War Theory

This letter is in reference to Unjust War, Good Outcomes (5/19), by John F. Kavanaugh, S.J. The recondite philosophical analysis of just war theory in the case of Iraq ranks close behind the angels dancing on the pin issue. Why not ask how many Iraqis need to be raped and have their tongues cut out before some soreheads can feel better about losing the last election?

Is it really correct to use morality and just war theory to protect evildoers while they kill and torture thousands of innocents? Is it good sense to search so hard for a rationale to condemn those with the better spirit while injustice runs rampant?


Why not look at other alternatives, such as whether war is even the best term to describe the Iraqi action before getting carried away with war theory? Or how about rationalizing on the basis of the lesser of evils theory?

John M. Michels
Spokane, Wash.


Your May 12 issue presented three instructive articles on the Eucharist. I suspect there are large numbers of Catholics who will be surprised to learn from Robert F. Taft, S.J., that the church teaches we can have a valid Mass without the words of institution explicitly recited, from the Rev. Willard F. Jabusch that a Sunday Communion service is not really a Mass and from Robert J. Daly, S.J., that the Mass is indeed a Christian sacrificeand what that means.

Looking ahead, I wonder if someday we Catholics will not also be surprised to learn, perhaps in the pages of America, that the Lord’s Supper celebrated by many churches or ecclesial communities of the Reformation indeed has been a valid Eucharist all along, even though these churches have not had orders and lines of apostolic succession so far recognized by Rome.

If I recall correctly, before there were ordained priests and deacons in every Christian community, both the Acts of the Apostles and the Didache seem to have indicated that the eucharistic liturgy was presided over in some areas by traveling prophets and teachers. Could not our Protestant brothers and sisters be following some such early tradition?

Whatever the future holds for us in such discussions, thank you for keeping your readers abreast of current theological thought in such important matters. Good job.

Andy Galligan
Tracy, Calif.

Not Sinister

I have just finished reading The Sign of the Cross by Robert F. Maloney, C.M., (5/19). I will now begin to make the Sign of the Cross with my left hand: forehead, sternum, left shoulder, right shoulder. Left-handers are nice people and should not be discriminated against by dextrous and ambidextrous people. We left-handers are not sinister by any means. So there!

L. B. Hoge
Brandon, Fla.

Human Rights

The Jesuits’ statement on abortion is a concise and useful guide in any discussion on this issue fraught with so much political significance these days (5/26). I plan to keep it for reference.

However, the Jesuits must actively address the solution, as they see it: building upon those truths on which we can reach agreement while continuing to educate and persuade those who disagree with our convictions.

Americans no longer hold truths, self-evident or demonstrated! The prevailing epistemology is so shallow that we seem to avoid truths. Most Americans are without convictions, especially the jurisprudential community, from Supreme Court justices to rank and file lawyers. If there is a conviction, it is that they have no convictions.

After reciting an array of civil rights, the U.S. Constitution says in Amendment IX that all the other rights of the people are reserved to the people. In the years since 1787, the courts have refused to address those rights reserved to the people. The prevailing philosophy of positivism makes dialogue fruitless. What is needed is a thrust on positivism itself, which through reasoning makes the case for a natural endowment of human rights, including every human, especially the helpless, unborn human. I am confident the Jesuits can take on this challenge.

Anthony F. Avallone
Las Cruces, N.M.

At Home

I certainly agree that William Byron, S.J., is on to something with his idea of building up social credit for a stay-at-home parent (4/28). In addition, there are many who would also agree with me that as tax credits are extended for child care for working parents, tax credits also should be extended to stay-at-home parents. This would bear some similarity to what some European countries call a mother’s wage. However, besides social credits and tax credits, there is yet another dimension that needs to be added in order to provide fairness, encouragement and recognition of the parent who remains at home to raise children. As an example let me cite the case of my own wife.

My wife and I are both teachers. In 1966 when our first child was born, we were both earning about the same wage. She stayed home to be with our daughter, and because we had four children in five years, she stayed at home for the next 16 years to raise the four of them. We lived happily, frugally and simply, and our reward today is four grand and loving adults in their 30’s, all of whom were able to graduate from Catholic universities and then obtain advanced degrees. Neither of us has any regrets for those 16 years she was able to be with our children. Now both my wife and I are receiving Social Security pensions. But hers is only half of mine and will remain so for the rest of her life, or until I die. Why? Because in the current Social Security pension formula she was given zero credit for each of those 16 years without income. As far as the Social Security system is concerned, she did nothing for 16 years.

Thus, a dimension I would add to Father Byron’s concept of social credit and the suggestion for tax credits is that the Social Security formula be reworked so that the parent who remains home to raise children be given some form of credit for those years. Zero credit in the Social Security system for all of those years a parent spends raising children is both unjust and insulting to the effort put forth by that parent.

Bob Shields
Binghamton, N.Y.

Pitching Against Marines

The memoir The Jesuits of Baghdad: 1932-69, by Joseph MacDonnell, S.J., (5/26) brought to mind a pleasant encounter I had with those Jesuits in Jerusalem in the summer of 1950. As I understood it, the community in Baghdad took its summer break in the cooler heights of Jerusalem, where a tradition had developed of playing a softball game against the U.S. Marines attached to the consulate there. I had just been ordained a subdeacon for the Archdiocese of New York and, with a classmate, was the guest of our seminary professor of Scripture on a visit to Jerusalem. The Jesuits lacked a pitcher, and my services were offered by our professor, who soon learned, as I did, that pitching against Marines was vastly different from pitching against seminarians. The afternoon ended with another happy tradition of both teams enjoying hamburgers and beer in a local pub. The Marines are now in Baghdad; what a fortuitous conclusion it would be to the recent conflict if the Jesuits could return there too.

(Msgr.) Donald J. Pryor
Canaan, Conn.

Holy Ground

The title, The Classroom as Holy Ground, the tone and the content of the article by Kevin O’Brien, S.J., (5/26) remind me very much of the thought attributed to Mark Van Doren, the poet, literary critic and eminent teacher at Columbia University for 39 years. It is said that when he took hold of the doorknob of his classroom to enter for his lectures, he always paused. He paused because, as he said, he was entering holy ground.

Peter Schineller, S.J.
Abuja, Nigeria

The writer is the director of the Gaudium et Spes Institute in the Nigerian capital.


Thank you for your coverage of the recent papal recognition of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari (5/12).

Some years ago I had the privilege of being in a small group seminar led by the noted liturgist Louis Bouyer on ancient anaphoras, one of which was that of Addai and Mari. In the course of the seminar he referred us to the study of the German theologian Joachim Jeremias, The Eucharistic Words of Jesus, in which Jeremias drew attention to the liturgical use in the Hebrew Scriptures of a memoriallezikkaron liphne Yahweh (for a memorial in the sight of the Lord), with its stress on the Lord’s remembering rather than ours for the efficacy of our celebration. This seems to me not far from the reasoning given to support the position on Addai and Mari.

On the other hand, it might be more of an incarnational approach to include a twofold remembering, the Lord’s and ours, since both play a part in our liturgy.

Nevertheless, the reasoning behind the validity of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari seems to me to raise another question, that of an opening to the validity of many of the eucharistic celebrations of our Protestant friends. I do not intend to propose an answer, but simply raise a question arising from the reasoning regarding Addai and Mari.

Robert Sargent
Carrollton, Tex.

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