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Our readersJuly 15, 2000

Justice and Human Rights

I would like to add to the fine editorial, Solidarity in Globalization (6/3). Representing the Sisters of St. Joseph at the United Nations, I have come to realize that, in addition to all that was so eloquently expressed in your editorial regarding how Americans need to respond to the challenges of globalization, there must be added the necessity for a realization of and attention to the efforts of the United Nations to address these challenges. The closing words of the editorial concerning the challenge we should face in calm dialogue’ and with mutual respect (emphasis mine) came almost as a confirmation, because they so aptly sum up the atmosphere that I have experienced at every meeting of persons, both on a formal and informal basis, at the United Nations. The U.N. is not perfect, but there is a realization of that, and efforts for reform are already in process. As Americans and as Catholics, we have a long and rich tradition of striving for justice and human rights. In what is now undeniably a global community, the United Nations is our only hope. It needs desperately the backing of governments and of civil society, especially of citizens whose core values are based on the excellent social teaching of the church (and of the Jesuits!).

Mary T. Legge, S.S.J.

Bayonne, N.J.

A Moral Issue

In your editorial of 5/27, you suggested that universal health care coverage is a moral issue. Cardinal Bernardin proclaimed this powerfully: Health care is an essential safeguard of human life and dignity, and there is an obligation for society to ensure that every person be able to realize the right.

For the United States to remain the only industrialized nation without universal health care coverage represents a political and moral failure. For America to take such a tentative stance on the matter was a letdown. If basic health care is a right to expect when you are ill among the wealthiest brethren ever to walk the earth, I would hope to see that expressed more boldly in an editorial. Perhaps fewer We hopes and polite hints that Congress might use the budget surplus to take some incremental steps toward universal coverage. Are we asking for more soup, please? or proclaiming that the matter of America’s 44 million uninsured is a moral issue?

William Ulwelling, M.D.

Albuquerque, N.M.

Bittersweet Smile

I enjoyed Professor Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo’s analysis of the role of Catholicism in the civic life of Puerto Rico (4/15). As a Boston College graduate, I am especially proud of the contribution the Jesuits have made on the island. Thanks to Daniel Berrigan, S.J., I met the now-deceased Jesuit bishop, Antulio Parrilla-Bonilla, who was a longtime advocate for the people of Vieques. This resulted in his being marginalized during his lifetime, so it is bittersweet to see the important work being done by Archbishop González and Bishop Corrada del Rio. I still think that Parrilla is looking down on all of this with a smile.

Gene Roman

San Jose, Calif. 

Our Multinational

With interest I read Francis Dorff’s Are We Killing Our Priests? (4/29). Dorff’s article is the most concise and insightful appraisal of the shortage-of-priests crisis in our country to date. It reminded me of a conversation I had some 15 years ago with a high-ranking executive of a multinational corporation about the growing shortage of priests. He said, if the situation ever arose in his company where they were not attracting and holding the kind of people they needed and desired, they would very quickly find out the cause or causes. I told him the leadership of the church was not doing such a study. He responded, They don’t want the answer. Sadly true then and true now.

(Rev.) James Hoffman

Woodruff, Wis.

Lurking Influence

The insightful look presented by David S. Toolan, S.J., at Cuba and its lengthy struggle under utopian Communism complicated by misguided pressures from its powerful capitalist neighbor, the United States, was a fine piece of reporting (5/13). Although U.S. Cuban policy seems to be just as flawed as that of Cuban Communism, Father Toolan places the blame for Cuba’s disastrous economic condition squarely where it should beon the shoulders of Fidel Castro. The one missing element of the Cuban situation is the surprising power exercised by the exiles in this country. This force reached its influential zenith in the Bay of Pigs fiasco and has manifested itself again in the struggle over Elián Gonzales. It is a lurking influence that will have to be confronted if a rational Cuban policy is ever to surface in our government.

Tony Plattner

Tucson, Ariz.

