One could not but be touched by the sincerity of Kevin O’Brien, S.J. and Peter Clark, S.J. in their article Drug Companies and AIDS in Africa (11/25). Unfortunately, they touch on only one aspect of the AIDS plague in that continent. Simply put, the greatest contributor to the spread of the disease is promiscuity and subsequent infection of sexual partner(s). One has only to read of the incidence of the disease among truck drivers and the prostitutes they frequent along the main highways in Central Africa to see that this is the case. This aspect of the spread of this plague is clearly in the hands of the Africans themselves. A second contributor to the spread is the reuse of needles, not only by corner-injectors who provide vitamin and antibacterial injections to anyone who can pay, but also by hospitals and clinics that persist in this type of reuse. Given that the hospital and clinic contribution to the spread of the disease is now put at between 5 percent and 20 percent, might it not be advisable to put some of the vast funds suggested by your authors into a program for supplying single-use needles? Finally, as good as the best of the current treatment regimens are, they are no more than a stopgap, and a poor one at that. The vast bulk of treated patients will succumb to the disease either through resistance development or through noncompliance. Let us not kid ourselves. Throwing money at this disaster will only delay the outcome. A radical change in behavior is the only reliable recourse.
James O. Clifford (It’s Not Just Priests, 12/2) gets it right only in his last paragraph, when he mentions the coverup. The story is the coverup. The story is the betrayal of trust by church leaders.
As terrible as the abuse of children by countless priests is, the reason it remains front-page news, the reason the prestigious New York Times was leading the charge on this one is that unlike most school systems, church leaders did not deal with the abuse as it happened. They did not remove abusive priests from ministry. Instead, they were concerned, it now seems, only for the church’s reputation. And that concern led them to destroy the trust of Catholics across this country as well as the church’s reputation.
He cites an example of a teacher who was molesting students since 1997. As horrible as that is, it fades in comparison to priests who have been molesting children, with the full knowledge of their superiors, since 1967. As for the dozens of cases of sex between teachers and students that were reported so far during this year alone, Mr. Clifford foils his own argument. We can be sure those dozens of cases were also investigated and dealt with this year alone. The abusing teachers were most surely not just transferred to another school where they could continue abusing children.
Eileen Reilly, S.S.N.D.
As a longtime subscriber to America, I usually enjoy reading Of Many Things. But I was dismayed to read the column on Kateri Tekakwitha (12/2). It is suggested that we view the penances undertaken by this young woman as a form of atonement for the sins of Europeans [who]... all but destroyed the cultures of Native American peoples.... Walking barefoot in the snow and whipping herself with reeds until her back bled were among the milder penances Kateri practiced. Quite frankly, this is bizarre nonsense. I am sure that any staffer at America who undertook such self-destructive and masochistic practices would be swiftly conveyed to Bellevue Hospital. And I find it incredible that such clearly mentally disturbed activities can seriously be considered desirable or useful in any way whatsoever.
Chevy Chase, Md.
The proposal to ban homosexual men from the priesthood should be implemented (12/16).
No individual can claim to have a vocation to the priesthood without the people of God ratifying that call and a bishop validating the vocation by conferring the sacrament of holy orders. Thus, the recent ordinations to the priesthood of several women were not recognized by the church. Down through the years the church has always had restrictions on who can be ordained priests. There have been physical, mental and spiritual demands made that have resulted in certain men being barred from ordination, even though they felt they had a priestly calling from God. A recent example is men being refused ordination because of their allergy to wheat gluten.
It is wrong to ordain homosexual men to the priesthood. Their very lives are witness to selfishness and sterility, even those who are celibate and chaste. Christ, the very giver of life itself, can never be found in a homosexual act. It is an impossibility. How can homosexual priests proclaim the holiness of married and family life when their whole being is centered on sterile attraction to others of the same sex?
Francis DeBernardo’s letter, Badly Fractured (12/9), has got it completely wrong. The banning of homosexuals from the priesthood will cause great pastoral good, and help to restore faith in a Vatican and U.S. hierarchy that have lost their moral leadership in recent decades.
Alistair McKay, C.Ss.R.
In Tom O’Brien’s review of A Call to Heroism, by Peter Gibbon, he includes Christy Mathewson as an American hero and positive religious influence (10/28).
Mathewson had 373 career victories and an earned run average of 2.13. His dignified bearing helped to bring respectability to baseball. In 1918 he enlisted in the army and was sent overseas where he came into contact with poison gas, causing him to become tubercular. He died in 1925.
He was not, however, a southpaw; he was a right-handed pitcher.
St. Louis, Mo.
Thank you for The Word column by Dianne Bergant, C.S.A. As an 85-year-old permanent deacon, I am always looking for ideas that make Scripture come alive for the suffering Catholics who must endure my mediocre homilies. Advent is often not understood, but this lady does a fine job of explaining its true purpose and value. Regulations prohibit women from standing behind the ambo, and it is a pity.
Having three Jesuit priest brothers, four wonderful daughters, grateful for the best possible wife of 56 years, plus working with several brilliant female bosses, I admit to being biased. The female mind sees what the male mind often misses. Women experience life in a unique manner. Even the language is refreshingfor example, pregnant with expectation. Can any man make such a statement?
Thank you, Sister Dianne, and thanks to America for recognizing her talent.