The National Catholic Review
Elephantine Issue

In “Making a Mark” (1/5), Richard G. Malloy, S.J., writes eloquently of the danger of not acknowledging “the elephant in the sacristy” when writing about vocations to the priesthood: gay priests, and the impact the current church climate has on both these priests and their heterosexual brothers. Sadly, the current climate is one of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” This lends itself to problems in seminary formation, in which candidates fear that discussing their sexual orientation (even with a spiritual director) may lead to their dismissal. This creates the very climate in which serious problems develop later in life, as psychotherapists like myself can attest.

The challenge for the church is to accept the gift of gay priests in a way that is authentic, and that needs to begin with bishops and religious superiors acknowledging their presence.

Charles G. Martel

Boston, Mass.

The Other 99 Percent

When I saw the title of the Jan. 5 issue was “The Harvest Is Great: Vocations in a Modern Church,” I was filled with hope and enthusiasm for what you had to say. But this issue has articles about the call to become a priest or a nun. Where are the articles by lay women and men who also know they are called by God to be married or single, divorced or widowed, mothers or fathers, construction workers, secretaries, teachers, nurses, lawyers, doctors and more?

The Second Vatican Council acknowledged all of us as the people of God. The majority of the people of God are laypeople, who bring God to their daily lives and workplaces. Loving God totally is what we are all called to do as children of God; this is not just the expectation of those who choose to live a celibate life.

Openness to the reality of options that allow marriage and family life is important for the Catholic Church in order for it to thrive in the long term.

Rosemary McHugh, M.D.

Wheaton, Ill.

Faith and Science

Thanks to Peter Schineller, S.J., for the martyrology “based on contemporary biblical scholarship and science” (Of Many Things, 12/15). I found it exciting and extremely encouraging for contemporary conversation regarding faith and science, evolution and the eternal significance of the veracity of Jesus’ birth and life. Happily, the astounding history of the Word in creation from before the nativity of Jesus, in our common era and even into the potential future indicates a timetable sufficient for the demands of love to take hold of us and whoever comes after us.

Patrick Higgins

Seattle, Wash.

Informed Opinion

Thanks to Bishop Joseph W. Estabrook of the military ordinariate for his report on all the good work and Christian witness of his chaplains, and of the progress in training them to respond appropriately to conscientious objector claimants (“A Response to ‘The Chaplain’s Dilemma’,” 1/19). The Catholic Peace Fellowship wants to maintain the respectful and cooperative spirit we established with the military ordinariate when Cardinal John O’Connor was in charge.

I must note, however, that my “opinions” are hardly “uninformed” after more than 40 years of working with conscientious objectors, many in the military. Anecdotal evidence abounds and keeps coming. The military considers conscientious objection detrimental to morale. For chaplains to offer positive support is to go against the grain. More power to those who do, and God bless them!

(Deacon) Tom Cornell

Marlboro, N.Y.

Photographs and Memories

The reflections of George M. Anderson, S.J. (Of Many Things, 1/19) were a beautiful expression of the sanctity of human relationships, a sanctity that rises above ideology, ecclesiology, political inclinations and sexual preference. We can see later, when time and age have whitewashed our prejudice and bias, that photographs of times past and of people whose lives have crossed our path reveal the simple truth that we are all God’s children.

Ted Rosean

Wilmette, Ill.

Lack of Action

While “A Pope in Wartime,” by Gerald P. Fogarty, S.J. (12/15), added much-needed information about the actions of Pope Pius XII during World War II, the article (like many others I have read on the subject) did not address the following question: What would have been the possible result if the pope had condemned the Nazi government?

In July 1942 the Dutch bishops wrote a letter to be publicly read in churches, condemning the S.S. At the last minute Protestant ministers withdrew their support, and as a result only Catholic converts from Judaism were arrested and deported. St. Edith Stein was among them. Had the pope done the same as the Dutch bishops, the consequences would have most likely been similar or worse.

In 1924, an immigration law was passed in the United States that cut the torrent of people coming to the United States to a trickle. This, too, had an impact on the number of Jews later trying to find asylum in our country. We as Americans need to accept responsibility for our lack of action as well.

The article could also have included a comparison of what the pope was able to do and what leaders of other faith communities did or did not do to save the Jews. Rather than pointing a finger of blame, this information could serve to remind us all of the terrible price of the silence of so many voices.

Lou Ella Hickman, I.W.B.S.

Corpus Christi, Tex.

More to Learn

The very thoughtful article by Rabbi Daniel F. Polish (“When a Little Unbelief Is Not a Bad Thing,” 2/2) illustrates how much we Catholics can learn from Jews in dialogue. Thanks to you for publishing it, and I hope we will hear more from him.

Eugene Fisher

Great Falls, Va.

Open Hearts, Open Minds

As a part-time faculty member teaching theology, I immediately decided to let my students avail themselves of “When a Little Unbelief Is Not a Bad Thing,” by Daniel F. Polish (2/2). I thought it would ultimately help to drive home some of the points I make semester after semester. We can only be guided by Scripture and the wisdom of our tradition, because how our faith plays out for us is entirely within our own power to shape.

I beg my young students who already declare themselves agnostics and atheists to keep their hearts open for (and their minds receptive to) the possibility of divine influence in their lives at a later time. No human mind or heart can fully comprehend the timetable and agenda of God; however, closed minds and hard hearts may pose a greater challenge, even if nothing is impossible with God.

Monserrat Mella-Ocampo

Mineola, N.Y.

Comments

Beryl Newman | 1/30/2009 - 5:42pm
I forwarded Rabbi Daniel Polish's article to members of my family, retitling it "Athesm as Grace". This is the kind of dialogue I like to initiate with them as well as with spiritual study groups I attend. It is one thing to believe that God exists: quite another to adamantly define the nature of that existence. One cannot but be grateful for Rabbi Polish's earthy common sense.

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