Letters to the Editor
For the last five years I have served with the presbyterate described by the Rev. James F. Garneau in “More Priestly Fraternity” (10/22). The priests of Raleigh are uncommonly united, centrist and admirable for their dedication in the swirl of explosive growth and ethnic challenge.
To apotheosize the present pope is to miss the point of papal leadership. For the last century or so, we have witnessed the richness of personality, thought and experience that each new pope brings. The moral force of the papacy does not come from a pope of 23 years, but from this line of strong champions of the good, including John Paul II, who have graced Peter’s chair. Their shifts of emphasis help achieve a wholeness of vision that best interprets the Gospel message.
The Raleigh presbyterate avoids the clerical subculture that has so damaged the church with its “we-they” mentality. If the bishops thirst for collegiality, so should parish priests. If pastors are collegial with their staffs, and pastors and staffs with the people, then parishioners will hear and respond to a call to collegial ministry that can release reserves of evangelical energy.
Is real collegiality not the vision of the Second Vatican Council? Or should we dig out our cassocks, French cuffs and cigars, and go off on the yellow brick road—without, of course, the people of God?
Robert Curry, S.J.
We Can Do Better
Bishop Donald W. Trautman’s concerns over authentic liturgy (10/22) are passionate and informed by years of experience as chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on Liturgy. My experience is certainly less, but I offer a perspective from another generation. I grew up in the 1970’s and 80’s, when our parish liturgies were experimental and not consistent from month to month. Over the last 10 years I’ve celebrated the liturgy as a diocesan priest in various countries and languages.
Bishop Trautman asks if it is possible that the texts of the last 30 years, approved by the N.C.C.B. and confirmed by the Holy See, could have been flawed. The answer is simply yes. The church is capable of mistakes like these. We must set about correcting them. For three years I lived in Europe, offering the liturgy (Mass and Liturgy of the Hours) in British English, German and Italian. I regularly celebrate the Mass now in Spanish. The poverty of the American English texts is, by comparison, just plain disheartening. Most of my parishioners would agree with me—and Rome—that we can do better.
(Rev.) Joseph Illo
A publication like America obviously features diverse views on contemporary subjects, and this is its strength. Everyone should be ready to read something there from an opposing point of view. But some of Bishop Donald W. Trautman’s remarks about so-called “inclusive language” (10/22) go beyond promoting his point of view; they border on the dishonest. In particular, his claim that the generic use of “man” is objectionable strikes me as a pure propaganda statement that even he could not believe. “Inclusive language” has taken over only in publications and environments where a small number of people have imposed its use: the media, academia, etc. Listen to casual conversation on any city street and you will learn that the generic use of “man” is not offensive to, or even noticed by the vast majority of English speakers. Search the Internet for “mankind” and you will find 913,000 examples of it. Every language changes and evolves, but it does so from the grass-roots level upward. Such change cannot be imposed by a small number of self-absorbed prigs who want to “move things along” in their favorite direction. Rome is only pointing out a simple fact: calling an accepted word “objectionable” does not automatically make it so.
Matthew Kowalski, O.S.B.
Writing in “The Quest for Authentic Liturgy” (10/22) as an apologist for the flexibility that characterizes the translation policies of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, Bishop Donald W. Trautman is defending the indefensible. True, as every competent translator knows, a strict word-for-word conversion from one language to another is sometimes impossible. Despite that, no linguistic specialist is justified in rewriting the source on the pretext that he or she is still expressing the gist of the meaning. Such a lax approach violates a fundamental principle of translation, which is fidelity to the original text. Having received training in simultaneous interpretation at the United Nations, I can assure Bishop Trautman that an interpreter at that organization would not be allowed to render the first-person singular verbs je crois and yo creo as “we believe.” Taking this ICEL-like liberty with a speaker’s words would be considered a dereliction of an interpreter’s professional duty.
Stephen M. O’Brien
Staten Island, N.Y.
Concept of Love
The concentration of articles attempting to apply principles of the Christian “just war” (10/8) seem to have ignored a basic teaching of Jesus, “Love your enemies.” This Christian concept of love is not easily accepted by those who suffered the loss of loved ones or were injured by the Sept. 11 attack. But love prompted Jesus to offer his life on the cross so that we might share in his love. This love can permeate our lives when we allow it to be incorporated into our thoughts and actions. Then we are enabled to love our enemies. Jesus said, “Do good to those who hate you.” Probably the results would not be realized immediately.
Just imagine that we help people in any country to raise substantially their standard of living to relieve hunger, sickness, lack of education and unemployment. Of course, this would require that we lower our own standard of living. I suspect you are not accepting this idea enthusiastically. We would live simply so that others may simply live.
Jesus ends by saying, “The measure you measure with will be measured back to you.” This is obvious to Attorney General John Ashcroft, who recently warned that new terrorist attacks can be expected when our country takes military action.
We must explore the practicality of the ideal proposed by Jesus, “Love your enemies.” With God all things are possible. Our faith, hope and love need to be enkindled and enthused.
(Rev.) Joseph Rogers