Embarrassed and Offended

We were embarrassed to have readers call our attention to the offensive advertisement that escaped our unknowing eyes and appeared in the Dec. 5 issue. Like them, we were deeply offended.

The offense was compounded when we learned in the advertisers reply to a concerned reader that he had intended his art as an assault on Catholic faith and devotion.

We have taken several steps to tighten our advance review of advertising and express our outrage to the artist.

Our thanks to our readers and their friends for their sensitivity and forgiveness.

The Editors

Humanitarian Emergency

This is late, but thank you for the Rev. Donald H. Dunson’s article, A War on Children, (10/10) about northern Uganda. We who are here can hardly believe that this could happen, much less that it has been going on since 1986. I can imagine the incredulity and paralysis of those who are just hearing about the largest neglected humanitarian emergency in the world, as the United Nations described it.

Readers who want to learn more and perhaps pray and take some action could check www.ugandacan.org, associated with the Africa Faith and Justice Network in Washington, D.C. Walks and prayerful witness took place recently in 40 cities worldwide, including several in the United States.

Carlos Rodriguez, a Comboni father, whom you pictured, has made the church here proud, and the government often upset, as a fearless advocate for peace and for more relief to the 1.6 million people trapped in horrendous protected camps. Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu and other religious leaders there, united ecumenically, have been no less inspiring.

And am I the only reader touched by the haunting cover photo by Don Doll, S.J. (10/31)? He wonderfully captures the dignity of southern Sudanese youth and their determination still to find a future despite the destruction of their country. I am proud that the Jesuit Refugee Service has been with them in Uganda and is now accompanying them home.

Tony Wach, S.J.
Kampala, Uganda

Missing

Something I look forward to every week has been missingthe wonderful cartoon series Without Guile. I try to figure out the name of that memorable person, who is not listed, and I don’t know which editor deals with the one cartoonist you’ve published in these many months. At times I think it was the cartoon that made my day and gave me a bit of conversation, a lasting smile, a new insight into my human frailty. Where is it? Why isn’t it there?

Rafael Tilton, O.S.F.
Victor, Mont.

Christian Conviction

I appreciated Bishop Donald Trautman’s article, Our Daily Bread’ (10/3). My response may be somewhat delayed because it takes quite some time to receive copies of America on this side of the Atlantic Ocean and below the equator. I went to the recent synod with many of the same concerns and questions that he raises. The unique experience of the encounter that participating in a synod offers brought something home to me from hearing the local experiences of our worldwide church, including the input from the Eastern churches and other Christian churches.

A deep conviction grew in me that we Christians are often very deficient, even impoverished, in our preparation to celebrate and receive the Eucharist. And I don’t mean liturgical preparation. I mean the way we live our everyday lives. Jesus’ gift of himself in the Eucharist is part of his ongoing, completely selfless offering. The Eucharist is the fruit of his human lifestyle of selfless giving and self-sacrifice to the point of death. A similar lifestyle is our preparation for and way of living Eucharist.

The erosion of selflessness and willingness to sacrifice is, I believe, a main casualty in our increasingly materialistic, individualistic, consumerist and secularist culture. Our social institutions suffer from a dearth of people truly motivated to give themselves selflessly for others. Marriage and family suffer from the erosion and loss of the love that is willing to accept the patient and selfless long-suffering that life together inevitably demands. The shortage of priests is also, perhaps, a result of reluctance to give of oneself to the point of sacrifice. Those at the synod from other Christian churches were quick to tell us that their churches also experience the same vocation shortage.

In an era when the Eucharist has been made increasingly available, we are, paradoxically, decreasingly selfless and self-sacrificing in the way we live our daily lives, rendering ourselves less ready to celebrate and receive this priceless gift, the summit and source of our union with Christ and of our life as church.

We need to rediscover and live the values of sacrifice, self-offering and selflessness before we can even begin to speak of the immense gift of the Eucharist as a right to be claimed.

(Most Rev.) Edward Risi, O.M.I.
Keimoes-Upington, South Africa

Available Analysis

Global Trade and the Common Good, by Andrew Small, O.M.I., (12/12) is an excellent discussion of the recent history of world trade rules, and of what was at stake as the World Trade Organization talks were about to begin in Hong Kong. He quotes Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., of Chicago in remarks intended to raise warnings about the effect of new trade agreements on the poor of the world. His analysis, and that of Cardinal George, raise questions of which I, for one, had not been aware.

I am wondering why, with this kind of analysis available to them (Father Small is an advisor to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Cardinal George is its vice president), the bishops had no better advice this summer than vote your conscience, as they appealed to Catholics to call or write to their representatives in Congress regarding the proposed Central American Free Trade Act.

Any ready jibes aside, it is insulting to ask merely that Congressmen vote their consciences. So weak and unspecific a request from the bishops is futile and unworthy. They might have commissioned Father Small and Cardinal George to apply their obvious expertise to the problem.

If the bishops are going to tiptoe around controversial issues without offering research, analysis and specific recommendations, they probably should not take a position at all.

Peter C. Boulay
Bronx, N.Y.

Truth Expressed

Religious Liberty by John A. Coleman, S.J., (11/28) was a most enlightening article pointing out that although our church has come a long way, we still have a long way to go. The most problematic attitude is the attempt on the part of some church authorities to want whole countries to follow Catholic teaching. This was certainly not possible in the early days of the United States, because Catholics were a distinct minority and even discriminated against. Now that the church constitutes a large segment of society, we see an attempt to influence politics, elections and laws on the part of some bishops. But this is a very select morality, concentrating particularly on abortion. The U.S. bishops have said that they oppose war and capital punishment, but they do not do anything to stop politicians from supporting these.

The point of religious freedom is that the truth cannot be imposed; it must show itself in its own power, not by punishment or exclusion, but by itself.

When the only way that truth can be expressed is through authority, then it has already lost its power.

Lucy Fuchs
Brandon, Fla.

Practicalities

The discussion of immigration/migration by George M. Anderson, S.J., in an Of Many Things column (11/14) moves me to ask that you provide guidance on this very contentious and serious subject.

What are the guiding principles involved, especially when justice and charity seem to clash very quickly when discussion about what to do with an estimated 12 million illegal residents raises very opposing solutions? Father Anderson mentions the selection of migration as an apostolic priority for your religious order. Are there guiding principles that constitute a framework for reasonable discussion of what our country might do to solve the present problem of de facto alien residents and control the future influx that seems to be emphatically forecast?

Suddenly President George W. Bush is saying he will control our borders. Politics and pressure seem to be awakening the government to the many problems of illegal residents and the ease with which potential terrorists can enter the country. But how do we treat those whom we have allowed to live for years in the country? I would appreciate reading articles that first would address the principles that need to be applied and then coverage of the politics and practicalities of the opposing solutions.

Patrick Desmond
Pearl River, N.Y.

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