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January 30, 2012

Raise Salaries, Lose Jobs?

In response to “Will the Majority Rule?” (Current Comment, 12/12), it is hard to be opposed to the minimum wage. Yet, at the same time, an increase in the minimum wage plays out in an increase in the overall domestic wage structure, broadening the disparity between wages here and abroad. This is what has led to the “hollowing-out of America”—the shift of jobs abroad. How many more jobs will move abroad because of the proposed wage increase, and how many more unskilled young men and women, particularly in our big cities, will as a result never work a productive day in their lives? Here is the law of unintended consequences. How do we decide what wage increase is justified when there will be these other consequences?

Thomas H. Barton

New York, N.Y.

Where Am I?

Re “New Roman Committee to Critique Churches” (Signs of the Times, 12/12), I say: Not to worry. If the structural changes they propose or require in Catholic church architecture even remotely resemble the sentence structure and grammar in the third edition of the Roman Missal, the buildings will collapse under their own weight within less than a decade! And the aisles and alcoves will resemble a labyrinth or an M. C. Escher architectural drawing.

Ken Miller

Cleveland, Ohio

Moral Budgets

Editorials like “Raise Up the Lowly” (12/19) keep me coming back to America and to the Catholic Church. Your compassion, facts, logic and eloquence say it all. Our social contracts, our budgets are moral documents. Duped by media lies, our country has become one of the least “Christian” in the industrialized world. Thank you for a reminder of the Gospels’ repeated call of the poor.

Elaine Tanneson

Kingston, Wash.

Another Kind of Cover-Up

The article “A Change in Formation,” by Katarina Schuth, O.S.F. (1/2), missed an important detail. The cover-up within the hierarchy has been imitated by the psychological profession. Have you ever heard a psychologist admit how advice “back in the day” would sometimes diagnose the sexual abuser as only going through a phase of delayed adolescence? No one blames the psychologists today for what psychologists did not know then.

But they are indeed now called upon to admit some accountability for advice that once misled bishops and seminary rectors. Their silence appears to attempt to protect the reputation of the profession from the same shame that anyone involved in the church’s case knows well.

Jerome Kneis

Racine, Wis.

The Unsaid Word

The author of “A Change in Formation” seems unable to bring herself to mention homosexuality. Those who choose to write on this topic and ignore the well-documented homosexuality in the seminaries of the era are themselves culpable. One is reminded of the disastrous handling of AIDS in public and church literature, where no one would utter the expression “anal intercourse.” Thousands died and millions of dollars were wasted as a result.

Chris Mulcahy

Fort Myers Beach, Fla.

Courtship Counts

In response to your editorial “The Way of Life” (1/16): The role of the father in a pregnancy is crucial. A woman ordinarily does not abort a pregnancy if she is in love with the father of the baby and he is supportive of her. A man who abandons a woman who is pregnant by him has “thrown away” the unborn child, which makes it far more likely that the mother will do the same. Laypeople were invited by Pope John Paul II to teach the young about sexuality. If we actually did that, we might find reason to speak some truths about courtship. If we cannot, courtships will fail and abortion will be one of the results.

Lisa Weber

Spokane, Wash.

Economy Up, Abortions Down

I agree with the editorial “The Way of Life” (1/16), that the focus on abortion must broaden. But most observers still overlook the most obvious solution. The research I have read shows that abortion rates go down when the economy is good and there is a good social safety network; they go up when the economy is bad and there is an inadequate safety network. So if people are really interested in reducing abortions, they should work for overall improvements in the economy and in the welfare of the common working people.

Emma Fitzpatrick

Albuquerque, N.M.

Clothes Make the Man

Re the Of Many Things column by Raymond A. Schroth, S.J., on Jan. 16: Geoffrey Robinson, bishop of Sydney from 1984 to 2004, hit the nail on the episcopal head when he wrote: “During the second millennium many bishops adopted clothes and ornaments that spoke of power and riches. I do not think we have gone far enough in abandoning this trend. The church should start by consigning the mitre to the dustbin of history.” Only a small part of communication is verbal. Body language is of great importance. Wearing a hat that makes one far taller than any other person present is strong body language, conveying the message that I am more powerful and important than anyone else here. Is this the message Jesus wanted to convey?

Larry N. Lorenzoni, S.D.B

San Francisco, Calif.

As Dostoevski Would Say...

Maybe, if he were true to himself, Bishop Josh, addressed in a letter from two old friends in Of Many Things (1/16), would respond to Mary and Joe, like an updated version of Dostoevski’s Grand Inquisitor, that the church has outgrown Jesus’ original vision and that people like him are needed to tend the flock and prevent them from straying. Certainly it is hard to envision Jesus fitting comfortably with today’s church leadership.

John Holl

Maplewood, N.J.

Who Cares?

Mary Meehan’s “In Harm’s Way” (1/16), on the cost of our wars on the civilians on both sides, struck me as I read an article in The Washington Post on Jan. 8 about American indifference to the death of civilians during its wars since World War II. It concluded that the United States has killed roughly six million innocent people since then. We seem to do this without any particular guilt, imagining always that we are just the good guy trying to clean up the neighborhood.

William Taylor

Nampa, Idaho

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Jim McCrea
12 years 4 months ago
So there is no confusion, Geoffrey Robinson was an Auxillary Bishop in Sydney, not the Ordinary. He didn't know how to play the game THAT well to get to the top. As the Aussies say: Good on you, Geoff; good on you!
12 years 3 months ago

AMERICA is still my favorite Catholic weekly, but after publishing some twenty letters of mine, you sadly disappointed me this time.

Inadvertently, but carelessly, your editor moved a set of quotation marks from the end to the middle of the bishop’s statement I had submitted, causing half of it to appear as my own comments and not as the unusually courageous words of the bishop himself.

Please note also that Geoffrey Robinson is not the bishop of Sydney but the auxiliary bishop to the very conservative Archbishop of Sydney, George Cardinal Pell. My problem is delicate not only because Bishop Robinson had to weigh carefully every word of his book “Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church,” (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 2008), but also because we, as a church, have been hurting recently by the Vatican treatment of Bishop William Morris of Toowoomba, another Australian bishop.

It may prove helpful historically, and pleasing to Fr. Raymond Schroth, S.J., I am sure, if you just quote in its entirety Bishop Robinson’s courageous words from page 292 of his own book: “During the second millennium many bishops adopted clothes and ornaments that spoke of power and riches. I do not believe we have yet gone far enough in abandoning this trend. The church could start by consigning the mitre to the dustbin of history. Only a small part of communication is verbal. Body language is of great importance. Wearing a hat that makes one far taller than any other person present is strong body language, conveying the message, ‘I am more powerful and important than anyone else here.’  Is this the message that Jesus wished to convey? After the mitre I would want bishops to look at pectoral crosses, pastoral staffs and rings made of expensive materials.”

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