The National Catholic Review
Effective Preaching

Camille D’Arienzo, R.S.M., (Preaching: A Ministry [Still] in Distress 9/18) has it exactly right. The church needs better preaching. This seemed especially urgent after hearing Walter Burghardt, S.J., on several occasions and recognizing the impact of great preaching. I agree as well that the restriction on nonordained preaching at Mass has diminished the effectiveness of our spreading the word.

Two experiences came to mind, both related particularly to women preaching. The first occurred in 1995 at the motherhouse of the Sisters of Providence, where because of the illness of their priest the sisters conducted Communion services. Two of the three women who preached were extraordinary; both had earned Ph.D. degrees.

Then in 1996 I heard Mary Catherine Hilkert, O.P., at evening prayer at the opening of the Cardinal Suenens Symposium at John Carroll University. It was May 31 and she preached on the Gospel of the day, the Visitation story. I doubt that any man could have done it as well, and it occurred to me then that only a pregnant woman could have been seen as perhaps more empathetic. The following day in the presentations of charisms, Sister Hilkert presented The Charism of the Exegete: Unleashing the Power of the Word, as well as a talk entitled, Anointed and Sent: Preaching the Prophetic Word. She was to me the most charismatic of the speakers (preachers) of the symposium.

It is high time we consider anointing persons to preach and sending them out, because the people are indeed searching for effective preaching. And if commissioning is necessary, let’s begin anointing more preachers.

William J. Duhigg, M.D.
Lakewood, Ohio

Correlation to Preaching

I am a retired pastor of a large Italian parish, so I read with great interest the excellent article on homilies by Camille D’Arienzo, R.S.M. Sister Camille has always been an issue-centered person, so I have to be careful that my priestly prejudice does not get in the way. Sister Camille is a courageous woman who always walks the walk.

I somehow feel that preaching and confession go together, but I don’t know how exactly. I wish Sister had touched on this dimension. One becomes a more realistic and compassionate homilist. In the meantime, I hope that the word of God is listened to, whether it be preached by a layperson or a priest.

(Msgr.) Dino M. Leni
Middle Village, N.Y.

Quietly Fold?

As I read your editorial, Politics and Terror (9/11), I hear the same old rhetoric that anti-Iraq critics are marching to.

I would be happy to have a workable solution to quit Iraq and let them fend for themselves in whatever political situation they could manage.

In every case, as most knowledgeable people know, this will produce more killing of their own people, Sunni against Shiite against Kurds. And do you honestly think that the terrorists will quietly fold their tents and leave alone the United States, Europe and all the other countries of the world, who do not agree with their jihad mentality? Good luck!

Gladys Ernst
Temecula, Calif.

Come Visit!

On behalf of the Shrine of St. Joseph, I extend our gratitude to you for the well-written article, Where Have We Been? by James Martin, S.J., (9/11) and the enlarged cover photo of The Tower of Remembrance inviting everyone to visit us on Monday, Sept. 11, 2006. We are grateful for your assistance in informing the public about our site.

On this fifth-year anniversary, it was incredibly moving to see the outpouring of love and respect by all those who came to honor the victims and heroes of 9/11. It was very uplifting to hear the prayers for healing and testimonies of hope shared at this time.

Although we gather for a candlelight vigil every Sept. 11, please note that the Tower of Remembrance at the Shrine of St. Joseph is open to all, every day, all day, for prayer, meditation and reflection. As we heal, may we always remember. Welcome!

Peter J. Krebs, S.T.
Stirling, N.J.

Wisdom to Guide

Hats off to Wilson D. Miscamble, C.S.C., for The Corporate University (7/31). The article unearths and reveals some of the challenges that confront small Catholic universities that endeavor, through strict adherence to traditional core liberal arts curriculums, to teach learning in search of truth, wisdom to guide and inspire the imagination, and courage to lead a genuinely good life.

Professor Miscamble correctly states, In a world where consumer demand guides the curriculum, humanities are on the defensive. Studies have shown that between 1.5 percent and 2 percent of the student population want a liberal arts education at a small college. Career-based education holds the day. We can suggest and offer the lifting power in liberal arts but we simply cannot force its acceptance. We must respond to the demands of the market but in such a way as to educate, form and mold character prepared for a life of service. In a world of spiritual emptiness, corrupt leadership, habitual poverty and functional illiteracy, where millions die each year of preventable diseases, we need morally formed, Catholic-educated journalists, computer scientists, biotechnologists and those who staff the existing economic system and research facilities for American corporations to work within the system to alleviate the injustices and suffering that plague it. Trained for success, yes!but also significance beyond success.

It is true, a great number of trustees come from the corporate universea side that Professor Miscamble sees encroaching on academia. Many were educated in universities and colleges in disciplines that prepared them to build successful systems that raise the economic tide for lage numbers of people. They often have fierce institutional loyalties. We cannot abandon the know-how and success they bring to the table or the dedication that brings them back to the hallowed halls.

Many of America’s elite schools teach critical thinking and self-awarenessnot the pursuit of truth and not morality. For them intellectual and moral behavior are not connected. We (Catholic schools) have much to offer. We may have to broaden the focus of what subjects we teach, but we cannot forsake the foundation on which we teach. We must produce the leaven for a better world.

