“Is there no other way to live?” Quoting former President Dwight Eisenhower, Tom Roberts asked students, staff, alumni and local community members who attended his lecture on being “Catholic and American: An Examination of Conscience,” to consider the militarization of America.
Roberts, editor-at-large and news director for the National Catholic Reporter, called military recruitment buildings “virtual seduction centers” that advertise significant financial payoffs and seemingly attractive benefits in exchange for military service.
“The military seeps into our lives,” Roberts said. “Military recruiters made a regular practice during my children’s teenage years of calling consistently, in sometimes reprimanding tones, seeking their service.”
Roberts noted that schools are required to hand over the names of their students to military recruiters for future use.
Roberts is no stranger to controversial topics like these. By working for the National Catholic Reporter, he has encountered a number of hot topics. Dr. Margaret Reher, who started teach-ing at Cabrini in 1973 and retired in 2004, has kept up with each one. As a subscriber to the publication, she commends them on their coverage.
“I like that it’s an independent magazine and run by lay persons. It’s always on the cutting edge, and possesses a good understanding of what goes on in the Church. But even with their Catholic roots they strive to be even-handed in their reporting,” Reher said.
The balance that Reher mentions is a large part of Roberts’ mission at the magazine and an underlying message in his speech. The struggle between recognizing yourself both as a Catholic and as an American, Roberts said, is not easy.
“There is a strand in our religious DNA that connects us to the world . we will always be citizens and we will always be believers,” Roberts said.
In an effort to help balance religion and government, Roberts encouraged his audience to “consider our concept of God and the nature of our community.” This was especially applicable after such a historic election, when so many moral questions had to be considered by voters.
In order to help answer questions and issues like militarism, Roberts urged his audience to speak in open discussions with each other, taking all sides into careful consideration.
“There is no right answer,” Roberts said.