In his article, Some Forgotten Lessons (4/25), Jason R. Rowe illustrated some important parallels between American military attitudes now, as seen in Afghanistan and Iraq, and those that were operative in El Salvador during the 1980’s. The Salvador Option is truly an insidious concept, when one remembers what the government-sponsored death squads did in the name of fighting Communism in El Salvador during those years. (One such death squad took a friend of mine captive, poured acid on his arms and left him for dead simply because they could not find his brother, whom they suspected of being a guerrilla sympathizer.) But as much as I agreed with Rowe’s analysis, I felt it was torpedoed at the end of the article when he misidentified (twice) the Frente Farabundo Marti de Liberacion Nacional (F.M.L.N) as the Frente Sandanista (sic) de Liberaci6n Nacional (F.S.L.N.). Wrong country (Nicaragua). Wrong year (1979). Wrong spelling (Sandinista).
San Jose, Calif.
I enjoyed the review of the miniseries Revelations, by James Martin, S.J., so much that I read it aloud to some friends last night and had them rolling in the aisles! They are convinced that Father Martin is related to Andy Rooney because of his dry wit. Yet some of his observations are quite sobering, particularly his remarks about the way Catholics are portrayed. I would add a corollary: we can laugh because we know the truth. How many people are taking what they see on television and in movies and read in novels about Catholics as gospel (you should excuse the expression), and how many Catholics believe what they learn from those same sources about Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and so on? Scary or funny?
Gail A. MacLean
Thank you for a wonderful reflection on N.Y.P.D. Blue, by Jim McDermott, S.J. (4/25). Both my husband and I watched the show religiously. Even though each of our professions helps us know full well the groans and aches of crime and unhappiness, we never tired of the nuanced redeeming qualities the characters in the show displayed week after week. Detective Sipowitz rarely disappointed us in taking the higher ground, and various aspects of the show over the years increased our faith by showing us how often and in how many subtle ways people on each episode not only tried to be better people but helped each other be better people as well. Father McDermott did the show and your readers a great service by his remarks. Rarely does television deliver such quality. We will miss the weekly ritual.
It has been my intention to write this letter for some time about the weekly column The Word, by Dianne Bergant, C.S.A. When the mind is sterile and the imagination is in paralysis, many times a reading of her column jump-starts them. Her insights into Scripture and her practical application of these verses are marvelous. Not only does she ignite material for a well-received homily, but the material provides fuel for meditation. May the Holy Spirit continue to make Christ present to us through this gifted lady.
Jeremiah McGinley, O.F.M.
Fair Lawn, N.J.
I am pleased that Benedict XVI (5/9) is reaching out to everyone. I like it too that he who has been perceived as an intransigent watchdog of the deposit of faith officially acknowledges that theological dialogue is necessary. Likewise surprising to me is that a longtime Vatican Curia member, seemingly bent on promoting centralization, is re-invoking Vatican II’s collegial communion.
Moreover, after hearing a religion expert on Deutsche Welle predict that Benedict XVI would be soft on social issues and hard on dogma, I am especially heartened that the new pope has expressed his concern for those living in the desert of poverty, of hunger and thirst, of abandonment and loneliness, of destroyed love. And what a delight to note that Benedict XVIas though taking the cue from the last paragraph of your editorialhas made his own the discouraged fishermen’s obedience to the Lord’s command to put out into the deep.
But the proof of the teaching is in the doing. So I look forward to papal pronouncements being consistent with papal actions throughout Benedict XVI’s ministry. He will thus, I hope and pray, give an explanation to anyone asking for a reason for our hope and prove wrong those who would accuse and malign him. Thus also, I believe, he will truly lay his hands on us, so that we may receive the Holy Spirit and be assured that Jesus is with us always.
Ross Reyes Dizon
The Disturbing Trends Behind Parish Closings, by Joseph Claude Harris, (5/2) contends that the supply of ordained priests is what determines parish foundations and closings. As a diocesan pastoral planner, I would suggest that other factors weigh equally in planning decisions. Some of the other factors are: parish data about membership and sacramental information; demographics, which help identify population trends; diocesan criteria or standards for vitality and viability, which assess how parishes carry out the mission; stewardship, which challenges parishes to share, consolidate and collaborate on resources; economics of financing a parish and its ministries, which continues to change.
Closing parishes is one solution to complex situations that most dioceses inherited from previous practices, such as ethnic parishes, building parishes in every small rural town or overbuilding after World War II and during the baby boom. A number of dioceses have developed creative ways for parishes to collaborate on personnel, ministries, programs and resources without closing parishes or by allowing the determination to be made on a local level.
Mark C. Kemmeter
New Ulm, Minn.