From Nonviolent Cow

TeachWarNoMore: Open Letter to Archbishop Listecki of Milwaukee

Dear Archbishop,

With greats reluctance I write this letter to you. However, the recent controversy at Marquette University has reminded me of your teaching authority in the Milwaukee Archdiocese.

As you may be aware, all colleges and universities are required by Federal law, to make available military recruiting and military officers programs on campus. I am, in this letter, not questioning ROTC, NROTC and AFROTC programs at any public or private college or university in the Archdiocese.

However, in researching the ROTC programs on campus, something seriously questioned by Catholic Leaders like Dorothy Day, I discovered that only a few universities in the country have freely chosen to be base military schools for officer military training in the region.

In the Archdiocese of Milwaukee the base school of the Army, Navy/Marines and Air Force are located on the Marquette University campus.

Having three departments of military sciences at Marquette University raises academic, moral and ethical concerns that are the reasons why the majority of colleges and universities in the USA are military ‘partner’ schools and not, like Marquette, ‘host’ schools of the military. In fact, Marquette is only one of two universities in the state of Wisconsin to host Army, Navy/Marine and Air Force departments. (The other university is UW-Madison.)

I will list a few of the moral and ethical issues that should cause concern for Catholics.

Marquette claims not to discriminate yet the three Departments of Military Science at MU do discriminate against students based on ‘gender identity.

The Catholic Church teaches “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 its justification in the distinction between serving God and serving the political community.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2242)

The base School of the Army at Marquette teaches: “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 22–100, Chapter 2–32] )

The military teaches reflexive killing,
“Modern combat training conditions soldiers to act reflexively to stimuli—such as fire commands, enemy contact, or the sudden appearance of a “target”—and this maximizes soldiers’ lethality, but it does so by bypassing their moral autonomy. Soldiers are conditioned to act without considering the moral repercussions of their actions; they are enabled to kill without making the conscious decision to do so.” (CPT Pete Kilner, Instructor, U.S. Military Academy, Paper presented to The Joint Services Conference on Professional Ethics, Washington, DC, January 27–28, 2000)

There is no need to tell you what the Catholic Church teaches about killing.

These are just a few examples of how the teachings and rules of engagement of the military departments at Marquette are in direct violation of the teaching of the Church. I have not read the scholarly writings of Ms. Jodi O’ Brien that might be in conflict with the Christian mission and identity of Marquette University. I do know that if a professor in the School of Nursing were to teach abortion as a moral right that would be in conflict with Catholic Teaching.

My question to you, Archbishop, is why does the Church enforce its moral teachings on marriage, sexual orientation and abortion at Marquette but ignore its social teachings on questions of war, killing and violence?

Excuse any spelling or grammar errors. I usually have my writings edited before publication. However, I decided to wait a few days for your response before I make this letter public.

I will be glad to discuss this issue further with you in person, phone or by email. You can find more of my research and writings on this subject at Teach War No More.

My prayer is that you will not ignore this email. Teaching war contrary to the ethics and morals of Catholic Church at Jesuit Catholic University in Milwaukee kills persons.


Bob Graf

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