Literate Praise

Thank you for America. Especially for its coverage of literature. Nofor all of it.

We’re made for God, we live and vote and allocate time and money in the world. No other publication speaks fully to our condition. Also, you are the last publication to use correct grammar. That you do all this in New York City astounds me.


Annie Dillard
Hillsborough, N.C.

Excited Focus

I must express my deep gratitude for the eloquent and heartwarming testimonial by James Martin, S.J., to women religious (Of Many Things, 1/8). While sisters are too often the butt of caricatures and criticisms, Father Martin captures so well the unheralded commitment of these women to proclaim the Gospel authentically through the tangible works of education, feeding the hungry, visiting prisoners, working for justice and peace, etc.

Engaging in these ministries has one common focusoffering hope to a world that sometimes appears hopeless. The real world is the staging ground for our continuing the mission of Christ who came that all may have life.

As a Dominican woman religious, I am excited about my own ministry and am daily challenged by the words of Christ to my fellow Dominican, Catherine of Siena: I have placed you in the midst of your sisters and brothers so that you may do for them what you cannot do for me!

Peggy Devlin, O. P.
Cherry Hill, N.J.

Tough Truths

I am so grateful for Of Many Things (1/8) for its succinct presentation of what I see as the unjustified failure to allow women full participation as members of the church. I don’t think I have seen so much packaged in so few words on the topic before. There’s a powerful question posed in the column and I think the answer is that the presentation of papal and hierarchical power, exclusively male, is the first priority for the present pope and for all his carbon-copy bishops! Short of an inspired and courageous and loving leader like John XXIII miraculously emerging again, I have no hope of change in my lifetime. What a grave loss for the church and the world. Thanks for your thoughts and your willingness, once again, to commit some tough truths to paper.

Miriam Curnin
Larchmont, N.Y.

Bitterness Banished

Please accept my deep thanks for your articles on abortion (1/22), particularly that of Susan Wills and her work with women who have had abortions. After I read it, the bitterness in my soul against the whole industry left me. While I did not mean to be, I was unjust in my condemnation of the women who delivered up their children.

Ms. Wills made me realize how deeply wounded these women are and how uncompassionate and hard I was toward these victims. Of all people, it is they, the women of abortion, who need our prayers, our counseling, our welcome and our refusal to judge or condemn. I thank Ms. Wills for making me more of a Christian in dealing with and thinking about the women of abortion. I ask their forgiveness for the hardness of my own heart.

Peter J. Riga
Houston, Tex.

And Men

Surprise! Surprise! Susan E. Wills’s most encouraging article, Loving the Sinner (1/22), mentioned men: We know from reports by priests that during the campaign more women and men than usual contacted them directly for confession or for counseling related to an abortion.

Almost universally, in all articles and commentaries, men are not brought into the pictureonly the women having abortions are the primary and sole perpetrators and subjects of reprimand. It is long past time that men in general and impregnators in particular are included in abortion teaching and commentary. We have for far too long laid the problem at the feet of women only. God bless them: they are the other half of God.

L. B. Hoge
Brandon, Fla.

We Are Women

I agree with Msgr. Harry Byrne (1/22) on the need for forums where all candidates are invited and challenged on all the issues included in a pro-life stance. Everyone must remain independent-minded in considering the many issues involved in the election. But I am offended by Monsignor Byrne’s reducing the vote of religious sisters and their organizations as being disenfranchisement of women in their church. As a whole, religious sisters are a highly educated populace in touch with the life of pain and suffering of their neighbors. Statistics state that more women and children live in poverty and are victims of violence than men. It seems to me to dismiss sisters for standing with and for the poor as feminism is parallel to calling the Christians who worked with the poor in Latin America Communist.

Monsignor Byrne spoke of our disenfranchisement as the reason for many sisters embracing feminism. Monsignor Byrne, we are women. What might be a pro-life strategy of persuasion is to consider the complete picturethe seamless garment and for the church to remember that we are baptized priests and prophets.

Florence Speth, S.C.
New York, N.Y.

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