Learning and Formation

I write in regard to Richard R. Gaillardetz’s article, The New E-Magisterium (5/6). The plethora of sites posing as theological resources on the World Wide Web is indeed a challenge. The technology committee of the parish to which I am assigned sees two ways that the new wineskins of the Internet might be used profitably. Through the printed bulletin and the parish’s Web site (www.stagnescathedral.org) people are told of a site of the month. This site has been approved by parish personnel and committee members as having sound, worthwhile material.

(Rev.) William E. Koenig


Rockville Centre, N.Y.

Affirmation of Presence

Thank you for the excellent and insightful article by Jeremy W. Langford (4/22). After seven years as the Catholic campus minister at Queens College, CUNY, in New York, I found Ministering to Gen-X Catholics, Jesus Style, right on target and a welcome affirmation of the church’s presence on a secular campus. My experience resonates with Mr. Langford’s in pinpointing the five actions of Christ that lead to effective ministry. Campus ministry is evangelization! While it is challenging and sometimes emotionally and mentally draining to work with young adults, it is always energizing, refreshing and hope-filled. Ministering to Generation X Catholics has been a wonderful learning and faith-filled experience.

(Rev.) Paul A Wood

Flushing, N.Y

Classy Inside

Just a note to let you know that I nearly threw away the May 6 issue of America because it looked exactly like one of the many junk-mail catalogs that I get each day. Please make the magazine cover match the classy material we find inside.

Blaine Burkey, O.F.M.Cap.

St. Louis, Mo.

Protecting Values

With regard to the article by John W. Donohue, S.J., School Tales from Two Cities (3/18), I believe the fundamental flaw in all arguments in support of tax credit comes from a misunderstanding of what a public service is. Governments need to provide education for our children, and that is supported by tax dollars, just as are other public services such as roads, public transportation, police, etc. If you don’t like the quality of these you can often pay money to afford a better standard for yourself. What I believe is really at issue is parents’ not wanting to feel that they are paying twice for their children’s education: once in taxes and once to a Catholic school. Having been single and having paid large taxes that mainly went to the public school system, perhaps I can offer a perspective: A good public school system protects the value of your home; a good Catholic education protects the value of your children. Don’t confuse the two.

Maureen Gilbert

Ambler, Pa.

Emeritus, Not Late

In the review of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s book No Future Without Forgiveness (3/18), Denis Hurley, O.M.I., an archbishop emeritus, is described as the late Roman Catholic Archbishop of Durban. I can assure you for the record that Archbishop Hurley, now in his early 80’s, is still very much alive.

Gunther Simmermacher

Managing Editor, The Southern Cross

Cape Town, South Africa

Archaic Language(s)

Thanks to George D. Sheehan for his letter (4/29) demonstrating the poor quality of ICEL’s work. Had he wished to elaborate further, he might have pointed out that the missing verb in Dominus vobiscum is est not sit; that is, the correct translation is The Lord is with you, not The Lord be with you. When the Missale Romanum wants the priest to wish something, the verb is explicit and it is sit, as in the following: (1) Gratia Domini nostri Jesu Christi...sit cum omnibus vobis, (2) Dominus sit in corde tuo..., and (3) Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum. The predilection of ICEL for archaic Church of England language distorts the worship of people today. Fortunately, they have not applied their translation style to the Dominus tecum of the Hail Mary.

David J. Broughton

Trenton, Mich.

No Apologist

I hope these reflections on two of the letters on the ICEL affair won’t consign me to the Rev. Gino Dalpiaz’s chorus of whiners (3/18). Like him, I’ve had occasion to use the Italian and French texts for extended periods of time and find them generally beautiful. But are they really more faithful to the original than the ICEL translations? Consider the French version of the Suscipiat (May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands...), which says, quite literally, For the glory of God and the salvation of the world. And what about the alternate opening prayers for Sundays in the Italian missal? They are, I believe, rich in theology and imagery. They are also original compositions.

