Into the Richness

Kudos for selecting a beautiful piece of artwork from the award-winning and gifted Janet McKenzie for the cover of America on Feb. 19. The painting of Mary Magdalene and Jesus provoked for me such a lengthy meditation that it was quite a while before I opened the artistic door to delve into the richness of the printed word in the rest of the issue. Thank you for a wonderful beginning to Lent.

Daryl Olszewski
Milwaukee, Wis.

Correction. The credit published for this art on Feb. 19 incorrectly identified its location. It is in the collection of Barbara Marian.

Deeper Emotions

It was a thrill to see my lifelong idol Francis Thompson saluted so perceptively by Patricia Schnapp, R.S.M. (2/5). My family chose a Thompson quote for the memorial card of our son, Sgt. Chad Carson, who died in 1969 in Vietnam. The Hound of Heaven releases deeper emotions with each reading. Timeless.

Mary Eisenman Carson
Shoreline, Wash.

Accountability

It is hard to believe that a bishop would actually put forward the idea that the church was ahead of the curve with regard to the sexual abuse problems plaguing it, as Robert Nunz notes in his letter, Best Possible Light (2/19); and Jean M. Bartunek, R.S.C.J. refers to it in her letter, Concern for Renewal (2/26). Both are speaking of Bishop Thomas J. Curry’s letter, Church Renewal (2/12), replying to Catholic Fidelity (State of the Question, 1/15).

While Bishop Curry’s rationalizing statements and anti-Catholic conspiracy theories are not all that out of character for many bishops, his comments do appear to be an early attempt at a revisionist timeline for the church’s continuing sexual abuse scandal and, now, its burgeoning financial scandal. Transparent? Yes. Accountable? Not yet.

If the bishops had followed, even minimally, the requirements of the laws in place at the time these crimes against children were perpetrated, they would not have had later to take the extraordinary precautions to ensure that sexual misconduct does not recur. Let us remember that these extraordinary precautions were something the bishops did only when their backs were forced to the wall, more by public opinion than by any binding authority of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The remedy should not have been to cover up prosecutable crimes of child abuse, thus permitting almost all statutes of limitation to expire, for the the sake of avoiding scandal. The remedy should have been to rid the body of Christ, the church, of this cancer. To the shame of all Catholics this was not done.

What is so distressing is the way church leadership conspired to hide and protect priests from legal prosecution. Such behavior has been unprecedented in recent religious history and overshadows, by sheer numbers, any similarly culpable action by any other public or private institutions. There is no doubt that the Roman Catholic Church in the United States will take decades to recover, if it ever can, from this incomprehensible debacle of collusion, conspiracy and coverup, which was layered on top of the behavior of rogue priests.

Maureen Paul Turlish, S.N.D. de N.
New Castle, Del.

Greatest Threat

I share the love-hate relationship Jim McDermott, S.J., has with the television show 24 (A Trojan Horse, 2/26). Although the technical cybercapabilities of C.T.U. defy reality, I suspend belief in order to enjoy the plot twists, the red herrings and Kiefer Sutherland’s manic intensity.

Considering the prospect of nuclear terrorism, weighing the prospect of millions of lost lives and the loss of land to long-term radioactive contamination, acting against democratic ideals and human rights becomes a hard choice. For me, 24 shows that unless we have global nuclear disarmament and strict control of fissionable materials, we will have to make such choices. Plutonium is the greatest threat to our democracy, not its protector.

Stanley P. Kopacz
East Stroudsburg, Pa.

Need of Hope

I found the article A Time to Ponder, (2/5) by Ladislas Orsy, S.J., very enlightening and affirming of the ecumenical movement. I worked as a hospice chaplain for several years and had patients of many different faiths; and what worked in our relationships was exactly what Father Orsy said in his articleusing faith, hope and love in affirming their beliefs and remaining true to mine. More than that, however, I found Fr. Orsy’s section on Divine Hope to be the best articulated description of hope I have ever encountered. I will be sharing his thoughts whenever I encounter others in need of hope. Thank you for the wonderful article.

Marilynn Uhart
Reno, Nev.

Accomplished Life

I have just read From a Colleague Down the Hall by Ladislas Orsy, S.J., (2/26). Thirty-seven years ago, as my last year at Georgetown was ending, a number of us seniors declined to wear caps and gowns at commencement. We collected the rental costs and sent the money to the Peace Commencement Fund to help anti-Vietnam War congressional candidates in the fall 1970 election. Our money was sent to a Jesuit priest from Boston who was challenging an entrenched incumbent.

Two years ago I finally met my candidate as my daughter began her Georgetown studies, and a too brief friendship began. When I told Father Robert Drinan this story from 1970, a look of friendship and gratitude appeared on his face.

Has any American Jesuit lived a fuller and more accomplished life than this giant of a man, priest and public servant?

John P. Newman
Los Angeles, Calif.

Heart and Mind

A study found that young Catholics have strong Catholic identity but not much commitment to the church (Signs of the Times, 2/26). Indeed, it is easy to find Catholics who have had 12 or 16 years of Catholic education who have cast it aside like an outer garment and ceased to practice the faith.

In education, our times have called for explanation of true doctrine amid clashing religious opinions. We have been dutiful in teaching apologetics in defense of faith and also curbing the darker urges of our spirit, but less in promoting what St. John Chrysostom calls prayer of the heart, about which he says, The spirit, raised up to heaven by prayer, clings to God with the utmost tenderness. He mentions that this prayer is not confined to times or words but continues night and day. At least equal emphasis on educating the heart as well as the mind is needed, and there are signs abroad that this is generally recognized.

(Rev.) Connell J.Maguire
Riviera Beach, Fla.

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