If you'd like a deep dive into how this particular conversation started, you'll unfortunately need to read this reluctantly grateful account of an assisted suicide published in Notre Dame Magazine's Spring 2023 issue.
When I read the essay, I felt God prompting me to speak a prophetic word -- not a well-calculated attempt to persuade with clever charm, but a Jeremiah-style appeal for the salvation of the hearer. I prayed on it for a few months, and wrote this October in my capacity as an alum but even more as a baptismal prophet.
Before you see what I wrote, here is the editor's reply:
You asked for a response to your advising the magazine to follow magisterial teachings when examining issues facing our 160,000 readers today. Because I cannot assure you that this will always be the case, I am inclined to follow your further instructions and remove you from our mailing list.
However, perhaps the next editor will feel differently. I retire in January 2024. So I suggest you take this up with my successor.
Notre Dame Magazine
I am heartened that he took time to reply, but I do not believe he engaged any of the thoughts I expressed in my letter.
Judge for yourself. The text of my letter follows.
To the Editors:
My experiences as a triple Domer have given me great confidence in the University’s ability to fulfill its mission to build God’s reign.
Many projects belong under the University’s aegis because they advance its fundamental mission, even projects that might seem strictly secular to those with a narrow view of God’s hopes for our world.
As an organ of the University, this magazine does its part by creating conversations that help the Notre Dame community discern the good in a complex world.
Are there guardrails for these conversations? Could there be some sort of limiting principle, and might there be a danger zone into which we should not venture?
Notre Dame Magazine should have an answer to these questions, an answer that comes from the heart of the Church. The magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church limits the range of the conversation. If not, another authority has been substituted in its place, one which by definition has no divine mandate and no relationship to the University’s mission.
Nowhere in your pages would I expect to read, for example, a suggestion that a grandfather put an ill grandchild out of her misery. I would not expect to find a robust conversation about whether torture is regrettably necessary, or whether a little racism might be a good thing. I ought to be shocked if a future edition featured a positive portrait of a serial killer on the grounds that he was expressing his truest desires, or a reflective poem celebrating the positive fruits of an elective abortion. Equally bewildering would be the inclusion of an essay explaining how the Eucharist is best viewed as a mere symbol or how the sacrament of Confession is just there to make you feel better about yourself.
If you would like the freedom to publish along such lines, you have it – in many if not most publications in our world. You do not have it at Notre Dame Magazine. Your editorial staff is in no position to subvert Church teaching.
“Putting an End to It” (Spring 2023) falls squarely outside the zone of appropriate exploration for any magazine connected to Catholicism or Our Lady’s University. There is no bright lining to assisted suicide or euthanasia, and it was wrong for you to publish this sympathetic portrayal in your magazine. It was not an act of love to participate in someone’s killing, and it was not act of love to publish Terrence Keeley’s essay justifying it.
Remember that your freedom as an editorial staff has a wide but not unlimited range. A magazine bearing the name “Notre Dame” has an obligation to a higher authority, one that has your salvation always in mind and that calls you to speak Truth in Love. As a fellow Domer and a fellow Christian, I offer prayers that you will turn to the Word of Life and let him govern yours.
I would like to formally request a personal response to this letter. I am not interested in a “different take” on the essay “Putting an End to It,” as my objection is that it subverts rather than outright rejects Church teaching – a far more effective modus operandi because of, not in spite of, its subtlety.
If you cannot assure me that your editorial process will respect magisterial limits, please ensure that my household does not receive future copies of Notre Dame Magazine.
In the Name of Jesus our Lord,
Kaitlyn Dudley Curtin, BA 2003, MTS 2005, M.Ed. (ACE) 2011
If you would like to join the conversation, feel free to do it here or on my FB page.
Whether or not you have a comment, please pray for the magazine editors.