I read with great interest your recent article, "Special
Needs, Unconditional Love." You see, my youngest son is also
autistic, diagnosed two years ago.
I want to thank you for this moving article. Mr. Naseef's
wonderful words of wisdom have touched me and, no doubt,
countless others. I'm sure his work has brought him tremendous
comfort over the years. Everything that Mr. Naseef said about
parents of disabled children going through stages of grief
is so true, but it was a healthy path to travel. It gave
us the strength we needed to persevere for our son.
I was so sad to read that all the avenues that Mr. Naseef "explored
that might possibly lead to a cure were dead ends," for our
experience has been a much different one. A lot has changed
in the treatment of autistic children since Mr. Naseef's
son was diagnosed. In 1987, the intensive behavioral teaching
methods of Dr. O. Ivar Lovaas came to the forefront in an
article published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical
Psychology. Data from his intensive, long-term experimental
treatment group (diagnosed as autistic) showed that 47 percent
achieved normal intellectual and educational functioning
after receiving 30-40 hours per week of individual instruction,
for two or more years, in Applied Behavioral Analysis (the
practice of breaking down teaching into small increments-including
self-care, social, communication, play and pre-academic skills).
Unfortunately for desperate parents of recently diagnosed
autistic children, there are many claims of miracle cures
out there. Applied Behavioral Analysis is the only scientifically
proven approach. Our son is proof that it works. The progress
that he has made in just a year with this type of treatment
is nothing short of amazing. He has gone from a child with
no self-care skills, a little language, and few play or social
skills, to a boy who speaks in sentences and conveys emotions
(yes, he also receives speech therapy), plays appropriately
with toys alongside other children and even participates
in games with his peers. He is a whiz on the computer and
functions at and beyond age-level with pre-academic skills.
With his shadow (trained in Applied Behavioral Analysis),
he is thriving in a regular afternoon preschool classroom
This is no "quick fix" and requires a tremendous amount
of work on the part of our entire family and, especially,
our son, who receives 35 hours/week of instruction. While
our son still has a very long road to travel, we are filled
with hope for his future.
To all of the other parents of children with disabilities
I would say NEVER let anyone tell you that there is no hope
for your child. As Mr. Naseef has shown, YOU are their hope.
Lisa M. (Port) Vaillancourt '85
Van Buren, Maine
This has bothered me for so very
long but, suspecting it to be a thoroughly lost cause, I
have never raised the issue before. Now, however, the pope
has. According to an AP report in today's Providence Journal, "On
Sunday, the pope plans to express regret for the Crusades,
the Inquisition and other 'faults of the past.'"
Isn't it time that we, the College, stop referring to ourselves
And, in light of this, doesn't simple logic also suggest
that we, the College, drop the use of "In Hoc Signo Vinces"?
John Forasté '67
As a College of the Holy Cross alumna (1986), I have for
some time been uneasy about the use of the name "Crusaders" for
the school's athletic teams. In this time of papal introspection
about the Church, its history and its followers, I think
the time has come for the school to change that name.
The Crusades were dark moments in Church history and certainly
not something to glorify. The use of the term "Crusaders" for
Holy Cross athletic teams exalts the deeds of the original
crusaders, who in fact massacred hundreds, if not thousands,
of Jews and Muslims and committed other acts of violence
and destruction. Keeping "Crusaders" as our name in this
more enlightened time is no longer appropriate and actually
contradicts the Jesuit values that most alumni hold dear.
Many major schools have changed the name of their athletic
teams from offensive to non-offensive names. For example,
the Marquette Warriors became the Golden Eagles. The Stanford
Indians became the Cardinals. And the St. John's Redmen became
the Red Storm.
To be consistent with our most cherished Jesuit and Christian
values, can the College of the Holy Cross do any less?
Martha (Lepore) Delaney '86
Over the last couple of years, I have been proud to watch
my alma mater engage the question of what it means to be
a Catholic college. My pride turned to grief, however, when
I received the spring issue of this journal. I am a professor
of philosophy at a Catholic university, and as such have
spent not a few hours in seminars and on panels, talking
about and writing about Ex Corde Ecclesiae and the
Applications. It saddens me to see these documents so misrepresented.
