Important Parallels

In his article, Some Forgotten Lessons (4/25), Jason R. Rowe illustrated some important parallels between American military attitudes now, as seen in Afghanistan and Iraq, and those that were operative in El Salvador during the 1980’s. The Salvador Option is truly an insidious concept, when one remembers what the government-sponsored death squads did in the name of fighting Communism in El Salvador during those years. (One such death squad took a friend of mine captive, poured acid on his arms and left him for dead simply because they could not find his brother, whom they suspected of being a guerrilla sympathizer.) But as much as I agreed with Rowe’s analysis, I felt it was torpedoed at the end of the article when he misidentified (twice) the Frente Farabundo Marti de Liberacion Nacional (F.M.L.N) as the Frente Sandanista (sic) de Liberaci6n Nacional (F.S.L.N.). Wrong country (Nicaragua). Wrong year (1979). Wrong spelling (Sandinista).

Dick Howard
San Jose, Calif.

Sobering Observations

I enjoyed the review of the miniseries Revelations, by James Martin, S.J., so much that I read it aloud to some friends last night and had them rolling in the aisles! They are convinced that Father Martin is related to Andy Rooney because of his dry wit. Yet some of his observations are quite sobering, particularly his remarks about the way Catholics are portrayed. I would add a corollary: we can laugh because we know the truth. How many people are taking what they see on television and in movies and read in novels about Catholics as gospel (you should excuse the expression), and how many Catholics believe what they learn from those same sources about Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and so on? Scary or funny?

Gail A. MacLean
Norwalk, Conn.

Redeeming Qualities

Thank you for a wonderful reflection on N.Y.P.D. Blue, by Jim McDermott, S.J. (4/25). Both my husband and I watched the show religiously. Even though each of our professions helps us know full well the groans and aches of crime and unhappiness, we never tired of the nuanced redeeming qualities the characters in the show displayed week after week. Detective Sipowitz rarely disappointed us in taking the higher ground, and various aspects of the show over the years increased our faith by showing us how often and in how many subtle ways people on each episode not only tried to be better people but helped each other be better people as well. Father McDermott did the show and your readers a great service by his remarks. Rarely does television deliver such quality. We will miss the weekly ritual.

Peggy Boyle
Bronx, N.Y.

Christ Present

It has been my intention to write this letter for some time about the weekly column The Word, by Dianne Bergant, C.S.A. When the mind is sterile and the imagination is in paralysis, many times a reading of her column jump-starts them. Her insights into Scripture and her practical application of these verses are marvelous. Not only does she ignite material for a well-received homily, but the material provides fuel for meditation. May the Holy Spirit continue to make Christ present to us through this gifted lady.

Jeremiah McGinley, O.F.M.
Fair Lawn, N.J.

Reaching Out

I am pleased that Benedict XVI (5/9) is reaching out to everyone. I like it too that he who has been perceived as an intransigent watchdog of the deposit of faith officially acknowledges that theological dialogue is necessary. Likewise surprising to me is that a longtime Vatican Curia member, seemingly bent on promoting centralization, is re-invoking Vatican II’s collegial communion.

Moreover, after hearing a religion expert on Deutsche Welle predict that Benedict XVI would be soft on social issues and hard on dogma, I am especially heartened that the new pope has expressed his concern for those living in the desert of poverty, of hunger and thirst, of abandonment and loneliness, of destroyed love. And what a delight to note that Benedict XVIas though taking the cue from the last paragraph of your editorialhas made his own the discouraged fishermen’s obedience to the Lord’s command to put out into the deep.

But the proof of the teaching is in the doing. So I look forward to papal pronouncements being consistent with papal actions throughout Benedict XVI’s ministry. He will thus, I hope and pray, give an explanation to anyone asking for a reason for our hope and prove wrong those who would accuse and malign him. Thus also, I believe, he will truly lay his hands on us, so that we may receive the Holy Spirit and be assured that Jesus is with us always.

Ross Reyes Dizon
Vallejo, Calif.

Other Factors

The Disturbing Trends Behind Parish Closings, by Joseph Claude Harris, (5/2) contends that the supply of ordained priests is what determines parish foundations and closings. As a diocesan pastoral planner, I would suggest that other factors weigh equally in planning decisions. Some of the other factors are: parish data about membership and sacramental information; demographics, which help identify population trends; diocesan criteria or standards for vitality and viability, which assess how parishes carry out the mission; stewardship, which challenges parishes to share, consolidate and collaborate on resources; economics of financing a parish and its ministries, which continues to change.

