A Modest Proposal
Since America expresses such confidence in the ability of the United Nations to resolve humanitarian crises in “The Duty to Protect” (6/9), I propose that the U.N. and its entire bureaucracy be moved out of New York to Khartoum, capital city of Sudan and the location of a decades-old and ongoing humanitarian crisis. Where better to demonstrate the duty to protect?
America’s editorial staff will of course also be relocated to Khartoum, the better to view and report firsthand on human rights abuses, as well as to elaborate on the editors’ view that the United Nations is the best organization to resolve conflicts.
I can’t wait for the first report from the field.
D. E. Mosman Richmond, Va.
D. E. Mosman
As a former Amnesty International member and group leader, I would like to comment on the affiliation crisis reported in “End of a Partnership” by Jeffry Odell Korgen (6/23). Amnesty is a voluntary association with various secular objectives; our bishops should not expect its action programs to conform completely to natural law or moral and social doctrine. Student members of campus chapters should be aware of this, especially in these hot-button times.
Amnesty’s programs and policies are shaped with much membership input. The Stop Violence Against Women campaign was launched after discussion and debate at all levels throughout the world, with contributions from women who have suffered sexual assault or abortion-related criminal proceedings. Since Catholic teaching also condemns acts of violence against women, I think there may be more common ground here than the headlines have indicated.
Your article reports that several campus groups have formed autonomous human rights defense organizations that could emulate Amnesty’s methods and achieve some measure of effectiveness in doing so. No human rights activists I know want to monopolize the stage; quite the contrary. But I have discovered many rewards from working side by side with men and women of other beliefs and political leanings as part of a broader movement.
Paul Schlachter Miami, Fla.
Regarding your editorial, “Synod on the Word of God” (7/14): As I hear Catholic preaching around my diocese, I fear that we have fallen back into moralizing and dogmatics instead of biblically based preaching. I hear people quoting the Church Fathers, which is fine in a classroom; but I do not think it is appropriate for motivating and empowering Catholics to live the radical vision of God’s reign as Jesus preached it. It’s as if the homily has once again become a weapon for chastising people in the pews for not following church teachings. No wonder people have never heard preaching on the Scriptures!
(Rev.) Vernon Meyer Phoenix, Ariz.
(Rev.) Vernon Meyer
I was gratified by Shannon Crounse’s thoughtful article, “Cheering for Change” (7/14), and her recognition that those who advocate pro-life policies also need to address the root causes that lead a woman to abort a child. It’s also necessary for our church to do more to address those issues that pertain to everyone’s right to the fullness of life.
I too often close my ears to pro-life advocates because the conversation often really is just about the abortion issue. This might be an example of what Crounse experiences when engaging in conversation with “older” women. And frequently the pro-life voice has seemed overly judgmental—a turnoff for anyone desiring conversation.
Mary Henry St. Louis, Mo.
St. Louis, Mo.
Jennifer Fulwiler’s testimony in “A Sexual Revolution” (7/14) is a strikingly clear example of an awakening similar to the apostle Paul’s epiphany that the ones he persecuted bore the holiness of Christ. She brings out vividly the capacity we all have to avoid facing disquieting truths about ourselves through rationalization. In this case, the discomfiting truth is that the God-given gift of sexual pleasure is uniquely connected to the meaning of sexual intimacy, and should only be approached with awareness of its life-giving and love-giving mission.
Rhett Segall Wynantskill, N.Y.
As a vocation minister for the Sisters of Charity in Cincinnati, I can say that the issue raised by “Religious Life in the Age of Facebook,” by Richard G. Malloy, S.J., has been in the forefront of my mind for many years. I agree that young Catholics cannot choose what they do not know, and the youngest generations of Catholics have not had the kind of contact and opportunity to build relationships with sisters, brothers and priests that many “baby boomer” and older Catholics did. There are many positive efforts underway to provide experiences and contacts that will help remedy this situation.
What is more disturbing to me is a concern hinted at in the article—namely, that the young adults of America are “empty,” lacking some very basic capacity for commitment, service or even the intellectual discipline to respond to the call of a vowed life or priesthood. I cannot believe it is the case, though in these times, perhaps more than others, religious life is a more difficult and countercultural choice.
My other concern is that we who are living the life are not doing so in a compelling manner—that our lives do not proclaim any good news and that we have become apathetic about inviting young men and women to consider making the kind of commitment that we still find worth the gift of our lives every day.
(Sr.) Janet Gildea, S.C. Anthony, N.M.
(Sr.) Janet Gildea, S.C.
“Religious Life in the Age of Facebook,” by Richard G. Malloy, S.J., (7/14) should be required reading for the Catholic hierarchy, as well as for religious superiors, teachers and parents, who often cannot grasp the numerous cultural shifts—social, ethical, psychological, educational, political, gender and religious—that continue to influence our way of thinking about and interacting with our world.
The loss of religious vocations should not necessarily be lamented, because it may result in an opportunity for the laity to achieve greater engagement with the church, which must be understood as the people of God living in today’s world, not some out-of-touch institution whose positions and practices actively limit from full participation a good half of the world’s population.
Jim Dugan, S.J. Rome, Italy
Jim Dugan, S.J.
Although I considered your praise of Tim Russert generally appropriate (Current Comment, 7/14), I believe honesty and journalistic integrity require some acknowledgment that Russert, the ultimate Washington journalistic insider, was at the very least symptomatic of a general failure on the part of the mass media to serve the American public in recent years, as the media functioned too frequently as a conveyer of public relations spin emanating from the Bush administration. It is truly ironic that one feels compelled to shout “Thank goodness for Scott McClellan!”
David L. Martinson Olathe, Kan.
David L. Martinson