This letter was written to four faculty members that teach ethics and moral theology at Marquette. The occasion was the announcement that Father Massingale had won an award as the outstanding teacher at Marquette. This event reminded me of the 1960′s when another theology department at Marquette supported efforts to fight institutional racism. Now we are engaged in a struggle against institutional militarism at Marquette and the Theology Department is silent. As sadly expected, none of the four parties responded to the letter. However, their ignoring the letter does not change my opinions expressed or the urgency of my message, so I have decided to share the letter. Bob Graf 07/13/09
June 26, 2009
Dear Father Massingale,
I know from personal experience that you are an excellent teacher and theologian. You actually teach the relevance of faith and morality in everyday life. For example, in the course I audited at St. Francis you taught us about social sin, a subject not often talked about in the Church.
Back in 1968, I was one of the students in conflict with Marquette University over “institutional racism”. After that year, Marquette University changed its policy on admitting minority students and is now, properly, a racially diverse school.
In more recent times, some of us have requested Marquette University to not host departments of the military, which teach principles of war and moral values contrary to the Catholic Faith we were weaned on. Marquette faculty and staff, like yourself, have remained silent on this issue, ignored it or have dismissed our concern as being anti-ROTC (which it is not).
Simply said, we are opposed to what Salvadoran Jesuit, Ignacio Ellacuria, in talking about Georgetown’s collusion with their Departments of Military Training, called a “mortal sin”. For example, The Military values teach: “Your personal values may and probably do extend beyond the Army values, to include such things as political, cultural, or religious beliefs. However, if you’re to be an Army leader and a person of integrity, these values must reinforce, not contradict, Army values. (Army Field Manual, [FM 22100, Chapter 232] ).
However, The Roman Catholic Church value is: The citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel. Refusing obedience to civil authorities, when their demands are contrary to those of an upright conscience, finds it’s justification in the distinction between serving God and serving the political community. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2242)
You can find much more about Marquette’s Teaching of War and Values contrary to our Catholic Faith at Nonviolent Actions on www.nonviolentcow.org . After 13 years of Jesuit education at high school, undergraduate and graduate levels, I find it difficult not to try to practice in my everyday life what I was taught; and further, to teach the same as I want to live my life.
Thus, I find it impossible to understand how distinguished teachers of ethics and morals, like you, Dr. Duffy, Father Simon and Dr. Maguire can be silent: silent on the moral issue of Marquette being the largest officer military training center in the region and taking in students from 14 colleges and universities to teach them ethical and moral values contrary to the social ethical principles you teach. Other universities, small like Alverno or large like Harvard or Stanford, have various ROTC programs available to students but do not teach military values or have military training for war on campus as Marquette does.
Father Wild S.J., Father Simon Harak S.J. and others at MU have said there can be “no dialog” on this moral issue on campus, have prevented debate on this subject or have thwarted education efforts with students, alumni and faculty on the subject. You can teach morality and ethics or talk peace and justice all you want; but we all know from the Gospel, from history and from Ignatian Spirituality that real love shows “in deeds over and above words”. (SE of St. Ignatius #230)
The Theology Department faculty in 1968 supported the effort to put our social ethics and morality into practice and the “institutional racism” ended. The silence of the present Theology Department, with outstanding teachers like yourself, on this issue of institutional militarism teaches students that it is okay for Marquette to be a military training center for today’s immoral wars and teaching of values contrary to Catholic Faith.
This would not bother me as much if I did not love and respect you and the other morals and ethics teachers; and more so, if it were not costing the deaths of countless innocent lives, now … and in the future. I hope and pray for a response, but sadly expect to be ignored.
With deep respect and love,
cc: Dr. Duffy, Father Harak S.J., Dr. Maguire
(Thanks to Joe Rad, another Jesuit educated person, for editing this pubic version)