If I understand George Sheehan correctly (4/29), he has had 50 years of experience translating legal documents for lawyers and patent attorneys. Does this qualify him to translate liturgical texts? Surely every professional translator knows that attention must be paid to the genre of the text he or she is translating. He rightly says that translation is an art and uses the response Et cum spiritu tuo as an example. Any first year Latin student can probably tell us that this means, literally, And with your spirit. But who can tell us what And with your spirit means?

I’m no apologist for ICEL. Along with what I think are beautiful and enduring translations (some of the eucharistic prayers), they have also produced a fair amount of banality (many of the opening prayers). That said, I don’t see how Cardinal Medina’s (5/13) taking the bull by the horns will remedy matters. As one whose mother tongue is English, I would never feel qualified to critique the Italian or French texts, even though I have a decent knowledge of both languages. What kind of critique of our English texts can we expect from non-native speakers? Apparently there is enough hubris to go around. Until the ideology and power politics are set aside by everyone, I’m afraid the chorus of whiners will continue to grow.

Edward Hagman, O.F.M.Cap.

Madison, Wis.

To Stem Violence

While sympathizing with the inertia against gun violence (4/29), I am loath to see us waste our time and energy on legislation that will neither stem the tide nor remove the weapons from illegal possession. To stem violence needs to be our goal, and I have yet to see anyone (including myself) willing to put forth enough effort to do that.

Mine is a gun-loving family. I have a son and daughter who are N.R.A. certified range instructors. Their use of guns is neither illegal nor violent, and they don’t deserve further restrictions on their hobby. Further, the recent spate of gun violence, while eclipsed by all violence, would not have succumbed to the proposed or existing legislation. It is fallacious to believe that we can keep anything out of illegal hands, and that includes those of absentee parents who leave the care of children to incompetents. Our problem lies at the root of our society that teaches that violence is ever warranted. (It is interesting to note that the two countries, Switzerland and Israel, with mandatory gun possession have far less illegal gun violence than the United States.) If we are ever to climb out of the cycle of behavior that induces violent results we must work to bring about a new love for self and neighbor. That will take bringing God back!

(Deacon) I. Michael Mangione

Elmira, N.Y. 

The Wrong Standard

I have read Paul Wilkes’s review of the Rev. Donald Cozzens’ book, The Changing Face of the Priesthood (4/1). Far more disturbing than any of the trends Wilkes identifies are the premises upon which Wilkes makes his judgment. First, he grossly exaggerates the scope of the problems. Then he laments that present vocational candidates are second-rate, intellectually and emotionally, again not on a par with a Catholic population that is better educated and largely open to a progressive, Vatican II-inspired church. Wilkes has written elsewhere that we no longer get the cream of the crop for the priesthood, since the cream now become doctors, lawyers, M.B.A.’s. Wilkes apparently believes in a preferential option for people just like him. How inclusive, how diverse, how prophetic of him!

But does Wilkes realize the implications of what he’s saying: that the priesthood should be a functional elite like other professionals or technocrats, that we should be recruiting the best and the brightest according to the models of secular excellence and competence? What is that but the application of market principles and bureaucratic management techniques to what is most sacred?

Yes, certainly, we should encourage men of ability and intelligence to consider a priestly or religious vocationand we should be concerned if we are not attracting these men in reasonable numbers, just as we should be concerned if the working class or intellectuals are alienated from the church. But that shouldn’t translate into deriding or insulting those who are answering the call, whatever their limitations. Why does Wilkes assume that God’s grace can’t work in them unless Wilkes deems them his intellectual and social equals?

Remember that St. Benedict fled the kind of people Wilkes so respects. St. Ignatius, the wounded and unlearned soldier, would not have made the grade in Wilkes’s valuationperhaps Ignatius would never have made it to the University of Paris! Certainly the Curé of Ars should never have been ordained. Wilkes expresses himself about the priesthood in terms more reminiscent of Nietzsche than of Christ or the Apostles.

Whether one prefers the priestly model of St. Sulpice or of Henry Nouwen, Wilkes is using the wrong standard.

Ambrose Bennett, O.S.B.

St. Louis, Mo.

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