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To the Editors of The Crimson:
In their recent letter to the Editor, the members of the steering committee of the Harvard-Radcliffe Catholic Student Association (CSA) criticize Sean P. McLaughlin '91, a council member of Peninsula, for his articles about CSA.
As a recent transfer to Harvard College and a Catholic concerned about participating in groups that will enhance my faith, I found McLaughlin's article very informative. In the article "The Long and Winding Road," McLaughlin writes that "According to Watson [the vice-president of CSA], the CSA does not directly espouse the teachings of the Catholic Church, but its policy is to mention the Catholic Church's stance in group discussions."
Obviously, the steering committee assumes that it can ignore certain Church teachings if they do not correspond with the objectives of CSA. This policy poses some serious problems.
What would happen if a Catholic student were to attend one of CSA's discussions in the hope of learning about Church teaching on certain topics--let's say, abortion and homosexuality? The Church's teaching is very clear on these issues, and a discussion by members of CSA would be most productive if it were to focus on the history of the Church's teaching and the reasoning behind its teaching.
With the policy of simply mentioning the Church teaching and not espousing it, the steering committee indicates to the members of CSA and to the larger University community that there is room for dissent on these issues within the Roman Catholic Church, and that an individual can remain a Catholic in good conscience even if he or she believes that abortion is permissible and that homosexual relations are anything but sinful.
As a Catholic student, I want to hear the Church's teaching when I attend a meeting of the Catholic Student Association. I don't want to sit around and hear other students present their reasons for disagreeing with Church teaching; I can hear that everywhere else on campus. The CSA should be a place where Catholic students can nurture their faith through discussion of and instruction in the teachings of the Church.
By failing to uphold the Church's teaching, the CSA fails in what should be its primary mission: instruction in the true teachings of the Church. A sense of fidelity to the magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church should pervade all of the services provided by the CSA.
Perhaps my only advice to the steering committee is simply this: Stop perverting Church teaching by focusing upon your own agenda for Catholics at Harvard. Charles Shaw '92
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