September 30, 2010
Dear Catholic Workers,
Dorothy Day believed in the “priority of conscience.” She said in 1970 “My understanding of the teaching of the Church is that we must follow our conscience, even an erroneous conscience.” (Catholic Agitator 1, no, 9, Dec. 1970) Like Gandhi, Dorothy lived the change she wanted to see. During World War II she took a controversial stand that Catholic Workers could not participate in the military, even though this position was a sword of division, breaking up some Catholic Worker houses, like the one in Milwaukee.
After the war she wrote in the April, 1948 Catholic Worker, “Some of us at THE CATHOLIC WORKER have been going to the colleges and distributing a leaflet against UMT (DMS) [Universal Military Training] (Departments of Military Sciences). And most everyone to whom we gave the leaflet has expressed acceptance of UMT (DPS), has thought it a good thing. There are no antiwar organizations in the colleges these days, at least not in the Catholic colleges. There is a sense of the inevitable, that war is to come, that morality has nothing to do with it, that it is a question of licking Russia (Terrorist) before she gets too strong, before she gets the atomic bomb.”
Some of us are old enough to remember the strong stand for conscientious objection and for nonviolent resistance to the selective service system that Dorothy and Catholic Workers took during the Vietnam War.
In her latter life many Catholic Universities tried to honor Dorothy with awards and honoree degrees. She politely turned them down saying to one: I have had to refuse seven colleges and universities for the reason they had ROTC and one way or another closely allied to Federal Government. In many areas they receive research grants many that have to do with war and defense.”
What would Dorothy and the Catholic Workers think and do now that a few of our Catholic Universities have moved beyond ROTC and have freely chosen to become host schools for the military. They give academic, ethical and moral creditability to military bases on Catholic campuses that teach that loyalty of military values comes before religious values and conscience.
In 1996 the Solomon Amendment of the Congress institutionalized the military in all, except pacifist, colleges and universities. To receive Federal dollars all schools must be open to military recruitment and offer ROTC training. Most colleges and
universities choose to be only ‘partner’ schools of the military and send ROTC students to ‘host’ schools (bases) for military training.
Their reasons for this choice vary. They are for academic reasons, many professors of military science and curriculum of the departments
does not measure up to their academic standards. Many rejected military departments for ethical and moral reasons, discrimination based on sexual orientation, teachings such as ‘reflexive killing’ and the priority of military values over conscience.
The Catholic Worker archives are hosted at Marquette University, a Catholic Jesuit university that has chosen to become a base school of Army (SOA), Marines/Navy and Air Force. We in the Milwaukee community, in the spirit of the Catholic Worker, have been resisting the military on the Marquette University campus for 42 years. The last few years, after discovering Marquette was a officer training base for all the colleges and universities in the area we have redirected our anti-ROTC efforts to Closing the School of Army (SOA) at Marquette. We ask that Marquette Teach War No More.
We want Marquette to host the Catholic Worker archives and can even tolerate, if not approve, ROTC at Marquette. However, our conscience demands that “Marquette, Be Faithful to the Gospel and No Longer Host Departments of Military Sciences”.
You can check at the Army, Navy/Marines or Air Force locators to see if your local Catholic university is a ‘partner’ or ‘host’ school of
We beg you, Catholic Workers, to join us in the spirit of Dorothy Day and Franz Jagerstatter to shut down the School of Army (SOA) at MU. Starting with an Oct. 1st march we are planning seven months of resistance culminating in a major nonviolent action in the spring which you are all welcomed. For now you can write, call or email the following four persons listed
below who have major responsibility for moral and ethical teaching at Marquette. If you want send us a copy of your letter to us email it to
we will publish them on the web page
Catholic Workers and Military Training on Catholic Campuses.
A local letter to all four can be found at Open Letter to Four Letter to Four Leaders of Morality in Milwaukee.
Peace and Resistance,
For more information see
Teach War No More.
Please write to:
Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
3501 S. Lake Dr.
P.O. Box 070912
Milwaukee, WI 53207–0912
Rev. Robert Wild S.J.
President, Marquette University
1250 W. Wisconsin Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53233
Rev. Simon Harak, Director, Marquette University
Center for Peacemaking
735 N. 17th St.
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201–1881
Ms. Stephanie Russell
Vice President, Marquette University
1250 W. Wisconsin Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53233