I am writing to offer a criticism of your editorial on RU-486 (10/14). I find one of the suggestions in your last paragraph most curiousnamely, your claim that there are people who accept the church’s teaching on contraception but reject her teaching on abortion. Aside from the unlikelihood of any person fitting your description, the editorial overlooks two important considerations in the abortion debate. First, though abortion is a human rights issue it is not completely separate from sexual issues. Abortion is a practice largely supported by a contraceptive mentality. In light of the statistic that 58 percent of abortions in America last year were procured by people using contraception during the month when pregnancy occurred, the following words of Evangelium Vitae deserve reflection: The pro-abortion culture is especially strong precisely where the Church’s teaching on contraception is rejected (No. 13). Second, and more important, people working to end abortion will use many means to achieve this goal, but none of them will involve promoting one intrinsic evil (e.g., contraception) to prevent the intrinsic evil of abortion. The means, however, will include prayer before the Eucharist, discussion with the opposition about our understanding of human life, providing money and time to help poor pregnant women and electing politicians who show some awareness of the injustice of abortion. The road will not be easy, nor will it be made easier by promoting contraception.
South Bend, Ind.
Not Too Happy
Your editorial’s recommendation (10/14) that the Catholic hierarchy allow a person considering an abortion to be counseled to use contraception could have widespreadand not too happyconsequences.
The Jesuit magazine America’ recommends the use of the birth control pill and of condoms to counteract abortions is exactly how the secular press and most Catholics, as well as non-Catholics, might well interpret your advice.
You are right in saying that opposition to abortion is quite different from opposition to birth control (pill or condom), not only for bishops (you enjoy distinguishing their ideas from Catholic thought) but for those who understand the immorality of both.
Why do you think that a person seriously considering abortion would be helped by telling them, You should have used the pill or a condom in the first place. So sorry?
What your recommendation means, ultimately, is that you want the church’s opposition to the pill and to condoms to cease. Taken to the next logical step, you want young people to be told that if they must have sex, they should use condoms.
Nice distinctions like the lesser of two evils are not relevant.
Robert F. Patterson
It was refreshing to read The Papacy for an Ecumenical Age, by Ladislas Orsy, S.J. (10/21). Only a veteran of Vatican II could write with such command of the council’s intent. He was there, and clearly he knows what the debates were about between the traditionalists who wanted a church frozen forever and those who thought it should be ready to blossom anew. Father Orsy also reminded me that I was then so hopeful of progress and now so disillusioned by the freeze that is still on, so often in the name of Vatican II. If only the council had reconvened 10 years later to review progress and demand implementation.
Edmund M. Reggie
Living Language Changes
The battle regarding language in the English translations of the Bible used in liturgical services goes on. I deeply appreciate your careful and broad coverage of the differing viewpointsoften revealing committed passion to finding the wording that most expresses God’s love and care for all humankind.
Edward Oakes, S.J., in his letter (11/4) expressed the attitude that really fosters antagonism, for the simple reason that he doesn’t seem to understand what it feels like to be a woman who reads his preferred translation of Psalm 8:5: What is man that thou art mindful of him, the son of man that Thou dost care for him? Where is one-half of humanity in that prayer of praise? Unlike Father Oakes, I do not read it as an extraordinarily lovely verse.
Thirty years ago it would not have bothered me. But English is a living, therefore changing, language. Man is a fully gendered word now. Humankind catches that change and I, a 79-year-old woman who taught English for many of her teaching years, find the ICEL translationWhat is humankind that you remember them, the human race that you care for them?an extraordinarily lovely verse.
Any living language changes.
America, keep up the dialogueor should it be called a debate?
Patricia J. Corkery, R.S.M.
Hooray and Boo
Regarding the editorial (10/14) on RU-486: hooray and boo. Well said that as long as poor parents feel threatened economically by an unborn child, abortions will continue. When Catholics and all their bishops really grasp that fact, maybe some group like Catholic Charities in every diocese will move that to the top of its priority list when it comes to disbursements. If all bishops were to make the financial pledge to pregnant women who are considering abortion, as Bishop Kenneth Untener has done, what a wonderful witness for life our church would become in a land that prizes free choice so highly! We would be putting our money where our mouth is by such an act of faith.
However, it is poorly said that American abortion policy is being determined by public opinion polls, not by moral principles. It is too easy to infer from such a statement that those who are pro-choice are unreasonable and/or unprincipled. Our words must not ever insinuate that as we continue our efforts to influence public opinion and policy on such a complex matter as abortion. We have to recognize intelligence and good will on the part of those who disagree with us on moral (and doctrinal) issues.
Your editorial O Jerusalem! (10/21) recalled my own 1994 pilgrimage, when I took ship to Israel, then bussed and trod through Haifa, Nazareth, Tiberias, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Acre. I used inns, stalls, sites and markets to experience life with Jews, Christians and Palestinians.
I soon discovered my first crime: I was a solo senior male traveling without the insulation of credit card, pilgrim tour or chartered flight. I was profiled, subjected to isolation, interrogation, search and even a crude attempt at entrapment, all as surreal as vintage films except for the engendered fear and rage. (No, I wasn’t an unwashed agitator.)
My second crime was sharing: I befriended one and all, and spent myself over coffee, service and sunset. I was exposed to the insanity everywhere induced by decades of dollars, deceit and apartheid, Israeli style.
Suggestion: leave behind trappings of privilege and power. Go to Israel. Make it simple. Meet the folks. Learn the truth, encounter by encounter. Forgo demonizing.
J. R. Cain
Resides in All
I read with great care and interest the article by Ladislas Orsy, S.J., The Papacy for an Ecumenical Age: A Response to Avery Dulles (10/21). It was refreshing to watch Father Orsy point out the fussy translating, method and theological reflection employed by Father Dulles in his article, The Papacy for a Global Church (7/15). The crowning achievement of the article was Father Orsy’s astute observation that Father Dulles used the literary genre of rhetoric, providing his readers with a thesis about the papacy requiring no change. Father Dulles argued for the status quo, Father Orsy for a new enterprise utilizing the genre of theological disputation.
Father Orsy, following the ancient dictum, in all things charity, carefully shoots holes in Father Dulles’s argumentation and concludes with powerful suggestions for the future. While he asks Father Dulles to join in the holy enterprise, I was shocked that he did not ask everyone else in the church to do so.
The Holy Spirit resides in all the members of the church, even those of us who do not take an oath of fidelity.
Arthur E. Zannoni
Relish the Thought
The article by Ronald D. Witherup, S.S., (10/7) gave a former translator great satisfaction. I said to myself: They should send it to Vatican City. But then, after relishing that thought for 24 hours, I realized that it would, perhaps, have to be translated, and then the difficulties might start.
Kathleen Whitfield, R.S.C.J.