Time for Reflection

After reading Of Many Things, by James Martin, S.J., (3/14), I am saddened that any of my fellow America readers would write in nasty or vituperative terms. I would have hoped that people who subscribe to such a publication as yours would have outgrown such tricks. It is possible to express deep anger and disagreement without resorting to that sort of language, especially in any activity that allows as much time for reflection as does composing and mailing a letter.

Phyllis Ann Karr
Barnes, Wis.

Subsidize Children

I write to express a view opposite to that of Michael McGreevey (Letters, 3/21) on housing. To help the poor with housing, it would be better to provide a tax subsidy. A still better idea is to subsidize children, regardless of their family income, and at a level so that their families can afford housing. Then you will get more housing where people need it and more children, with fewer abortions and less contraception.

Michael Bindner
Alexandria, Va.

Peaceful Ways

After thought and prayer in reaction to the interview of John Dear, S.J., by George M. Anderson, S.J., (3/7), the following questions and thoughts come to mind.

Is it possible to achieve greater results toward peace and nonviolence by more peaceable methods? When we demonstrate overtly, we annoy persons and make situations worse. In the ordinary course of life, reaction with anger often makes our situation worse.

We often cite examples from the life of Jesus to bolster our stand. Jesus first spent many hours in prayer with the Father and the Spirit, and his words and actions were directed to the conversion of those around him. His way contrasted sharply with all the harshness we read about in the Old Testament.

As I look back at instances in my own life and work, it becomes more and more clear which way works and which way agitates.

Years ago I had the opportunity to meet Dorothy Day, when she came to visit in Minnesota for quiet time for her writings. As we gathered to listen to her, I was aware of a deep sadness in her. I have been glad that she helped the poor, hungry and homeless. Many of us have tried to live in this way through the years. Yet joy is indicative of the presence of the Spirit.

For the past 30 years I have been involved in parish ministry and the work of Nazareth House. Piet Van Breeman, S.J., and George Maloney, S.J., write about how Jesus, Mary and Joseph grew to maturity in their human lives at Nazareth. In our offering hospitality and a place of listening at Nazareth House, the whole issue of maturity looms large. As we mature we hear the Lord’s peaceable ways, with which to guide our own life and help others.

St. Benedict offers in his rule a way of listening to and praying with Scripture, with the goal of arriving at humility wherein we come to know in truth who we are. We are then able to listen and pray with others as they eke out their life.

Prayer, dialogue and service seem to be more peaceful ways of helping ourselves and others arrive at peace in word and action.

Jacqueline Sailer, D.H.M.
Deming, N.M.

Current Problems

The responses in the issue of 4/4 to earlier articles about the annulment process reminded me of a marriage preparation program in 1950, in which annulment was briefly discussed. The priest moderating the program advised that there was only one reason for which an annulment would be granted. That reason was non-consummation. Then he added, But just try to prove it. To think what one might have to endure to attempt to prove it translated in my mind to, My church does not trust me.

The present annulment procedure apparently is more open but still carries a significant implication that our church does not trust us. There are other occurrences in the current troubles within the church that are, in my view, further manifestations of a lack of trust by the hierarchy for us who sit in the pews. The reluctance of many bishops to open the records of their administration is another indicator of their lack of trust for us.

Could it be that a countervailing sentiment from the pews expressing a diminished sense of trust in the hierarchy is one of the roots of current problems in the church?

John L. Coakley Jr.
Kansas City, Mo.

Foundations of Renewal

Thanks to Peter Bernardi, S.J., for his article, A Passion for Unity, on Yves Congar, O.P. (4/4). Father Congar has been the inspiration of my life. His book Lay People and the Church has provided the basis for lay ministry within my lifetime, and that has provided a powerful base within our modern church. I was proud to have been present when the Dominican Order confirmed the work of Congar, Marie-Dominque Chenu and Edward Schillebeeckx at its general chapter in 1983. These great Dominican theologians have laid the foundations of the renewal of the church. How sad that all three were persecuted by the Vatican prior to the Second Vatican Council and even afterward. When will the church learn that theological investigation is necessary to pursue the truth? Let us hope the new pope will institute reforms.

