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People Before Profits

The article by Thomas J. Massaro, S.J., and Mary Jo Bane, Compassion in Action: A Letter to President Bush on Social Policy (3/12), was much needed. In recent weeks public dialogue has focused on across-the-board tax cuts and other proposals that do little to foster a just economic system in our country.

The electorate should impress upon President Bush and Congress the need for an economy that provides access to jobs and services that enable all people to support themselves and care for their families. We also need assurance that natural resources are protected for the universal common good in a sustainable and mutually beneficial way.

In short, we need an economic system that focuses on people before profits, a sustainable economy that addresses the needs of present and future generations. If people take up pen and paper now to demand this of their elected officials, we can all play a part in achieving this vision of economic justice.

Kathy Thornton, R.S.M.
Washington, D.C.

Sexuality and Spirituality

In his recent article in America, Gerald Coleman, S.S., writes about the issue of Catholic school teachers coming out (3/19). I have the highest esteem for Father Coleman and his writings on homosexuality and pastoral practice. But I would like to raise some questions regarding this particular article.

He makes it very clear that homosexual youth are particularly challenged, since they often lack role models who can assist their efforts to integrate their sexuality. He goes on to say that for these youth an affirming environment does not usually exist at home, school or work; and homosexuals then almost inevitably face various forms of ignorance and prejudice from others. He speaks of sexual orientation as one component of who one is, rather than a secret that keeps one feeling isolated, lonely and ashamed.

For those very reasons I want to ask why gay and lesbian youth and also other students who may lack understanding regarding sexual orientation as an integral part of one’s identity as a person should categorically be deprived of authentic role models in a Christian setting? I agree that the decision to reveal one’s homosexual identity is not lightly made or done casually in a classroom. Much work remains to be done in Catholic schools to educate teachers and staff, as well as students and parents, on both the meaning of sexual orientation and the various teachings of the Catholic Church that pertain to this subject.

All that being said, are we to leave the experience of role models and coming out for only a secular setting, where support for the integration of sexuality and spirituality may be lacking?

In their article Three Passages of Maturity, James and Evelyn Whitehead spoke of a public witness of homosexual and Christian maturing and a gift to the next generation. It is precisely this witness and gift that is so needed in order to avert the tragic emotional and physical harassment and violence that gay and lesbian youth and those thought to be gay are experiencing daily in public and Catholic schools.

(Rev.) Jim Schexnayder
Oakland, Calif.

Power of Faith

What a remarkable journey Patrick Malone, S.J., has shared with us in his most eloquently communicated Lessons Learned (3/5). I laud him not only for the courage to endure his cross but to embrace it in a manner that sheds so much light on the power of faith. Thanks for such an inspiring literary contribution and for being yet another light that enables us to see more clearly the path to our God!

Marc Viens
Long Beach, Calif.

Current Climate

Thank you for the editorial Saying No to Israel (3/5). I was heartened to read it. This message is needed in American politics, and it is a viewpoint widely felt by my friends. Thanks for the courage to voice it, given our current political climate.

Dean Hoge
Washington, D.C.

Security and Peace

I wish to congratulate you on your editorial, Saying No to Israel (3/5). It is a reasoned, balanced approach to the problem of security and peace in the Middle East.

Mary B. Farhat
Danville, Calif.

Special Code

It is good that Gerald Coleman, S.S., recognizes that there are homosexuals who teach in our schools and do so ably and that homosexuals, like everyone else, have a right to respect, friendship and justice (3/19). The problem is that he then seems to establish a special code of conduct for gay or lesbian teachers that would not apply to heterosexual teachers. Whatever the rules are for a teacher sharing his or her sexual journey with a student, they should be the same for all teachers. The respect and justice that our bishops say is the due of gays and lesbians demands that they receive no less than equal treatment with that accorded all other persons. The standards for a teacher revealing sexual orientation or how a teacher acts as a role model for students are not topics for an article specifically on homosexual teachers alone. Father Coleman sets up a classic straw man so he can knock down an unreal myth.

The put-down of gay teachers as role models is especially ironic given the beautiful discussion of the new interpersonal model of marriage by Michael Lawler in the same issue of America. There is nothing in that model, whose action is the procreation of love, that cannot be satisfied by a loving same-sex couple. If that kind of love shines through in the empathy, care and interest that a gay or lesbian role model teacher displays in a classroom, so much the better.

Robert F. Miailovich
Arlington, Va.

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