Our readers
Right to Life

Your editorial on gun control (2/10) misses the value of firearms in preserving human life. Just as we support the right to life of the unborn and the elderly, the lives of bus and cab drivers, gas station attendants and convenience store clerks are equally precious. Such people often must work at night in dangerous urban or even rural areas, becoming easy targets for predators, whom the courts and law enforcement cannot control.

Each year between one and two million armed Americans defend themselves and their families from injury, sexual assault and death, often without even firing their guns. Would you prefer to condemn them to submit to the savagery of criminals by disarming them?

The solution to violent crime involving firearms and other deadly weapons is to get the criminals who carry or use them in crimes off our streets by long prison sentences. Imposing liability standards on cities, police, judges, parole boards and probation officers would inhibit the Turn Them Loose Bruce types from releasing dangerous felons into the population. The prospect of million-dollar lawsuits by victims and their families would make our society far safer than any gun control scheme that merely keeps decent people helpless in the face of violent criminals.

William J. Brennan
Cedar Grove, N.J.

Echoes From the Past

Thanks so much for the mention of our new CD in Of Many Things (3/17). Your words were wonderfully positive and appreciated. However, the correct title of the CD is Ancient Echoes (not Ancient Voices). Since many folks will be unable to find the CD using Ancient Voices, perhaps you could help them by telling them that they can obtain it from us by calling (800) 566-6150 or by visiting our Web site at www.wlpmusic.com. Thanks for your support.

John D. Wright
World Library Publications/ J. S. Paluch Co., Inc.
Schiller Park, Ill.

Every Citizen

In his recent piece on Catholics in Political Life (2/17), Representative Henry Hyde concludes an essay largely dealing with issues of the right to life with some obiter dicta on the national debate over Iraq. Having indicated the civic health that comes with such a debate, he then notes that the ultimate arbiters of the just war theory are not clergymen or scholars. In defense of the claim, he cites No. 2309 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which accords statesmen, those who have responsibility for the common good, the right to evaluate the criteria for just war. Let me remind him that in a democracy every citizen is a statesman. The evaluation of just war criteria is therefore the prerogative and duty of everyoneclergy and scholars included.

David W. Madsen
Director of the Honors Program
Seattle University
Seattle, Wash.

Hope Embodied

Thank you for the splendid interview with Gustavo Gutiérrez, O.P., by Daniel Hartnett, S.J., Remembering the Poor (2/3). With his characteristic humility, insight and courage, Father Gutiérrez continues to set before us the suffering of the poor and to challenge us to a greater solidarity with the marginalized of this earth. Anyone familiar with Father Gutiérrez’s life and theological project knows that the poor have been a constant focus of his concern, his theology and his ministry over the years. On the occasion of his being named to this year’s list of honorary fellows by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, this gentle theological giant of the 20th century continues to use his voice on behalf of the voiceless and to challenge us to remember the poor as we struggle to live Gospel values within our unique cultural context, while heightening our consciousness of the global dimensions of solidarity in an interdependent world. Gustavo Gutiérrez continues to be a powerful symbol of hope for the poor and for all who work for justice in our world.

In a related article in the same issue, Beyond La Pausa: Liberation Theologies Live, Allan Figueroa Deck, S.J., highlighted a recent conference held at the University of Notre Dame, which augments the hope, embodied by Gustavo Gutiérrez, that the option for the poor that is so integral to Catholic social teaching is being fanned into fuller flame in theology, in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue and in pastoral-social praxis. Thanks for a tremendous issue!

Peggy McDonald, I.H.M.
Immaculata, Pa.

Glimpse of Light

The profile of lay Catholics in the 21st century, by Robert P. Maloney, C.M., (3/10) was a refreshing admission of the truth and a far cry from the usual condescending way the laity are treated by the hierarchical church. It is for me a first sign of the Holy Spirit manning debris-moving equipment, trucking away the collapsing materiality of the institutional church, now falling into ruin!

Priscilla and Aquila, a married couple, led the wayimagine that! And Priscilla the woman imagine that!acknowledged as leader by the priest-Apostle Paul. Didn’t Paul the priest also admit that he plants, the layman Apollos waters, but God gives the growth? Might that three-point plan of the Holy Spirit be the foundational source of the new evangelism of Pope John Paul II?

It is such a relief to catch a glimpse of the light of Christ on the church’s earthly horizon as he prepares to present to the Father the church in original form that he left behind and to savor the sustaining grace that at last the hierarchical church in humility is getting it structurally right, as pope, bishops and priests lead cooperatively with laity, as the Acts of the Apostles show.

Bruce Snowden
Bronx, N.Y.

Pious Prints

Less than a week after presenting a paper entitled Pious Prints in Nineteenth-Century France: Radicalism Tamed/Orthodoxy Vulgarized, at the annual College Art Association, I came upon America’s cover article, Contemporary Catholics on Traditional Devotions (3/3). My research has led me to conclude that historically the taste for popular religious images, ones that simplify theology in graphic and emotionally appealing modalities, intensified for two reasons: they served to balance contemporaneous emphases on intellectual and insular theological systems (e.g., neo-Thomism) and theologies focused on the principles of social justice and a communal experience of church; the hierarchy actively encouraged their use. Reproduced in a small format, the images facilitate acts of private piety, promoting devotion by way of an intimate gaze and meditation. Apparently these familiar images satisfy a similar need today.

Joyce C. Polistena, Ph.D.
New York, N.Y.

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