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Country Held Hostage

Your editorial Send the Boy Home to Cuba (3/11) has many inaccuracies:

1) The title makes Elián look like a parcel or inanimate object that could be easily shipped to Cuba. He is a young human being, whose feelings must be taken into account. After almost four months in the United States, Miami is home for him. He lost his mother. He did not live with his father in Cuba. He only has one family now, his Miami relatives. It would be very traumatic for him to go back to Cuba. There he would be raised by a stepmother he does not know and who is very busy trying to nurse an infant son.

2) You notice the cleanliness of Cárdenas’s streets, but fail to notice the many holes in them. Cubans are now cleaner than ever, because they have practically nothing to throw away. Cuba is not a garbage-producing country like the United States, where many items are labeled disposable. Moreover, the Cuban government has made Cárdenas look prettier for the eyes of the world media.

3) You call Elián’s father a devoted parent. You certainly do not know that Elizabet, Elián’s mother, divorced him because he was an abusive husband and that a Cuban judge granted custody of the child to the mother. You believe that Elián’s father wants his son back with him. That is what he says now, but he is lying. He knew that his ex-wife was leaving Cuba on a raft with the boy. He called up his Miami relatives to tell them. When the boy was found alive, he did not ask to have him sent back. All he said was, Take good care of him. When Castro stepped in, he was forced to change. He is now the true hostage, not Elián.

4) Castro remains popular, you write. This leaves unexplained why there are so many Cuban exiles on all continents. If he is so popular, why is he the best guarded ruler in the world? Nobody knows where he works, where he lives, where he sleeps.

5) Cubans have rallied together, you say. But you do not know that people are carried like cattle to the spontaneous rallies. Cuba has wasted lots of working hours and millions of pesos in T-shirts and posters for these rallies. Since Cubans have little entertainment, they go to the government-sponsored meetings as to a carnival. Very often the government gives free sodas and cookies to participants.

6) You do not fail to mention the trade embargo as the source of material hardship for Cubans. Many people are against it for a simple reason: The economy would not improve if the embargo is lifted. The real problem is that Socialism is an economic failure. People do not work hard because work is not rewarded. No country can prosper when most of its citizens want to leave it.

Eduardo M. Barrios, S.J.

Miami, Fla.

 

Institutional Legitimacy

The unnoted and little known fact related to your item about the fallout from George W. Bush’s visit to Bob Jones University (Signs of the Times, 3/11) is that, for all the Republican crocodile tears about Catholics, the U.S. Catholic Conference was politically in bed with Bob Jones in the early 1980’s, when the Internal Revenue Service questioned the institution’s legitimacy as a tax-exempt organization.

I know because I was among several U.S.C.C. staffers who were appalled. We were told by the legal department that they didn’t want to break the education coalition. In other words, despite the bishops’ pastorals about racism, the leadership of the U.S.C.C. was clearly willing to overlook it when tax subsidies might be at stake.

Cecilio Morales

Washington, D.C.

 

Re-emphasis Long Overdue

Msgr. F. Gerald Martin’s article (3/4) on Changing Elements or People? is a long overdue re-emphasis on the personal commitment involved in the holy Communion of the Eucharist. Especially pertinent was his translation, When you take and eat, you enter into this action and commit yourself to imitate my self-giving in your own life. It is a profound commitment to make each day, one of compassion, kindness, forgiveness and restoration, in union with Jesus.

Rudy Cypser

Katonah, N.Y.

 

Marvelous Summary

Msgr. F. Gerald Martin’s brief piece on Changing Elements or People? (3/4) was a profound and marvelous summary of what the Eucharist means. His quotation of In Memory of Me, which means I commit myself to self-giving, says more than tomes of theological discourse. Please encourage him to write again.

Anthony F. Avallone

Radium Springs, N.M.

 

Believing Men and Women

I read America each week to be enlightened by good, believing men and womenartists, scholars, journalists, humorists, prophets, contemplatives, commentators. Often I unearth a treasure. Msgr. F. Gerald Martin’s piece, Changing Elements or People? (3/4), yielded such a gem. His brief and simple words about the meaning of Do this in memory of me will enrich and deepen my participation in the celebration of the Eucharist.

Thank you, Monsignor, and thank you to all the voices who participate in the making of America.

Robert B. Murray

Braintree, Mass.

A Certain Intimacy

In regard to an article on eucharistic adoration in the March 4 issue of America, the fundamental issue seems to be that of prayer. How do we pray? The vast majority of Catholics pray exclusively at Mass. Some few, because of their rare life situations, have access to a quiet space for prayer. Believe me that quiet is rare in our current electronic culture.

Given the opportunity to pursue prayer in a special place, perhaps with icons, candles, etc., possibly some people would find that place and learn to pray more deeply. Even Thomas Merton decided to place the reserved sacrament in his hermitage chapel.

Some of us discover a certain intimacy when near the reserved sacrament, a consciousness that we are not alone. An awareness of this intimacy not being there hits us in a real way when praying in a church on the Saturday after Good Friday. The emptiness is felt, and it is clear that a presence is missing. We are then reminded of our task, to birth the Trinity within; and it is that emptiness, once sensed, that leads us to growth. Our path widens, lengthens. We reach out.

June Ross

Antioch, Ill.

 

Knightfall

It was with a combination of amusement and consternation that I (and others around me) read in your Feb. 26 issue, in the Crossroad book advertisement following page 20 of that issue, that John of the Cross’s famous book is referred to as Dark Knight of the Soul.

