Getting Rich by Being Good

As one who has participated in socially responsible investing for a number of years, I was initially very interested, but ultimately disappointed in Thomas Healey’s “Good Returns” (1/16). While anyone rightly hopes to earn a reasonable return on a financial investment, the hope or expectation of making a higher than average gain on a socially responsible investment seems to introduce an instrumental consideration into an otherwise socially worthwhile activity in and of itself. I appreciate the logic of Mr. Healey’s argument and am pleased to learn of the increase of these investments generally. But given the questionable social/ethical standards of numerous “successful” businesses today, I would hate to see the success of socially responsible investments tested by whether it beats the S&P 500.

Elizabeth Steltenpohl


New York, N.Y.

Student Meets Teacher Again

Reading “What We Must Face” (1/16), I see how lucky I was (as Maureen McGinn) to have had John Kavanaugh, S.J., as a teacher at St. Louis University. I am delighted, as a new subscriber, to become reacquainted with his voice, which rings not only with clarity but with compassion. I am hopeful for the future of the church because all people long for God.

I am now raising three tiny children, and their thirst for the divine and tendency toward clear-eyed faith is inspiring. They hate it when I want to watch “Meet the Press” or “Morning Joe,” but today at Mass they tried to sing along to the hymns even though they did not know the words. We have reasons to hope.

Maureen Farrell

The Woodlands, Tex.

Responsibility Check

Re “Failure to Protect” (Editorial, 1/30): I was very disturbed when I read the following sentence regarding a destitute mother’s tragic decision to kill herself and her children, “One can only hope that institutional reassessments lead to procedural reforms that can prevent a tragedy like this from happening again.”

It is troubling that the first response to a story regarding a mother who was unable to feed or clothe her children is that we can “only hope” that some bureaucrats conduct “institutional reassessments” and make “procedural reforms.” Where were the local churches during this tragedy? Does the local diocese offer Catholic social services? What is our responsibility as Catholics? To wait for the government to do something? Your editorial is exactly what I would have expected to read in Time or Newsweek, not America.

Brian Pero

Dublin, Ohio

Church Fail

In “Failure to Protect,” the editors assume that more spending on welfare-like programs will help prevent parental violence. In my experience the problem is narcissistic personality and the secular view of ethics that parents and particularly “boyfriends” assume and accept as reality. The programs you advocate will never substitute for the command to love one another. Rachelle Grimmer needed the people of a church who would make her part of their lives.

I think welfare programs make things worse because people see them as a solution and see their voting for these policies as significantly contributing to their obligation to take care of the fragile members of our communities. This was not a state welfare failure; it was a failure of the Christian churches.

Harold Helbock, M.D.

Vacavile, Calif.

Budget Busts

Re “Failure to Protect”: Under the guise of budget cutting, both the Republicans and the Democrats have strategically cut huge holes in the safety net. Not only do children suffer unconscionably, but programs for the most desperate folk, especially those with mental illness, have been cut to the bone. We find a way to spend $660 billion on military toys and saber rattling but cannot seem to afford even small change for those who are in desperate need. The Lord hears the cry of the poor. It is not just the job of the churches; everyone in our society is responsible for the welfare of their neighbor.

Mike Evans

Anderson, Calif.

The True Conservative

I commend “A Catholic Candidate?” (Current Comment, 1/30), with its emphasis on the gaps between former Senator Rick Santorum and the Catholic Church’s social justice teaching. Mr. Santorum considers himself a true conservative; but when he questions the value of government help to poor families and says that suffering is just a part of life, he does not preserve the context of the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark (14:7): “The poor you will always have with you.” Jesus does not proclaim the inevitability of poverty or a lack of concern. The words evoke the “poor law” in Deuteronomy, which contains prescriptions about relaxation of debts and care for the poor, so that there will be no one in dire need. “Give freely and not with ill will; for the Lord, your God will bless you for this in all your works and undertakings” (Dt 15:10).

Jim Linehan

Hockessin, Del.

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