The National Catholic Review

Broader Context

Thanks for your forthright editorial regarding Ordaining Gay Men (11/11). In the broader context of today’s church, I would add married men to your conclusion. Preventing the ordination of gay and married men would deprive the church of many productive, hard-working and dedicated ministers and would, moreover, ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit, who has called these men to holy orders.

Lee P. Kaspari
Lakewood, Colo.

Media Role

Coverage of the Catholic pedophilia scandal, by both secular and religious media, has been lacking in analysis of the problem. This is understandable since church reaction, from Dallas to Rome and back, has been the dominant newsworthy activity to date. However, it is past time for dealing with the essence of the scandal, its causes and cures. Patently, something is terribly amiss in the structure and formation of Catholic clergy for our day that is not apparent in other Christian denominations. Immediate action is imperative for the restoration of Catholic ministry, action beyond reaction to abuse. Traditional Vatican delay would, in this instance, allow negative attitudes to harden. There is a role for the media here.

(Rev.) Connell J. Maguire
Riviera Beach, Fla.

Divisive

Acceptance into the seminary and ordination of gay men is now shaping up to be one of the most divisive and painful issues to face the church. As a clinical psychologist who provides my diocese with psychological evaluations of seminary applicants, I am most distressed with the announcement that the Vatican is set to bar gay men from entering seminary training and ordination. Your editorial on Nov. 11 articulates very well the argument against this development, and I wish to add that the church is alone in its stance that homosexuality is intrinsically disordered. Both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association have long held that homosexuality is not a disorder.

We psychologists know that seemingly to bar gays from the priesthood will only have the opposite effect to what it intendsthat is, gay men will be forced to repress their sexuality, which will only lead to eventual catastrophe. We must call upon the American bishops to resist this impossible demand. I would hope that they would have the courage to resist this seemingly easy scapegoating response, which is doomed only to cause more scandal in the future.

Andrew P. Haffey
Spokane, Wash.

High Quality

In Signs of the Times on Dec. 9, under the heading Seminary Numbers Up In Eastern Europe, But Officials Cautious, it is stated, Father Dziewiecki noted that 50 percent of recruits at some seminaries came from families with alcohol-related problems.... Including the rest of what he says with this statement seems to imply that candidates from alcoholic homes should not be considered high quality candidates.

In recovery programs in the United States, men and women from alcoholic homes are referred to as adult children of alcoholics or A.C.O.A.’s. Persons coming from an alcoholic home bring with them certain weaknesses, but they also bring certain strengths. With treatment, the weaknesses can become strengths. I do not know what is available in Eastern Europe, but in the United States, in addition to professional treatment such as A.C.O.A. counseling, there are the offshoots of A.A.: Alanon and A.C.O.A. groups. I am sure that A.A. must be operating in Eastern Europe. If so, Alanon and A.C.O.A. probably also exist. If a candidate to the priesthood or the religious life is humble enough to go to one of these groups and face the scars left by growing up in an alcoholic home, he or she can become a wonderful counselor and resource person for others from similar backgrounds. If they want to join the priesthood or religious life just to escape the home, remain in denial and refuse to get into some recovery program, then they are not high-quality candidates.

Brother Ed Pigott
Bonita Springs, Fla.

Best Hope

Your article Drug Companies and AIDS in Africa (11/25) drips with irresponsible irony. The authors attack pharmaceutical companies for not doing enough to stem the pandemic, when in fact the industry is one of the few public or private entities fully engaged in the battle.

The writers gloss over these facts: pharmaceutical companies have donated medicines, services, support for training health care workers and building clinics in developing countries at a cost of nearly $2 billion over the last four years; companies are providing AIDS medicines at significantly reduced prices to the world’s poorest countries. But the writers seem obsessed with these companies’ robust profits, and they insist that corporate officials and stockholders should accept less profit for the greater good. How does forcing one segment of society to have less provide another with more? Didn’t that kind of thinking die along with the Berlin Wall?

What is needed is a worldwide public-private effort to battle AIDS. Governments must deliver the cash they pledge; that money must be used for treatment, medicines and educationnot to line the pockets of corrupt leaders. Corporations must follow the lead of the pharmaceutical industry in using their special expertise in the fight.

The problems of sub-Sahara Africa will not be solved by cutting corporate profits, profits needed to invest in and provide for the next generation of AIDS medicines, including more than 80 potential new medicines and 14 new vaccines. These are the best hope for conquering AIDS around the world.

Rob Lively
Arlington, Va.

Social Situations

While I agree that the pharmaceutical companies have an ethical duty to respond to the AIDS crisis in Africa, I am concerned that we are still too often thinking we can solve problems by throwing money at them (11/25).

Even if the drug companies gave away freely all the drugs to the AIDS sufferers in Africa and increased dramatically the number of professionals who will better detect the H.I.V. virus, the problems would be far from solved, for they are much deeper. First, the drugs do not cure AIDS; they only help control the effects. Second, not everyone can take them, and there is a regimen for the therapy that is often most difficult for people who are not accustomed to clocks and doses and daily combinations thereof.

But even larger social issues remain: leaders who refuse to acknowledge that there is a problem or that the H.I.V. virus is related to AIDS; myths that the AIDS problem is a scare or scourge of Western nations; African men who do not believe in or practice safe sex or who consider their desire for sex more important than the life or health of the woman; African women who are prevented by their cultural upbringing from saying no to men, or even from speaking to their men about sex; myths that one can cure AIDS by having sex with a virgin; and on and on.

It will take even more to change these social situations, which allow the AIDS virus to grow, than it would to get pharmaceutical companies to make their drugs more available to the needy.

Lucy Fuchs
Brandon, Fla.

Comments

LaVerne Neuman | 12/20/2002 - 6:55pm
I am always interested in letters written discussing the question of ordaining gay men. I cannot for the life of me figure out why the heirarchy are not discussing it; rather, they assume that gay men will not be ordained. The hierarchy are showing themselves to be the worst of bigots. We still hear that the American press is the cause of the sexual scandal (Ratzinger, pg. 5 of 12/23-30) and the perpetrators are gay priests who are, in the minds of the "clergy-club", unable to keep their pants zipped. The first words out of the Vatican's mouth was "press" and "gays"... Maybe it's part of their plan:drive thinking people out of the church, so the few remaining priests (the gay ones having left, refusing to be stabbed in the back any longer) can meet the needs of the few remaining parishoners. I'd laugh, but it hurts too bad.....

LaVerne Neuman | 12/20/2002 - 6:55pm
I am always interested in letters written discussing the question of ordaining gay men. I cannot for the life of me figure out why the heirarchy are not discussing it; rather, they assume that gay men will not be ordained. The hierarchy are showing themselves to be the worst of bigots. We still hear that the American press is the cause of the sexual scandal (Ratzinger, pg. 5 of 12/23-30) and the perpetrators are gay priests who are, in the minds of the "clergy-club", unable to keep their pants zipped. The first words out of the Vatican's mouth was "press" and "gays"... Maybe it's part of their plan:drive thinking people out of the church, so the few remaining priests (the gay ones having left, refusing to be stabbed in the back any longer) can meet the needs of the few remaining parishoners. I'd laugh, but it hurts too bad.....

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