Realpolitik at Play

In “R2P May Still Work” (Editorial, 8/27), the editors called for “outside mediation between factions” in Syria. Yes, by all means get these people who are engaged in desperate combat around a table for leisurely discussions. Perhaps a “discernment” process could take place. This would be laughable, except that people are being killed, maimed and tortured every hour.

The bitter truth: The United States has no vital interest in military intervention, and the countries closest to Syria in religion and culture (Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan) have the means to intervene but not the stomach for it.


One has to wonder if the responsibility to protect has any real meaning. Will there ever be a situation in which R2P is not explained away as simply too inconvenient?

Thomas Farrelly

Seattle, Wash.

Jesuit Obedience

Re “Of Many Things,” by James Martin, S.J. (8/27): I knew Vinny O’Keefe, S.J., when I served on the faculty of the North American College in Rome. He occasionally served as confessor for the seminarians and stayed for supper with the faculty. Always soft-spoken and gracious, he was filled with the wisdom born of experience and maturity in the religious life.

Father O’Keefe’s recounting of Pope John Paul II’s decision to ask Robert Drinan, S.J., not to seek re-election in the House of Representatives was mesmerizing. Father O’Keefe and Father Gerald Sheehan, another American in the Jesuit curia at the time, visited the Vatican to appeal the decision to then-Cardinal Secretary of State Agostino Casaroli. The moment Cardinal Casaroli told them the decision was made by the pope himself, the American Jesuits closed their file folders, stood up and shook the cardinal’s hand, assuring him that the appeal was over. Vinny said, “Once we knew it was the pope’s decision—game over. Jesuits obey.”

(Msgr.) Kevin Irwin

Washington, D.C.

Complacent Catholics

Thank you for the “Faith and the Voting Booth” issue (8/13). The chronic difficulty is the complacency and partisan views of the voting public, Catholics included. In voting, being American trumps being Christian. We don’t associate and apply the message of the Gospels to political, economic or social issues.

This near ignorance is partly, if not mostly, the fault of us clergy. Most U.S. Catholics learn about their faith through homilies at Mass. Issues of justice are seldom presented. Abortion and gay marriage become the focus.

As history shows, the Holy Spirit is in charge and sustains the church in all its human frailty, though we all would be happier and at peace if the Spirit hastened and simplified the process.

Mark Franceschini, O.S.M.

Denver, Colo.

Radical Leap Forward

The essay by the Rev. Michael P. Orsi, “Fixing the System That Put Monsignor Lynn in Jail” (In All Things blog, 8/15), represents a radical leap forward in our collective dialogue about the conditions, structures and dynamics that facilitated—and still facilitate—the horror of child abuse by priests and religious.

This type of truth-telling and analysis is essential, and it is possible only when those “on the inside” participate willingly and proactively. I am grateful to Father Orsi for his courage in beginning to tell the story and for thoughtfully proposing solutions so that this horror is never repeated.

Jean Brookbank

Bethlehem, N.H.

Outside the Seminary

I am in total agreement with Father Orsi’s analysis. Here’s an additional idea. The solution to the “go along to get along” mentality can be addressed outside the seminary system. I understand the Council of Trent’s insistence on seminaries (the need for theological education and priestly formation). But this goal can be better achieved by a different model: living and working in a parish while attending formal courses at a school of theology. From the first day a man enters the seminary, he is subtly and not so subtly told to be a “team player,” which all too often means being a sycophant to curry favor with authorities who have life-and-death power over a candidate’s vocation.

(Rev.) Peter M. J. Stravinskas

Pine Beach, N.J.

Fair Politics

Re “In This Together,” by Bishop Richard E. Pates (8/13): It was heartening to read the bishop’s call to rise above partisanship and use our faith to transform our political parties and our society. I respectfully add one more suggestion on how to accomplish this: Catholics should work for a fair and nonpartisan electoral process at all levels of government. Political parties should compete on a level playing field. Currently the major parties have de facto control of the system, limiting ballot access, gerrymandering legislative districts, appointing partisan judges and so forth.

Scott Schulte

Merriam, Kan.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Jim McCrea
5 years 4 months ago

Was the results of the meeting with Casaroli a case of Jesuits obeying - or acquiescing?

Power brings a man many luxuries, but a clean pair of hands is seldom among them.


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