Respectful Appreciation

In Aquinas in Africa (2/6), Thomas F. O’Meara, O.P., suggests that an African attitude toward technology and economic growth will influence how Africans think about Christianity. When I read this statement, it seemed to me that the opposite was true: that one’s fuller understanding of Christianity would influence how one regards technology and economic growth. In ordinary parlance, technology and economic growth are equated with progresswhich is never very well defined.

It is fairly clear that current technology is not harmonious with the earth’s processes. We are using the gifts of the earth at an unsustainable rate, which is not only unwise and inequitable, but also an affront to the creator who bestowed them. Is the author implying that the African attitude toward technology and economic growthand presumably toward progressis innately closer to a respectful appreciation and utilization of earth’s treasures than is often accepted? People close to the earth do seem to have a deeper understanding and bond with creation.

Dean Brackley, S.J., well points out in the same issue that while contemporary society [offers students] jobs, the only vocation it seems to propose is getting and spending. It is in our Christian faith that we are taught the vocation to love and serve.

The message of the Gospel, then, should inform the technological and economic strategies that humanity employsin Africa and elsewhere.

Sheila Murphy, O.S.U.
Bronx, N.Y.

Strong Impression

America’s editorial, The Vatican Instruction on Priestly Formation, (1/30) is commendable for its concern that men and women with a homosexual orientation not be marginalized or scapegoated from taking their rightful place in the church because of the sexual abuse crisis.

The editorial states that there is no credible, empirical evidence to connect homosexuality with pedophilia or ephebophilia. Based on my knowledge of sexual abuse by clergy as reported in the Philadelphia media, most of the local incidents involved adult men and males under the age of 18. This may not be statistically valid, but it leaves a strong impression on the average person that homosexuality was a contributing factor in the majority of the cases.

Cornelius Carr
Philadelphia, Pa.

Spiritual Leadership

I am writing in response to the honest and thoughtful letter to the editors by Fathers Joseph and Philip Breen, entitled Grave Crisis (2/6). I congratulate and thank them for their willingness to speak out so eloquently about the priest shortage we face today. I agree with them totally.

We do, as the Breens have pointed out so well, have a real crisis. And I cannot believe that a change in this Catholic tradition of celibacy would not produce quickly a flood of new applicants to undertake this needed vocation. What bothers me the most about this is my personal convictionverified over and over in conversations with othersthat our people in the pews find almost no meaning in the fact that their priests are celibate. And yet I see priests struggling to maintain this most difficult lifestyle, priests leaving their chosen work because they cannot maintain a celibate lifestyle, and fewer and fewer young people being attracted to this needed vocation precisely because of the celibacy requirement.

Isn’t it time that we had an honest and full discussion about this in the church we all love so much? Isn’t it time that we listen to the voice of the Spirit speaking to us through the voices of the Breens and many others? If we don’t, then we won’t be able to provide this world with the spiritual leadership it so badly needs in these very frightening times.

Ted Zerwin
Westminster, Colo.

Crossing Over

The letters by the Fathers Breen (2/6) and Carolyn Disco (2/13) concerning alarm over the vocation shortage could be tempered with just a cursory glance at the history of the Catholic Church. Since the time of Jesus, the church has experienced major crises and scandals. Despite all, it is a potent force in the world today. It is also the largest nongovernmental helping organization in the world. The Roman Catholic Church will be here long after we have crossed over.

Joseph P. Nolan
Waterbury, Conn.

Cutting Edge

As a longtime subscriber, I add my voice to those in several letters calling for more cutting-edge content and style (1/16). America is safe, predictable and heady, with a few noteworthy and welcome exceptions.

As a priest, I have witnessed first-hand how clericalism in the clergy and laity has crippled the mission of Christ in and through the church. The priests who persevere are exhausted, the preaching is generally irrelevant or worse, and the laity are bored, scandalized and feeling powerless. We all need America to be a voice for justice and structural change, not a supporter of unaccountable bishops and the status quo.

(Rev.) Timothy Stier
Oakland, Calif.

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