Letters

Healing Hearts

Thanks for another fine article from the pen of Julie A. Collins, Virginity Lost and Found (5/21). In a fresh way, she continues to weave the advice of Ignatius into contemporary words as educators re-examine how to hear the beat of a teenage broken heart.

Kathleen G. Wills

Annapolis, Md.

Worthy of Respect

Regarding Sisters in Mercy: Florence Nightingale and Mother Mary Clare Moore by John W. Donohue, S.J., (6/4): Mother Francis Bridgeman (nee Joanna Bridgeman) was no Brickbat to the thousands of men under her care at Scutari, Koulali and Balaclava. Her nursing experience and that of the nuns she led were gained in caring for Ireland’s poor and, in 1847, for the victims of the potato famine. A similar starvation ravaged the soldiers during the Crimean War (1854-56), as did exposure, infections and wounds. Because of the Bridgeman-led care, a Scottish Highlander was able to say, I thank you my blessed lady; but for you, I should be in my grave.

Bridgeman’s Mercy Brigade was able to care for the Scot and other victims of a bungled military leadership and a more bungled government bureaucracy thanks to William Ronan, S.J., of the Gardiner Street Church of St. Francis Xavier in Dublin. The chaplain cut through Florence Nightingale’s obstruction of the nuns’ access to the sick and wounded, 50 to 90 of whom were then dying each day in the filthy Barracks Hospital at Scutari. The nuns would care for the soldiers as stipulated in their contract with the British War Office, said Ronan, or he would take them home. Nightingale conceded. Thus one month after they had arrived in Constantinople the nuns were able to begin their mission of mercy. During the time they had been kept idle, the mortality rate had reached its highest point. How many soldiers who died during January 1855 might have survived had Nightingale permitted the Mercy Brigade to care for them? Joseph Woollett, S.J. and Peter Duffy, S.J., succeeded Ronan and supported the Mercy Brigade as they tended to the soldiers and fended off skirmishes with Florence Nightingale.

Florence Nightingale’s three months in Kaiserwerth, where she claimed the nursing there was nil, and her year organizing the care of retired governesses at Harley Street in London were no match for the Mercy Brigade’s nursing experience and organized system of care. Florence Nightingale’s great success was seeing the British soldier as a person worthy of respect who should be clothed, fed and housed. So great was the prominence she gave to this fact that the military had to change its treatment of the soldier as a brute. Then Nightingale used the new science of statistics to support her argument that the British government had neglected the soldier’s health.

Mary Ellen DoonaBrighton, Mass.

Reduction

In his review of Pearl Harbor (6/18), Richard A. Blake, S.J., suggests that Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay have reduced storyline to insignificance. What they have done is, I dare say, even more inexcusable: they have used the attack on Pearl Harbor as a ruse to draw moviegoers into a sappy, dull and entirely predictable love story. The apparent ease with which Kate Beckinsale’s character gets over her sorrow stands in marked contrast to the devotion manifested by those who were actually there on Dec. 7, many of whom have never had the luxury of returning from the dead.

Incidentally, Admiral Yamamoto’s comment about awakening a sleeping giant was hardly the oops-look-what-we’ve-done that it is made out to be in the movie. In his biography of Yamamoto, The Reluctant Admiral (translated into English by John Bester), Hiroyuki Agawa points out that as early as the late 1930’s, Yamamoto was certain that Japan would never win a war with the United States. He had served as naval attaché in the United States some years before and never ceased to be amazed at America’s industrial potential. To reduce Yamamoto to nothing more than an armchair strategist who caved in to political pressure is as inaccurate as it is condescending.

(Rev.) George Hafemann

Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

High-Tech Interviews

In Rating the Clergy (5/7), I mentioned a study done by Knowledge Networks. Your readers may be interested in the unusual way it gathers survey data. The company uses a representative sample of households with telephones and interviews them using their television set, by providing each household with an interactive TV device and the communication protocols required to use it.

(Rev.) Andrew Greeley

Chicago, Ill.

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