The National Catholic Review
Satisfactory Return

I read Michael McGreevy’s letter (5/3) about the editorial Trading Jobs (4/5), and I think the mind-set expressed by Mr. McGreevy is outrageous. It is, however, typical of investment bankers and lawyers.

Those of us who manage a business in manufacturing, as well as our friends who manage a service business that renders a genuine service, really do not feel that our function in running a business is primarily to make a profit and to provide this profit to the investor. Our prime responsibility is to manufacture a good product or supply good service and to provide constructive and satisfying careers.

Clearly everyone, whether owner, manager, salaried employee or hourly employee, recognizes that we must make a profit to maintain and grow our business, but I challenge Mr. McGreevy and those in their ivory towers with similar mind-sets to go onto the shop floor and ask the individuals there whether they feel the primary purpose of their career is to make a satisfactory return for the investor.

Carl C. Landegger
New York, N.Y.

Needed Counsel

Thanks for the refreshing breeze provided in the Letters section on May 3 by Michael McGreevy. I don’t know him, but to me his analysis is correct and his counsel much needed at America.

Frank M. Hagan
Los Altos, Calif.

Sense of Joy

What an absolute delight to read the poem by Rachel M. Srubas, entitled St. Mary’s (4/12). A sense of Easter joy, excitement and fulfillment radiates throughout the piece. She collects all the elements that make Easter, the feast of the Resurrection, so vital a part of our experience as Christian people. From the brass player spritzing the carpet, through the wheezy congregation to the image of the Magdalene, racing off to preach the Easter homilyshe got it just right. Jesus is upand so will we be, when the time comes. Thanks for this gem.

Timothy P. Donovan
Cuba, N.M.

Setting an Example

In Signs of the Times (4/19), you quote Senator John F. Kerry, the probable Democratic nominee for president, as saying: I believe in the church, and I care about it enormously. But I think that it’s important to not have the church instructing politicians. That is an inappropriate crossing of the line in America.

I wonder what Kerry thnks about the excommunication in 1962 of the segregationist judge and political boss Leander Perez by Archbishop Joseph Rummel of New Orleans. At the time, opponents of desegregation and the liberal press hailed Archbishop Rummel for his courage and for setting an example for other religious leaders. Racists and segregationists accused the archbishop of overstepping his authority, violating the separation of church and state and imposing his will on those who had a different opinion on integrating schools. Sound familiar?

Dimitri Cavalli
Bronx, N.Y.

Unworthy Reception

Regarding Kennedy to Kerry in Signs of the Times (4/19): Those who would like to bar Kerry from receiving Communion because of his abortion stance need to have more confidence in the power of the Eucharist to help Catholic elected officials discern God’s will for themselves and to help them play the role he desires of them as his disciples in their public life. St. Paul’s admonition in 1 Cor 11:27-29 is sufficient warning to elected officials regarding unworthy reception of the Eucharist. Efforts to bar them from Communion are an inappropriate effort to coerce them and reflects thinking that should have gone out with the Middle Ages.

Is an elected official who is wrong on the issue of tolerating the killing of innocents in abortions any worse than an elected official who is wrong on tolerating the killing and maiming of innocents in order to bring democracy to Iraq? If we are going to bar the former from Communion, shouldn’t we also bar the latter?

Michael Petrelli
Haddon Township, N.J.

Reserved Niche

It appears that more bishops are joining the pro-life chorus against Catholic politicians who will not openly embrace the entirety of church teaching on abortion. But with teeth!refusing holy Communion to them (Signs of the Times, 5/10). When I am asked to defend that actionsomething that as a committed, conscientious Catholic, I want to be able to doI run into difficulty from at least two perspectives. First, an arguably valid interpretation of the bishops’ actions might find them in opposition to other dogmatic church teaching that suggests that if a public official’s moral decisions are in accord with his own personal conscience, he has a right to follow it and the bishop has an obligation not to interfere. The Catechism of the Catholic Church seems clearly to point that way: Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. He must not be forced to act contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience, especially in religious matters (No. 1782).

Second, as Catholic Americans, don’t we owe some respectful consideration to the concept of church and state separation that our forefathers wisely taught? When a bishop directsindeed attempts to forcespecific legislative action on a Catholic elected public official, it is hard to call that anything other than church entrance into the state’s jurisdictional process. I pray fervently that our bishops will avoid the waiting traps that accompany this sort of action. By refusing Communion to those politicians who follow their consciences in a matter of such religious significance, the bishops would seem to place them in that same public niche reserved for those who obstinately persist in manifold grave sin (Canon 915). Pretty heavy.

