Is the kind of question posed by Kevin O’Rourke, O.P., in “Complications” (8/2) useful in the public forum? Could it hurt the church? Bishops can be wrong, and when evidence of their wrongful decisions comes to light, appropriate actions should be taken to rectify any injustice. But here no evidence is presented that the bishop and his advisers did not clearly establish that a direct abortion had been performed or that they did not know the medical facts or the pertinent canons for penal sanctions. Is the author hinting that if a person’s primary intention is to save life he may be justified in approving a decision to take an innocent life? I have never heard of an approved Catholic defense for directly taking an innocent life.
Fairfax, Va.Sometimes We May Kill
Re “Complications” (8/2): Catholic teaching is clear that with one exception, aborting life directly at any stage, even for mercy and even before personification in the womb, is evil. The one exception is defense of life—one’s own, or of another, or of a country or society. If my life is threatened, my right to life prevails, and I may directly abort the other’s life.
But at this point, does the threatener of my life have to be unjust to be aborted? Examples illustrate that this is not necessary. He or she may be innocent. If a pilot is unknowingly strafing his own army’s troops, they are justified in shooting him down. The same applies when the fetus is definitely going to end the mother’s life. The mother’s right to live prevails, even though the fetus is innocent.
Paradoxically there is a widely accepted, unjustified direct aborting of life in capital punishment. Yet there is minimal outrage against it—even in pro-life circles. And the accused has been denied the time and conditions to heal his soul.
Connell J. Maguire
Riviera Beach, Fla.Uncle Sam Wants You
Your response to the Dream Act in your editorial “Dream On” (8/19) is an interesting idea, but it is really a closet draft for the military industrial complex to fill its ranks. To gain a path to citizenship you must go to college or join the military. Most young people in that group cannot afford the high prices charged to get residency and citizenship, so they will be forced into the military out of economic necessity.
Portsmouth, Mass.Violating the Patriot Act
America speaks to a crucial point in the current comment “Making Peace With Terrorists” (7/19). America made its peace a long time ago when it decided to accept advertising from the Department of Defense and the terrorist group the U.S. Air Force. Webster’s New World Dictionary defines terrorism as “the use of force or threats to demoralize, intimidate, and subjugate, esp. such use as a political weapon or policy.”
Certainly, as America notes, “even writing an op-ed on methods for engaging terrorists in conflict resolution may be held to be in violation of the Patriot Act.” Wouldn’t accepting paid advertising from the terrorists at the U.S. Air Force violate the act too?
Ben Jimenez, S.J.
Detroit, Mich.To Molder in the Dust
A comment on “Musicians Prepare for Coming Changes in the Mass,” (8/2) asks us to not be “cranky.” The church is sliding into irrelevancy and abandonment by the next generation, and we are throwing spitballs and hymnals at each other arguing for a completely unneeded revision so we will sound more like Latin speakers. What a huge waste of energy and of catechesis while far more important issues and themes are left to molder in the dust. We will leave the church simply nodding our heads in confusion and dismay.
Anderson, Calif.Raise Wages and Prices
Re “The Future of Farm Workers” (8/2): It is easy to make a compelling argument by oversimplifying a situation. You fail to mention that continued use of illegal workers has depressed wages below a living wage for a U.S. citizen. The remedy requires more than finding U.S. citizens willing to replace the illegals. It requires removing the illegals and allowing wages to rise. Yes, this will increase the price of goods and services, but I believe we citizens are willing to pay higher prices to make a living wage available for our fellow citizens.
Nutting Lake, Mass.Jesuits’ Jesus
What a breath of fresh air is Luke Timothy Johnson’s piece, “The Jesus Controversy” (8/2). This Sunday morning, the media have provided me with so much that is disheartening and of grave concern, but the article subtitled “Why Historical Scholar-ship Cannot Find the Living Jesus” is spot on.
The Jesuits, with their Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, have much power with which to substantiate what Johnson writes. Yes, the living Christ is known and knowable through “a continuing process of transformation with a community of disciples,” through the sacraments and the encounter with the canonical Gospels that the “quest for the historical Jesus” can deflect. Mere history and scholarly reconstructions are a pale substitute for the living reality.
Bethesda, Md.Bishop Accountability
To your list of organizations in “Duty Bound” (7/19)—Voice of the Faithful and the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management—that are “valuable assets in the church,” let me add BishopAccountability.org, which has amassed a treasure-trove of documents in its online archive on sexual abuse by members of the clergy. This assures that the historical record is preserved for scholars as well as law enforcement agencies.
Summit, N.J.Gun-toting Justice
In response to “Guns and the Court” (8/2): I read today that a driver for a warehouse in Connecticut, frustrated at having to resign because he was caught stealing on the job, pulled out a handgun and killed eight coworkers before killing himself. In July, a 9-year-old boy in Los Angeles killed his 2-year-old brother with a handgun. And most of us are aware of the gun-toting students in schools and colleges around the country.
I wonder if Justice Samuel Alito, who voted to overturn Chicago’s ban on gun ownership, would be willing to meet face-to-face with the families of these victims and explain to them the principle of the right to bear arms for self-defense. A gun in anybody’s hand is not a good idea.
Holmdel, N.J.Formalist, Not Fundamentalist
I enjoyed Ann Begley’s piece on Muriel Spark, “Edinburgh’s Grande Dame” (7/12); but the author mistakenly uses the expression “Russian fundamentalists” to refer to David Lodge’s observation on Spark. The term Begley should have used was “Russian Formalists,” which Lodge correctly deploys (see New York Times, 10/20/85) to suggest a process of “defamiliarization” in art and a kind of surrealistic quality in Spark’s novels. I guess there must be Russian fundamentalists out there, but “making strange” is probably not what they are after.
Guerric DeBona, O.S.B.
St. Meinrad, Ind.