Closing parishes is one solution to complex situations that most dioceses inherited from previous practices, such as ethnic parishes, building parishes in every small rural town or overbuilding after World War II and during the baby boom. A number of dioceses have developed creative ways for parishes to collaborate on personnel, ministries, programs and resources without closing parishes or by allowing the determination to be made on a local level.

Mark C. Kemmeter
New Ulm, Minn.

Comments

Joseph Parisi | 5/7/2005 - 11:10am
It is with great relief that I hear of the news of the replacement of this publications editor-in-chief.

The positions advocated by many of the article authors in the recent past have presented, quite frankly, a great embarrasment to many Catholics in America. An embarrassment, I might add, that was not even partially offset by an legitimate claim to a religious discourse within the magazine. The lack of printed opposing views (those supported by the Vatican) was obvious and apparent.

My hope is that future issues will, at the least, offer a true balance of views in both the articles selected for publication and the editorial positions.

News of the Firing of Father Reese | 5/7/2005 - 4:58pm
To the Editor:

The forced resignation of Thomas Reese from the editor's chair at America Magazine is an outrage.

Under the stewardship of Father Reese, America has been a bright beacon of insight for American Catholics looking for objectivity in the discussion of religious isssues.

That the new Pope is apparently responsible for this action bodes ill for the future of honest debate about important issues.

Thanks to Father Reese for a job well done.

James P. Cooney Professor of English Montgomery County Community College Blue Bell, PA

James Friedel, OSA | 5/7/2005 - 8:40am
Dear Editors,

How sad, how very sad, to hear of the ouster of Tom Reese after seven years as editor of America. What on earth is the CDF afraid of (no doubt at the instigation of some of our the American bishops)that we cannot tolerate scholarly discussion of important issues facing our Church and society. That it happens at the beginning of Benedict's pontificate only muddies the waters. I wish Drew Chritiansen well, but that is not the point. It's just sad that we have to lose of man of Tom Reese's stature. I wish Tom well. I hope he continues to write and to enable us to think larger than we otherwise might.

(Rev)James Friedel, OSA

Burt Harrington | 5/9/2005 - 12:20pm
My wife and I are in agreement with comments by Fr. Jeremiah McGinley, O.F.M. about The Word that Sister Diane Bergant provides in each issue. We were heart broken when Fr. John Donahue's name no longer appeared with the column. It took a few issues to wean ourselves and to appreciate the every day connections that were being presented. Fr. Donahue laughed heartily when we met him at Georgetown University and told him how much the column had improved.
Maria Procaccino | 5/10/2005 - 9:10am
with the departure of Tom Reese from America are we now seeing the reving up of the FESIO FActor influence on the church? If we don't discuss "it," "it" will just go away. During the weeks of media coverage first of the death and burial of John Paul II,the conclave and eventual election of Ratzinger now Benedit, Tom Reese gave a true and sane vision of the churh to the world thru his TV interviews. He is articulate, estreemely knowlagble and rational, unlike the ravings of FESIO on Meet the Press. Reese gave a human, sane face to our church, who will be this nationla face of the CAtholic Church from now on??? Call me crazy but hearing statemnts like " we desire a smaller, more faithful, pure and orthodox church" reminds me more of the writings of the Grand Inquisitor, Hitler's Mein Kempf and Pol Pot of Cambodia than the inclusive teaching of Jesus Christ.

GOd Bless you, Tom in everything you do!

Mary Margaret Flynn MD | 5/8/2005 - 12:55pm
Dear Editor:This letter is in response to News Brief about Father Reese "stepping down" as editor of America: After hearing on the TV, and then checking it out on News Brief on America's web site, about Father Reese "stepping down" and praying about this I thought: Surely what Jesus said from the cross, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do" are to me the most hopeful words--first for me but particularly in relationship to heirarchially imposted silencing of free, faithful and fruitful lovers of Christ. May men and women, and in particular Fathers Reese and Father Haight, S.Js. continue in spite of Vatacin sancioned silencing, to be yeast in the dough of our Church and graced signs of the times.

Msgr. David A. Sork | 5/9/2005 - 2:11pm
I was shocked to hear of the resignation of Fr. Thomas Reese as editor in chief. As I have read the magazine over the years, I have seen the improvement in its quality under his leadership. It has been the voice of moderation on issues of the Church. Even when I did not agree with some of the articles, I have found them to be consistently thought provoking and respective of the intelligence of its readers. I pray that we are not heading into an era of thought supression that typified the Church of the early 1900s. I am a bit consoled knowing that that era was molified after the death ofius X by the peace making efforts of Benedict XV, the namesake of our new Pontiff. Am I hoping against hope? Msgr. David A. Sork Pastor St. John Fisher Church Rancho Palos Verdes P.S. For sake of truth in reporting, I should add that Tom and I were high school classmates.