Thomas J. Roller
Amboy, Ill.

Documentation Available

In America’s review of Vows of Silence, by Jason Berry and Gerald Renner, Thomas H. Stahel, S.J., writes that their chapters on the life of Marcial Maciel, L.C., describe present-day stonewalling in the upper echelons of the church (4/19). The Legionaries of Christ believe Father Stahel and America’s readers would be well served by the facts that demonstrate that Berry and Renner’s case is built on falsehoods. In fact, there is no stonewalling here, only the refusal of the church to submit an eminent priest to double jeopardy.

In the late 1990’s, Berry and Renner were approached by a small group of former Legionary seminarians and priests with the claim that they and several others were sexually abused in the 1940’s and 50’s by Father Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ. As soon as these allegations first surfaced in 1996, Father Maciel made known his innocence. The Legion provided the writers with substantial factual information that indicated on a number of counts where the accusers lied. To our surprise and dismay, the only result was that inconvenient facts were either written out of the story or, as happens time and again in Vows of Silence, obscured by innuendo, hearsay and spin.

The key fact is this. From October 1956 to February 1959, immediately after any alleged abuse would have just happened, Father Maciel was suspended from his duties as superior general of the Legionaries on the basis of charges including drug abuse, misuse of funds and rebellion against the Holy See. No sexual abuse was alleged. With their founder removed in disgrace, members were interviewed personally and in depth by Vatican-appointed investigators. In short, every purported abuse victim had the opportunity to report what they now say was happening to them. But the Vatican’s apostolic visitators found the Legionaries to be sound, holding great promise, and reported that Father Maciel himself was not only innocent but exemplary. Documentation of these matters is available for the world to see at www.legionaryfacts.org.

Moreover, five former Legionaries have sworn affadavits that the accusers sought them out to join in lies against Father Maciel. One of these five was an accuser in late 1996, but his conscience got the better of him and he soon recanted. Jesuits might recall that a similar turnabout established the innocence of their founder during a trial centuries ago on similarly scurrilous charges.

Owen Kearns, L.C.
Publisher, National Catholic Register
Cheshire, Conn.

Comments

John Blakeney | 5/26/2004 - 9:50am
Michael Petrelli writes to the editors [Unworthy Reception, May 24-31, 2004], "Is an elected official who is 'wrong' on the issue of tolerating the killing of innocents in abortions any worse than an elected official who is 'wrong' on tolerating the killing and maiming of innocents in order to bring democracy to Iraq?"

The answer from an ethical perspective is "yes". Murder ("wrong") is the deliberate taking of an innocent human life. Abortion is certainly deliberate and the fetus is certainly innocent. The killing of innocent civilians in a war is not a deliberate act, it is an unfortunate and unintended consequence. As horrible and inhuman as these deaths are, they are not the moral equivalent of murder since the intention of the acts of war is not the deliberate killing of innocent civilians. Any Catholic, indeed any human, must be horrified and deeply saddened by the death of any innocent person (is outrage over the deaths of innocent civilians in Iraq reasonably proportional to the overall lack of outrage over the exponentially greater number of the deaths of innocent civilians in Sudan?), but Mr. Petrelli makes a fallacious arguement by making these deaths the moral equivalent of abortion.

John Blakeney | 5/26/2004 - 9:50am
Michael Petrelli writes to the editors [Unworthy Reception, May 24-31, 2004], "Is an elected official who is 'wrong' on the issue of tolerating the killing of innocents in abortions any worse than an elected official who is 'wrong' on tolerating the killing and maiming of innocents in order to bring democracy to Iraq?"

The answer from an ethical perspective is "yes". Murder ("wrong") is the deliberate taking of an innocent human life. Abortion is certainly deliberate and the fetus is certainly innocent. The killing of innocent civilians in a war is not a deliberate act, it is an unfortunate and unintended consequence. As horrible and inhuman as these deaths are, they are not the moral equivalent of murder since the intention of the acts of war is not the deliberate killing of innocent civilians. Any Catholic, indeed any human, must be horrified and deeply saddened by the death of any innocent person (is outrage over the deaths of innocent civilians in Iraq reasonably proportional to the overall lack of outrage over the exponentially greater number of the deaths of innocent civilians in Sudan?), but Mr. Petrelli makes a fallacious arguement by making these deaths the moral equivalent of abortion.

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