Regarding An Isolationist View of the International Criminal Court, by Brian Farrell (11/25): I am surprised that the editors would print such an unbalanced criticism of the Bush administration’s position with respect to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court of July 17, 1998.
The I.C.C. treaty was written at a conference attended by the Clinton administration. The United States voted against the treaty because provisions it sought were voted down. Quixotically, President Clinton both signed the treaty and said that his successor should not submit the treaty for Senate ratification in its present formfor good reasons.
The I.C.C. treaty extends worldwide jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity and the yet to be defined crime of aggression. Nationals of countries that do not ratify the treaty are, nevertheless, subject to the court. Countries that do ratify the treaty are obliged to surrender persons charged before the court found in their territories (which is why the United States sought an exemption from the Security Council for its peacekeeping forces dispatched to Bosnia and Herzegovina in July 2002).
The United States is now the world’s principal peacekeeper. American forces are being called upon to serve all over the world. American servicemen are subject to, and protected by, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, with final review by the United States Supreme Court. This would not be the case with the I.C.C., which will develop its own set of rules.
Because of international missions, American forces are more exposed to events of war than forces of any other country that is a party to the treaty. Most of the countries that have a vote in the treaty assembly equal to that of the United States are not as big as many of our cities and are unlikely to provide peacekeeping forces. The assembly will adopt procedures, elect judges and define what is meant by the amorphous term aggression. Many of the treaty countries do not share our understanding of criminal procedure or evidence, and many are not friendly to the United States. They, however, will elect the court and have a voice in the selection of, and the work of, the prosecutor.
The United States unsuccessfully asked at the treaty conference that at least at the outset, cases be sent to the court by the U.N. Security Council on a case by case basis. The United States did not know what the procedures would be, what investigative activity the prosecutor would undertake or who the judges would be.
There are other problems with the treaty, including the important question of whether it would be constitutional to subject Americans to a court not established under the United States Constitution.
Whether the United States should ratify the treaty is surely debatable, but any article about opposition should at least acknowledge the difficult questions involved.
William T. Hart
United States District Judge
I have reread several times the superb article Drug Companies and AIDS in Africa by Kevin O’Brien, S.J., and Peter Clark, S.J. (11/5). Their comprehensive essay lays the groundwork for articulating a much needed strategy: to prompt the pharmaceutical corporations (Merck, Abbott, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer and Glaxo Smith Kline) to make their H.I.V.-related drug therapies financially accessible in Africa. Their article and this strategy deserve comment.
I agree with them on their approach to good business. Convincing these corporations of their social responsibilities to Africa requires a sympathetic though not uncritical appreciation of the pharmaceutical corporations’ perceptions of their own obligations. The authors highlight, therefore, potential benefits to these manufacturers from making their products more accessible: newer markets, favorable public relations, tax breaks and the concerns of socially conscious stockholders.
I would suggest adding to this strategy the importance of appraising these corporations not only collectively, but also individually. This could be done in three ways. First, each corporation’s track record of responding to the pandemic should be examined against the others’. Second, their transnational corporate records should be compared with the creative and imaginative policies of new pharmaceutical corporations emerging today from the developing world, in particular from India and Brazil. Third, each corporation’s record should be contrasted with the advertised, public persona that the corporation itself projects. These evaluations could highlight not only what needs to be done, but also what can be done and what each corporation has pledged to do.
The use of encouraging but challenging rhetoric that employs the pharmaceutical industry’s own self-understanding is critical in engaging these corporations, but recognizing that each corporation’s point of view is unique affords us a much richer range of strategic options to consider.
James F. Keenan, S.J.
Many thanks to America for the courageous challenge to the harmful recent developments in Rome on the subject of ordination of homosexual men. Throughout my life, my Catholic education (16 years and counting) and, currently, in a year as a member of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, I have come to know and value many gay Catholicsincluding several priests and seminarians. The suggestion that a homosexual man or woman is any less capable of living the virtues of chastity and continence than a heterosexual one is a farce to those of us who have been blessed to know gay men and women engaged in faithful commitment to the service of God and others. It is heartening to see an influential publication take a principled, respectful stand for church policy, based on the loving example of Christ himself rather than a fear-driven impoverishment of the worth and dignity of homosexual members of the human family.
Katherine M. Leahy
Jamaica Plain, Mass.
One of the many blessings I’ve had during my 85 years has been the warm friendship I had with two homosexuals, one deceased at age 78, the other a fellow paratrooper killed in action in 1944. Both men had an inspirational effect on my faith life and the lives of other persons who knew them.
I’m sure many Catholics could give similar witness to the positive influence homosexuals (including celibate priests) may have contributed to their lives. I urge you to ask other readers for similar witness.
Donald W. Runde
Huntington Woods, Mich.
At last a letter that makes sense and not wordy fluff. Lucey Merker’s letter Less Dither (11/11) was like a breath of fresh air amid the oppressive academic atmosphere of the condemnation/justification rhetoric surrounding the call to service in the church of those whose sexual orientation is different.
It seems to me that it is the will of the Father we are called to serve, and yet we bend that will to find justification for all manner of human foibles. If a man or woman is graced with a specific call to service, it is for the church, the people of God, and that person’s whole being must reflect in action what is God’s will.
Nowhere is there provision for accommodations, as Lucy Merker rightly pointed out in her letter. Human we may be (and did God not make us good and bless us!), but all of us, lay people, priests, brothers, sisters, monks and nuns, need to stop finding ways to get around the Law of God and start living it. Personal agendas, conforming or dissenting, need to be subjected to the will of God as the man with one talent learned. Democracy (human kind) has no place in the kingdom where God alone rules. His will is law! We need to stop playing around and return to living in the freedom of the sons and daughters of God.
I could not help reacting to the bishops’ updated statement on domestic violence as another case of episcopal me-tooism of agendas set by the politically correct secular culture (11/18). Are the clergy and laity of our country really insensitive to domestic abuse; guilty of counseling spouses to remain in abusive marriages; or encouraging the abuse of women?
Unfortunately there is a secular feminist ideology attached to the issue of abuse that seeks to co-opt the issue to serve an ideology that is anti-male and responsible for questionable statistics on the frequency of abuse, like the famous or infamous abuse/Super Bowl connection. This ideology is anti-male, so that any manifestation of competition or anger on the part of males becomes a harbinger of abuse toward women. This ideology is often uncritically accepted as the context of this type of church statement.
The anti-male aspects of the ideology are ignored by the bishops. Men increasingly distance themselves from church as something feminist-dominated and hostile to male concerns.
Much more urgent was an investigation and statement by our bishops on the connection between dissent from the church’s teachings on sexuality and the clerical sex scandals. This they declined to do.
(Rev.) Leonard F. Villa