The National Catholic Review
A Challenge to Stay

I found it interesting that two articles—Cardinal Wuerl’s “Pass It On” and “Exit Interviews,” the sampling of letters responding to the article “On Their Way Out,” by William Byron, S.J.—appear in the same issue (2/28). Cardinal Wuerl’s words encourage us to renew our faith and enter a new form of evangelization. The “Exit Interviews” letters give valid reasons why evangelization is destined to fail. The “elephants in the church” recognized by so many former Catholics and much of the laity are being denied, ignored and dismissed by most of the hierarchy. These articles give us a big clue about the dialogue that needs to take place so that this “new evangelization” will at least have a chance of some success. I thank America for publishing articles that challenge us to stay and work toward a church that does not divide its people.

Mary Alice Babka

Ashburn, Va.

Say Goodbye Already

It would help to be nostalgic about railroads, as in the current comment “Fast Train Coming?” (3/21), because otherwise they do not make sense in this modern world. People pay big money for vacations on square-rig sailing ships, Mississippi paddlewheelers, hot-air balloon rides, stagecoach rides and just plain horseback riding. These old modes have a compelling beauty and are fondly remembered in our collective subconscious. But they are no longer viable means of transportation. It is time to realize that the age of intercity trains, even at high speed, long ago went the way of intercity electric trolleys.

Tom Maher

Stow, Mass.

A Free Ride for Good Reason

“Fast Train Coming?” (3/21) should remind us that the trolley was an effective and popular way of traversing cities. But it was killed by those whose economic interests were served by promoting private automobiles. Public transportation should exist, and it should be funded in a way that the riders would not be required to scrounge for coins or paper in order to get on board. In other words, it should appear to be free. The purpose of this is ecological. In conjunction with this, automobiles, for those who must have them, should be fueled by something other than gasoline. They would pollute less and free us from having to worry about who is governing an oil-producing country.

Marie Rehbein

Las Cruces, N.M.

Follow the Money

Re your editorial “Just Adjustments” (2/21): Union busting is just one more step in the corporate power grab. Thanks in part to the decision in the Citizens United case, we are seeing unleashed the mammoth funds of extremely wealthy citizens and corporations to promote their every-man-for-himself style of capitalism and government.

The power of unions compared to their power is minimal. States are using their shortage of funds, caused primarily by the recession orchestrated by Wall Street, as an excuse to go after unions. Employee pension funds are bankrupting our states, they claim. Public sector workers are accused of receiving unfair wages and benefits because of their unions. Actually, two of every three public sector workers are not unionized. As for the terrible drain on the economy, public pensions amount to an average 2.9 percent of state spending, according to the National Association of State Retirement Administrators.

So what is going on here? Business as usual for right-wing politicians: the shift of money, power and dignity from the middle class to the very wealthy. Follow the money. Be informed about the philosophy behind this shift, a philosophy that is the very antithesis of love of neighbor.

Elaine Tannesan

Kingston, Wash.

‘Freedom’ vs. ‘Justice’

After 16 years of Catholic education and eight years as a Jesuit, I am concerned that America, in its editorial “Just Adjustments” (3/21), has a shallow view of what is happening today. In my experience, including many years in the army, in a large corporation and my own construction business, I did not see the same dedication to hard work and customer service in government workers as in private industry.

On several jobs we were required to pay what is called the “prevailing wage” because it was a government-funded job. To my thinking, this was immoral. The “prevailing wage” was a fictional number forced on us by the unions, far exceeding what was required to obtain good, hard-working employees. Have you ever met a government agency that was proud to come in “under budget”? Probably never.

The key is “freedom” in the market, not some government bureaucrat decreeing “social justice.”

Jerome Riggs

Dana Point, Calif.

Weak Cover

I was intrigued by the cover emphasizing “History and the Tea Party” (3/14) and expected an original work with perhaps unique insights from the Catholic tradition. I was disappointed by the actual piece, an opinion-on-an-opinion, a short book review in the back of the publication. “Weapon of War,” about the rape of women in the Congo, deserved the cover, an excellently researched article that also has a slideshow report on the Internet.

Debra Baer

Aiken, S.C.