Acting President Frank Vellaccio (Page 71) calls the bishops' acceptance
of the Applications "disappointing," apparently because it
does not continue "dialogue" that has been going on for nearly
20 years, and "focuses attention on a small number of issues
of canon law." Of course, the Applications do no such thing.
They are an implementation procedure for the entirety of Ex
Corde Ecclesiae, a beautifully written and argued document
that I urge everyone to read again. It is an obstructionist
tactic to call for infinite "dialogue" without resolution.
And it flies in the face of the spirit of truth that animates
real dialogue to concoct scary scenarios about the mandatum
to frighten the uninformed.
David O'Brien, for example (Pages 70-71), finds three points
of "anxiety" in the mandatum. First, he says that
the question of who will be qualified to teach Catholic theology
will be placed in the hands of non-academics. Of course,
the mandatum does no such thing. Even putting aside
the outstanding academic credentials of many of our bishops,
and especially the pope, the question of who teaches theology
remains quite explicitly in the hands of the institution.
Whether what the professor professes qualifies as Catholic is
the role of bishops-a terrible and difficult job, but one
given to bishops by Christ Himself.
Second, O'Brien claims that the mandatum requires
the theologian to surrender professional integrity, merely
professing truths defined by the hierarchy. Of course, the mandatum does
no such thing. Bishops and theologians both serve Christ
and His Church, but in distinct roles: bishops as defenders
of the Truth as it is known, theologians as explorers of
the boundaries of the truth according to the methods of their
discipline (i.e., with proper academic freedom). This hardly
surrenders integrity, but is rather a means to preserve it.
O'Brien, however, has given away the game by noting that
what theologians want is a "partnership" with the hierarchy,
a voice alongside the hierarchy's in articulation of the
faith. No such partnership can exist. Theologians want to
define what counts as the truth to be defended, thus making
it impossible for them ever to be seen as outside the faith.
(Perhaps this is what Rev. Michael McFarland, S.J., means
when he refers (Page 5) to an "elastic" definition of "Catholic"-although
it is the elasticity of Silly Putty, moldable into any shape,
bouncing erratically from point to point, ultimately meaningless.)
Such a role would put many theologians at odds with those
who already have a deposit of faith to defend. Professional
integrity does not demand that one can determine for oneself
what counts as Catholic, but rather that one have the honesty
to acknowledge when one has broken with that deposit of faith.
O'Brien's third anxiety is that non-academics will "now
have the legal foundation to challenge theologians and harass
administrators" in the name of orthodoxy. We can only imagine
the consternation in the theology common room: "What? Ordinary
people daring to challenge me? Why, I have a number of degrees!" Indeed,
what is the world coming to, when theologians are held accountable
by the ordinary people they are called to serve?
Fr. McFarland, the incoming president, claims that the
Jesuit tradition has a special way of being Catholic, which
focuses on inquiry, keeping Catholicism in dialogue with
the world, open to "intellectual currents"; the Church, you
see, has no fear of the truth, since "the truth is not inconsistent
with God." For this reason, the particular juridical
norms do not fit the Jesuit context, for they envision a
situation different from that of Holy Cross, claims Fr. McFarland.
Of course, the norms do no such thing. What Fr. McFarland
claims to be the unique Jesuit tradition is in fact what Ex
Corde describes as the function of any Catholic college
or university. As such, the juridical norms are written precisely for
the Holy Cross context, and all universities calling themselves
The tone that is struck by all three men is remarkably
similar, and seems to rest on a similar misunderstanding:
that canon law, an Apostolic Constitution, and indeed all
matters of faith and morals, are decided by a vote of the
bishops or the acceptance of individual institutions. O'Brien
says the bishops "adopted" the mandate under Vatican pressure,
as though they had a choice. Vellaccio wants to find an implementation "which
will be broadly acceptable," as though there will be a poll
on the issue. Fr. McFarland, most remarkably, asks whether
it is possible to "adapt the norms to our context or make
May I make a suggestion? Rather than continue seeking the
adulation of the rest of the academic community and to maintain
your "standing"; rather than working for the greater glory
of the College; why not try working "For the Greater Glory
of God"? May I suggest that you humbly, and prayerfully, try
adapting your context to the norms? If you do so, it
is certain that God will bring abundant blessings to your
Stephen J. Heaney '79
University of St. Thomas
St. Paul, Minn.