Joseph Parisi | 5/7/2005 - 11:10am
It is with great relief that I hear of the news of the replacement of this publications editor-in-chief.

The positions advocated by many of the article authors in the recent past have presented, quite frankly, a great embarrasment to many Catholics in America. An embarrassment, I might add, that was not even partially offset by an legitimate claim to a religious discourse within the magazine. The lack of printed opposing views (those supported by the Vatican) was obvious and apparent.

My hope is that future issues will, at the least, offer a true balance of views in both the articles selected for publication and the editorial positions.

News of the Firing of Father Reese | 5/7/2005 - 4:58pm
To the Editor:

The forced resignation of Thomas Reese from the editor's chair at America Magazine is an outrage.

Under the stewardship of Father Reese, America has been a bright beacon of insight for American Catholics looking for objectivity in the discussion of religious isssues.

That the new Pope is apparently responsible for this action bodes ill for the future of honest debate about important issues.

Thanks to Father Reese for a job well done.

James P. Cooney Professor of English Montgomery County Community College Blue Bell, PA

James Friedel, OSA | 5/7/2005 - 8:40am
Dear Editors,

How sad, how very sad, to hear of the ouster of Tom Reese after seven years as editor of America. What on earth is the CDF afraid of (no doubt at the instigation of some of our the American bishops)that we cannot tolerate scholarly discussion of important issues facing our Church and society. That it happens at the beginning of Benedict's pontificate only muddies the waters. I wish Drew Chritiansen well, but that is not the point. It's just sad that we have to lose of man of Tom Reese's stature. I wish Tom well. I hope he continues to write and to enable us to think larger than we otherwise might.

(Rev)James Friedel, OSA

Burt Harrington | 5/9/2005 - 12:20pm
My wife and I are in agreement with comments by Fr. Jeremiah McGinley, O.F.M. about The Word that Sister Diane Bergant provides in each issue. We were heart broken when Fr. John Donahue's name no longer appeared with the column. It took a few issues to wean ourselves and to appreciate the every day connections that were being presented. Fr. Donahue laughed heartily when we met him at Georgetown University and told him how much the column had improved.
Maria Procaccino | 5/10/2005 - 9:10am
with the departure of Tom Reese from America are we now seeing the reving up of the FESIO FActor influence on the church? If we don't discuss "it," "it" will just go away. During the weeks of media coverage first of the death and burial of John Paul II,the conclave and eventual election of Ratzinger now Benedit, Tom Reese gave a true and sane vision of the churh to the world thru his TV interviews. He is articulate, estreemely knowlagble and rational, unlike the ravings of FESIO on Meet the Press. Reese gave a human, sane face to our church, who will be this nationla face of the CAtholic Church from now on??? Call me crazy but hearing statemnts like " we desire a smaller, more faithful, pure and orthodox church" reminds me more of the writings of the Grand Inquisitor, Hitler's Mein Kempf and Pol Pot of Cambodia than the inclusive teaching of Jesus Christ.

GOd Bless you, Tom in everything you do!

Mary Margaret Flynn MD | 5/8/2005 - 12:55pm
Dear Editor:This letter is in response to News Brief about Father Reese "stepping down" as editor of America: After hearing on the TV, and then checking it out on News Brief on America's web site, about Father Reese "stepping down" and praying about this I thought: Surely what Jesus said from the cross, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do" are to me the most hopeful words--first for me but particularly in relationship to heirarchially imposted silencing of free, faithful and fruitful lovers of Christ. May men and women, and in particular Fathers Reese and Father Haight, S.Js. continue in spite of Vatacin sancioned silencing, to be yeast in the dough of our Church and graced signs of the times.

Msgr. David A. Sork | 5/9/2005 - 2:11pm
I was shocked to hear of the resignation of Fr. Thomas Reese as editor in chief. As I have read the magazine over the years, I have seen the improvement in its quality under his leadership. It has been the voice of moderation on issues of the Church. Even when I did not agree with some of the articles, I have found them to be consistently thought provoking and respective of the intelligence of its readers. I pray that we are not heading into an era of thought supression that typified the Church of the early 1900s. I am a bit consoled knowing that that era was molified after the death ofius X by the peace making efforts of Benedict XV, the namesake of our new Pontiff. Am I hoping against hope? Msgr. David A. Sork Pastor St. John Fisher Church Rancho Palos Verdes P.S. For sake of truth in reporting, I should add that Tom and I were high school classmates.

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