Tuesday, March 07, 2006

ROTC Has No Place at Marquette: Bob Graf's Letter That Ignited Tension at MU

from Marquette Trib 1/26/06
By Robert Graf
Gradute Student, Arts & Sciences

Most of us value our education in a Catholic Jesuit institution. As a result of this shared love of values and persons we have encountered at a Jesuit university, I feel compelled to challenge the military presence at Marquette in the form of the various ROTC programs on campus for the following reasons:

1) The Catholic Church in no uncertain terms has declared the war in Iraq "immoral, unjust and illegal." Yet Marquette hosts an independent group, ROTC, that is not accountable to the university as all other programs are and that trains young men and women to fight this immoral war.

2) At the Ignatian Family Teach In, this year, at Fort Benning, Ga., speaker after speaker from Jesuit institutions all over the United States spoke out against the military training of soldiers from Latin America on this military base. No one spoke about this same type of military training going on at the Jesuit campuses. Finally, a brave young man from Loyola University used his five minutes to articulately point out how the presence of ROTC on 22 of the 28 Jesuit university campuses violated the very principles these schools teach. He logically took on and answered each reason for ROTC, money, Christianizing the military, etc. He dissected them and showed how ROTC training violated the values of these Jesuit universities.

3) Finally the straw that forced me into action was my attendance in November, to the première showing of the Dorothy Day documentary: "Do Not Call Me a Saint." I thought of the many attempts members of the local Catholic Worker community had attempted to engage in a dialog with Marquette about the presence of ROTC only to be ignored. It was not hard to imagine, after viewing the movie, what Dorothy Day would do or say about this situation.

St. Ignatius says that love should show itself in "deeds over and above words." However, since I know that some of you reading this support ROTC at Marquette by your word, deeds or silence, I am suggesting that we start with words or a dialogue on the question: Do ROTC programs belong at Marquette? After we see where we are, we can judge the situation and take the necessary actions to keep Marquette a place of sacred values on life and death issues.

One of the first acts of St. Ignatius, after his conversion, was to take a pilgrimage to Montserrat and lay his sword, the symbol of his former way of life, at the feet of the statue of the Black Madonna. Let us now put aside military training at Marquette and start the journey of renewing the soul of it.

For now I appeal to all of you, especially any of you that are students presently, to rise up and tear down the walls of institutional militarism. There is nothing inherently wrong with military training, it just seems wrong to host it on a Catholic Jesuit campus.

As the Rev. Dan Berrigan says: "It is a schizophrenia that runs deep in the soul to try to teach how to love God and to kill in the same place."

Nonviolence is a powerful force. Let us use it to overturn the presence of the military at Marquette.


At December 13, 2006 10:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This cannot be serious.

I am a graduate of Marquette Army ROTC, and, just for the record, one of my classmates, who served in the Untied States Army, is now a Jesuit priest.

The Church does not teach that all war is immoral, nor that the military profession is inherently wrong. Unless you believe that it does teach these things, your argument is absurd.

At December 14, 2006 6:47 AM, Blogger Bede the Venerable said...

There is the argument that:

According to the Church, Catholics are forbidden from fighting in wars they sincerely believe to be immoral.

According to the military, officers who refuse orders--even if this refusal is spurred by conscience--are subject to court martial.

Now, given that not all wars fought by any one nation will necessarily be just, and given that a Catholic soldier would be obliged to "obey God rather than men" (cf. Acts 5) in the case of an unjust war, and given that the military brings immense social and legal pressure to bear on officers to get them to follow the chain of commmand in spite of what conscientious reservations they may have...

...For Catholics, service in the US Armed Forces is inherently a kind moral jeopardy.

Discerning Catholics do well to avoid moral jeopardy.

Responsible Catholic institutions do not offer financial aid based on entrance into moral jeopardy (e.g., ROTC). It's not very merciful.

At January 12, 2009 7:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would you cry for this institution to be torn down if you believed the current wars were moral? One cannot throw out ROTC programs based on political whims. Do not punish the military institutions for following orders given to them by elected officials.

At September 22, 2009 10:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I offer the counter question: Do organized religions belong in the military? Ordained priests and ministers have served in the US military through its entire history. Is this also inappropriate that the Church and State have not maintained separation here? I think they do belong, that separation from the Church is for government of the State not for this service of government which is providing for our mutual defense. Military service requires of those who swear to it that they give their life and blood if need be to defend our country, something that is hardly given without faith in God. It is indeed a valued service the Church provides; ministry to soldiers through support of the military's Chaplain Program. Likewise that ROTC can be part of a faith-based education is good for our country because those who chose to serve as officers are the same ones who must lead our soldiers through life and death and the moral ambiguity that arises in the violence of war. Morality can be taught but morals cannot be ordained or imposed, they remain a matter of individual choice, as is whether you serve the military or the church or both.
Onward Christian soldiers.

MU Class of '73

At November 11, 2009 7:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I fully agree that ROTC programs do not belong in any catholic university or college. It is the 20th anniversary of the killing of six Jesuits and their coworkers in El Salvador. Jesuit colleges are having teach-ins and gatherings at the school for the americas and on their campuses. This year should mark the end to any training of military personnel through a religious institution. Surely ROTC is not more humane because it is on a catholic campus. War and training for war in this post world war II era must be condemned as never being able to be a "just war".


Post a Comment

<< Home