The National Catholic Review
Transforming Technology

I am shocked that the editors of America allow a writer to stereotype a whole generation of young people as “the Dumbest Generation” (“Generation Text,” by Mark Bauerlein, 10/12). As a supervisor of student teachers, I enter scores of schools. In these classrooms students listen, are respectful of differences and would never engage in gross putdowns like that phrase. Today the average student is far advanced in mathematics, and those students taking advanced placement could spin circles around us.

Those of us who work with students must limit their use of cellphones. In the past, parents had to limit television-watching. Incidentally, when books became popular they were also condemned. Truth be told, some children take refuge in books instead of relating to real people.

I am substituting in a senior high confirmation class. The topic is listening to the Holy Spirit. I will be asking students to list times when the Holy Spirit may be operating as they use their cellphones. Their challenge is to transform technology into a positive force.

Bernard Vanden Berk

Green Bay, Wis.

Connecting Generations

“Generation Text” does not tell the whole story. I am leery of any claims that the latest technology will ruin any generation. We baby boomers were supposed to be ruined by television (and some claim we were), but I think our generation has survived quite well. Texting is the latest but hardly the first new means of social communication among teens. Being social is what a teen is all about. What does not seem to be part of Mark Bauerlein’s experience is that this means of communication also works to connect generations.

I just upgraded my cellphone plan because my grandkids text me so much. Most of the texting is from my grandsons, who live almost 400 miles from me. It is a regular means for keeping in touch across the miles and between all too infrequent visits. I love hearing the tidbits of their daily lives that I would otherwise miss. I love the fact that they think of me so often and care enough about me to text me so frequently. And I appreciate having the means to remind them of my loving concern for them. That’s not ruining my grandchildren; it is building stronger, loving family bonds.

Steve Cron

Grand Rapids, Mich.

More Than Little White Mice

Re M. M. Hubele’s “Looking for Love,” (10/5): Love is indeed a strong case for believing in God, but an even stronger one is freedom. God has given freedom to all of creation. This is why things often get messy and go astray—disasters of all kinds from wars, crimes, volcanoes and floods.

St. Paul explained the problem of pain brilliantly in Rom 8:18-25. Yet we continue to wring our hands and ask, “Why didn’t God prevent this?” If God were to do this, we would be nothing but little white mice running mazes in a perfectly ordered laboratory, and God would not be a good God. He would be the ultimate mad scientist, forever tinkering and tampering with his creation.

Mary Clare Dinno

Los Gatos, Calif.

St. Damien Lives On

Thank you for publishing Sister Patricia Talone’s fine tribute to Mary Christine Reyelt, S.C., M.D. (“A Life Freely Given,” 10/5). This year the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth, Convent Station, N.J., celebrate their 150th anniversary. The notable variety of ways in which they have fulfilled their mission and lived out their charism is a glorious chapter in the history of the church in the United States.

Sister/Dr. Chris was a true daughter of the church, a delightful down-to-earth woman who lived her religious life faithfully and practiced her medical skills humbly, ably and generously.

This month the church canonized St. Damien de Veuster, who died from complications connected with the disease of those he served. Sister Christine, in serving and treating AIDS patients, did the same. Her religious life and dedicated ministry in caring for the sick give her community in this anniversary year one more great reason for giving thanks to God for the blessings bestowed on its members and through them upon the rest of us, especially the sick and poor.

(Most Rev.) Frank J. Rodimer

Bishop Emeritus of Paterson, N.J.

Unconditionally Pro-Life

The editorial “The Price of Death” (10/26) does a thorough job of outlining the public policy reasons for opposing the death penalty, but it fails to mention the heart of Catholic opposition to the death penalty: capital punishment is an egregious assault on human life and the dignity of the human person. This is the foundation on which Pope John Paul II based his argument in Evangelium Vitae, and he reiterated this point in St. Louis in 1999 when he called on American Catholics to be “unconditionally pro-life” and oppose the death penalty.

The omission of this more fundamental argument reflects a sad division in the Catholic Church, one that has impeded my own work as anti-death penalty activist.

Many of the Catholics active against the death penalty want to talk about it as a social justice issue and seem loath to address it in pro-life terms. Catholics in the pro-life movement are receptive to talking about capital punishment as a pro-life issue but not to engage it actively, particularly if this would mean allying themselves with liberals or, worse, non-Catholics who are pro-choice.

This division is visible on the Web site of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Capital punishment” is listed under the heading “Life Issues,” and this link takes you to a page with a handful of articles but no information (except an easily overlooked link at the bottom of the page) on how to work to abolish the death penalty. “Death penalty” is listed under “Social Justice Issues,” and this link takes you to information on the abolition campaign. But there is no material here on the death penalty as a life issue, just a link ambiguously labeled “U.S.C.C.B. Pro-Life Activities,” which takes you to the page mentioned above.

The Catholic Church can and should be a powerful voice in the abolition movement. But we will not become one until we can heal this internal rift and see that the death penalty is both a social justice issue and a pro-life issue, and engage all parts of the church.

David V. Cruz-Uribe

Hartford, Conn.

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