide preventative services for women. Both sides have been engaged in spirited dialogue, however, the last article written, “Notre Dame and the Catholic conscience,” Feb. 28, represents the dangerous kind of digression we see in politics all too often.

The recent compromise President Obama announced doesn’t exactly solve the problem for Notre Dame since the University self-insures, but the critics at this point seem unwilling to accept any compromise unless the legislation is tailored precisely at Notre Dame’s convenience.

Yet, Notre Dame is not the center of the universe.

We are unincorporated Notre Dame, Ind., located in the United States of America, a democracy where compromise is the essence of getting anything accomplished.

Ms. Ratiu’s article is not an attempt at compromise, but an example of the “angry screaming” she claims to reject. While changes may have to be made as to how preventive services for women are to be provided, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which will aim to reduce the amount of uninsured and increase the insurance coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, is hardly fostering a “culture of death.”

Yet, more troubling is the author’s overstated insinuation that the future of Roman Catholicism somehow hangs in the balance with Fr. Jenkins’s decision.

If anything, Fr. Jenkins demonstrates the need to address our grievances with the government with a willingness to engage in respectful dialogue.

University spokesman Dennis Brown talked about Fr. Jenkins’s approach in a recent Observer story, saying Fr. Jenkins believes “you can’t change society unless you persuade people, and you can’t persuade them unless you engage them in a respectful way.”

In paraphrasing Aristotle, Ms. Ratiu should have noted that Aristotle considered politics a balance of competing interests in which people with diverse opinions are forced to understand viewpoints different from their own.

Thus, politics is more than simply overpowering the other side and attempts at exploiting overstated language to demonize the other side does not play into this vision.

Matthew Mleczko


Dillon Hall

March 4