Hard to Imagine

Thank you for printing the wonderful article “Our Brothers, the Jews,” by Dorothy Day (11/9). It is an illuminating time capsule of prior years. I cannot imagine the United States as it was described. It was warming to hear the words mystical body, words that are not mentioned much any more.

Richard Benitez

San Francisco, Calif.

Real Catholicism

Unfortunately, many things have not changed since Dorothy Day’s time—but the scapegoat has. Now it is the Hispanics from south of the border. Americans, including a large number of Catholics, shout about how they are creating problems in communities. What an article Dorothy Day could write if she were still with us! She made Catholicism real for me.

Antoinette Carbone

Riverhead, N.Y.

Anger Leading to Action

Dorothy Day’s disturbance over anti-Semitism among U.S. Catholics intensified in the months after she submitted her manuscript to America. She was so incensed with the anti-Semitism of the Rev. Charles Coughlin, the famous radio priest, that along with Ed Marciniak and Martin Carrabine, S.J., of Chicago, she founded the Committee of Catholics to Fight Anti-Semitism in early 1939. They published a newspaper, Voice, and hawked it on the streets, sometimes in direct confrontation with Coughlin’s salespeople. His paper was misnamed Social Justice.

Bill Droel

Worth, Ill.

Autism: Legal Remedies

Thank you for highlighting the important issue of autism (Editorial, “An Untreated Epidemic?” 11/2). As a civil rights lawyer, I would fault the editorial for its failure to make even a passing reference to critical legal protections that should enable children and adults with autism to live with dignity as persons with disabilities. The federal government has never fully honored its financial commitment under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, originally enacted as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act in the 1970s, to provide for this nation’s children with disabilities a free, appropriate public education. Ten years after the Supreme Court said that federal law requires that individuals with disabilities receive services in the most integrated setting possible, the federal and state governments have been slow to implement a plan to move our brothers and sisters in nursing home facilities (some of whom have autism) into community settings with appropriate supports.

I do not discount the importance of finding ways to alleviate or eliminate suffering that is a consequence of the physical or mental limitations that disabilities cause. But we must realize that there may be generations of persons with autism and their families who will not benefit from a “cure,” and we must offer them dignity today, not just hope for tomorrow. I urge that we invest just as much energy to ensure that we continue to benefit as a society from what our citizens with disabilities have to offer just as they are. Jesus did not just tell us about what awaited us after this life of suffering. He exhorted us to act right now, reminding us that the “Kingdom of God is at hand.” Strengthening and enforcing the laws and structures already in place for persons with autism and other disabilities is something we can do today.

Chris Kuczynski

Baltimore, Md.

Turning the Tide

Thank you for presenting one of the most unbiased, comprehensive articles about the autism epidemic that I have ever read. As executive director of a nonprofit that funds grants for families that cannot access or afford treatment (Autism Care and Treatment Today, or ACT Today!), I can tell you that we must do something to help the vast numbers of families in this country who simply cannot cope with the financial and emotional toll that autism takes on their lives. It is time to say we have had enough to the special interests that protect their own well-being over the well-being of our future generations. It is time to take care of the legions of individuals suffering with the disorder today and turn the tide before it is too late.

Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson

Los Angeles, Calif.

Help Needed

Thank you for bringing attention to the enormous, complex issues related to autism. For a follow-up article I recommend that you do an examination of how the Catholic Church is responding to this epidemic. My own experience with my autistic son and autistic daughter was very negative. They (and I) received no support, acceptance or anything remotely loving from the local churches we belonged to. My daughter, now age 38, has never received Confirmation and refuses to attend church. My son, age 43, found more comfort in the local evangelical church. Our church had nothing to offer them as instruction in the faith.

Now the issue is what will happen to them when I die? I am depending completely on the state to provide services, and a few relatives. In my city, the only Catholic-sponsored services for developmentally disabled adults are a training school and a residence. But my children are too high functioning for either resource. We cannot look to our parish priests as they are overwhelmed. It seems to me a betrayal of Christ for Catholics as individuals and as a church to neglect such vulnerable families.

The last paragraph of your editorial really struck home. Jesus cannot be pleased. I wonder what the social justice and culture-of-life people are doing to help, heal or at the very least comfort. Surely our families deserve the attention of these groups.

Janice Johnson

San Diego, Calif.

Growing Through Doubts

Re “Pastoring Atheists,” by Thomas J. Santen (11/2): Indeed, God shows us the value of every doubting Thomas in our own spiritual lives. Friends, family, atheists all—make me more knowledgeable about my own religion and culture, more compassionate and a better Catholic. Centering prayer allows us a kind of “monastic” time out of the hurly-burly of our culture and inner mind chatter, a time for the whisper of grace to be heard. Doubt is part of God’s gift to us. It allows us to examine, expand and deepen our views of God.

Roberta Gittens

Cathedral City, Calif.

A Bold Papal Move

Re “Bridge Over the River Tiber,” by Austen Ivereigh (11/16): “The Anglican Church United Not Absorbed” was the title of a famous paper read by the Belgian Benedictine Dom Lambert Beauduin at the Malines Conversations (between Catholics and Anglicans) in 1925. Pope Paul VI echoed this idea when he canonized the English martyrs in 1970, saying that “when the unity of faith and life is restored...there will be no seeking to lessen the legitimate prestige and usage proper to the Anglican Church...[our] ever beloved sister.”

We have said for decades that the only prerequisite for unity is agreement in faith. Once that is achieved, everything else is negotiable. With his bold move Pope Benedict XVI has made it a reality. Will the response of Anglicans who have declared that they are already one with us in faith (the ones to whom the pope’s offer is addressed) be equally bold?

(Rev.) John Jay Hughes

St. Louis, Mo.

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