Refugee Issues

As we struggle with refugee issues on national and global levels, I suggest that five faith-based teachings provide some important substance for our discussion.

First, the dignity of every person — all 7 billion people living on planet Earth, with no exception — is rooted in the biblical teaching that each person has been created in the image and likeness of God, and thus has a right to use the goods of the Earth so as to come to know, love and serve God.

Second, while countries have a right to protect their boundaries, people also have a right to migrate across those boundaries in search of safety, work and other basic needs of human life.

Third, the common good of society is based on our responsibility, individually and as a community, to provide justice by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, caring for the sick and contributing to human development.

Fourth, common good of society, especially within the context of family life, should govern our behavior. Fifth, according to the Gospels, Jesus held a special concern for the poor people in his midst, and so should we.

I would add that in our dialogue about refugee issues each of us should listen more than we speak.

         Father James Connell

         Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Sanctuary Campus?

I read with interest your articles on the “Land O’Lakes Statement.” (Most recently, “Response to Land O’ Lakes: ‘It’s Fidelity’” (; page one, July 23 issue).

I graduated from a small Catholic college in a suburb of Chicago in 1971, so I was in the “thick” of all the upheaval going on in the Church.

Until I read your articles, I had no idea there was a formal attempt at secularization in Catholic higher learning. I did not think my alma mater (Rosary College, now Dominican University) had been affected. However, in our latest alumni magazine, I read about Dominican being a “sanctuary campus.” I had heard of sanctuary cities (and I don’t approve of that), but never of a sanctuary campus.

Dominican is a small school in a sedate suburb of Chicago. It’s hardly a hotbed of liberalism. How widespread is the “sanctuary campus” position among Catholic colleges and universities? Could you do an in-depth study of this issue? I would like to know the facts so that I can see if I am wrong in opposing this practice.

         Anita Bernier

         Lorton, Virginia


No Good Alternatives

Regarding: “Contrition Not Collusion” (Letters to the Editor, June 11 issue): We all want to see marriage, as an institution, strengthened and those Catholics who were separated because of divorce brought back into the Church and closer to God.

It would appear that at present the Catholic Church does not have an effective plan for accomplishing this goal.

In her letter, Pauline L’Heureux comments on one set of circumstances involving an irregular marriage. In order to better understand the effects of the legal approach to divorce and annulment used by the Roman rite of the Catholic Church, we need to look at other situations.

Let’s consider a young woman with two or three young children who is abandoned by her husband.

The husband gets a divorce, remarries and moves out of the area. The woman applies for an annulment but has it denied, the diocesan tribunal stating that the original marriage had no apparent flaws and is still valid.

She is left with two bad choices. If she stays in the Church, she forgoes the love and companionship another man can bring, who also could be a father to the children. In all too many cases, she is also condemned to a life of poverty.

One of the weaknesses of the annulment process used by the Church is illustrated by the substantial differences in the mindset of the individuals who sit on these tribunals. Some tribunals consist of individuals who take a hard-line approach and who proceed strictly according to the letter of the law.

Other tribunals weigh carefully the circumstances of each case and are more likely to show compassion in cases where they see an innocent victim, as in the case above, or where they believe the spiritual welfare of the individuals, including the children, demands a certain result.

 Often, it’s just a matter of luck which tribunal an individual seeking an annulment ends up with. The real goal that Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio is focusing upon is “how to bring lapsed Catholics closer to Jesus Christ.”

 In cases of divorce and remarriage, it’s a real challenge, but part of the reason it’s difficult is the particular legal approach used by the Church that too often leaves people with no good alternatives.

         James M. Dempsey

         Emerald Hills, California


Land O’Liberalism

Relative to “Land O’Lakes: What Have We Learned?” (In Depth, July 9):

Noting the 50th anniversary of the now-infamous Land O’Lakes conference held by several prominent Catholic university leaders that placed many Catholic colleges on the “road most traveled,” leading to the decline of once-great institutions of Catholic learning, one must ask, how could such a faulty vision be birthed by such men and nurtured by administrations that followed?

How could a founder’s vision, such as that of Father Edward Sorin of Notre Dame and his rock-solid principled beginnings, essentially be trashed and discarded for what was professed to be a better way to the pursuit of truth?

Interestingly, there is a striking parallel here with what has happened in our nation as well, when 70 years ago the liberal and progressive movements began the pernicious growth of liberalism, causing an alarming decline in our nation’s culture and revered institutions.

Here, likewise, was the professed improvement over the vision of our nation’s Founding Fathers and their principles that formed the foundations for liberty and freedom that is unmatched in human history.

 Isn’t it time that leaders of the Catholic Church address the spiritual crisis in the Church and our political leaders address the assault on our nation’s founding principles?

         Frank Diorio

         Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey