The distinction between Catholic and secular colleges



I just had to respond to Mr. Henry E. Miller's letter to the editor in the July 2 issue of the Rhode Island Catholic in which he claims that all is well at the University of Notre Dame despite their decision to invite President Obama to advise and counsel the graduating class of 2009 through his commencement speech. Where do I begin? If I understand Mr. Miller correctly, his claim is based on the fact that Notre Dame "still (attracts) the best quarterbacks and the brightest young people of all faiths" and the fact that Notre Dame raised $1.54 billion, two years ahead of schedule. Can you imagine that!!!! I assume the order of this evidence of the health of the university represents Mr. Miller's priorities.

Please note that not one of Mr. Miller's points would serve to distinguish Notre Dame from any other secular institution of higher learning. And that is the problem. Universities like Notre Dame and Georgetown, where they agreed to cover Catholic icons before President Obama would agree to speak there, have lost sight of their responsibilities as Catholic institutions of higher learning. As a parent, if I were more interested in football, I'd send my kids to the University of Florida or LSU or the University of Texas, not Notre Dame with a record of 9 wins and 15 losses over the past two seasons despite their ability to attract the "best quarterbacks.”

Personally, as a Roman Catholic, I prefer universities like Franciscan University whose priorities center around the Catholic faith and the proper formation of young Catholics and where, I'd be willing to bet, based on enrollment, more vocations to the religious are produced than at Notre Dame.

If anyone wonders how it could be that Catholics find themselves in positions of authority in this country in unprecedented numbers and yet we still abort our unborn babies with impunity, pay close attention to Mr. Miller's letter. It represents what has gone wrong with Catholic education and with American Catholics in general. Pope Benedict XVI is trying his best to guide us back to the basics of our faith. I think too many of us are not listening or worse, resisting.

Terence P. Garvey