I would like to clarify two points raised by Professor Heaney
in relation to my remarks, and then make a general observation.
First, Professor Heaney objects to my saying that what it
means to be Catholic is "somewhat elastic." That was simply
an observation. I don't see how anyone who has studied the
history of the Church or observed the Church today could
come to any other conclusion. There are many different, valid
ways of being Catholic. That does not mean that "any" way
is valid, as Professor Heaney accuses me of saying; and it
certainly does not make it "meaningless." I started
that section of the interview by saying that being Catholic
does mean something, and schools that call themselves Catholic
need to be held accountable for that.
Second, Professor Heaney cites my statement that it is
the Jesuit charism to focus on inquiry and maintain a dialogue
with the intellectual currents of the time, and goes on to
say, supposedly representing my argument, that "for this
reason [emphasis his], the particular juridical norms do
not fit the Jesuit context. ." Those are his words, not mine,
and you will not find anything like that in my statement.
What I meant was that the norms do not in all cases easily
fit the context of Holy Cross and therefore would need some
adaptation to be effective. For example, the norms seem to
envision a separation of Catholic theology from the rest
of theology and religious studies. I do not think that makes
sense in a small, integrated, undergraduate, liberal arts
program like Holy Cross. We can do a much better job educating
students in the faith if we keep Catholic theology as an
integral part of the program. I do not think the idea that
laws must be adapted to specific circumstances is such an
unusual or dangerous idea. We do it all the time. Especially
in a case like this, where the norms are being applied to
such a broad range of institutions, differing in size, structure,
sponsoring organization, history, population served, and
mission, some adaptation will always be necessary. The bishops
seem to recognize this when in their document they talk about
the need for ongoing dialogue and a relationship of communio
between the hierarchy and the schools.
Professor Heaney is welcome to disagree with us on the
interpretation of Ex Corde and its implications for Holy
Cross. He raises some good points. Moreover, I am glad that
Professor Heaney has such a passionate interest in the future
of Holy Cross as a Catholic and Jesuit College. So do we.
I am saddened, however, that he seems to be assuming bad
faith on the part of me, Professor O'Brien and Dr. Vellaccio,
that somehow we want to weaken Holy Cross' relationship with
the Church or undermine its mission as a Catholic and Jesuit
College, that we are not working "For the Greater Glory of
God." That is unfair. Professor O'Brien and Dr. Vellaccio
have given long and faithful service to Holy Cross and have
worked tirelessly on behalf of its Catholic and Jesuit mission,
since long before Professor Heaney came to the College. For
that, they deserve some respect.
Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J.
Thanks to Stephen Heaney of the wonderful University of
St. Thomas for his vigorous response. He makes clear there
are at least two sides to the question of academic theology's
role in the life of the church. I hope he will have a chance
to share his views with others concerned about this question,
perhaps in a Common Ground dialogue. I suspect he would find
the experience helpful.
Still, on Ex Corde, there are problems. Disappointment
was the all but universal reaction of university leaders
and bishops who have been close to higher education to the
Vatican rejection of the 1996 document. Anxiety is widespread,
even among bishops, and it should be. If Professor Heaney
is right, "Catholic" is what the bishops (does he really
mean Rome?) say(s) it is. Fortunately he is not right. Bishops
and theologians in the United States even before the Ex
Corde discussions had worked out procedures to handle
conflicts which respect proper roles of each. Dialogue and
shared responsibility mark that text. One expects that the
same spirit of mutual respect will allow them to work out
procedures that will contribute to the unity and integrity
of the American church, provided they are allowed to do so.
Professor Heaney's dismissal of anxiety about harassment
by self-appointed theological vigilantes whose e-mails get
read in Rome simply shows that he is out of touch with the
recent history of our Church.
There are even bishops who have become guarded in addressing
their people for fear someone in the back of the room is
taking notes. It's too bad, because what we need is more
(a lot more) public debate, not less, if we are to have even
the prospect of an intelligent and engaged American church.
Loyola Professor of Roman Catholic Studies