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Our readersApril 28, 2003

Just Unwise

George Weigel challenges me to rethink my position on the war (3/31). I find myself caught between the logic of his position and that of the pope’s. The war in Iraq in my estimation is an unwise war, but I find it difficult to discern whether it is or is not a just war. And, as Mr. Weigel writes, is that not a judgment call for competent authorities to make? And is that not why the Vatican’s spokesman has said that one who makes the choice for war assumes a grave responsibility before God, his conscience and history?

Robert Fontana
Yakima, Wash.

Substantial Reasons

I have never before agreed with George Weigel on anything. I do agree with his rationalization for the current U.S. war in Iraq (3/31).

I have been against the United States entering the conflict with Iraq without more support from the U.N. Security Council, but I now understand there are substantial reasons for doing so. I question whether the Bush administration was as fully and straightforwardly prepared to justify its decision to do so.

L. B. Hoge
Brandon, Fla.


Thanks to George Weigel for making the case for using proportionate and discriminate force in Iraq (3/31). And, thank you, America, for printing the picture of Cardinal Pio Laghi, Pope John Paul’s special envoy shown shaking hands with President Bush, above Weigel’s article, The Just War Case for the War.

I thought immediately of Witness to HopeWeigel’s authoritative biography of Pope John Paul II. Anyone who has read the biography knows that few men have demonstrated that they know the pope and his thinking as well as Weigel.

The article itself is a clear and brilliant moral justification of President Bush’s position.

Weigel demonstrates that he knows the post-9/11 real world. He recognizes the dangers that the nexus of weapons of mass destruction possessed by rogue states or terrorists represent.

Bill Walsh
Oakton, Va.


Thank you for publishing the fine piece by the bishop emeritus of Sacramento, Francis A. Quinn (4/7). He would try to hush me, but he was indeed a true prince of the church, a man for others, whose Northern California flock truly felt his love and respect for them.

We are grateful to have had such a loving and loved shepherd in our Central Valley, a genuine image of the servant Lord, who was ever meek and humble of heart, compassionate toward the multitudes. Would that we could have innumerable Francis A. Quinns in the chancery offices throughout this land. Although he would probably be the last ever to know it, he was one of those favored ones who in his life let us see what a sacrament really is. He never argued about what the spirit of Vatican II was. He simply lived it; and by watching him, we discovered it.

Andy Galligan
Tracy, Calif.

Different Attitudes

Many thanks for Bishop Francis A. Quinn’s article, A Looming Crisis of Faith (4/7). It articulates concerns that, until the bishop expressed them, have evoked inchoate grief among many Catholics.

In addition to the concern the bishop notes about religious wars among faiths, there is concern about religious wars within the church. The faith needs, as the bishop says, liberal and progressive Catholics and conservative, traditional Catholics. And the faith needs to look for the Holy Spirit in discussions among Catholics of different attitudes and outlooks. But it often finds instead wars of words and verbal abuse.

Mary Anne Zak
Suffield, Conn.


I just read Of Many Things, by James Martin, S.J., (4/7) and found it very accurate and applicable to our current culture. We are trivializing war by treating it as a reality TV show. Worse, we are, as you noted, showing only the American side and probably the military’s position and therefore not the full consequences of the waron the children, the women and the land. This will further turn our view of war into an unrealistic and overly jingoistic vision. Yes, we may have to fight to defend our freedom and that of others, but this may make us think that all war is glorious and easy.

We should never become a warrior culture. We should respect, honor and love our soldiers. And sometimes war is inevitable. No comment is offered on this particular war. But we should never trivialize and venerate war; television with its mesmerizing power has the potential to do just that.

Dennis Spector
Stamford, Conn.


Terry Golway’s concern that some commentators have been engaged unfairly in French-bashing is rather simplistic and whiney (3/10). Doesn’t he read the French and German press that bashes the American leadership in basically the same fashion?

The holier than thou attitude of most of those refusing to force Bagdad to comply with its earlier agreements and U.N. demands is truly smarmy. Nowhere have I seen mentioned in the antiwar press the fact that France, Germany and Russia hold almost all of Iraq’s foreign debt, which they will have a difficult time collecting if a new government takes over.

So much for honesty and courage among those who have jumped on the antiwar wagon without knowing much of the reality of life in the real world. This is a truly serious issue that demands honest discussion. The Jesuit theologian Bernard Lonergan had a set of rules for discussion: Be attentive, be intelligent, be responsible, be loving and, if necessary, change. It should work for both sides of the issue.

Edward Greenan
Jamestown, R.I.


The series Contemporary Catholics on Traditional Devotions has been a welcome addition to my Lenten reflections this year, and I am grateful.

I was especially moved by Eric Stoltz’s Our Lady of Guadalupe (3/31). Recently it seems I am living in an alien world, where the evils of war, poverty, homelessness, injustice, discrimination and oppression by those in power can appear overwhelming. When I try to address (and redress) these issues, albeit on a very small scale, it sometimes feels hopeless. And it takes courage to be countercultural.

Our Lady’s message is a source of comfort and empowerment. Many thanks to Eric Stoltz for this beautiful reminder of her sustaining love and protection.

Phyllis L. Townley
New York, N.Y.

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