Missed the Mark
In reviewing Million Dollar Baby (Of Clay and Wattles Made, 2/14), Richard A. Blake, S.J., surprised me by the reference to this intelligent, compassionate priest. I felt that the ordinary, everyday pastoral ministry of the priest sure missed the mark in this film.
(Rev.) Eugene F. McGovern
In Is Genetic Engineering the Answer to Hunger? (2/21) Gerald D. Coleman, S.S., appears to accept all that the biotech industry states about G.M.O.’s: that they are not harmful, and they are just the next generation of what farmers have been doing for centuries. Genetic engineering is a quantum leap from traditional breeding. The DNA of a bacterium does not cross with corn; nor the DNA of a flounder with a strawberry, etc. The poor and hungry deserve as much precaution as other members of society.
Most people in the United States do not realize the extent of the agricultural experiment that is occurring with genetic engineering. Greater precaution and study are needed here. We should not be forcing this experiment on other nations, least of all economically poor ones.
The article by Gerald D. Coleman, S.S., about genetically engineered food (2/21) failed to articulate several important facts: It is not known if there are any bad health effects from consuming these foods, as there have been no epidemiological studies. Without labeling, it is impossible for such studies to take place. People receiving food aid are consuming genetically engineered foods at a higher level in their diets than Americans, and in a much less processed form. Recent reports indicate that food aid to Central American countries contains a biotech corn food not approved for human consumption in the United States. It is highly speculative to assert that there are no health effects on malnourished hungry populations. But no one is looking for them either.
Least of Our Brethen
The message I get from William Galston’s article A Victory for People Like Us (2/14) is that voters preferred George Bush for president because of his moral values. They formed this opinion because President Bush prays, is opposed to gay marriage and is presumably anti-abortion.
I believe that true moral values encompass more than that. I believe that true moral values espouse the messages taught in Mt 5:3-12, the Sermon on the Mount, and especially in Mt 25:31-46: Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers. The president has proposed slashing support for government programs that will benefit the poor and disadvantaged. In my judgment, these actions would seem to place Bush among the goats. What is he doing for the least of our brethren? Who are the people who are victorious?
Robert E. Tobin
Re your editorial More Homeless, Less Housing (2/28): Notwithstanding the need for more affordable housing, and with due appreciation for your heartfelt exposé of the needs of the homeless, I find your description of the deduction for mortgage interest as a housing subsidy for the highest income households to be, quite frankly, stupid.
I chose the latter word purposefully. Your willful ignorance of economic matters is apparent for all to see. Public life is too complex for you to grasp.
San Francisco, Calif.
Torture Is Wrong
Drew Christiansen, S.J., captures all too eloquently the horror of torture and the moral dilemma it poses for citizens of the United States, but also for all in the world community (Of Many Things 2/21). Thank you for recalling to us our humanity.
As our U.S. bishops affirmed in Economic Justice for All, Human dignity, realized in community with others and with the whole of God’s creation, is the norm against which every social institution must be measured (No. 25). Torture is wrong because it brutalizes one person’s dignity and desensitizes each of us who would prefer not to acknowledge what is being done in our name.
Thank you for publishing Repentance, by John F. Kavanaugh, S.J. (2/28). Budding journalists should take note of its fresh insight, choice diction and the spectrum of all too familiar examples of the denial of wrongdoing that has become the American way.
Father Kavanaugh is correct when he says that from the ages of 3 and 4 we have learned to place blame on others. And who is unfamiliar with the American mentality toward killing (It’s a sin to kill nonhuman animals, but it’s O.K. to kill humans)? This will flash on my mental screen every time I walk (albeit hastily) through the pet care section of a supermarket. Smoking and obesity are really the only two sins acknowledged by Americans, says Father Kavanaugh.
Were I still teaching, I would require every student to read Father Kavanaugh’s article. And then I would insist that they read his book Following Christ in a Consumer Society (Orbis, 1991).
Mary Anne Huddleston, I.H.M.
For a number of years I served as a field education supervisor for St. John Provincial Seminary and SS. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Michigan. There is no finer source from which one can draw than experiences in one’s own family. I commend Matt Malone, S.J., (The Father of Mercies, 3/7) for his ability to articulate the heartwrenching experience that his family lived through while he was growing up, his ability to appreciate deeply how his father responded and his desire to live out such a model of forgiveness by ministering as a Jesuit priest. Our world is a better place when we are able to respond in a similar way.
The story by Matt Malone, S.J., of his father’s forgiveness is very touching and very well written (3/7). I am sure that I will use it in homilies and writing. Thank you for printing it. In the same issue, the article by Ann Naffziger, "On Meeting Jesus Again," revealed the power of the Gospels to touch people’s lives. It is consoling to know that in some parishes, at least, people are being invited to read the Gospels whole.
William A. Barry, S.J.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading "In Praise of Horizontal Prayer," by Frank Moan, S.J. (Faith in Focus, 2/14). I am retired, and I can identify very well with praying in a horizontal position. Father speaks to God as one would speak to a best friend. Even on my best night, I haven’t learned to do that yet. What a good example Father Moan is to me.