How refreshing it was to see such a hope-filled article (On the Church, 4/23). How good it was to see one of our most respected bishops thoughtfully say, No! There is another way of looking at church! How I wish there were more bishops like Walter Kasper.
I write this comment as one who sees the Roman leadership captured by fear, a fear that it is losing control of the people of God. As a result, this leadership is resorting to tactics of power and control.
After a council whose outcome was to be the decentralization of power, unfortunately the exact opposite has taken place. How well Cardinal Kasper recognizes this and addresses it. Indeed, the local bishop is not the delegate of the pope but is one sent by Jesus Christ. He is given personal responsibility by Christ. He receives the fullness of power through his sacramental consecrationthe power that he needs to govern his diocese.
To hear Cardinal Kasper say that the right balance between the universal church and the local church has been destroyed is disturbing, but it is honest; it is the truth. I thank Walter Kasper for his courage and scholarship. I urge other bishops to follow his lead...to give us hope.
(Rev.) James Friedel, O.S.A.
Olympia Fields, Ill.Real Pain
The article The Least of These (1/22) had a deep effect on me. Lorraine Murray’s account of her emotional struggle after having an abortion is heart-wrenching and presents a very different side of the abortion controversy. All too often pro-life proponents present women who have had abortions as murderers, heartless and uncaring about human life. Pro-choice advocates present abortion as merely an alternative, an easily made choice. The truth lies in the murky gray area between these two extremes.
Very often women have little knowledge of the personal turmoil that results from abortion. Post-abortion syndrome is a form of post-traumatic stress disorder and is a very real phenomenon. Symptoms include depression and thoughts of suicide, deterioration of self-esteem, development of eating disorders and re-experiencing the abortion. These are just a few of the symptoms involved, but a prevalent problem is drug and alcohol abuse. The correlation between abortion and subsequent drug and alcohol abuse is staggering. Countless support and religious groups have been established to help women through difficult emotional recovery, which takes much longer than the physical recovery.
Pro-choice advocates and liberal women may indeed be supporters of having a right to abortion, but experiences like Murray’s are all too common. Most people do not realize the struggle that ensues afterwards to reach peace of mind, heart and soul again. Abortion is far from a simple medical procedure, something many women do not learn until afterwards. The women who have these procedures are not cruel or even indifferent, and the pain they feel is very real and most times not fully understood until their decision has been made. I would like to thank Ms. Murray for sharing her very personal story, in the hope that it will bring comfort to some of those women struggling to come to terms with the decision they made.
Astoria, N.Y.Guile Smile
Issue after issue, Without Guile brings forth a smile. It’s goodtop drawer stuff.
San Diego, Calif.Using Labels
Early in Marian E. Crowe’s essay chronicling her peripatetic journey through Catholicism (Identity Crisis, 5/7), she issues a caveat about using words as labels, especially the terms conservative and liberal as applied to certain groups of Catholics.
But I couldn’t help noticing the frequency with which certain labels were used during the course of her reflection, especially when contrasted with words that were conspicuous by their absence. By my unofficial count, words such as Catholic (32 times), conservative (14 times), and liberal (9 times), merited substantial representation. But, curiously, aside from one passing reference to Jesus in relation to the Apostles, the actual persons of the Blessed Trinity were not mentioned at all. The words Lord and Gospel were mentioned once each.
Is it possible that a rich and thoughtful journey of faith such as Ms. Crowe’s could include numerous references to the church and groups within the church, yet not include specific references to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? What does this say about the language we use as Catholics or the words we useor do not useto convey our relationship with a triune God who is supremely relational?
I am not faulting Ms. Crowe. It just seems that much of what we read regarding the church today often comes down to labeling, whether blatant or implied. But why use labels at all? Why this Catholicism versus that Catholicism, this liturgy versus that liturgy, this versus that ad infinitum? What seems to get lost in this Catholic tussling of preference and interpretation is the basic revelation of the paschal mystery: Lord, by your cross and resurrection, you have set us free; you are the savior of the world.
Ms. Crowe writes about the efficacy of using labels when referring to different groups of Catholics sharing a certain orientation in their religious opinions. Whenever the phrase religious opinions rears its ponderous head, I am reminded of a quote attributed to Louis Pasteur that cuts swiftly and cleanly with Gospel precision through every label we can devise: I do not ask your religion or your opinions, only what is your suffering? Wouldn’t Jesus have asked the same? Shouldn’t we ask the same?