We want to compliment Valerie Schultz on her excellent reflection, God in the Tangled Sheets (7/1). We heartily endorse her point of view, except for two small quibbles. The first concerns the parents of those called to celibacy. One of our children is currently making final plans to join an order of nuns who work in South America. No one should feel sorry for us, even though our daughter’s decision has cut in half our chances of ever holding a biological grandchild. Perhaps we hear the wise words of Ms. Shultz’s father, It’s what makes the world go round, slightly differently from the way she does. We believe that the it is not grandchildren themselves, but the love reflected in their eyes. We have been blessed to see many ripples of love spread out from the small splash of our commitment to each other. It appears that this love will soon raise a wave that will reach all the way to Bolivia and wash over 50 or more young girls who have known far too little love in their lives. We stand in humble awe of what God is doing, and feel rewarded in ways we never could have imagined when we said I do 25 years ago.
Our second quibble comes from the last line of the meditation, which seems to imply that the Schultz household has no resident saints. We beg to differ, and suggest she look more carefully in her photo album, where we are sure she will find saints aplenty.
Joseph and Jane Kupin
I found Chester Gillis’s Cultures, Codes and Publics (7/29) insightful, but I am still trying to recover from the second sentence of the second paragraph: After all, bishops are first and foremost priests, and all have been elevated to their present positions from the ranks of the priesthood. I much prefer Pope John Paul II’s view, as expressed in Crossing the Threshold of Hope (p. 14). After citing St. Augustine’s dictum For you I am a bishop, with you I am a Christian, he adds: On further reflection, christianus has far greater significance than episcopus, even if the subject is Bishop of Rome.
As long as bishops identify more strongly with their roles as dispensers of God’s grace than on the reality of their human condition, redeemed, like their fellow Christians, and called by baptism to be children of God, there will be an unwholesome cleavage between them and God’s people. Good bishops and archbishops identified so closely to their priestly caste that they became more intent on protecting the reputation of their little-brother priests than on safeguarding the dignity and wholeness of the merely baptized.
Marcel Sylvestre, F.I.C.
While a lot of the writing about the current scandal makes reference to the church’s call for forgiveness, nothing that I have read comes close to Sr. Camille D’Arienzo’s reminder (An Echo of Bagpipes, 7/29) that there are other victims of the crisis. Her call to acknowledge God’s grace at work in the lives of fallen priests is one well worth heeding. I fear that the bishops’ adoption of a zero tolerance policy not only is an overreaction in the cases of many priests who have repented long-ago transgressions, but also deprives the church of valuable ministers and witnesses to God’s redemptive power. While we most assuredly must provide support and understanding to the victims of sexual abuse and should pray for their healing, we also should pray that God bless them and us with the grace to forgive those who have trespassed against the victims and the church.
Stephen Q. Giblin
The death of David Toolan, S.J., is saddening, but, I’m sure, a dimension of this chaotic and sacred cosmos he so gracefully probed in his recent book. My hope is that the editors of America will soon design an issue which will not only pay tribute to this awesome storyteller, but also advance his conversation among cosmology, theology and spirituality in our 21st century. Our culture sorely needs more of his vision.
Joseph J. Foley
What struck me most about the article by Msgr. Harry J. Byrne (A Neighborhood Reflects, 6/17) was the lack of reflection on the cause of the Sept. 11 tragedy.
Absolutely no consideration is given to the possibility that the United States is the author of its own misfortune. Those bad guys, the Muslims, are all to blame.
Even minimal reflection on post-World War II events in South America, Asia and the Middle East suffice to reveal an outrageous disregard by the United States for the human rights of indigenous peoples. Not surprisingly, one of these indigenous peoples has retaliated.
Vancouver, B.C., Canada
I applaud America for making Another Step Forward, by Thomas P. Rausch, S.J., (7/15) your cover story. Evangelicals are our friends, not our enemies, and we can learn from them. Why is it that I meet many former Catholics who have left our church to join other denominations? Perhaps the new evangelization called for by our Holy Father is being done already...in evangelical denominations!
Cedric Pisegna, C.P.
One reason that Mary Jo Santo Prieto’s Father Hartke: His Life and Legacy in the American Theatre offers only brief glimpses into any darker side of the Hartke story (book review, 7/1) may be that the shadow that this great Dominican cast was short indeed. I remember a senior member of the community at the Dominican House of Studies where I lived from 1975 to 1980 commenting that Gib Hartke had a principle of never saying anything bad about anyone. Living this ideal, one will find the good in everyone and make few enemies.
Carmen Mele, O.P.
El Paso, Tex.