In the whirligig of Philippine politics, faceless power brokers in the shadows are constantly trying to destabilize the elected government (Current Comment, 4/24).
When the maverick Col. Gregorio Gringo Honasan led the final coup attempt against then-President Cory Aquino, a major Manila daily published my single-sentence letter: After six coup attempts, who is behind them? That question remains unanswered. Honasan, instead of being shot for treason, was later elected senator!
Nor has it ever come to light who ordered the assassination of Ninoy Aquino when he stepped off a plane from Boston in Manila airport. A handful of foot soldiers, including the triggermen, are, of course, in prison. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo must watch her back.
I served in the Philippines for over a decade and sadly observe that with all the fun and games in Manila, the long-suffering Philippine people are worse off than ever.
(Rev.) George P. Carlin
A few years ago when I was living in Manila, a Thai colleague asked me, How come whenever they show Thailand in the media they usually show magnificent temples or beautiful Thai dancers, but when they show the Philippines all they ever show is that mountain of trash with people crawling over it? Now America (4/3) has displayed that image yet again. Yes, that dump is disgraceful, but when it is shown over and over again, it does a great disservice to the Philippines and the Filipino people. There are more representative scenes of the Philippines, and there are many Filipinos, including young graduates from Catholic universities, who work tirelessly to alleviate the poverty that afflicts their less fortunate brothers and sisters. Why not show pictures of them?
Francis J. Murray
The Muslim Mystery, by John F. Kavanaugh, S.J., (3/20) contains a rare consideration of the point of view of a Palestinian Muslim. After almost 60 years since the partitioning of Palestine, it is about time for us to identify some of the root problems at the heart of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Among issues that have always puzzled me are:
1. Why are there two partitions in Palestine? I can understand either one East-West partition or even one North-South partition, but not the two strange partitions that were created. Who conceived them? Were the people living there involved?
2. Much private property in Israel has changed hands. How were the exchanges handled?
3. How did such a formidable and well-equipped Israeli army suddenly appear out of nowhere in a country that did not even exist before the partitions? Was this army involved in the exodus of the Palestinians?
4. Why does our country support Israel unconditionally? And why is our aid to Israel never debated in Congress? The use by the Israelis of U.S. tanks and bulldozers against the Palestinians has not endeared us in the Arab world.
5. Israel has the right to exist. Do not the Palestinians have a similar right?
6. The Jewish people were mercilessly persecuted mainly in eastern Europe. Why wasn’t a part of it carved out for the Jewish state?
Our unconditional support of one side in this conflict has been a catastrophic failure, which already has had devastating consequencesnot only in the Mideast, but around the globe. Civilization, at best only marginally stable, requires care if we want to preserve it. We need an independent referee in this conflict, one deeply committed to justice. Walls and continued settlement activity in the West Bank have not been helpful. If Israel, the entire Mideast and a large part of the rest of the world are ever to live in peace, something must change. Perhaps a fresh look at the origins of the conflict might help.
The cover on the April 3 issue is beautiful, thanks to Tatyana Borodina. For a year or more I have been bringing my copies to a priest resident at Carmel Richmond Nursing Home on Staten Island. He enjoys them immensely and usually wants me to discuss the articles, which I don’t often get to do. Recently he asked me if I didn’t think the articles were getting better and better. I decided to pass along the compliment.
Staten Island, N.Y.
Rev. Michael Kane gives an accurate analysis of the code of conduct situation in most dioceses and, to a lesser extent, the male religious communities in this country in New Standards for Pastoral Care (4/10). He describes the church view of the codes as from a risk-management perspective. He goes on to note the common practice of insurance companies to settle in the interests of the diocese, without consultation or agreement with the accused priest.
So what we have here is a situation in which male ministers and employees of the Catholic Church are to be considered risks to be managed, sort of along the lines of, Isn’t it better that one man die, etc. Then the bishops can ignore their responsibilities to the clergy, who have given their lives to the church, because it is expedient and the insurance company said so. They can also ignore Canon 220, stipulating the right to one’s good name.
If this enlightened episcopal self-interest existed 2,000 years ago, Jesus would have told Mary and Martha that he couldn’t raise Lazarus because he had a relationship with the family. No wonder we have a shortage of priests.
(Deacon) Thomas E. Brandlin
Los Angeles, Calif.