Toward Reconciliation

Catholicism, Death and Modern Medicine (4/25) was a splendid article by Lisa Sowle Cahill. Waiting until the dust settled on this traumatic event was wise and effective. We know that timing in such matters is of great importance. The crux of her argument lies in her statement it would seem, the rejection of the means of life-prolongation is not tantamount to directly desiring that the patient be dead, but rather to acceptance of death as now timely and a part of the human condition. It was determined after the autopsy that Terri Schiavo suffered no abuse or neglect, so we should assume Terri’s husband did not desire her dead. It also seems that her parents, who loved her very much, had a hard time accepting death as part of the human condition. With the help of thoughtful writings such as Ms. Cahill’s, one hopes reconciliation between parents and husband can go forward.

Howard Grandjean
W. Sayville, N.Y.



Congratulations on the editorial on the challenges facing the church in the 21st century (4/25). I would add the fight against poverty. Jesus had a preference for the poor.

German Otalora
San Pedro Garza Garcia, Mexico

Truly Astounding

Your editorial on the challenges facing the new pope was truly astounding (4/25). You mention the influence the new pope will have on the church. Influence? The pope is not some chairman of the board, he’s Christ’s vicar and bishop of the Catholic Church, as the documents of the Second Vatican Council indicate. Why won’t you mention the authority of the pope?

You mention a number of burning issues to which there are no simple answers. Yes there are. Contraception, homosexual acts and divorce are wrong. Check out the catechism. This is part of Catholic moral teaching. The issue of women priests has been decided. Laity as governing in the church? That goes against Lumen Gentium. This is part of Catholic doctrinal teaching.

Inclusive language? In the Credo there is nothing about belief in secular feminist agendas. Women’s issues? That’s been talked and addressed to death. But there is a real crisis of men in the church that is so large it’s like the elephant in the sacristy. Your editorial is simply a call to create a church defined by the secular culture. I think any pope would reject this.

(Rev.) Leonard F. Villa
Yonkers, N.Y.

All These Years

With my reading of your April 18, 2005 issue, I am being reacquainted with an old friend I haven’t seen since my undergrad days at St. Louis University in the 1950’s. I am just two pages into the issue, and, like running into a cherished, long-lost college chum, I am wondering why I haven’t kept in touch in all these years.

Of Many Things, by James Martin, S.J., touched me because I recall my own life’s phase as a lapsed Catholic, which began with disappointments after Vatican II and continues for the most part today. I shared Father Martin’s gentle appreciation of Pope John Paul II as a flawed person who did his best and concluded his journey on earth with a fittingly contemplative amen. The editorial about John Paul’s legacy was the most balanced appraisal of his pontificate I have read since his death.

Now, as I flip toward page 4, it is like continuing a conversation at a 50-year reunion with someone I once highly regarded.

William F. Cento
West St. Paul, Minn.

Light and Shadow

Pope John Paul II was a truly remarkable man and priest, The Legacy of John Paul II (4/18); but (yes, the inevitable but) his hard line on the internal life of the church was the antithesis of his approach to the world outside the church, which he approached with sensitivity, humility and a liberal spirit.

With members of his own flock, he brooked no opposition to his conservative posture on such issues as divorce, contraception, a married clergy and women priests. Open discussion was not an option.

The idea of subsidiarity, so desired by the fathers of Vatican II (and not unknown in our church’s history) was regarded as an aberration. As his pontificate lengthened, his distaste intensified.

Furthermore, he gave free rein and positions of power to extreme right-wing groups, some members of which are in positions to continue the serious and growing divisiveness within the church.

The inability to address in a forthright and bold manner the sexual abuse scandal will cast a shadow for many years to come.

(Rev.) Vincent Poirier
Framingham, Mass.

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11 years 11 months ago
A letter writer (5/2) mentioned that there is a crisis for men in the Catholic Church “so large it’s like the elephant in the sacristy.” I would speculate what he was referring to could be found a few pages back, in Joseph Claude Harris’s “The Disturbing Trends Behind Parish Closings” (5/2). Mr. Harris discusses parish closings contingent upon the declining number of priests and the hesitancy of bishops to appoint lay pastoral administrators in priestless parishes while naming priests as sacramental moderators.

Where I live, young priests are indeed doing “double duty” as a result of the numbers crunch. One priest now rides circuit for five parishes, pastor to them all. Tension and burnout have resulted, and some promising priests have left their collars behind in favor of sanity. Women religious who have served for decades are wearing down, too. The frustration and anger I have seen might be shared by those willing and able to serve as lay ecclesial ministers and parish leaders, only to linger on the sidelines and watch their pastors and others grind to a halt under the load.


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