No Catholic Blocs

Re “The Work Ahead” (Editorial, 11/26): I would highly recommend this editorial except for one thing: It makes the nuns and bishops sound like their own polarizing political blocs, which unfortunately is how many Catholics in the United States have interpreted their stands. It’s not really as simple as the bishops being pro-life and the nuns being pro-justice—with the implication that each group doesn’t care about the other’s set of issues. They have agreed not only on the broader importance of these things, but on certain specific issues as well, such as their common critique of the Paul Ryan budget proposal for its neglect of the poor.

Julia Smucker


Collegeville, Minn.

Division in the Church

There are some faults in the editorial of Nov. 26, but overall it is an excellent start. We need much more examination of its topic because it may be the most important issue in the United States, dividing parishioners against parishioners and family against family. The division and hatred outside the church is just as present inside the church.

If the church cannot solve this divisiveness, do we expect the government to do the job for us? This election didn’t solve anything, in the sense of changing minds and hearts. Changing demographics in the United States will surely solve the problem on the electoral landscape, but do we want to be at war with each other until that happens? The poor and the middle class who are suffering from lack of opportunity and growth might prefer not to wait that long.

Ken Shick

Hoschton, Ga.

Look to France?

Re “Who Cares?” (Current Comment, 11/26): Does France represent some kind of economic standard in the world because it offers free government child care? This kind of government spending may explain why Moody’s Investors Service recently downgraded France’s sovereign debt rating one notch from Aaa to Aa1, citing the country’s uncertain fiscal outlook as a result of “deteriorating economic prospects.”

Why is it that economic reality seldom agrees with America’s editorials on the magic of government spending programs? New government “investments,” for all their good intentions, usually do not yield their intended economic results. They are political, not economic. France, in fact, has a huge public sector and double-digit unemployment. So the idea that a government child care program will allow women to be free to start their own businesses is not likely.

Tom Maher

Stow, Mass.

R.I.P. John Kavanaugh

Re “Of Many Things,” by Matt Malone, S.J. (11/26): Thank you for bringing us the wisdom of John Kavanaugh, S.J., all these years. May his work and words, his timeless and relevant message, live on in the pages of America; his message deserves repeating. His life, labors and example are defined by an intellect, grace, compassion and conviction born of humble faithfulness.

Father Kavanaugh was—even in suffering—intensely alive, aware and engaged. His final argument for the dignity of the human person was the way in which he faced and conquered his own suffering. He had the faith and clarity that he was in the hands of God; it was his parting gift to us.

We will continue to see his gentle smile when we look at the world as he saw it. We will continue to hear his song when we listen to the whisper of God that he heard. We will continue to feel the love that he exuded when we open ourselves to the force of God’s love that he felt with profound certainty.

Peggy McAuliffe Hannick

St. Louis, Mo.

Bright and Prophetic

Father John Kavanaugh’s essays in Faces of Poverty, Faces of Christ were our introduction to his work. Paired with Mev Puleo’s photographs, it was a kind of lectio divina unlike anything I’ve seen before or since. To this day, it remains a “go to” book for me in the classroom—and in our prayer life as a family, calling us back to what is important. I met Father Kavanaugh once; he was a gracious soul, quick to smile, but with a razor sharp intellect and prophetic sensitivity for the little and hidden ones, the least among us. We feel that one of our greatest lights in the American church has gone out.

Chris and Lauri Pramuk

Cincinnati, Ohio

Let’s Work Together

Thank you for “Of Many Things,” by Matt Malone, S.J. (11/26), on the controversy surrounding Ann Coulter’s invitation (which was later rescinded) to speak at Fordham University. I never watch MSNBC or Fox News because they seek to incite rather than inform viewers. For political information and news, C-Span’s “Washington Journal” is best; it presents the viewpoints of Democrats and Republicans capable of civil debates and opinions. The PBS “NewsHour” and National Public Radio do the same.

We need conservative and liberal ideas in order to move our country forward. We need to urge everyone to pray that President Obama and Speaker Boehner will be able to do whatever is necessary for the common good of our country. We’ve been divided for too long; now is the time to stop listening to those on the far right and far left. We need to count our blessings and work together.

Eileen M. Ford

Rockport, Mass.

