The National Catholic Review
A Guarantee

Thank you for “The Forgotten,” by Pierre de Charentenay, S.J. (6/9). The fate of Iraqi Christians should be as important to humanity as was the fate of Muslims in Sarajevo in the early 1990s, and their tragedy should inspire the same solidarity around the world, especially from the liberals and progressives who were so actively involved in the Balkan dramas. As de Charentenay rightly notes, the survival of Christians in Iraq (like the survival of moderate Muslims in Bosnia) is the guarantee that people of different faiths and origins can live together.

Jean-Paul Marthoz

Brussels, Belgium

A Parent’s Perspective

As a parent of an incarcerated African American youth, I agree that the Second Chance Act is a logical step toward reducing recidivism (“A Small Light in Prison Darkness,” 6/23). As the editorial illustrates, housing, financial resources, jobs and health care are all critical to making the transition back into society. I would encourage lawmakers to consider also other, more modest steps at reform, such as restoring voting rights for felons, removing questions on job applications that ask for previous arrest histories and providing federal subsidies for those ex-offenders interested in obtaining an education or an F.H.A. loan.

Through current policies ex-offenders are continuously punished even though they have served their time. Such ongoing punishment relegates members of our society to second-class status and does not lead to reconciliation.

Steven Rubio

Baltimore, Md.

Moral Isolation

Thank you for Jeffry Odell Korgen’s report on the decision of Catholic groups to part ways with Amnesty International because of its position on abortion (“End of a Partnership,” 6/23). I always worry about Catholics isolating themselves from the world based on their moral perspectives. I think if I were to isolate myself from all friends, relatives, organizations and companies that did not measure up to my Catholic beliefs, I might wind up being a monk on a deserted island. I think we should engage the world on its own terms while attempting to live the life that Jesus expects. How else will it ever change?

Tom Rutledge

Boulder, Colo.

Same Argument, Another Case

I was struck by a contradiction in your issue of June 23. Doug Kmiec (Current Comment) finds other, more effective ways to lower the number of abortions that do not require criminalization. Those of us who support Amnesty International (see “End of a Partnership”) think the same argument applies in our case.

Jean Leary

Othello, Wash.

A Lawyer’s Fate

Before Vatican II, standard moral theologians like H. Noldin, S.J., and A. Schmitt, S.J., taught that it would be wrong to deny Communion, because no one knows whether a person is in a state of grace. The alleged sinner might have made a perfect act of contrition. The priest who denied Communion to the lawyer Doug Kmiec should be given leave by his bishop to reflect on the church’s regulation binding all ordained to stay out of politics. But in defense of the rogue priest, may I quote from Shakespeare’s “King Henry VI”: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

J. Van Damme

London, Ont., Canada

Immigrant Fears

Karen Sue Smith’s article “Courting the Latino Vote” (6/23) is very thorough and nuanced. The oft-stereotyped Hispanic is quite complex in the way he or she votes.

But I do not think Ms. Smith sufficiently treated the consequences of the immigration reform bill bitterly debated in the Senate more than a year ago. The immigrant community that I know feels very intensely the repercussions of that vote. They live in unease and often in fear. Our state’s U.S. senator, Elizabeth Dole, has enlisted the local sheriffs to crack down on all immigrants. They are stopped as they drive on the highway to see if they have a license and if they are “illegal.” Our state is one of the states that are “in play” in this year’s election. The Senate decision on immigration reform and its consequences will definitely affect our state and thus the national election.

Joseph Madden, O.F.M. Conv.

Pittsboro, N.C.

Latino Candidates

In her article “Courting the Latino Vote” (6/23), Karen Sue Smith writes, “Obama has the support of Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, the first Latino of any major party to run for president.” Though Senator Obama may have the support of Governor Richardson, Governor Richardson was not the first Latino of any major party to run for president. That distinction belongs to Benjamin “Ben” Fernandez. In 1978, Mr. Fernandez declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination. During the 1980 primary election, he campaigned in 40 states. Mr. Fernandez was the first chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Council, later called the Republican National Hispanic Assembly.

(Deacon) John Montalvo III

Scottsdale, Ariz.

