The National Catholic Review

Au Contraire

Thanks to William Thompson-Uberuaga for his insightful look at the very important priest John-Jacques Olier in “Christians Who Can Breathe and Laugh” (9/15). As a priest trained by the Sulpicians, I learned much about Olier’s spirituality and the enormous influence his ministry has had over the diocesan priests of the world through the education and scholarship of the Sulpicians. Not enough people are aware that Raymond Brown, S.S., a pre-eminent Catholic biblical scholar of his age, was a Sulpician.

The article suggests, however, that it has been almost two centuries since a Sulpician was made a U.S. bishop. This is not quite true. Augustin Verot, S.S., was the bishop of Savannah, Ga., during the First Vatican Council, and was one of the enfants terribles of that council; he was sent packing.

(Rev.) Timothy C. Donahue

Augusta, Ga.

Bread and Circuses

After reading Terry Golway’s “National Civics Lesson” (9/8), I feel compelled to comment on his premise that “despite what you’ll be reading, political conventions still matter.” His statements and admissions of facts seem to contradict this.

To spend millions of dollars to foster a “cable-television cult” does not offer us the opportunity to think about and become engaged by politics, because it offers neither truth nor any worthwhile issues to be considered.

At a time when there are so many needs in this country and in the world, the millions of dollars spent on these “rallies” could be much better spent. I pray and hope that the Holy Spirit will inspire those intelligent men and women among us to change the course of this tide of folly. It can be done.

Marie Lorraine Bruno, i.h.m.

Immaculata, Pa.

Pearl of Great Price

The Rev. J. Daniel Dymski’s excellent article, “The Coming Crisis” (9/22), correctly points out two of the three legs of diocesan priests’ retirement income: Social Security and some kind of diocese-sponsored retirement funds. The third leg is a diocesan priest’s personal savings. While it is true that priests’ salaries differ from diocese to diocese, personal savings over a period of years can play a significant role in a priest’s retirement. The problem is that many priests are unaware of the important financial instruments that are available for them. Part of the reason for this is that a number of priests, as one might expect, have little interest in personal wealth, or they are content to turn over any disposable income to someone else, who often sets them up with a financial instrument that comes with high fees.

It is past time that all dioceses do for their priests what so many do for their lay employees: educate them about their finances for retirement. More seminaries also need to devote some time in the curriculum to helping seminarians, especially those coming from foreign countries, to make good decisions about the stewardship of their resources in the future. That would not only help them as priests; it would also help dioceses.

(Rev.) Paul F. Peri

St. Benedict, Ore.

Collect Call

Reading the articles on the “Synod on the Word” (9/29) increased my understanding of the importance of Scripture, but also prompted me to suggest that the spiritual life is not nourished exclusively by the Bible. The theological reflections that are also a part of the liturgy can also be of great assistance in the advancement of the love of God and neighbor.

Formerly known as collects, the opening prayers of the Mass are a rich source of devotion. All of the prayers of petition and thanksgiving contained in these prayers are made in the name of Jesus. If given proper attention, they can deepen and develop our understanding of the word of God while remaining valuable in themselves.

Cornelius F. Murphy Jr.

Pittsburgh, Pa.

On the One Hand…

In “Conscience and the Catholic Voter,” by Mary Ann Walsh, R.S.M. (10/6), Walsh uses a nuanced approach in referring to life issues as “absolutely critical” and “paramount.” But the bishops refer to these life issues as ones involving “intrinsically evil actions” with priority implications for our conscience. They go on to state these actions “must always be rejected and opposed and must never be supported or condoned.”

Walsh also lists, as if in some sort of offsetting way, a variety of other important social issues: poverty, health care, housing, immigration and more. The bishops point out that the determination of the best approach on these issues is subject to debate, opinion formation and resolution through the democratic process. They are, in effect, negotiable issues. The life issues are not.

John J. Van Beckum

Brookfield, Wis.

On the Other Hand…

Thank you for “Conscience and the Catholic Voter” by Mary Ann Walsh, R.S.M. (10/6), which provides us with a thoughtful article to help in choosing a candidate who is best suited to address the needs of our country, without the banter of the pundits. Too often, Catholics get stuck on one-issue politics and fail to see the issues of life that come after birth: a universal right to health care, jobs to support a family, fair housing, non-discrimination, fair immigration policies and an end to the death penalty.

(Deacon) Martin Beckman

Albany, N.Y.

Beyond the Body

Reading “Conscientious Election,” by J. Brian Bransfield (10/13), I noticed his interests in moral theology seem confined to sexuality and the body. I see no theology of poverty, peace or social justice. Amor vincit omnia?

Richard Salvucci

San Antonio, Tex.

Money Talks

Re your editorial on “Bailout and Equity” (10/6): Robert Rubin was certainly right to state that most people do not understand the risks inherent in complex financial instruments. But one can be certain that when the government implicitly guarantees a bailout for such government-sponsored enterprises as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the taxpayer will eventually have to pay.

You call for more regulation? Regulations are already too complex to comprehend, and can never compensate for the moral hazard of free money that seduces all of us, whether homeowners or bankers, to live irresponsibly as well as to explore loopholes and self-serving legislation.

Ernest Martinson

Hayward, Wis.

Pay It Forward

One point of the current financial bailout proposal that is not mentioned in your editorial “Bailout and Equity” (10/6) is the point I find most important: Our government does not have the money for this proposal. Every penny of the estimated $700 billion cost will be added to our debt, for a leveraged speculation in assets that will be chosen precisely because they are performing poorly!

I cannot believe there is any possibility of this plan succeeding in the long run. What it will do, if it works at all, is postpone a financial crash until its effects fall on our children rather than on us. Can anyone explain to me how such a plan can be justified morally?

Michael McDermott

Missouri City, Tex.

Caring for the Caretakers

Linda Rooney’s description of anticipatory grief in “You’re Not My Daughter” (10/13) applies not only to those who care for Alzheimer’s patients, but also to those who care for others with chronic, terminal diseases. These gentle healers and supporters—husbands, wives, parents, sons and daughters—need our prayers and comfort. Often their smiles hide fears of an unknown future that can be difficult burdens to carry alone. Recognizing this and letting them know we pray for them invites them to be sustained in their loving efforts with God’s grace and blessing.

(Deacon) Jim Grogan

Mount Laurel, N.J.

New Offerings

I read with interest “A Space for Inquiry,” by Rev. Terrance W. Klein (9/15). Historically, it may be true that (as Klein writes) Newman Centers stand at the “periphery of intellectual life on secular campuses.” But this is not the future of Catholic campus ministry at public universities. For all the reasons Klein hailed theological education as good and right and necessary, Newman Centers are rethinking Catholic higher education. We are concluding that the theologian belongs not only at Catholic colleges and universities, but in Newman Centers as well. Many today are offering theology courses for academic credit, funding chairs in Catholic thought and hiring theologically trained staff to provide ministry and education rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition.

As this vision evolves, we will surely look to our Catholic colleges and universities as partners in our shared endeavor to create the kinds of spaces where theological education and inquiry can flourish.

Anne K. Ellsworth

Director of Catholic Studies

All Saints Catholic Newman Center

Arizona State University

Tempe, Ariz

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