Complicit in Atrocities
Re “President Trump Steps Up to Fight Famine” (Our Take, 7/24): While I appreciate the value of recognizing a rare humanitarian gesture by the Trump administration, this editorial neglects to directly acknowledge U.S. culpability for the famine in Yemen, caused largely by a Saudi-led and U.S.-supported coalition.
As the conflict approaches its fourth year, it is worth noting that in supporting the coalition, the Trump administration has simply picked up where the Obama administration left off. Pledging to commit a small fraction of the amount of our annual military support for Saudi Arabia to fight famine may be better than nothing, but a more effective solution would be to use our obvious leverage to press for a diplomatic resolution of the conflict and to end our complicity in the atrocities that made this man-made famine possible in the first place.
Re “It’s time to get past the snobbery against pastoral theologians,” by Jim Heft (Short Take, 7/24): I am very much in sympathy with the idea behind this article. But I think it sells the issue short if we accept that pastoral theologians are just one sort of theologian, a sort that ought to be higher up on the pecking order. Karl Rahner, S.J., for example, was a great theologian precisely because he saw that ongoing commitment that should inform all theology worthy of the name—whatever the tensions this conviction generates with the modern university. For me, it is time to recognize that all theology is about “helping souls.”
Philip Endean, S.J.
Re “How Did the Church Help to Prepare You for Marriage?” (Your Take, 7/24): Our parish has regularly sent engaged couples to an Engaged Encounter program after the initial pastoral interview. Most couples now expect to do an Engaged Encounter weekend, and when they return they thank us for insisting that they go. One issue that needs constant attention is interfaith marriage. Often only one of parties has been raised in any religious faith tradition. Non-Catholics appreciate some insights into the Catholic faith, including its similarities with other Christian faiths as well as specific rituals and traditions that differ. Many times this opens the door to later deeper exploration through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.
Re “Land O’ Lakes 50 Years On,” by John Jenkins, C.S.C. (7/24): Father Jenkins provides a reasoned and articulate expansion of the conversation that this statement initiated as it explored the role and identity of Catholic universities in the modern world after Vatican II. He also respectfully engages the challenges and invitations of Pope John Paul II’s 1990 apostolic constitution “Ex Corde Ecclesiae.”
Most important, Father Jenkins has personally engaged this challenge by directing one of the pre-eminent Catholic universities, Notre Dame. And I can say from personal experience that Catholic higher education has successfully formed and inspired my two sons, graduates of John Carroll University and the University of Notre Dame (with undergraduate and graduate degrees) to be professional, thoughtful and faith-filled men in the modern world. Deo gratias.
The People We Serve
There is a need, I think, for Catholic universities to examine to whom the vision of the Land O’ Lakes statement applies. Can we be called to educate only those who can afford it? Are our concessions to athletics, especially in terms of allocation of resources and admissions, consistent with the mission?
The Arrupe College model at Loyola University Chicago is an excellent present-day example of an examination of institutional conscience resulting in a profound movement toward meeting the needs of the marginalized and changing the culture of higher education. The mission is fundamentally Gospel-oriented and calls for a deep and hard look at whom we are serving, whom we are leaving out and what is the effect of our striving to achieve the mission in the day-to-day lives of the people we serve.