Letters

Government and Religion

Edward F. Harrington, in The Metaphorical Wall (1/17), effectively debunks the prevailing mythology about government and religion. The framers of the Constitution quite clearly sought to insulate religion from the reach of government; they did not seek to inoculate society from religious expression. But as Terry Golway points out in the same issue, Matters of Which We Dare Not Speak, the invocation of separation of church and state may be the preferred legal strategy, but it is fear and outright loathing of public expressions of religion and faith that is really at work. In short, there is more than flawed jurisprudential reasoning that is driving this issue.

William Donohue
President, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
New York, N.Y.

Jot and Tittle

A friend recently shared with me several back issues of America. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the articles. However, I was distracted by one punctuation style you use throughout the magazine. I noticed that you consistently use an apostrophe following years, e.g., 1970’s, 1980’s (In the 1970’s the people...). Why the apostrophe? The apostrophe indicates the possessive case and this is not how these dates are used in the sentence. I believe the Chicago Manual of Style would omit the apostrophe. But be assured I will not discontinue reading the magazine even if you choose to retain the apostrophe! Thank you for a very fine publication.

Dolores Schuh, C.H.M.
Davenport, Iowa

Editor’s Note: Sister Schuh is right about the Chicago manual’s prescription, but America follows The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage (1999), which prescribes: decades should usually be given in numerals: the 1990’s, the mid-1970’s, the 90’s.

Shared Spirituality

Thank you for your article on the Baltimore Carmelite Monastery, Reinventing Contemplative Life (1/3), by Kathleen Feeley, S.S.N.D. It’s about time that someone publicized the new Carmel, which is affecting people so positively with its shared spirituality. I am more familiar with the Carmelites of Indianapolis, who have a neat Web site: praythenews.com. The Indianapolis Carmel and the Baltimore Carmel sound like mirror images of each other. I wonder if there are similar Carmels elsewhere.

J. Peter Smith
Vero Beach, Fla.

So Much in Common

Upon reading the meditation of Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J., on the Eucharist (12/20), I am troubled by the part on unity. It is just so pat and self-enclosed. Perhaps some Roman Catholics live in a totally Catholic setting. I work and minister and socialize daily with Christians of many churches. Unity is something we regularly experience as painfully limited, since we cannot gather at the same eucharistic table, even though we have so much in common as Christians. I also see other Christian churches taking bold steps in the direction of mutual recognition of ministry and church polity. When will we as Roman Catholics take the bold steps that acknowledge we are incomplete without the other Christian churches? From Cardinal Dulles’s presentation one could conclude that the only model of unity is a return to the Roman Catholic Church. By contrast, I see Christian unity as always ahead of us, drawing every church beyond where we are now. And I believe that is consistent with the unity for which Christ prayed.

Kenneth Smits, O.F.M.Cap.
Madison, Wis.

Let’s Talk

Without condoning the apparent pattern of last-minute, unilateral cancellations by Israel of crucially important meetings, I find it both interesting and curious that a source close to the Vatican delegation would ask, How can the issue be resolved if they won’t even talk about it? (Signs of the Times, 1/3). But isn’t that the Vatican practice in regard to public dialogue about some issues that very large numbers of Catholics find to be of great importance to the sacramental life of the church and would like to discuss?

Andy Galligan
Tracy, Calif.

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