Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Letter in support for hearing Howard Dean speak at Loyola

TO: Matt C. Abott, MichNews.Com
CC: Peter Facione, PhD (Provost, Loyola University)
FR: Jay Cuasay, MAPS (C I A: Communications Interfaith Activism)
RE: Letter in support for hearing Howard Dean speak at Loyola

I read your article in the Michigan News [1] about an upcoming speech to be given by Howard Dean at Loyola University. The close of the article asked people to write an email to Peter Facione, the Provost, expressing “concerns” presumably for having a politician speak who did not conform to the USCCB’s document “Catholics in Political Life.”

I am writing this email to express my concern for narrowness and rigidity in Catholic thinking.

In a recent Commonweal, the editors published two open letters. One letter to Senator Kerry[2] asks him to better clarify the intersection between his role as politician and his own Catholicism. The second letter, addressed to the U.S. bishops[3] cautions them against the simplicity of “black and white” moralism for the complexity of social issues.

In that light, I applaud Loyola’s invitation to Howard Dean from the point of view that listening not only to a politician, but a physician on women’s health issues might be of value. To hear a defense of marriage through an articulation of civil unions and civil rights premised on human dignity, might also enlarge the circle of understanding. More importantly, it may rekindle in us a language of human respect and decency so absent from the language of self-righteousness and moral superiority.

The approach you advocate through your quote of the USCCB document tends to present a model of social (in)action based on denial that there is lack of catholic consensus on these issues and a lack of social policy beyond turning our backs away from disagreement. Such activity seems counterproductive to the lessons affirmed by Vatican II which calls us into the world and into dialogue.

Progressive Catholics believe that we bring our values into the social arena to help build up the common good. We do not shrink away into catacombs where we minister to ourselves, but are called to minister in the world and be hospitable to the stranger and outsider, who may very well break into our hearts as one of us in need.

  1. Howard Dean to Speak at a Catholic University (Matt C. Abott)
  2. Dear Senator Kerry (Open Letter from Commonweal Editors to Senator Kerry)
  3. ...Dear Bishops (Open Letter from Commonweal Editors to US Bishops)