Thank you for highlighting Catholic Relief Services in your editorial “Americans Abroad” (7/30), as an agency that successfully addresses the Holy Father’s concerns about global solidarity, and which partners with the U.S. government to encourage its efforts at reducing global poverty.
However, because of conflicting information in briefing materials I forwarded to you, the editorial incorrectly stated the agency’s overhead expenses. Catholic Relief Services allocates 92 percent of its budget for overseas programming, not 82 percent.
All of us at Catholic Relief Services are sincerely appreciative of the continued support given to our agency in your magazine and of America’s professional reporting on humanitarian issues around the world.
Catholic Relief Services
The 40th birthday tends to be a watershed moment for many American males, including Thomas J. McCarthy (8/13). But that’s just what happens when life is more than half over, when adolescent bloom has long since faded, when some heroes and some dearly held ideals have been found wanting, when some treasured goals have been depreciated by experienced reality, and when untested childhood faith is now less a comforting answer and more a challenging question. Yet in all of this emerging mid-life angst there is also God’s invitation to let go of yesterday’s emotional teddy bears and reach out, unafraid, for God’s sure and saving grasp.
(Rev.) Robert J. Thorsen
Dot-Com and Tittle
I support the contention of the biblical scholar Joseph Jensen, O.S.B., (8/13) that current Vatican attempts to micromanage biblical translations (and thus biblical scholarship) with the flawed “Rosetta Stone” of the Nova Vulgata is insulting and risible. It is risible even to me, a 64-year-old layperson who has just finished two semesters of Hebrew at the local Quaker seminary, just to challenge myself. I not only learned beginning Hebrew, I also learned to use Hermeneutika’s computerized Bible Works 4, which enables me to view biblical passages not only in Hebrew and Greek, but also in 20 other languages and 64 translations. I can compare the various English translations I have chosen, side by side with the Hebrew text. And I can also highlight each Hebrew word, review meanings of the word and how it is parsed and weigh the virtues of the various English translations. If Hermeneutika ever adds official translations of the Nova Vulgata to the program, even novices like myself will be able to compare the quality of the translations and also assess limitations, like those pointed out by Father Jensen and his fellow scholars. I think it is a bit late now for the Vatican to attempt, by academic compromise, to cloister Catholics from a multidimensional faith, experienced in competent biblical scholarship and emerging technology.
Thank you for the scholarly and insightful article by Joseph Jensen, O.S.B., in which he convincingly illustrates how ill advised are some of the directives of Liturgiam Authenticam, especially the demand that Bible translations conform to the Latin New Vulgate (8/13). But will his voice be heard? One of the frequently quoted requirements from this new document is that the Creed be translated in the singular from the Latin, Credo in unum Deum; but the original Greek of the Creed, as formulated by the first two ecumenical councils of the church during the fourth century, is clearly in the plural. It would seem that a document that insists on literal translations would require that the Creed be translated from its original language, in the plural, as “We believe in one God.” It is the Latin translation, not the English translation we now employ, that is not literal.
There is a further principle to be observed. When the Creed is part of a baptismal commitment or when it is the abjuration of heresy, it is properly expressed in the singular; but as a liturgical text to be proclaimed by the initiated faithful, it is properly in the plural. It would seem that this document requires close scrutiny and interpretation, especially by the diocesan bishops, who are “the governors, promoters, and guardians of the entire liturgical life in the church committed to them” (“Decree on the Bishops’ Pastoral Office in the Church,” No. 15, which is quoted verbatim by Canon 835).
Charles E. Miller, C.M.
Role So Different
In “The Church and Psychiatry” (7/30), Dr. Ralph A. O’Connell notes well that in reference to psychiatry and religion, “questions about boundaries will always arise, questions of free will, immorality versus psychopathology.” Yet fewer questions are likely if one realizes that the psychiatrist’s role is very different from that of the priest-confessor. His task is not to establish guilt or innocence but rather to help the patient be more aware of his drives/emotions and the mechanisms he uses to avoid being straightforward with himself regarding them and his behaviors. Such emotional honesty with himself should help him be in a better position to engage more meaningfully with his clergyman.
In my view, we psychiatrists are not the philosophers we so often are thought to be. Rather, ours is a more humble task, one akin to a piano tuner’s—through psychotherapy and at times with the aid of medications, we help the patient become a more emotionally well-tuned “instrument,” who is in a better position to make reasonable decisions instead of being driven by emotional forces formerly unknown to him.
Donald J. Carek, M.D.