FIRE, FIRE, HOUSE ON FIRE would have been a better title for your Current Comment Al Gore’s New Mission (7/17). You state that this documentary (I use the term loosely) An Inconvenient Truth, which deals with Gore’s version of global warming, is sobering stuff.
More sobering to me is your illustrious Jesuit magazine buying into the movie hook, line and sinker, and passing your gullibility off to your readers. An Inconvenient Truth is nothing more than an infomercial and propaganda blitz portraying Al Gore as so much more intelligent than us mere mortals.
If Al Gore were selling a product in this movie, the Federal Trade Commission could charge him with false and deceptive advertising. Maybe your magazine could have done some fact checking before presenting the movie to your readers as glowingly as you did, and bestowing on Al Gore the mantle of a genuinely dedicated public servant.
Unfortunately, America lost an opportunity to shed light on this important topic or add anything of substance to the conversation. You have only allowed the uninformed minority to frame the global warming discussion. How unfortunate.
Barbara Ann Mueller, O.P.
I enjoyed the Of Many Things column by Drew Christiansen, S.J., (7/31) about parish consolidation, particularly the reference to the unique speech accent of San Francisco natives (even Italians had it). It came from the area of the Mission district known as South of the Slot, where the immigrant Irish had their flimsy tenements prior to the earthquake of 1906. These parishioners attended the venerable St. Patrick’s on Mission Street (the altar came around the Horn) or St. Joseph’s farther south. Parishes like St. Monica’s out near the beach came into existence only after the quake. That shake-up led to the expansion of both parishes and the spread of this speech to various parts of the city. My dad, born in 1900, had that colorful accent and was proud of it, and the area where he lived in Noe Valley, which has now gone in another direction. It is now known as the Castro. As for me, my speech is California bland. How things changeand we with them.
San Francisco, Calif.
In his piece on parish closings, consolidation and reconfiguration (Of Many Things, 7/31), Drew Christiansen, S.J., barely conceals his qualms about their impact on lay participation and community life. During summer vacations I have been attending Mass in a parish that was the victim of consolidation two years ago. The once vibrant parish is no longer the same. There were three Masses, with a full house each time. There are now two Masses, and the pews are far from being filled. Why should the integrity of a parish be conditional upon the availability of a full-time resident priest, when lay people are fully capable and willing to carry out parish life, sharing a priest from neighboring parishes for spiritual direction and the sacraments? If the present trend of dismantling parishes as pastors retire or die continues, the day will come when each diocese will become one mega-parish.
Father Christiansen’s mention of the closing of St. Paul’s parish in Staten Island (Of Many Things, 7/31) serves as a reminder of the important place parish life and identity play in the Catholic community. That strong sense of parish identity is still alive and thriving on Staten Island. Members of parishes on Staten Island continue to identify themselves by the parishes which they call home. That identity is fostered by a thick web of associations with parish schools and athletic teams that can be seen across the island with signs on the back windows of family vans transporting athletes to baseball, basketball and cheerleading competitions.
The parish of St. Clare still celebrates weekday Mass in its original chapel, even though that chapel was moved from its original site by the men of the parish, who placed it on braces and trucked it up the street in order to make room for a new church 50 years ago. That original chapel was later lifted again to make room for a new faith formation center, which forms the foundation of the original chapel. How’s that for a symbol of a church and a parish ever ancient, ever new?
Staten Island, N.Y.
The Corporate University, by Wilson D. Miscamble, C.S.C., (7/31) was a classica most worthy and essential Catholic response.
Many are aware that the pursuit of profit and monies from any and all sources has long since invaded the university. As a physician, I am most distressed by the spread of this corporatization into the schools of medicine and to health care education in general.
Indeed, acquiring research grants and handsome endowments of federal tax money takes precedence over teaching. And if economically productive, the researcher and/or the corporate university seeks a patent, as if it were solely their right and not for the common good.
The result is even manifest in the young physicians’ practice guidelines. They are advised to avoid Medicaid and often to limit Medicare patients. As upsetting as the commodification of health care is, the indifference of the professional organizations to our society’s abandonment of the poor (the under- and uninsured) seems worse.
In Spain the suffix S.A. is used in place of Inc.; it stands for Society Anonymous. The corporate world of the university is yet another anonymous world; no one is identified as ultimately responsible. Change evolves. It desperately needs redirection toward the common good.
W. J. Duhigg, M. D.
It was good to find a pair of serious articles regarding lay movements (8/14). I appreciate the image of A Symphony of Church Life by Vincent Gragnani, though I have long thought it more like grand opera. At the risk of sounding dissonant, I raise a few questions.
Why is the president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity an archbishop, or indeed a cleric of any order? Are there no educated, faithful lay men (or women) available to fill that seat at the table?
At most colleges, Catholic and secular, campus ministries are disconnected even from parishes in close proximity. What is the reason that so many dioceses overlook these communities?
How can the church embrace her members whose sense of social justice leads them to join Pax Christi, Voice of the Faithful, Dignity and alternative women’s prayer groups? These, too, are Catholic lay movements, which flourish independently of parochial structures and have their notes to contribute to that great musical tapestry.
West Palm Beach, Fla.