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The grave of Cornelius Hawkins, one
of 272 slaves sold by the Jesuits in
1838 to help keep what is now
Georgetown University afloat.

A New York Times Article how Jesuits at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. sold 272 Slaves for money to pay off Georgetown debts and keep it alive. In today’s culture selling slaves for money for to save a Catholic University seems unthinkable but in those days the Catholic Church allowed slavery and the Jesuits morally justified owning and profiting from slavery.

This story reminded me of our struggle here at the local Catholic University, Marquette, to “Be Faithful to the Gospel, and No Longer Host Departments of Military Science”, (ROTC). The Department of Defense contracts with Marquette University to host training of military offices. For example the Department of the Army openly admits that it teaches students at Georgetown and Marquette how to wage War and Killing, reflexive killing, killing without conscience.

Why does Marquette and Georgetown teach and justify war and killing, contrary to Gospel and Catholic moral values. An elderly Jesuit friend used to tell us it was for the money, the same reason Georgetown sold slaves. I was hesitant to believe this reason but why investigating the military at Marquette I discovered the contracts with the Department of Defense (DoD) does provides teachers and money to Marquette. A friend and myself one day after a protest found ourselves in conversation with the Provost of Marquette. We asked him if he would reveal the military contacts with Marquette. With a smile on his face he said “over my dead body.” Years later I met the provost, who had returned to teaching as a professor at the school, at the Marquette Library. I asked him if he could now tell us about the DoD contracts. He admitted that the military contacts were so secretive that even he, at Provost, does not remember seeing them.

Georgetown University in 1838 justified owning slaves and selling 272 slaves of all ages for money to help the it prosper and Marquette and Georgetown Universities contract with DoD for money to training young men and woman and how to wage war and kill without conscience. Slavery and killing without conscience are immoral but for money is justified.


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