The very fact that John O. Mudd does not mention religious brothers along with sisters and priests in running Catholic health institutions in his article From C.E.O. to Mission Leader (7/18) leads me to believe that he is not aware of the success of the Alexian Brothers in combining sound management practices with a sense of mission. Some time ago they stopped running old red brick facilities and now have replaced them with at least six modern institutions stretching from Milwaukee to Signal Mountain, Tenn., all of them recognized for maintaining their sense of mission combined with management expertise. A few brothers and many dedicated lay leaders have done this.
Your editorial In Katrina’s Wake (9/19) winds among many topics but eventually makes its way to finally express the view: What the citizens of the United States deserve now from their elected leaders is a serious and honest review of what Hurricane Katrina has told us about our society... and then you list several major questions.
Technical questionsHow did it happen? How can it be prevented in the future?will receive little resistance among any audience. But several other questionsHow does it relate to global warming? Why so many African-Americans? Why so many poor?are not technical questions. They are social ones, and even raising them will meet resistance.
The answers to those questions and the plans of action in their regard are not simply in the hands of the elected officials. I can very easily send the list back to the government and say, Do something. What I am painfully aware of is that those answers are not with government or not just with government. The answers are within the hearts of each of us. Is the Spirit speaking to us here?
Thank you for publishing Valerie Schultz’s Emotional Oology (9/26). It is wonderful to find someone doing theological reflection on family-focused events, being eloquent while addressing matters to which so many people can relate. I only wish that you had a man contribute in a similar manner periodically. There are plenty of men contributing, but usually on traditional theological or political issues. I imagine I am not the only man with young children who wants help reflecting on this important part of his life.
The article A Blueprint for Change, by Thomas J. Healey, (9/26) highlighted the recommendations of the new National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management. One sentence in the article was particularly revealing. The Leadership Roundtable called on bishops to create a strong performance review program for priests, religious brothers and sisters and lay ministers. I found this statement disturbing, as it made no mention of permanent deacons who increasingly serve the church in greater numbers. But this is not unusual. It seems that in many church circles, the diaconate is an unknown ministry, even though its growth rate since its restoration after Vatican II has been remarkable. I think the Leadership Roundtable needs to educate itself further on just who comprises the leadership in the church it is trying to advise.
(Deacon) Steve Bermick
Rev. Michael S. Driscoll, in Sending Us Forth (10/3), rightly draws attention to the great potential for mission in the dismissal rite at Mass. As Greg Pierce, former president of our Chicago-based National Center for the Laity, says: If we get the dismissal rite right, we get everything right.
Father Driscoll suggests special dismissal blessings for eucharistic ministers and social ministers, people who volunteer in soup kitchens. The N.C.L. believes that the mission of the church is best advanced by ordinary workers allergic to injustice Monday through Saturday. Therefore it is workers, not so much in-house ministers, who should be commissioned by a special blessing during each dismissal rite.
I can understand Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas’s euphoria at seeing the nightmare of litigation come to an end, but he should not get too carried away (Healing Through Bankruptcy, 9/26). The picture of plaintiff trial lawyers trying to hold back their tears simply strains credulity. And the bishop repeatedly talks of fair compensation for those harmed and of victims, as if the only harmed victims were the molested children. In fact, the victims include all the innocent priests whose reputations have been tarnished and the innocent laymen who have seen their diocese impoverished.
I thought, when your last editor was shot down by the Vatican, that we would begin to see nothing but articles with the backbone of a wet noodle.
A Blueprint for Change by Thomas J. Healey (9/26) contradicted my thought. It was in the shadow and representative of Frederick Gluck’s fine essays, Crisis Management in the Church (12/1/03) and Can the Church Learn From Wal-Mart? (5/17/04).
Thank goodness the Vatican does not censor letters to the editor. Michael McGreevy’s reply in this section hit the matter on the head (10/10). The church is in trouble because the laity are left out. Bishops and clergy are involved in matters for which they are not trained, and they do not seem to be reading, listening or improving for the most part. Bishops, I believe, are afraid of lay involvement, although nearly every happening tells us that the laity should be involved.
Regarding the pedophile scandal: not one cardinal’s or bishop’s head has rolled, even though they knew of the actions of clergy they supervised. My suggestion: let a bishop serve in that capacity for only eight years maximum and then bring back his expertise to a parish, just as in many religious orders the provincial superior returns to another job that has less authority or reduced demands. This should bring them back to reality more humble and more dependent on the laity. At the same time, more clerics could share in a temporary leadership role as an eight-year bishop and develop accordingly.
We have, I believe, developed a Vatican-directed insider organization and have gotten away from Christ’s desire for his followers. All women and men of good will are insiders.
Royal Oak, Md.
In the past two years our parish has suffered a series of body blows that have seriously undermined its life and spirit. At the last meeting of our parish council, our pastor challenged us to come up with ways to revitalize the spiritual life of the parish. After Mass this evening, his assistant called me aside to consult about buying stands to place more votive candles in the church. He indicated that this is something the pastor feels will foster an increase in piety in our parish. This is, I assume, one of the pastor’s answers to his own challenge. While catching up on my reading tonight, I encountered Judith Kubicki’s article, Christ Among Us (10/3). I intend to make copies of this article and bring them to our next council meeting. This will be my response to the pastor’s challenge.
Spring Valley, Ill.