Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Graf Responds to his MU Critics

from Marquette Trib 2/28/06
By Robert Graf
Graduate Student, Arts & Sciences

This is my response to the Viewpoints disagreeing with my Jan. 26 Viewpoint, "ROTC has no place at MU," that Reserved Officers' Training Corps should not be hosted by Marquette University. I will not respond to the personal attacks on myself. My hope is that this letter will begin more personal dialogue between all of us who are devoted to Marquette and its tradition of a Jesuit Catholic education.

I stated the official Catholic Church teaching is that the war in "Iraq is illegal, immoral and unjust." This statement is reinforced by countless quotes and documents of Catholic Church leaders. Here are just a few: "The concept of a 'preventive war' does not appear in the Catechism of the Catholic Church" (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI);

"The war in Iraq threatens the fate of humanity" (Pope John Paul II). For more background on this statement just check with your moral theology teachers at Marquette and Catholic Church Web sites. As the president chooses to ignore his own church's teaching on the morality of Iraq, many Catholics choose to ignore their church leaders on this issue.

Also, I oppose ROTC at Marquette on Ignatian identity grounds. The first action St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, after his conversion from a solider of the world to a solider for Christ was to lay down his sword at the base of the statute of the Black Madonna at Montserrat. He renounced the violence of his way of life. In his writings St. Ignatius consistently implores his followers — companions of Jesus — to deeply desire, like Jesus "to accept all wrongs and rejections" and "to bear the insults and contempt of my world." He teaches the type of "love" that is at the heart of the creative nonviolence of Jesus, Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

For those concerned about military leaders receiving a Catholic Jesuit education at Marquette, I note the fact that only ROTC classes at Marquette are not accountable for values taught or curriculum content to the university. The military is very clear that what it calls "Army values" take precedent over any other values, like Catholic Jesuit values. Talking about other values, the military code clearly states: "to be an Army leader and a person of integrity, these values must reinforce, not contradict, Army values." The same code states "these values tell you want you need to be, every day, in every action you take."

So to those who say we have ROTC to instill Catholic Jesuit values in the military, I say that it is the other way around. The military is instilling its values into Catholic Jesuit education.

Finally, some people quoted the Catholic tradition as supporting war and the military. This is simply not true. The Catholic Church has always condemned war and in the first 300 years of existence even forbade Christians from joining the military. Many in the Church would say that even the "just war theory" does not apply to modern warfare and most moral theologians agree that this just war doctrine does not apply to Iraq.

There is more to say like the university's major financial investment in ROTC, but for now, I can only hope and pray the dialogue continues. To ignore such a major moral issue of our time is wrong.


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