Nicholas Punch, O.P.
Webster, Wis.

Universal Interest

The article by Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J., on Pope John Paul II as theologian (4/18) prompted me to recall that the gentle professorial demeanor, wisdom, grace and sanctity of the deceased Holy Father are wonderfully illustrated by his pocket-size book Crossing the Threshold of Hope (1994). Each chapter is a response to a question submitted by a journalist. Some of the questions are irreverent, some are reasonable inquiry and some are profound questions that should be asked by all. Each response is appreciative of the question, often enhancing it with deeper meaning. Each response, though usually only a few pages long, gives novel insight into the mind of a most remarkable person.

I am especially impressed by the rich and plentiful biblical insights mixed with philosophy and faith, yet stated in plain language with a very personal touch. The universal interest in this book is measured by the fact that at the time of publication, it was a best seller for many, many weeks. This book is a fine help to know Pope John Paul II better.

Thomas Schneck
San Jose, Calif.

Know Other Cultures

I have just finished a visit to the Jesuit scholastics of Indonesiathe philosophy students in Jakarta, the theology students of Yogyakarta and the novices in Giri Sonta. As secretary for higher education for the Jesuits’ administrative region of East Asia and Oceania, I have the privilege of making such visits to talk with our young men about our work in colleges and universities. In February I met with many of them in the Philippines and in March in Taiwan.

As I prepare to return to my own home in Taiwan I have just finished reading the last issue of America magazine that has reached me, Feb. 21, which I brought with me on my trip. The meeting with these young Jesuits and others in Indonesia reminded me of the great value of America for me as an American living and working abroad for and my fellow Americans in the United States. All of us have to get to know other cultures better.

Bishop Emil A. Wcela’s article, A Dangerous Common Enemy, as well as Looking Into the Heart, by Peter A. Clark, S.J., and The Plight of Iraqi Christians, by Sheila Provencher, are typical examples of necessary reading for all of us. I appreciate very much the efforts you are making to educate us with articles on all sides of the various issues that confront the church and society today.

Daniel Ross, S.J.
Hsinchuang, Taiwan

Proclaimed Blessed

After reading the final paragraph of the review by George M. Anderson, S.J., of the book Birth of a Church (3/28), I could not help thinking of Archbishop Emilio Lisson, C.M.

Appointed archbishop of Lima, Peru, at age 46 in 1918, Lisson was forced to resign and was summoned to Rome by Pius XI in 1931. Peruvian authorities accused himunjustly, it is now being admittedof meddling in politics, mismanagement and lack of theological formation. This son of St. Vincent de Paul showed great love for the poor. He is reported to have given away his episcopal ring to a poor family he met while visiting a poor district of Lima. It is also recounted that he sold a car given him by the then-president of Peru to fund social projects for the poor. This prompted the president to advise the archbishop that the second car he was about to make available to him was only on loan.

Lisson died an exile in Spain in 1961. His mortal remains were not transferred to the Lima cathedral until 1991. The process for his canonization opened in Valencia, Spain, on Sept. 20, 2003.

I believe a similar rehabilitation awaits Joseph Nangle, O.F.M. Such people are, sooner or later, proclaimed blessed: those who act on behalf ofand in collaboration withthose whom the world considers least.’

Ross Reyes Dizon
Vallejo, Calif.

Mend Our Ways

Regarding your editorial Debt Burdens and Poor Countries (3/21), I doubt that many would quarrel with our forgiving poor countries their debt. But shouldn’t the list of poor countries include the United States? As of 2004, our public debt had soared to $7.4 trillion. And according to the Associated Press, foreign banks hold $1.96 trillion of the $4.43 trillion of U.S. bonded debt that was traded on the open market. Altogether, banks of Japan, China and Britain hold U.S. Treasury securities totaling $1.06 trillion, while other nations account for $900 million.

