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Update - September 2010: The University of Dayton has accepted at least three contracts to work on the Minuteman III nuclear missile. 

I started this web site a few years ago because I think that military contracting is not appropriate at a Catholic university like UD.  (Although I also argue now and then that even an atheist, say, can be concerned about the morality of military research and about the human rights violations of some of the weapons UD handles.)

As I researched UD I kept learning about contracts which I found more and more alarming.  When I was a student there, I knew about general “raw science” research for the Pentagon, and also research to improve cowling on combat aircraft.  Then more recently I learned that UD has worked on the Maverick missile.  Then I learned about contracts to improve the A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft, a.k.a. the Warthog, which has been cited specifically for human rights violations by Human Rights Watch.  (UD announces most of this via press releases, by the way, so I’m certainly not saying I deserve any credit for “uncovering” anything.)

Now I have learned about the nuclear weapons contracts; and I see no evidence that anyone in the administration of UD has any qualms about them.  This despite the fact that the current and previous popes have spoken out forcefully about the evil of nuclear warfare; and despite the fact that the catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 2314) specifically condemns any “act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities.”

So be aware that much of the previous writing of mine on this site now seems trite.  I would not have bothered mentioning the exhaust rings on the Harrier aircraft, for example, had I known that UD was assisting in the development of propellant for nuclear missiles that carry megaton warheads. 

Has this been the epitome of a slippery-slope progression for UD?  Did they start with abstract research for the Pentagon in the 1950s, excel in their rationalization of that research, and thereby establish an “Anything Goes!” intellectual atmosphere with the result that today no one in the administration questions their contributions to nuclear weapons?  This could be the case.  Or perhaps they brought researchers over straight from Los Alamos in the early days and just kept the work more quiet until now – who knows.

 Some information about these Minuteman III contracts is at:

The contracts are dated 8/14/2007, 12/20,2007, and 10/15/2008.  One of these contracts, as we learned from UDRI administrator John Leland in a Dayton Daily News article on August 20, is for five years and thirty million dollars.


[End 9/2010 update]


Is it right for the University of Dayton, a Catholic institution, to participate in military contracting through the University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI) when two of our last three wars—the Gulf War in 1991 and the current war in Iraq—have been condemned by the Vatican?

The University of Dayton is "one of the nation's ten largest Catholic universities and Ohio's largest private university, with an enrollment of more than 10,000 students, including more than 6,500 full-time undergraduates," according to its web site. The site further describes the University as "a vibrant and welcoming community in the Marianist tradition" and "a Catholic leader in higher education." The Marianists, or Society of Mary, are a Roman Catholic teaching order of priests and brothers.

The University of Dayton Research Institute is the research arm of the University of Dayton. UDRI describes itself as "a national leader in scientific and engineering research, serving government, industry, and not-for-profit customers" (from the UDRI web site). Much of the research done at UDRI is through military contracting; for example, an article on the UDRI web site dated August 30, 2007, describes a contract awarded by the Air Force for the improvement and installation of wings for over 220 A-10 "Warthog" combat aircraft. 

(Human Rights Watch in 2006 expressed "particular concern" about the use of the A-10 in Afghanistan and its wake of civilian deaths:

 It is ironic that UD takes pride in its "pioneering" human rights program and at the same time boasts about its work on the A-10.)

In FY 2005 UDRI worked on contracts totaling $70 million, according to its web site.  The article adds that UDRI is "the largest nonmedical research facility on a Catholic university campus . . . . UDRI is the first in Ohio and ranks 16th in the county among non-profit institutions receiving Department of Defense research contracts and grants."

The Vatican has condemned two of the past three U.S. wars. Regarding the current war in Iraq,

"The Vatican addressed the U.N. Security Council to affirm that ‘to resort to force would not be just’ in eliminating the threat of weapons of mass destruction attributed to Iraq.

"The Vatican believes that if the U.N. inspectors are given the support of the international community, this could lead to an ‘agreed and honorable resolution to the problem.’ " -- " ‘To Resort to Force Would Not Be Just,’ Vatican Says at U.N.;"  Zenit (a news service that covers the Vatican), February 20, 2003, New York. (Information on just war follows below.)

Regarding the Gulf War of 1991, John Paul II spoke against it repeatedly both before it started and while it was going on. In a subsequent encyclical he referred to it as "the recent tragic war in the Persian Gulf." William Portier, a professor of religious studies, wrote (from "Are We Really Serious When We Ask God to Deliver Us from War? The Catechism and the Challenge of Pope John Paul II," Communio 23 (1996): 47-63):

"Between 2 August 1990 and 4 March 1991, the pope spoke publicly on the Middle East crisis fifty-six times. . . . One of the pope's more dramatic pleas for peace came in the form of a prayer alluding to Pope Paul VI's speech at the U.N. in 1966. ‘Never again war,’ he prayed, ‘adventure without return, spiral of struggle and violence, never this war in the Persian Gulf . . . threat to your creatures in the sky, on earth and in the sea.... No war ever again.’ Commentators in the countries whose troops composed the U.N. forces were deeply uncomfortable with such dissident and unconventional language." (That figure of 56 references to the war has often been cited by other writers [seldom with proper attribution!]. Portier happens to be a professor at the University of Dayton.) (Also see Note 1)

(Regarding the U.S. war in Afghanistan which began in October 2001, the Vatican did not condemn this action as being unjust. The reaction of the Vatican at the time was subject to varying interpretations, however, as explained by John L. Allen Jr. of the National Catholic Reporter. ("Mixed messages on force abound during papal trip," National Catholic Reporter, 10/5/01))  (See Note 1a)

Just war doctrine is a body of conditions and rules concerning when and how a nation may rightfully engage in warfare. The just war doctrine espoused by the Catholic Church has been developed over the past 1,600 years; St. Augustine (354 – 430) is generally credited with originating the doctrine, and other theologians and philosophers (such as St. Thomas Aquinas) have refined it. The doctrine establishes conditions under which a nation may launch a war or respond to war (traditionally referred to as jus ad bellum or ius ad bellum) and further rules and conditions concerning conduct of the participants in a war (jus or ius in bello).

The jus ad bellum component of just war doctrine is written in the Catechism of the Church thus:


- 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.

The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good. "


How can the United States stay safe without the A-10 and laser-guided weapons (see "UD's Weapons" page)?  John Paul II addressed this in Centesimus Annus, section 52:

"For this reason, another name for peace is development. Just as there is a collective responsibility for avoiding war, so too there is a collective responsibility for promoting development. Just as within individual societies it is possible and right to organize a solid economy which will direct the functioning of the market to the common good, so too there is a similar need for adequate interventions on the international level. For this to happen, a great effort must be made to enhance mutual understanding and knowledge, and to increase the sensitivity of consciences. This is the culture which is hoped for, one which fosters trust in the human potential of the poor, and consequently in their ability to improve their condition through work or to make a positive contribution to economic prosperity. But to accomplish this, the poor — be they individuals or nations — need to be provided with realistic opportunities. Creating such conditions calls for a concerted worldwide effort to promote development, an effort which also involves sacrificing the positions of income and of power enjoyed by the more developed economies.

"This may mean making important changes in established life-styles, in order to limit the waste of environmental and human resources, thus enabling every individual and all the peoples of the earth to have a sufficient share of those resources."

In summary:

-The University of Dayton is a Catholic institution.

-The Vatican has condemned two of the last three U.S. wars.

-The University of Dayton should not be involved in a military establishment that enables the United States to fight unjust wars and kills so many civilians that even our Afghani allies object (see "UD's Weapons" page). The University of Dayton Research Institute should stop accepting military contracts.