A League in Sync
James Martin, S.J., offers a comprehensive overview of anti-Catholicism in America and an excellent analysis of its root causes (The Last Acceptable Prejudice? 3/25). His position that the Catholic League is too overheated, however, deserves a response.
Our style is not out of sync with that of other civil rights organizations: A.D.L., GLAAD, NOW, N.A.A.C.P., A.C.L.U., et al. do not practice charity and tolerance when confronted with bigotry - they respond with vigor and allow their adversaries no quarter. Why should we be any different? After all, our many victories are not the result of charity but confrontation. Does anyone think that House Speaker Dennis Hastert would have appointed a Catholic priest as House chaplain had the league taken a charitable approach? Hell, we had to beat this victory out of the Republicans.
In any event, Father Martin’s contribution is one of the best to appear in a long time.
William A. Donohue
President, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
New York, N.Y.
One element that I found missing in the otherwise fair and thoughtful treatment of anti-Catholicism by James Martin, S.J., (3/25) is that much of the existing problem seems to arise within the church itself. That is, the perpetrators of advertising and entertainment negativity often call themselves Catholic (or ex-Catholic) and play to an audience that consists of large numbers of people who consider themselves disaffected from the church. Ironically, then, attacks are perhaps as likely to reflect internal tensions as they do the animus of non-Catholic culture.
Kenneth A. Briggs
In his article on anti-Catholicism in the United States (3/25), James Martin, S.J., mentioned Norman Vincent Peale’s hostility to John F. Kennedy’s candidacy on religious grounds. In all fairness, it should be reported that Peale apologized for being asked to head a meeting that turned out to be against J.F.K. for that reason. Had he realized it ahead of time, he never would have gone, Peale explained afterwards.
The next morning, before Peale’s apology was publicized, Adlai Stevenson was asked what he thought about it. Each party has its patron saints, he said. Personally, I find Paul appealing, but Peale appalling.
To the Father
The letter by Eduardo M. Barrios, S.J., (3/25) defending the stay of Elián González in Miami is so erroneous, so full of unproven suppositions and downright inaccuracies, that it is hard to answer. Let me try.
We must question the love of a mother for her child who would put him in such mortal danger. It is one thing for an adult to subject herself to danger and death, but it is gravely irresponsible to do that to a child except in the most extreme circumstances. Staying safe in Cuba is not one of them.
The law is so clear in this matter that it is little wonder that Father Barrios does not bother to mention it: The natural right of a surviving parent belongs absolutely to that father, absent abuse. There is no evidence to this effect, and the lawyers for Elián at the hearing in the Federal District Court in Miami could show none. The federal judge explained this law perfectly.
The I.N.S. and Justice Department officials visited the father in Cuba. They found a loving father who wanted his child returned. They found Elián’s siblings, grandparents and other close family relatives.
How is it that the Cuban bishops as well as the Cardinal Archbishop of Havana have all demanded the return of Elián to his father in Cuba? The Catholic Church is no friend of Castro, and if they thought it would be in Elián’s best interest to stay in the United States, they would be duty bound to say so. They said the contrary.
It is simply an outrage to say that lifting the embargo would have no effect on the suffering Cuban people. The pope, the American bishops, the Cuban bishops, many learned men and women have all called for lifting the embargo to alleviate the suffering of the Cuban people. The only obstacle is money and the political power of the Cuban Americans in Miami.
Peter J. Riga
Overlooked and Patronized
Thomas McCarthy writes well of the joys and pitfalls of parenting (2/26). He articulates well the pleasures and frustrations mothers have experienced foreverunsung and unheard. To gain recognition and respect in our society, many have abandoned the parenting role. Too few dads have the courage to replace them. Doesn’t that create a society of unparented children? Perhaps parenting parents should be as respected and admired as those who use child care. After all, the latter get a double income and often a child care subsidy as well. The former get overlooked and patronized.
Family Before Politics
Our love for Elián must be greater than our hate for Communism and the Castro regime. Our love for family life must be greater than our love of democracy and American materialism. Our defense of human rights cannot begin by destroying the rights of the family. Our rejection of poverty cannot supercede our need to keep families together. In summary, in our hierarchy of values family comes way before politics.
The use of Elián González as a political pawn is a disgrace and extremely harmful to this child. It saddens me to think of how he will suffer when he is sent back to Cuba. There he will mourn the loss of two mothers, not just one. All of this could have been avoided by a quick return of the child to his father, who, in spite of his poverty and the surrounding social structure, is the only one with the right to bring up this child. A father has the right to bring up his child regardless of how much money he has in the bank or who he votes for.
Fort Worth, Tex.