God’s Choice

Congratulations and thanks to Michael J. Daley for his moving reflections on Parenthood and the Attributes of God (6/3). I immediately called it to the attention of all my favorite young parents and parents-to-be. Daley’s thoughts on how God evolves from Unmoved Mover to genuine parentby turns exhausted, angry, frustrated, but finally accepting his children’s freedom with loveare inspiring. How beautiful to think that perhaps God has grown, too, as the result of his radical choice for intimate relationship with us!

Daniel M. Ruff, S.J.

Baltimore, Md.

Role Models

The slanderous remarks made by several readers concerning the Holy See’s part in the ICEL developments make me absolutely sick to my stomach (5/13).

It seems to me that some individuals foster no respect for the Holy Father and his advisors. We Christians continually strive to become more holy, using the saints as models. The saints show great humility and obedience toward the Holy See. A present-day example is Blessed Padre Pio, the mystic, stigmatic and prophet, who always remained obedient and humble before the pope despite being silenced and deprived of his ministries for many years. We should take a lesson in humility and obedience from great present-day role models.

Mark Doherty

San Francisco, Calif.

Get That Dictionary

The response of Cardinal Jorge Medina (5/13) to Bishop Donald Trautman (3/4) leaves me with several thoughts and emotions. One feels an urgency to send the cardinal a dictionary so he can look up the word collegiality. Then there is the desire to explain that commissions should have the freedom to do their work before being stymied with nihil obstat and recognitio issues. There is the definite suspicion that the cardinal is more concerned with controlling the process than he is with worrying about the considerable expenditure of time, effort, and money that the bishops may spend. Finally, imagine bishops having the audacity to act like bishops without Rome’s permission! Quick, someone, get that dictionary!

Natalie R. Cornell

Gainesville, Fla.

Language Politics

It was surprising that Cardinal Medina’s response (5/13) to Bishop Trautman (3/4) provoked so many letters of protest, letters written more out of defensive and fearful anti-Roman prejudice than with clear understanding of the issues at hand. Surely the cardinal does not claim that he and his office are in a position to judge what is good English and what is not. But it is not necessary to be a native speaker of English in order to see whether a submitted English translation of a Latin text fully and accurately represents the entire contents of that text.

Liturgical Latin is a sophisticated and delicate vehicle, not at all easy to translate; and it is used to convey thoughts of great complexity. If I understand the cardinal correctly, he believes that the English-speaking faithful are deprived of many of the liturgical riches that they are entitled to when they are served with a vernacular translation that simplifies or alters the contents of the Latin original; and he believes that it is the Holy See’s responsibility to make sure that the faithful get what they deserve.

Both he and Bishop Trautman would have written much more persuasively if they had each illustrated their messages with a fair number of examples of Latin liturgical texts, compared with proposed English translations, and commented on whether those translations were well done or not. It is unfortunate that questions of relative authority should have come to dominate this discussion, and that so many readers of America have interpreted it in terms of church politics.

Mark Stephen Caponigro

New York, N.Y.

Turf Empire

Forty-three years of observing office politics allow me to characterize Cardinal Medina’s letter (5/13) for what it is: a turf-protecting, empire-building, velvet-glove stab in the back by a career staff officer who has no idea of life on the line.

Eugene A. Bova

Overland Park, Kans.

So Alive

Just a note to tell you that the May 20 cover of America by Michael Tunney, S.J., was so alive. The colors and the artwork made one want to look quickly inside to read about Jesuit education. Hope to see his artwork again on the cover.

Pat Carroll

San Leandro, Calif.

God is Close

Nine years ago my husband and I met Patrick J. Malone, S.J., in Guatemala. (A God Who Gets Foolishly Close, 5/27). We came together through a Maryknoll program, Call and Respond, to learn Spanish, do service with the poor in Antigua and try to discern how we might be being called.

My husband and I became lay volunteers with the Little Sisters of the Assumption in Worcester, Mass., and Pat made the decision to follow a call to priesthood.

Thanks to America for bringing Pat back to us. The thoughtful, intense and Spirit-filled man we knew spoke to us all as he wrote of his struggles and realizations. And thank you, Patrick, for the impression you made on me many years ago, and will continue to make, as I work in a world oozing with God and see his face in all the mess of creation.

Christine Noonan

Worcester, Mass.

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