Relax, They Won’t Hurt

I have just perused the changes referred to in “Musicians Prepare for Coming Changes in Mass Text” (8/2). They are very minor. They seem to reflect a return to translations that older members might remember from the joint Latin-English missals. In this respect, Novus Ordo might be considered the “change,” whereas the new texts represent a traditional and more faithful translation and continuation of the original Mass texts. I welcome them. I’m sorry for the inconvenience to musicians and choirs. Maybe they can readapt some of the music and lyrics from the pre-Vatican II days. The changes are so minor there should not be anywhere near the disruption caused in the wake of the Second Vatican Council.

James Caruso

Fairfax, Va.

A Realized Flight of Fancy

In your Current Comment, “Duty Bound” (7/19), you say that frustration among laypeople mounts when they have no way to respond to the sexual abuse crisis other than by writing letters, curtailing donations or stopping church attendance. But they want to help the church.

The problem is not that they cannot express their opinions, come forward with their ideas and so forth, whether individually or through Voice of the Faithful or another group. The problem is that no one with any authority is willing or courageous enough to listen to them and engage their ideas. Last spring in Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn not only held a service of penance and reconciliation for the victims of ecclesiastical abuse and not only invited We Are Church, the European version of V.O.T.F., founded in Austria, to attend, but also asked them to help plan the service in the Cathedral of St. Stephen. Can you in your wildest flights of fancy imagine anything remotely similar happening in the United States? Where are our leaders when we need them?

Nicholas Clifford

New Haven, Vt.

We Broke It and Cannot Fix It

Concerning your editorial on Iraq, “Turning Point” (8/16), I would like to ascribe honorable motives to President Bush, but after having followed events closely since Sept. 11, 2001 and read several books, I believe the decision to invade Iraq was neither honorable nor honestly portrayed. He undermined the Constitution and U.S. treaty obligations, introducing an amoral view of the law that a disturbingly large number of Americans now accept. Bush’s belief that democracy can be exported like so many bushels of wheat reflects astounding ignorance. To make sure ardor for his adventure did not wane, he declined to ask the public to share in the sacrifice through taxation, passing the debt to our children.

Now we are weary and withdrawing from a country we broke and cannot fix. Now sectarian conflicts will plunge the country into civil war, resulting in a Muslim theocracy under another strongman, harboring antipathy toward the West, a place no longer tolerant of Jews or Christians or the rights of women. Democracy, like morality, cannot be imposed.

Mike Appleton

Winter Park, Fla.

To Remember Is Better

Kerry Weber’s Of Many Things column on Aug. 16 reminds me how several years ago I lost my favorite camera in 400 feet of water in a bay in Alaska. I have never taken a vacation picture since. The freedom of seeing the world with my own eyes and remembering with my own mind is wonderful. When I need to bring an image home, I buy a postcard. I realize that no one else really wants to see my vacation pictures, and I can cherish my mental images more clearly.

Loretta Kalina

Elmhurst, Ill.

Reagan Rides Again

In the current comment “An Acting President” (7/5) your author described President Ronald Reagan as an actor who “never saw military service.” In fact, Reagan was an officer in the U.S. Army, commissioned out of R.O.T.C. into the horse cavalry. His eyesight was so poor that he could not serve in combat. This service gave him a lifelong love of horses, and replicas of his boots were placed in the stirrups of the caparisoned horse at his state funeral. Assigned to Hollywood, he helped produce training films for the troops, several of which I saw as an enlisted man during the war.

Richard L. D’Arcy

Manassas, Va.

V.O.T.F. Struggles On

I feel duty bound to write about your brave editorial on lay involvement in the church, “Duty Bound” (Current Comment, 7/19). As one of the original members of Voice of the Faithful on Long Island in 2002, I have wondered if anyone in any position of authority really cares about the need for a committed laity to voice its opposition to the anti-Vatican II forces which seem to have taken over the reins of the hierarchical church.

On Long Island the reputation of V.O.T.F. is mixed. We are painted as radicals by the present leaders. While some priests “cheer us on,” few do so publicly. We struggle because our cause is just and in keeping with the best reform-minded members of the church.

Edward J. Thompson

Farmingdale, N.Y.

Don’t Blame Immigrants

I agree with Andrew Selee’s “Crossing the Line” (8/16), that the United States is the primary reason for the Mexican drug wars; but I disagree with his suggestion that immigration is the root cause.

America’s insatiable appetite for marijuana and other illegal drugs is the major cause of the war and murders in Mexico. Our nation’s tolerance for drug use and the lack of immediate rehabilitation for addicts exacerbates the problem. As our demand requires a supply, a person in Mexico can make a small fortune getting cocaine across the border. Ignoring these aspects and blaming immigration laws is to avoid the painful truth.

Michael Young, C.S.S.P.

Cape Coral, Fla.

Cancel—No, Don’t!

A month ago I cancelled my subscription, although it was partly under the inspiration of America articles that I had started a master’s program in pastoral theology at Loyola Marymount. Overwhelmed by the required readings and the growing pile of issues of America in my bedside drawer that I had only glanced at, I thought a leave of absence would ease my frustration.

Now here I am at 5 a.m., looking for inspiration for a research paper; and I find myself searching your Web site for recent articles that piqued my interest. So I owe you one. I’m back. Thank you for what you do.

Michele Volz

Newport Beach, Calif.

Dignity vs. the Feeding Tube

Re “What’s Extraordinary?” (8/30): Is there not a contradiction between respect for the dignity of the human person, even in a persistent vegetative state, and the demand that this person be kept “nourished” and “hydrated” through a surgically installed “feeding” tube?

Can one die naturally and with dignity intact while being subjected to such an inhumane medical procedure, which is without realistic possibility of permitting reversal of the P.V.S. and regained health?

Frank Bergen

Tucson, Ariz.

Feeding Tubes and Dementia

In response to “What’s Extraordi-nary?” by Gerald D. Coleman, S.S. (8/30): Nursing homes have boiled all this hifalutin philosophy down to this: “If you want to go to a Catholic nursing home, you have to have a feeding tube.” It is much cheaper for the nursing home to drip or pour a can of liquid into a feeding tube than to employ expensively trained aides to hand-feed patients with advanced dementia who are no longer able to eat. A better alternative: an army of volunteers to feed patients three times a day.

A human being is not a machine into which you just pour a can of fluid (which gives you diarrhea) several times a day. Advanced dementia is a progressive, terminal condition, so most patients with dementia who need feeding tubes are within weeks of their deaths. Hospices will offer “comfort feeding” of food and fluids, but if the patients don’t want it or can’t take it, that’s the end of it. But nursing homes don’t offer this. It is probably too hard to supervise the staff. I am a physician anesthesiologist who has cringed every time I have been called upon to sedate an extremely sick person with end-stage dementia in order to insert a feeding tube. I wish the Catholic bishops could see this.

Joan Carroll, M.D.

Perth Amboy, N.J.

Resign in Protest?

I read with interest your current comment “Resignation Refused” (8/30) about the pope’s refusal to accept the resignations of two Irish auxiliary bishops, rebuffing Archbishop Martin and his leadership to address the abuse scandal in Ireland.

Can you imagine the powerful, positive impact that should result if Archbishop Martin were now to resign himself?

Tom Eichler

Bear, Del.

Recently in Letters