(An open letter to Marquette University Administrators)
Dear Father Wild S.J., President of Marquette University, Ms. Stephanie Russell, Executive Director of the Office for Mission and Identity, and Father Simon Harak S.J., Director of the Center for Peacemaking:
Thank you for allowing us to pray silently for an hour today in the student union. Last week, when we were in the Father Raynor Memorial library security and Milwaukee police questioned whether they needed to arrest or ticket us for our Lenten hour of Prayer.
As you may know, we are doing a silent hour of prayer and witness each week in Lent for, as our banner says: “Marquette, Do Not Teach War No More.” We are the same informal alumni, donors, students, staff and community citizens that for the last few years have asked for a dialog or debate, and protested on the moral issue of Marquette hosting four departments of military science for 14 local colleges and universities.
Father Wild S.J. has consistently said that there is “no dialog possible” on this issue. However he did say an open debate on the issue was possible on campus. Campuses are known for civil debates and discussion of issues. However, Father Harak S.J. and Ms. Russell, who were to arrange the open and civil debate, have so far failed to keep their word.
So now after 41 years of resistance to the military on campus we have resorted to what we perhaps should have tried at first, prayer.
Some may say that Marquette does not teach war. They say Marquette is only the “host” school for the military, Marines, Air Force, Army and Navy to teach courses like “Principles of War.” However, to say that would be like saying Marquette does not endorse abortion if it hosted an abortion clinic on campus. As you can read on our web page, www.nonviolentworm.org/NonviolentActions/MUPeace, moral principles are taught by the military that are in direct conflict with the moral principles of the Catholic Church.
St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus was a soldier when he discerned that he was called to be a follower of Jesus and the Gospel. The first thing he did was to take a pilgrimage, and his first stop was at the monastery at Montserrat in Spain. There he surrendered his sword and dagger, his military weapons, before the altar of the Black Madonna. We believe St. Ignatius, like most of us, was not a pacifist and believed in a war for self-defense. However, he knew that to more closely follow Jesus and the Gospel he had to renounce his weapons of war and follow a leader who called for solidarity with the powerless, poverty and humility rather than honor, riches and pride. (Spiritual Exercises, Meditation on Two Leaders, Two Strategies.)
We will be praying throughout the campus during Lent for Marquette, like St. Ignatius, to stop endorsing war and for Marquette not to be the host school for military officer training in the region.
You are welcome to join us next Wednesday, 4:30–5:30pm, to pray for an end to training for war at MU. I doubt if you will, but I ask you, besides allowing us to pray for peace, that you stop ignoring this moral issue. Break the silence that speaks volumes for the administration of Marquette, the mission of Marquette and the role Marquette takes or does not take in peacemaking.
The number of minority students that walked by as we stood and prayed in the union today impressed me. When I was last a student at Marquette University, 1967–1968, there were only a handful of minority students outside of the basketball players. There was a small group of us, called Students United for Racial Equality (S.U.R.E.) who prayed, protested, dialoged and debated what we called the “institutional racism” of Marquette. The Marquette Administration at the time, led by Father Raynor S.J., responded, and in 1969, 40 years ago, created the Education Opportunity Program (EOP) that is responsible for the wide diversity of students that Marquette has now.
May Marquette once again respond to the moral issues of our time and be faithful to the Gospel by no longer hosting departments of military science.