In your cover article, Hurricane Mitch’s Silver Lining (12/2), Dennis Linehan, S.J., sensitively chronicles the collaborative efforts of Catholic Relief Services and others in the reconstruction efforts in the wake of that devastating storm which ravaged Nicaragua. The Central American bishops, in a declaration one month after the October 1998 hurricane, called on all Christians to become builders of a new Central America. In 1998 the U.S. bishops’ Committee for the Church in Latin America established a special fund to support the reconstruction of chapels in four countries in the region that suffered the greatest damage. The benefits brought by this special fund are incalculable, because in those chapels the stories of rekindled hope are shared, the Eucharist is celebrated, and the faith communities are once again embracing their mission to proclaim the Gospel. By the end of the year 2002, the committee will have supported the reconstruction and repair of more than 150 rural chapels and parish halls. This effort is made possible through the generosity of U.S. Catholics to the annual collection for the church in Latin America. Together with C.R.S., the U.S. Bishops’ Committee for the Church in Latin America is building global solidarity and advancing the vision that Pope John Paul II set out in Ecclesia in America, One ChurchOne America.
John W. Swope, S.J.
Executive Director, N.C.C.B. Secretariat for the Church in Latin America
Three cheers for Valerie Schultz (The Magic Touch, 12/2)! Her poignant article about mature couples freely expressing physical love within their sacrament was refreshing.
My husband of 32 years and I are like Valerie and her husbandtouchers and huggers. I pray the example we have set for our children will not only bless them in their choice of a spouse but also be a guide for them in how they choose to live out their sacrament.
Fort Worth, Tex.
Forgiveness Too Soon
Stephen Pope’s article (11/18) on forgiveness of a child molester misses three important points. There is a time and a place for everything under heaven, including a call for forgiveness. After long experience working here at Girls and Boys Town with abused children, I am convinced that the wrong time to call for forgiveness is immediately upon discovery of the crime.
The discovery/public announcement of a crime against a child calls for three things: (1) outrage (I am outraged, as pastor, that this happened in my church with my employee); (2) a call for swift justice (Anyone who commits this crime needs swift justice; anyone who knows anything about it should come forward right away and cooperate with the law enforcement officers); (3) the need to develop better preventive measures right here in the parish, and to do so post haste.
Readers of Mr. Pope’s article can come away feeling alienated from the parishioners who expressed anger, frustration and even contempt. Those hostile feelings of the parishioners are quite appropriate under the circumstances the author described: a religious education director, over a long period of time, harming children, and the good-natured, faith-filled pastor immediately calling for forgiveness. That is not the time to do that. Many parishioners in these circumstances feel that church officials should have known. Now they want to dismiss it without an opportunity to express righteous anger.
He is missing the developmental stages of harm, anger and forgiveness. He is imposing the obligation of forgiveness on top of the harm already done. I will take my stand with the parishioners on this issue.
(Rev.) Val J. Peter
Girls and Boys Town
Image to Remember
Thank God I have lived long enough77 yearsto see a picture of our Mother Mary that I truly feel shows her as I’ve always believed her to be (The Word, 11/25).
A smiling lady with laughing eyes, dimples, her hair falling out of its carefully pinned up gathering at the back of her neck. She looks human, not aloof; she is enjoying and sharing a precious moment with someone. Her Son? Joseph? Her best friend?
Who cares, really? She is like all of us mothers who strive so to be like her.
She was human, and I’m sure this is the image she wants us to remember.
Thank you from all of us mothers who can still remember when we probably had that same kind of smile and showed our love in it.
Joan M. Markey
Now that is a Mary I could run to and hug and know that she would hug me in return (The Word, 11/25). Her eyes sparkle, and her facial expression is of one who knows more than she is saying and feels good about it. She is one I could sit and talk with for hours, as she looks as if she would find what I had to say of interest. She seems strong enough in who she is and wouldn’t hesitate to roll up her sleeves and scrub floors. She brings joys to my heart, and I look forward to waiting, with her, this Advent. Truly, her inward beauty radiates from her face.
Leonard Marie Lichinchi, C.S.J.
Charles R. Morris’s attack on John Dewey and progressive education (Book Reviews, 12/2) reminded me of the sort of polemics on the same subject that appeared in The Brooklyn Tablet in the late 1940’s and early 50’s. Of course all sorts of thinkers throughout the first half of this century traveled under the rubric of progressive education. Dewey spent much of his career criticizing the anti-intellectual, undemocratic and scientistic themes to which Morris’s review of Diane Ravitch’s book now unfairly links him.
Morris’s notion that the progressives ruled the educational establishment for more than 60 years, until traditionalists finally regained a precarious upper hand around the 1980’s... is, of course a gross oversimplification. Was there no Sputnik in the 50’s? No concern with excellence in education, no James Bryant Conant, no John Gardner? The complexities of the history of education in the United States are ill-served by Morris’s dichotomy between traditionalists and progressives. Dewey himself offered a critique of this sort of oversimplification of educational theory and practice in his excellent little book, Experience and Education (1938).
William A. Proefriedt
South Farmingdale, N.Y.