I was astonished on reading your editorial The Worst of All Options (5/8), describing Iran’s nuclear future and American response options, to find not one mention of Israel. Given that nation’s multiplicity of actual and potential roles in this matter, the absence of reference to Israel is at best an intellectual sin of omission. It would be foolhardy for the United States to omit Israeli considerations in drafting its policy regarding this situation, as you did in drafting your editorial.
Robert V. Levine
Disturbed and Sad
While reading the article Changing the Rules, by L. Martin Nussbaum, (5/6) I became both disturbed and sad. Statements that other organizations have been much worse, that many cases of abuse happened a long time ago, and that things have gotten much better in recent years still miss the main point in the call for justice. Any parent, whether in the 1960’s or the 1990’s, knows that child abuse is a terrible thing and that abusers should not be allowed to function with children. I do not think it is unrealistic to expect our clergy or their bosses of whatever generation to have been held to a higher standard of conduct with regard to sexual abuse. The system that allowed abusive clergy continued access to children years ago is the same system that has not taken responsibility for the coverups and the movements of clergy from place to place. It is the system that allows a person of Cardinal Bernard Law’s record to be rewarded with a generous and cushy appointment. And now that same system is fighting hard to fend off movements toward legal and civil satisfaction from victims.
It is my sincere belief that the church would be so much better off in the long run if it would openly admit to the wrongful secrecy of the past and pay the price for it. Would it cost a lot? No question; but that cost would be far less than the long-term cost of loss of trust and respect. The church is attempting to protect its massive assets at a time when the Spirit perhaps is telling us all that it is the accumulation of these very assets that creates a problem. I cannot imagine that the Jesus of the Gospels would work even for a minute to protect property when people are crying out for justice.
More Legal Immigration
Your commentary Cardinal Epikeia (5/15) concerning civil disobedience by churchmen because of what they believe is a higher law, reminded me of another seven-letter word beginning with e: enabler.
Rank-and-file Catholics have no objection to bishops, priests and others practicing the corporal works of mercyfood, social services, health care and so onwith immigrants, legal or illegal (providing they are using their own funds for illegal immigrants, not taxpayer money). I do not think our legislators object either. What they do object to is anyone, including churchmen, hiring people who are illegal immigrants. That is called enabling. This form of epikeia is not different from churchmen deliberately shielding child-abusing priests. The law applies to everyone. I think if you polled the people in the pews you would find most believe that anyone, lay or ecclesiastical, who knowingly employs illegal immigrants or actively assists them in evading the law, should be prosecuted.
We are a nation of immigrants, and we already welcome more than one million legal immigrants a year. Almost certainly this number should be greatly increased. It seems to me the bishops and others would do better by working toward this end and calling for more legal immigration, including guest workers. They should also lobby for accompanying laws forcing all employers, including themselves, to pay these new arrivals a decent wage and give them health benefits.
By the way, Mexico, from which most of the illegal immigrants come, has immigration laws as strict or stricter than those of the United States. No country on earth allows people to simply walk in and set up residence.
Two items in Signs of the Times (5/8) provided an interesting contrast. One described the dire financial plight of the Archdiocese of Boston, with a $46 million deficit, which, as has been reported elsewhere, resulted in parish and school closings and consolidations, the sale of property, reductions in programs and ministries, and layoffs of personnel.
A second short article described the recent reopening of seven closed Catholic schools in center city Memphis, Tenn., and construction of a new school by Bishop J. Terry Steib, at a cost of $44 million, which has been generously and joyfully contributed by Memphis Catholics in the center city, suburbs and countryside.
It would be most interesting to see a comparative study of the episcopal leadership styles of the Bishop of Memphis with the former Archbishop of Boston, living now in Rome.
Likewise, perhaps the next time the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meets to elect a new president, the bishops in their collective wisdom might consider a servant leader with some vision, enthusiasm and optimism, rather than simply picking the next man in line for the job. We desperately need episcopal leaders who are eager to go and make disciples, versus continuing the downsizing of the church in the United States, especially in troubled urban areas.
(Deacon) Michael Balm
I wish to commend George M. Anderson, S.J., for the well-written and inspiring article Fleeing to Buffalo (5/15). As a lifelong resident of Buffalo, N.Y., I appreciated the positive image portrayed.
In the midst of the cold and snow, as well as the summer and autumn, the churches and the residents of our city have welcomed refugees from El Salvador and Central and South America, and now we see many coming from the Middle East and Africa. Refugee resettlement has helped to make our City of Good Neighbors a truly multicultural city.
I especially appreciated the account of the mission of VIVE, Inc., an inter-faith organization that assists refugees seeking protection in Canada and the United States. We provide these refugees with safe shelter, food, legal services and care for their other urgent needs.
Because of our location near Canada and because of the vision of the religious groups in Buffalo, we have provided aid to approximately 150 refugees each month since 1984. Sometimes they have come with only LaCasa and our phone number on a tiny slip of paper.
Father Anderson portrays well the warmth and heart of the people in the snowy city of Buffalo, and we are glad he had the opportunity to visit us.
Barbara Riter, S.S.M.N.
Your article From Grief to Hope, by Peter Schineller, S.J., (5/8) was so sad and inspiring. I do wish the author had added something about why this oil-rich country is so underdeveloped, and whether our U.S. actions and policies have affected Nigeria significantly.