Give Me Hot or Cold

One can hardly disagree with what John F. Kavanaugh, S.J., says about the two talks, one by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the other by the Rev. Michael Pfleger (“Pulpits and Politics,” 6/23). However, a line from “Dead Man Walking” comes to mind: “A man is more than the worst thing he has ever done.” I grew up in St. Sabina Parish in the 1940s and 50s. Predominantly Irish, it was a vibrant, active parish that drew young people from all over.

A few weeks ago I visited St. Sabina’s after many years. It is still the vibrant, active parish that I remembered, largely because of Father Pfleger.

The problem with preaching in Catholic churches today is not that it is controversial, silly or an ego trip for the preacher. Rather, it is neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm and lifeless. May God send us more Wrights and Pflegers, even if they do come up with some doozies now and then.

Ernie Basile

Romeoville, Ill.

If Only…

After reading “Return to Our Roots” (5/26), by Robert F. Taft, S.J., I hesitate to offer even a minor quibble, particularly when it involves Father Taft’s generous assessment of the contributions of the Eastern churches to Western liturgical reform. Nevertheless, I would take some exception to his assertion that “in the East the Liturgy of the Hours has remained what it was meant to be, an integral part of the worship of God’s people.” Would that it were so!

No doubt, Father Taft’s global experience offers many encouraging examples in support of his view. Generally, however, here in the United States many factors seem to be working against the very survival of the Liturgy of the Hours in parishes of the Byzantine liturgical tradition.

Outside of Holy Week, there seem to be few occasions when a parish liturgical calendar will include any of the Liturgy of the Hours, apart from an occasional celebration of Matins or Vespers. There also seem to be few times, except at Easter, when the Office of Matins is celebrated with congregational participation, even on a Sunday. Vespers, too, except in conjunction with a handful of major observances in the liturgical cycle, does not seem to be a regular part of ordinary parish worship.

In my view, no single factor accounts for the atrophy of the Liturgy of the Hours in the Byzantine (mainly Ukrainian and Ruthenian) parishes in this country. Perhaps some of the liturgical scholars who have benefited from Father Taft’s expertise can try to gauge the effects on Byzantine liturgical life in the United States not only of language changes, revisions in liturgical books and uncertainties about deacon-led and lay-led liturgical prayer, but also of the myriad sociological and economic factors in the lives of the various Byzantine churches.

T. F. Stock

Arlington, Va.

All Together Now

Robert F. Taft, S.J., could well be right that “Communion from the tabernacle” destroys the “symbolism of a common partaking of a common meal” (“Return to Our Roots,” 5/26). And yet it has always seemed to me that, Jesus Christ being the same yesterday, today and for all time, Communion from the tabernacle brings the community of the present together with the people of the past and future.

Phyllis Ann Karr

Barnes, Wis.

Off the Cuff

An otherwise well-done review of E. J. Dionne’s book Souled Out (6/23) was marred by a comment that raises a question about the reviewer’s bias.

“At the parish level, a pamphlet listing ‘five non-negotiable issues’ that should determine Catholic votes was widely distributed by a shadowy organization in California.”

Why not name the organization, which I presume to be Catholic Answers, and if this organization is “shadowy,” let us know how the reviewer came to such a conclusion.

Such off-the-cuff remarks diminish the intellectual integrity of America.

Richard DeSpirito

Downingtown, Pa.

Comments

Rt. Rev. Roman V. Russo | 8/10/2008 - 8:45am
My own parish, St. Michael's Russian Catholic Chapel, 266 Mulberry St., NY, NY 10012 serves Saturday evening Vespers every week at 6:00 p.m. as preparation for the Sunday celebration of the Resurrection. The Sunday Divine Liturgy at 11:00 a.m. is always preceded by the Third Hour. Similarly, the Lenten Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is preceded by the Ninth Hour. I also know several Melkite parishes that celebrate both Vespers and Matins on a weekly basis. The problem in the West (and in those Eastern Churches most influenced thereby) is a general reduction of liturgy to the Eucharist. It is as if our Lord had said, 'whenever two or three of you are gathered together in My Name, have a Mass!' Our present Holy Father has signalled a change in this mentality by celebrating publically and solemnly the First Vespers of Solemnities. These have been televised. Dare we hope that the parishes will take the hint?

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