Climate Concerns

Re “The Church and Climate Change” (Signs of the Times, 11/26): In many parishes, concern for the environment has not gone beyond recycling. It’s true that every little bit helps, but the deeper journey of consciousness-raising seems far off. For Catholics, caring for all of life should be in the vanguard of caring for the earth—if not out of a Christic sense, then at least out of a sense of self-preservation. After all, humans are the most dependent of all species, and the integrity of the rest is the guarantor of our own survival. But it seems that in many parishes and dioceses this awareness is very vague or absent altogether.

In this country, we now have experienced the devastation of Katrina and Sandy, the increase in tornadic activity, flooding and other extreme conditions. The frequency and intensity of these events has been ratcheting up consistently over the past several years. The debilitating, dislocating and impoverishing effects of these events affects everyone, including regional and local faith communities. Can we all come together to address these realities and our future prospects in their systemic causality? None of us will escape their effects.

Mary Richards

St. Louis, Mo.

Affective Response

Re “A Dangerous Journey,” by Matthew Kunkel, S.J. (Web only, 11/26): The young Jesuits’ experience of the migrant’s path makes me sad (that a people are forced to take such a path for freedom), moved (by their faith and persistence), frustrated (that more people do not appreciate their journey) and hopeful (that this may someday be better for more immigrants). Thank you for making the journey and sharing it with all of us.

Mary Ellen Babec

Homewood, Ill.

Winning Isn’t Everything

Re “Peddling Deception” (Editorial, 11/12): While we will use Lance Armstrong as another example of what not to do, we are once again losing an opportunity to ask deeper questions. This behavior is pervasive in our culture, and it is time to ask why.

In politics the level of outright lying has reached unprecedented levels. The end justifies the means in a winner-take-all approach. In the financial industry, investors are routinely used as pawns to generate large commissions for the investment firms. In health care, millions of prescriptions are unnecessarily written by doctors who profit by making them.

This is not just about greed; it is more about fear—fear of not being recognized, appreciated, not having enough, being a failure. The thirst for power over others—rather than to serve others—is everywhere in our culture. Mr. Armstrong is just another human being playing the game to win in a culture that blindly recognizes only the winners.

To shift our culture, we must begin to question our core beliefs about life and each other. We need to modify our moral teachings so that society can develop a common set of values that become the cultural norm.

Mike Krajovic

Vanderbilt, Pa.

Return to What?

I heard Cardinal Donald Wuerl encourage people to invite former Catholics back into the church. Then I read Kevin Clarke’s article on the new evangelization (“Accent on the New,” Signs of the Times, 11/5). In neither case do I see any suggestions as to what those former Catholics would want to come back to. What changes have occurred to make them feel that this is the way to salvation?

I have friends and relatives who have left because of the bishops’ cover-ups. I know young people who had a wonderful folk Mass at a local Jesuit school until Cardinal William Levada decided that it took money away from the parishes and made them stop. A number of those young people now attend Protestant churches with good music and homilies. I have friends who have left because their new pastor changed everything, including the locks, and the bishop refused to remove the man even though a third of the parishioners had left. The wonderful ideas of Vatican II are being replaced with the old ideas of pray, pay and obey. What is there to make people want to come back?

Denis Nolan

Daly City, Calif.

Kudos to Father Christiansen!

Re “Of Many Things,” by Matt Malone, S.J. (10/22): I think the greatest tribute readers can pay to Drew Christiansen, S.J.—at the successful, peaceful conclusion of his seven-year tenure as editor in chief—is that we have almost forgotten those painful beginnings, in which the former editor in chief, Thomas J. Reese, S.J., resigned, for the horrendous abuse of allowing a Catholic periodical to become a journal of opinion of controversial issues, especially ecclesiastical ones! Like a good steward, Father Christiansen shepherded the magazine through difficult times, and now we take it for granted the magazine will continue into the “brave new world” of Internet communication and so forth.

Thanks to Father Christiansen’s expertise, prayer and, I am sure, all the diplomacy he could muster, America has not only survived but in many ways is thriving. And I am sure that when the new editor, with all his youthful energy, expertise and savvy, gets discouraged at times, he can turn to the photo of the most recent member of the “rogues gallery” and gain great strength from knowing that he carries on in a great tradition of Catholic journalism.

David H. Powell

Glendale, N.Y.

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