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Far-Flung Effect

America continues to be very relevant in Uganda. Recent articles on genetic disorders, discrimination against the disabled, homecoming (12/2/00) and ethical issues in cybermedicine have been mandated reading for third- and fourth-year medical students at Mbarara University. Of Many Things always provides humor and insight into overlooked persons, places and events! Thank you for the good job.

Mary McCarthy, M.D.
Mbarara, Uganda

Vocation to Care

As a registered nurse who considers nursing a vocation as well as a profession, I appreciate the article by John W. Donohue, S.J., on the spiritual beliefs of Florence Nightingale (6/4). I received an excellent nursing education at Mercy College of Detroit (now the University of Detroit-Mercy), but the history of nursing was scarcely mentioned. It’s an inspiration for my own practice to learn more about people who expressed their spirituality in the care of the sick. These would include not only Florence Nightingale and Mother Mary Clare Moore, but also St. Ignatius and the early Jesuits who nursed the sick poor in Venice and Rome.

Maria West, R.N.
Bethesda, Md.

Gospel Lives

One of the reasons I look forward America and The Tablet is for the examples of courageous women and men struggling to live Gospel lives patterned on Jesus. These witnesses, as for example those you give us in the June 18 issue in the photo of Dorothy Hennessey and reference to her colleagues, in the interview with Michael Lapsley and in the courteous response letter of Ladislas Orsy, S.J., are models and inspirations of hope for me.

The cover photo for that issue by Brad Reynolds, S.J., was a beautiful, breathtaking reminder of the gift of creation entrusted to our care. I could go on about your regular features and writers to which I look forward, but you get the picture. Thank you for the care you take in putting together some of my weekly spiritual reading.

Mae Kierans, C.S.J.
Providence, R.I.

Lived Experinece

Thank you very much for publishing William Glenn’s reflections on his faith as a gay man. (5/21). His experience is not unique, but it is a story that needs telling and is not often heard in our church. Thanks also to Creighton Prep for the wisdom to consider the lived experience of a gay student in looking at its own work.

Robert F. Miailovich
Arlington, Va.

Legitimate Exercise

I am scandalized by the action of the Vatican congregation in delaying the renovation of the cathedral in Milwaukee (Signs of the Times, 6/18). Where would the principle of subsidiarity apply if not to the competency of the local ordinary to undertake a project of this kind? Countless are the cathedrals in the United States and around the world where the Blessed Sacrament is provided the dignity of its own special chapel. Many, too, are the renovated cathedrals and churches that have replaced old pews with chairs and kneelers. The congregation’s intervention is nothing less than outrageous. I empathize with the archbishop over this attack on his ability to govern his own diocese. Is this considered a legitimate exercise of the Petrine ministry?

(Rev.) Jack Feehily
Moore, Okla.

Better Moments

William A. Barry, S.J., does a fine job of exploring a meaningful question in his probing article Why Do You Pray? (6/4). In my opinion, Father Barry’s most important distinction is his clarification of prayer’s function: it strengthens our trust in God and brings us to resemble our Creator through sustained company with him. Prayer’s purpose is not to strengthen our sheer willpower. Prayer ought not be a task we drudge through in hopes of building prayer endurance, but rather a liberating habit through which we discover our true identities. As C. S. Lewis said, When they are wholly His, they will be more themselves than ever.

I appreciate Father Barry’s confessions of his past wrong intentions for praying: obligation or fear. I too have prayed to get God off my back, but my most powerful prayer comes when I overcome my shame and meet God in naked communion. Using a journal to release my innermost emotionseven the unsavory oneshas created an avenue on which God and I can prayerfully walk together. Like Father Barry, we all pray for the right and wrong motives. His article can inspire us earnestly to achieve those better moments more often.

Christina Capecchi
Inver Grove Heights, Minn.

Threshold of Civilization

The editorial A Federal Execution (5/7) inserted a note of sanity amid the spectacle of the media coverage and promotion of a federal execution. Erich Fromm noted that we are on the threshold of civilization and wondered if we would make it over. If the event of June 11, 2001, is an example of our deeds, I shudder at the answer.

The arguments presented in the America editorial against capital punishment are powerful: the case for rehabilitation; the parent of one of those killed, who has become an opponent of capital punishment; as well as other considerations, like the fact that support for the death penalty has fallen; and the statistics on countries that have outlawed it. And most vital, of course, the message of Jesus on reconciliation. Somehow, we have lost sight of this. Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace, Where there is hatred, let me sow love, Where there is injury, pardon. Where were these words of St. Francis on June 11, 2001?

Arnie I. Tatem
Staten Island, N.Y.

Keep Reminding Us

In every issue of America I find at least one article that makes me glad I receive the magazine. In the current issue (6/4), I turned immediately to The Triumph of Timothy McVeigh by John F. Kavanaugh, S.J. Unbelievable. I wish I could explain the spiritual argument against killing McVeigh in the same literate, intelligent way. The best I can do is point my friends and colleagues to America. What is it about Thou shalt not kill that we find so hard to comprehend?

As I often say to my brother, who renews my subscription to America every year, there is hope for the Roman Catholic Church if the Jesuits keep reminding us of what Jesus really did and said. Thank you, Father Kavanaugh.

Sara P. Howrey
Fort Thomas, Ky.

Frustrated Liberals

I was surprised and disappointed when I read Thomas J. McCarthy’s polemic against President Bush (5/14)surprised because I thought America would not print partisan political diatribes and disappointed at the obvious personal bias of the writer. He compares President Bush’s worldviews to the self-centered view of his 2-year-old daughter. I wonder if this same limping analogy applies to someone who views the world through a liberal, tinted, limited prism.

America is not the forum for political speeches by frustrated liberals. Rather it should be a forum for discussion and debate on theological, philosophical and morals-related economic issues. We should discuss how we can implement Jesus’ commandment to love one another and spread the good news of his love for us, despite all our shortcomings, real and imagined.

James J. Walsh Jr.
King of Prussia, Pa.

Prior Censorship

Much as I love John Paul II, he and his entourage have made a major blunder with the mandatum (5/28). Just as we loved John XXIII, who also once blew it with Veterum Sapientiae (requiring the use of Latin in liturgy and seminaries), John Paul now has his own setback in the mandatum.

We Americans are very touchy when it comes to First Amendment free speech issues. We do not suffer well fools who try to curtail that freedom, even under the guise of protecting the faith. The same criterion applies to the mandatum: freedom is part of the patrimony of the children of God. If one abuses that freedom, he or she must stand accountable after the fact but not before. The mandatum is the ecclesiastical prior censorship that is anathema to us Americans. If the bishops don’t have the courage to stand up to the murder of the freedom of the sons of God given not by Rome but by the Holy Spirit, theologians should reject the whole form of tyranny from Rome.

What are they going to do? Put us all in jail? The old papal prison has not been working for about 150 years now. Just to restore it will take $50 million, and the pope will never get it from the Americans!

Peter Riga
Houston, Tex.

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