Yes, education has become a product of the marketplace and academia has formed partnerships with the business community and, in many cases, government in order to advance its mission. Competition is fierce from the athletic field to the classroom to the laboratory. It is no longer the sole domain of the not-for-profits. Whatever the language or landscape, we cannot abandon the force of practical ideas or the tactics of wise stewardship, even if corporate-inspired, for the return of an educational scene long past.

Eugene F. Vilfordi
Dallas, Tex.

Evidence

Marci Hamilton’s obviously well-intentioned article, What the Clergy Abuse Crisis Has Taught Us (9/25), would have been a bit more balanced if she had also pointed out that the California statute of limitations for sexual abuse of children (C.C.P. Section 340.1), which was amended by the one-year window, already provided for the tolling (that is, suspension) of the statute until eight years after the victim had attained the age of majority, or for three years from the time of discovery that psychological injury or illness occurring after attaining majority was caused by sexual abuse.

Against that background, her statement that it is a psychological reality that a vast majority could not come forward soon enough could benefit from a bit more evidentiary support.

Paul A. Becker
Bluffton, S.C.

Other Rights

I was very impressed by Marci Hamilton’s article What the Clergy Abuse Crisis Has Taught Us (9/25). She makes a strong argument for reforming the statutes of limitations. However, in my opinion there is one glaring omission.

There was no concern given to the rights of the accused. Everyone wants to see the guilty punished.

However, we should not presume that all the accused are guilty. Statutes of limitations are meant to protect the rights of the accused. It is very difficult to defend oneself against accusations from decades ago. Witnesses for the defense could have moved away or even passed away. Ask yourself, Where was I at 10:22 a.m. on Saturday March 12, 1990? I find this question very difficult. I am sure others would feel the same way. Society must provide reasonable rights for the accused.

I believe we should look at the statutes of limitations. But we should be very reluctant to weaken the current statutes. It is easy to take away the rights of others, especially those accused of awful crimes. We must never forget that things like the statutes of limitations protect all of us. Today we might eliminate the statutes in this area. Tomorrow there will almost certainly be pressure to eliminate other rights in the name of justice. In the current climate when a number of rights are currently in the balance, society should be very hesitant to give up any rights and protections.

Ken Keenan
Tonawanda, N.Y.

Context

It is readily apparent that Monica Applewhite’s article, Putting Abuse in Context (9/25) has as its purpose to exculpate the members of the Catholic clergy and to lessen the severity of the sexual abuse these priests committed. Why else this long diatribe about putting abuse in context and emphasizing that sexual abuse is part of all child-serving organizations?

Notwithstanding the validity of the clinical observations of these other institutions, the fact is that our bishops ignored the gravity of these abuses and willingly transferred the offending priests into other opportunities for further abuse. Let us be honest. Our church was guilty of grievous irresponsibility. Fortunately, we have instituted steps to correct our deficiencies. I, like Applewhite, am still a Catholic. This issue of child abuse does not diminish my faith; but I repeat, the article is self-serving and did not merit publication in America.

E. F. Krieg
Bethesda, Md.

Comments

(Rev.) Lawrence A. Hecker | 10/12/2006 - 9:38pm
Archbishop Charles Chaput's response to Professor Marci Hamilton's call to suspend retroactively statutes of limitations in child and teenage abuse cases was clear and to the point.(October 9, 2006 issue, p. 34.)

Filing a lawsuit against an 80-year-old priest for alleged misconduct with a teenager 55 years ago has little to no effect in preventing abuse of minors today. What has been effective is the set of policies put in place by the U. S. bishops four years ago and before.

Statutes of limitations protect all of us from having someone accuse us of an injustice years, maybe decades, before. Moreover, memories fade, witnesses die or can't be found, documents are lost and times change.

Contrast the tremendous outcry over Representative Mark Foley's sending messages to Congressional pages with the 1983 House censure of Representatives Daniel Crane and Gerry Stubbs for having sexual relations with pages. Both men retained their seats, and the House went on about its business. I don't remember reading or hearing about it.

In the middle decades of the last century parish priests were encouraged by parishioners, parents and vocation directors to befriend teenage boys. As a young priest in 1961 when visiting a family in California I was surprised that the parents had arranged for their 16-year-old son to take me on an overnight fishing trip. That was then. Times have certainly changed.

(Rev.) Lawrence A. Hecker | 10/12/2006 - 9:38pm
Archbishop Charles Chaput's response to Professor Marci Hamilton's call to suspend retroactively statutes of limitations in child and teenage abuse cases was clear and to the point.(October 9, 2006 issue, p. 34.)

Filing a lawsuit against an 80-year-old priest for alleged misconduct with a teenager 55 years ago has little to no effect in preventing abuse of minors today. What has been effective is the set of policies put in place by the U. S. bishops four years ago and before.

Statutes of limitations protect all of us from having someone accuse us of an injustice years, maybe decades, before. Moreover, memories fade, witnesses die or can't be found, documents are lost and times change.

Contrast the tremendous outcry over Representative Mark Foley's sending messages to Congressional pages with the 1983 House censure of Representatives Daniel Crane and Gerry Stubbs for having sexual relations with pages. Both men retained their seats, and the House went on about its business. I don't remember reading or hearing about it.

In the middle decades of the last century parish priests were encouraged by parishioners, parents and vocation directors to befriend teenage boys. As a young priest in 1961 when visiting a family in California I was surprised that the parents had arranged for their 16-year-old son to take me on an overnight fishing trip. That was then. Times have certainly changed.

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