Good Cover

I receive many magazines, but I want to comment on the cover—with the Tea Party person (3/14)—I received today, which stood out and was well composed in many respects, including lighting. I know this is form, not content; but it is very good. Thank you.

Dennis McMahon

Burlington, Vt.

You Said It, Coach

The only reference to the church in the charming column by Thomas Massaro, S.J., “Wait Till Next Year” (3/7), is the Roman collar in his picture. But he surely knew he was writing a parable for those of us who, critical or not, remain in the church. We are thankful that the owner of our team is all-powerful and all-loving and has given us each a share. Though the management and the pros who play the game regularly mess up, we still know that (if we hang in there) we will be on the right side in the Last Super Bowl!

Ron Naumann

Hilton Head, S.C.

Jesus and the Woman

I was very impressed by the first comments of Barbara E. Reid, O.P., in “Water From Another Well”(3/21). But I was taken aback when she wrote that the woman was not a sinner. The fact that she had had five husbands and was now living with a sixth man certainly points to a sinful disposition.

We also read: “They had to be willing to stay with each other.” This suggests that Jesus was somewhat reluctant to converse with the woman. But John shows that Jesus initiated the conversation and willingly stayed with her in order to change her way of thinking and to bring her closer to God. The final sentence also suggests that, like the woman, Jesus also had “ignorance and fear.” This cannot be glossed from the biblical text.

In short, I think the article identifies Jesus too much with the woman. John’s intent in the story, I believe, was to show Jesus as the savior who comes to lead sinners like this woman back to God. Clearly Jesus and the woman are different; they are not as similar as the article seems to suggest.

John Seland, S.V.D.

Nagoya, Japan

Spare the Rod

Re “New Orleans School Paddles On?” (Signs of the Times, 2/21): In my opinion, hitting someone with an 18-inch-long wooden paddle is a sin. It is sad to think that some children are still subject to this form of physical abuse. I read the report of what went on in those schools in Ireland. The sexual abuse that many of the students were subjected to was horrific, but almost as bad were the beatings and physical abuse that some had to suffer. Remember the words of Christ: ”Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.”

Mark Davenport

Stroudsburg, Pa.

Comments

anne lewis | 4/8/2011 - 1:58pm
'Freedom' vs 'Justice' per Jerome Riggs:  Boy, JR, do you have it right!  I, myself (in my 60's now) have spent an employment lifetime in fortune 500 corporation environments as well as non-profit and gov't sectors. There is no comparison; NONE!  It's a common feeling on the corporate/for-profit side of things (as I'm sure you know, firsthand), that employees of the gov't and non-profits would not even be "considered" for employment/hiring in the public/corporate sector. Even without the union element, the work ethic/ethos is incomprehensible, assuming it exists at all.  I could never understand how people got by like that, even in their own eyes or experience. In addition, they more often than not lacked even the basic skills of grammer, spelling and 'business protocol'.  I don't know if the way we related to them was a moral issue, but it WAS more or less 'forced' by THEIR behavior - or required because of their lack of the most basic skills (mentioned above) and often in just their lack of common sense or critical thinking habits.  I don't know why the non-profit/gov't sectors foster and/or blithely accept this situation, but it's a very real thing, it's frustrating as heck and I encountered it on a regulsr and very predictable basis. Thank you for your perceptive assessment. It's right on (albeit sad)!
Ana Blasucci | 4/3/2011 - 7:55pm

RE:  The letter dubbed "A Free Ride for Good Reason:"

The writer might have good intentions, but the line, "...it (public transportation) should appear to be free," seems to suggest that it should be tax-funded, so we don't really know except vaguely that we're paying.  This suggests that we're not too bright, which in turn seems to be the rationale behind other things the government does (e.g., withholding taxes gradually over the year rather than chancing that if we write one big check on April 15 we might awake all at once, and politically run 'em out of town).  This is the sort of ideology the Tea Party seeks to expose.
Beyond that, cars that run on something other than gas?  Seems that one has been bandied about for decades, and continues to be.  One day it will happen, probably because of some entrepreneur in his garage workshop.  Oh, and when he or she makes a hundred billion dollars because of it, let's think twice before disdaining him or her because of this profit.

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