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President's Office | Letter Re: Community Forum & Statements on War

April 15 Community Forum

TO: The Trinity College Community

FR: President Patricia McGuire

Founders’ Day is traditionally a moment for the Trinity College community to recall the courage and vision of the religious women who surmounted considerable odds to establish Trinity College in 1897 in the belief that educated women could and should make a profound difference in society.

This year, with issues of war and terrorism dominating global discussions, we believe that it is appropriate to devote a portion of our time on Founders’ Day to reflect together on the current global crisis. Consistent with Trinity’s mission as a Catholic women’s college, we want to provide a theoretical and moral context within which we can come together as a community to formulate and express reasoned opinions on the war against Iraq, the United Nations, and the future relationships of the United States in the international community.

Accordingly, we invite all members of the Trinity College campus community to participate in a Founders’ Day Forum on the War Against Iraq at 2 pm on Tuesday, April 15, in Social Hall. To ensure that this activity has a sound framework to guide the discussion, we ask that participants prepare for the discussion by doing a little research and then writing a one-page statement expressing your opinion on one of these questions:

  1. Does the War Against Iraq satisfy the conditions for the religious doctrine of a Just War? (See below for a synopsis of the Just War doctrine.)
  2. What role do you see for the United Nations in the future and why?
  3. How would you advise President Bush to rebuild international relationships with the U.S.?

For those who wish to share their statements publicly, we will post them on our website. Please submit your statements in Word document format to (Statements must include your name, class year or school if you are a student, or title if you are a member of the faculty or staff, email address and daytime phone number. The webmaster reserves the right to edit for length and grammar.) We will publish the best statements in an upcoming issue of the Trinity magazine. Please submit your statements by the close of business on Friday, April 11.

Just War Doctrine Synopsis:

In the Catholic faith tradition, the “Just War” doctrine is summarized as follows:

“The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:

  • the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
  • all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
  • there must be serious prospects of success;
  • the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modem means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.

These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the “just war” doctrine.”

Support Our Trinity Troops!

Also on Founders’ Day, we will have a day-long message-writing activity in the Well to give you an opportunity to write a message of support and encouragement to Trinity students and family members who have been called to active military service. We will bundle all messages and send them to our students and family members who are now serving our nation in the military. If you have a family member who has been called to service, please register his or her name in the book in the Well and we will add them to our list for message packets.

Please let me know if you have additional ideas for how the Trinity community can respond to this challenging tie. Thank you for your active consideration and participation.

Patricia A. McGuire, President, Trinity, 125 Michigan Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20017
Phone: 202.884.9050   Email:



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