Predecessors in Faith


My sincere and heartfelt congratulations on the article about Mother Katharine Drexel by Dennis M. Linehan, S.J., in your religious education issue (9/16). I appreciated your evident pleasure with the material we furnished.

Our prayerful best wishes to each of you in your demanding but so essential ministry. Thanks also to you and all your predecessors.

Maria Espiritu McCall, S.B.S.

Archivist, Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament

Bensalem, Pa.



In grammar school 55 years ago I was taught that it was important not to give scandal. Certainly the beatification of Pius IX on Sept. 3 was an occasion of embarrassment. Now, however, with the statement made in 1871 by Pius quoted in Signs of the Times (9/16), his beatification becomes a source of scandal and the cause of shame.

Lawrence Norton

San Rafael, Calif.



A Theologian’s View

The beatification of the autocrat monarch Pius IX ending the Constantinian era, together with the responsible parliamentarian John Paul XXIII opening the windows of the church (9/16), expresses the complementarity of two Christian idealsa strong individual and a person for others. The two popes together are a welcome symbol for a divided Christianity. After the Incarnation, not either/or but both/and is our problem-solving paradigm.

Tibor Horvath, S.J.

Toronto, Ont.


Make a Difference

The article, Coarse TV, (9/16) by James Martin, S.J., certainly hit the bull’s-eye. And his predictions for the future of television are right on target. I am not sure the adjective coarse is quite strong enough, but I am sure that we have to do more than wring our hands and say, How sad. Let’s make these people in the wasteland aware of how we feel about the violent, porno swill they’re feeding us.

Here’s a suggestion. Near your television keep a generous supply of postcards, a pen and addresses of TV channels. When you see a program you dislike, write to the TV channel telling them exactly why it offended you. Conversely, when there is something you particularly enjoyed, let them know that also. Ask two others people to do the same, suggesting they get two others, and so on.

A few opinions may not seem to be of much value, but television companies have a system of weighting viewers’ opinions. For instance, one person who writes equals hundreds or thousands who feel the same but didn’t bother to call or write. The larger the viewing area, the larger the equation. We viewers can make a difference!

June Guncheon Vajda

Aurora, Colo.


Honesty Over Diplomacy

You will presumably add to your continuing catalog of negative reactions to Dominus Iesus (Signs of the Times, 10/7, 10/14) the positive reaction of one of the leading voices of Protestant Evangelicals, the magazine Christianity Today. In a lead editorial characterizing the Vatican’s statement as a step forward, not backward, for Christian unity, the magazine takes sharp issue with the many left-of-center ecumenists [who] have responded with outrage.

The editor maintains that the document doesn’t slam the door on post Vatican II ecumenical efforts, but rather simply reminds readers that ecumenism isn’t done simply to be nice. After identifying some of the principal misinterpretations of the document in much the same way as have the Pope and other bishops, e.g., the statement doesn’t call Protestants gravely deficient’the editor concludes that the Vatican has merely reiterated long-standing Roman Catholic beliefs. Documents such as these are crucial for true cooperation, the editor contends, because there is danger of thinking that by coming up with language we can agree upon, we’ve also agreed on what we mean by these words. Real unity, the author writes, comes through an ecumenism of conviction, not an ecumenism of accommodation. Since the Catholic Church is, in the words of Vatican II, a pilgrim church suffering from defects just as do Evangelicals, whose movement is one of renewal and reform, the common recognition of the call of Christ to prepare for His coming is our hope for unity. As Christ-loving believers in various churches do this work with humility and patience, we will continue to grow closer. So here is one vote, at least, for elevating honesty over diplomacy.

William H. Dempsey

Arlington, Va.

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