I commend you on the most timely and relevant editorial on domestic violence (11/18). My experience is that one of the best-kept secrets in the Catholic Church is the bishops’ document When I Called for Help: A Pastoral Response to Domestic Violence Against Women. Very few pastors talk about this issue from the pulpit. Often the women who come to our center, Woman’s Place, are told by their pastors, Just be a good wife, try harder, pray more. The pro-life stance of the church must be proactive in protecting women and their children from the abuser in their family. Your editorial should be available to all pastors and pastoral councils as the first step in the education process of our parishes.

Jeanne Meurer, F.S.M.
St. Louis, Mo.


I already sent my letter of gratitude and appreciation to John R. Donahue, S.J., heading it Three Sad Words in response to his Ave atque vale! (11/18). Since then I have been eagerly waiting to see who his replacement would be. I was very happy to see that it is a womanfirst of all, because one of the more serious things lacking is a woman’s point of view in the official liturgical homilies. Your inspired choice resolves that a bit, at least making that perspective available, one step removed, through those who rely on The Word for preparing their Sunday homilies.

Having read the first column by Sr. Dianne Bergant, C.S.A, I was fully gratified in knowing that her arrival in the pages of America was worth the wait, and now I await her continuing contributions with an even greater sense of expectation. Reading her enlightening words on our Advent waiting, I felt she might be reading my mind. Many thanks!

Calvin Poulin, S.J.
Cagayan de Oro, Philippines

Proper Context

Thank you for your editorial Ordaining Gay Men (11/11), which at long last puts this issue into a proper context. It is surprising that outspoken decision-makers within the hierarchy, who ought to know better, have failed to understand that there are right now in their midst many effective priests who happen not to be heterosexual and that they would deny ordination to such men in the future.

Perhaps these prelates have been misled because in recent years some priests have adopted some traits that are associated with the gay lifestyle or have espoused particular causes that are unique to the gay agenda. Maybe it is time for these few priests to eschew certain of these traits and causes, particularly those that lead to exclusivity or confrontation with the hierarchy. This could be interpreted as a part of their commitment to celibacy.

We also have to come up with a better term than gay priests. Gay is a value-laden predicate that is fraught with lifestyle and political connotations. Most priests who are not heterosexual are not gay in this sense. When we apply the term gay to these men, we wrongly attribute to them an entire sub-culture in which they do not participate. This has surely contributed to negative attitudes within the hierarchy and elsewhere.

Francis J. Murray
Freeport, Me.


Your recent editorial in favor of ordaining gay men suffers from some inconsistencies (11/11). Though you cite the Catechism of the Catholic Church in your support, you neglect its characterization of homosexual acts as intrinsically disordered and of grave depravity (No. 2357). Tendencies to such acts can hardly be called gifts. Moreover, if pedophilia is divided equally among heterosexuals and homosexuals, pure pedophiles are rare in proportion to ephebophiles, and the vast majority of cases involving priests consists in the abuse of teenage males. That points to homosexuality. Finally, gay groups among priests and seminarians do exist and recruit; they do not dissolve under finger-wagging. One can only pray that the universal church, in whose name the pope speaks, has a wider view than America. In a time of crisis, you propose business as usual with the same ideology and practices that have produced the crisis.

John M. McDermott, S.J.
Columbus, Ohio

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