Is it not ironic, then, that the United States, the nation with by far the grandest debt burden of all, is included in the list of G-7 nations that contemplate forgiving other nations’ debts? In addition to the principal, if those debts heretofore have generated interest for the United States Treasury, how shall we replace those funds lost by our act of forgiveness? Shall we sell more bonds to Japan, China and Britain? Has the U.S. government used borrowed funds to make outright gifts of goods and cash to recent tsunami victims in Asia? On which of our own creditor nations may we count to forgive us our debts as we forgive those who owe funds to usand when securities we offer for sale to our creditor nations will have fallen in value to junk-bond status?

We have failed to pay our way. Instead we have extended tax cuts and refunds to people who did not need them, and have failed to fund our budgets for decades. If taxes fall short of budget needs, count on Congress to extend our debt limit. We have waged wars too often, preferring to fund them on borrowed money, and placing on most of us but a small burdensave for countless grieving families in this land who have poured out the lives and bleeding, maiming wounds of thousands of sons, daughters, husbands and wiveslike a libation upon the altar of war.

Pray that we may soon gather the courage and will to recognize and appreciate these sacrifices, and begin to pay our waybefore our appetite for living and dying beyond our means will have brought this, our debtor nation, to its knees.

William B. Strange
Indianapolis, Ind.

Comments

James W. McCulla | 4/20/2005 - 8:10pm
Of all the insightful prescriptions you published on what the new pope should do, none was as compelling as your editorial.

In the panoply of issues you listed -birth control, divorce, church governance and more – none resonated more with me than the shortage of priests.

My mother lived in a priestless parish. The priest who came for her funeral was a wonderful man. But he was very old and walked with a cane. He could not negotiate the snowy cemetery. I read the committal rite.

I cannot say that my mother was devastated when her pastor departed. I think you are beyond that when you are in your 90s. What she was was sad. She missed her pastor and could not understand his disappearance.

Why does it have to be like this? I can name a half dozen men who would make superb pastors and who would be overjoyed to take on the role: mid-40s to 50s, intelligent, well-educated, quick learners, well spoken, compassionate and devout. These men would know how to build and nurture a community. So would their wives.

How about them?

Terence Rafferty | 4/19/2005 - 9:27am
Thank goodness for Martin Marty's contribution to your issue on John Paul II. When I read your editorial, I kept thinking...the effect of John Paul's long papacy has surely filtered down to the pages here and has squelched thoughtful reflection and discussion.

If this continues into the next papacy, may I suggest you consider closing shop?

James W. McCulla | 4/20/2005 - 8:10pm
Of all the insightful prescriptions you published on what the new pope should do, none was as compelling as your editorial.

In the panoply of issues you listed -birth control, divorce, church governance and more – none resonated more with me than the shortage of priests.

My mother lived in a priestless parish. The priest who came for her funeral was a wonderful man. But he was very old and walked with a cane. He could not negotiate the snowy cemetery. I read the committal rite.

I cannot say that my mother was devastated when her pastor departed. I think you are beyond that when you are in your 90s. What she was was sad. She missed her pastor and could not understand his disappearance.

Why does it have to be like this? I can name a half dozen men who would make superb pastors and who would be overjoyed to take on the role: mid-40s to 50s, intelligent, well-educated, quick learners, well spoken, compassionate and devout. These men would know how to build and nurture a community. So would their wives.

How about them?

Terence Rafferty | 4/19/2005 - 9:27am
Thank goodness for Martin Marty's contribution to your issue on John Paul II. When I read your editorial, I kept thinking...the effect of John Paul's long papacy has surely filtered down to the pages here and has squelched thoughtful reflection and discussion.

If this continues into the next papacy, may I suggest you consider closing shop?

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