Either America or Crossroad needs better proofreading! Needless to say, we nuns here enjoyed some amusing conclusions and a good deal of laughter. America continues, however, to be a wonderful weekly. Keep up the good work.

Cecile Forest, D.H.S.

Rogers, Conn.

 

Mice in the Modem

It has always been my belief that the documents of the Second Vatican Council were visionary, but I didn’t dream they could have foreseen the electronic age. America, on page three of the March 4 issue, refers to the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modem World.

Kidding aside, thank you for your work in publishing a fine Catholic periodical.

Mary Ann Boyarski

Harrisburg, Pa.

 

Slippery Tradition

Almost all the discussion of Ex Corde Ecclesiae (2/12) assumes that it will, one way or another, have as its intended effect to draw Catholic colleges and universities closer to the hierarchy. It seems more likely that it will have exactly the opposite effect. The more strictly the mandate requirement is applied, the more Theology departments will be renamed Religious Studies and the less the bishop will be consulted at all. Most Catholic colleges and universities in the United States are neither owned, run nor funded by the hierarchy. Their lay boards of trustees do not answer to the bishop, nor must they seek permission to use the word Catholic (when have you ever seen it followed by the mark ?).

One prominent Catholic university already proclaims itself to be in the tradition of a certain religious community. What a wonderfully ambiguous phrase! In the tradition can mean present tense (the bishop is granting mandates freely) or past tense (back in the 50’s we had a lot of priests on the faculty).

If American Catholic colleges and universities follow the path set by Harvard and Princeton, it will be Ex Corde Ecclesiae that greased the slippery slope.

Gregory Koster

Eastchester, N.Y.

 

Intriguing Scenario

Thank you for publishing Why I Shall Not Seek a Mandate by the Rev. Richard P. McBrien (2/12).

One question intrigued me as I finished this timely and well reasoned article. What would Father McBrien do if he received from his local ordinary an unsolicited mandatum to teach theology? Accept it? Return it (with or without comment )? Discard it? File it under M? Or am I getting too far ahead of the scenario here?

William M. Sullivan, S.J.

Kwajalein, R.M.I.

 

Critical Issue

The most critical issue in the Ex Corde Ecclesiae discussion is the con-tent and in-tent of a Catholic college’s religion courses, versus the more academic concept of theology as such. This issueat least implicitly raised by the authors Denise Carmody, Katarina Schuth (1/28) and others, but sidestepped by the Rev. Richard P. McBrien (2/12)deserves the further attention of America (and everyone else).

(Rev.) John Koelsch

Boise, Ida.

Comments

Peter J. Riga | 1/19/2007 - 9:29am
The letter by Eduardo M. Barrios, S.J., (3/25) defending the stay of Elián González in Miami is so erroneous, so full of unproven suppositions and downright inaccuracies, that it is hard to answer. Let me try.

We must question the love of a mother for her child who would put him in such mortal danger. It is one thing for an adult to subject herself to danger and death, but it is gravely irresponsible to do that to a child except in the most extreme circumstances. Staying safe in Cuba is not one of them.

The law is so clear in this matter that it is little wonder that Father Barrios does not bother to mention it: The natural right of a surviving parent belongs absolutely to that father, absent abuse. There is no evidence to this effect, and the lawyers for Elián at the hearing in the Federal District Court in Miami could show none. The federal judge explained this law perfectly.

The I.N.S. and Justice Department officials visited the father in Cuba. They found a loving father who wanted his child returned. They found Elián’s siblings, grandparents and other close family relatives.

How is it that the Cuban bishops as well as the Cardinal Archbishop of Havana have all demanded the return of Elián to his father in Cuba? The Catholic Church is no friend of Castro, and if they thought it would be in Elián’s best interest to stay in the United States, they would be duty bound to say so. They said the contrary.

It is simply an outrage to say that lifting the embargo would have no effect on the suffering Cuban people. The pope, the American bishops, the Cuban bishops, many learned men and women have all called for lifting the embargo to alleviate the suffering of the Cuban people. The only obstacle is money and the political power of the Cuban Americans in Miami.

Peter J. Riga | 1/19/2007 - 9:29am
The letter by Eduardo M. Barrios, S.J., (3/25) defending the stay of Elián González in Miami is so erroneous, so full of unproven suppositions and downright inaccuracies, that it is hard to answer. Let me try.

We must question the love of a mother for her child who would put him in such mortal danger. It is one thing for an adult to subject herself to danger and death, but it is gravely irresponsible to do that to a child except in the most extreme circumstances. Staying safe in Cuba is not one of them.

The law is so clear in this matter that it is little wonder that Father Barrios does not bother to mention it: The natural right of a surviving parent belongs absolutely to that father, absent abuse. There is no evidence to this effect, and the lawyers for Elián at the hearing in the Federal District Court in Miami could show none. The federal judge explained this law perfectly.

The I.N.S. and Justice Department officials visited the father in Cuba. They found a loving father who wanted his child returned. They found Elián’s siblings, grandparents and other close family relatives.

How is it that the Cuban bishops as well as the Cardinal Archbishop of Havana have all demanded the return of Elián to his father in Cuba? The Catholic Church is no friend of Castro, and if they thought it would be in Elián’s best interest to stay in the United States, they would be duty bound to say so. They said the contrary.

It is simply an outrage to say that lifting the embargo would have no effect on the suffering Cuban people. The pope, the American bishops, the Cuban bishops, many learned men and women have all called for lifting the embargo to alleviate the suffering of the Cuban people. The only obstacle is money and the political power of the Cuban Americans in Miami.

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