Santa Clara University

Letters
Soccer story was a kick

I enjoyed reading the article about the best sport in the world, and I am thrilled a movie was finally made about women's soccer ("Hit Movie Boosts SCU Soccer," Winter 2003). I am proud of what the SCU women's soccer team has accomplished, and they earned the right to be part of "Bend it Like Beckham." When the movie first came out, my soccer friends and I immediately went to watch it and we were excited to see a Santa Clara sweatshirt on the big screen. When I hear about the SCU soccer program, I do think of it as being the best in the nation. The women playing on the team are my inspiration to give it my all on the soccer field. I am determined to keep practicing hard so someday I can be on the SCU women's soccer team, as well.

GRISELDA DENISE RAMIREZ
Salinas

Winter 2003 issue


Follow your conscience

I read with interest Mitch Finley's article entitled "Coming Home" in the Fall 2003 issue of Santa Clara Magazine. Mr. Finley explains well the situations involving many Catholics who have left the Church and chosen to return to it later. Mr. Finley's focus, to my thinking, seemed to involve people who "drifted" away from the Church for various personal reasons and then, still seeking a spiritual relationship with God, chose to return to the familiar.

For me, religion exists solely to assist humans in finding and maintaining a relationship with God and, hopefully, from that establishing a positive relationship with our fellow human beings. If a person does not find a specific religion helpful or conducive to fostering a positive relationship with God, then that person is entitled to-in fact is required to-seek some other vehicle to assist in developing such a relationship.

I constantly remind myself not to confuse the message with the messenger, but I find the "organizational" Catholic Church to be seriously dysfunctional and a hindrance to a prayerful and spiritual life.

While I must work and grow in my faith, the Church also is in need of reforming, as was clearly recognized by Martin Luther, John XXIII, and many others. I pray that day comes soon so I can joyously return to some semblance of the Church Jesus left us. Thank God, Santa Clara taught me to use my brain and think things through in all matters and to follow my conscience.

JON W. PETERSON '60
Roseville, Calif.

Opportunity lacks for women

Mitch Finley's article "Coming Home" was doomed to superficiality when he chose to interview only people who had chosen to return after leaving the church, and thus fit into his "prodigal child" model, symbolized by Brennan Doherty's outdated and insulting term "lapsed Catholics." Mr. Finley's conclusions would have been quite different had he also listened to former Catholics who left in prayerful response to God's call, rather than ignorance or immaturity-or were driven from "home" by evils more serious than he acknowledges.

I won Santa Clara's Religious Studies prize and Jesuit philosophy award, attended daily Mass in the Mission, and performed every possible liturgical and social justice ministry. Had I been male, I would have been able to follow my obvious vocation to priesthood. Instead, I became a lay theologian and spiritual director, and spent the years between my master's and doctoral study at Notre Dame as a crisis pregnancy counselor and Catholic worker/community member serving the homeless. I have taught college-level theology, am a recognized expert on St. Gertrud of Helfta, and probably know more than Mr. Doherty ever will about church history and dogma. A few years ago, I discerned a call to move on and embrace the fullness of my call to ministry-a process confirmed by the full Spiritual Exercises in a 30-day silent retreat. The joy of this step was mixed with pain as I lost my best friend and beloved parish, and accepted a decrease in future teaching opportunities. I continue to love and honor the Catholic tradition, and people who are able to join-or stay-and be sustained by its life-giving aspects. I ask only for the same respect-for myself and my fellow pilgrims-from them.

LAURA GRIMES '86
Portland, Ore.

Anti-war arguments lack clarity

I agree that "moral clarity" is difficult to discern in war, but I found it equally difficult to discern moral clarity in Mr. DeCosse's defense of his conclusion that "[t]he war in Iraq, on balance, was unjust" (After Words, Winter 2003). Assuming, just for the sake of argument, that Saddam Hussein had no nuclear weapons, does that end the moral inquiry? What about his use of chemical weapons to exterminate innocent civilians? Does humanitarian intervention become immoral if it comes late after the fact? Is it too speculative to believe that Saddam would use his chemical and biological capabilities to support terrorism? Does preventing well-documented torture and oppression not constitute just cause for intervention?

The war in Iraq and the international fight against terrorism may inspire new views on the ethical and moral use of military force. Contemporary moralists should scrutinize the ancient concept of "sovereignty," which historically has prevented national leaders from being held accountable for their actions as individuals. The emerging concept of "preemptive strikes" also should be measured against today's threats. There are many reasons to oppose the use of military force, but the United States' actions in Iraq cannot be said to be immoral or unjust.

RET. COL. ROBERT MCFETRIDGE J.D. '81
Washington, D.C.

"I'll throw in my lot with the American soldiers, firemen, and all of the brave others who know when something is worth fighting for."
-Julie E. (Kennedy) Carlson MBA '89, Moraga
Consider the reasons for war

David DeCosse leaves out a few important facts from his essay on the moral clarity of war. While he laments the "glacial" pace of changes in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and our damaged relations with France, he sheds not a tear for-nor writes a word about-the 300,000 souls discovered in mass graves in Iraq. On his moral scale, the sad state of our relations with the U.N. is much more important than the prisoners (including young children) who languished in Saddam's dungeons until we freed them. Why bother over a few industrial shredders used as instruments of torture when there's looting going on in the immediate aftermath of the war?

He seems more upset that President Bush emphasized weapons of mass destruction rather than liberation as an argument for the war. Ultimately the millions of people freed from Saddam's grip will be better off no matter what argument received more emphasis.

Perhaps the deep thinkers in their lofty perches find these arguments too crude for their sophisticated view of the world. But I'll throw in my lot with the American soldiers, firemen, and all of the brave others who know when something is worth fighting for. President Bush knows freedom is worth defending, even if David DeCosse does not.

JULIE E. (KENNEDY) CARLSON MBA '89
Moraga

Evil regime, not war, was unjust

I was appalled by the opinion piece of David DeCosse in the Winter 2003 issue, in which he argues that "the war in Iraq, on balance, was unjust." How could he come to such a conclusion? The existence of an estimated 325,000 mass grave sites in the country due to the perverted regime of Saddam Hussein (which for nearly three decades routinely tortured, raped, and executed the regime's opponents as well as ordinary Iraqis-often in front of their horrified families) is all the justification and moral authority our president, or anyone with the power to stop it, needed. One has to question the judgment and motivations of someone of Mr. DeCosse's standing at the University coming to the opposite conclusion.

JOHN MONTI '90
Los Gatos

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