The juxtaposition of the article on Kofi Annan: Visionary and Victim, by Barbara Crossette, and What Distinguishes the Jesuits, by Avery Dulles, S.J., on the Jesuit charism (1/15) recalls a Jesuit presence at the United Nations in its very early days.
A French Jesuit, Emmanuel S. de Breuvery, joined the secretariat in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs in 1950 as senior economist. His expertise was in the use of resources, of water and energy, an expertise he drew on in working with developing countries. He spent much time advising directly in those countries but was also involved in overall U.N. planning and strategy. For example, he organized the U.N. Conference on New Sources of Energy in Rome in 1961 and an interregional seminar on techniques of petroleum development the following year.
An Indian Jesuit, Jerome D’Souza, was a member of his country’s delegation to the General Assembly in the 1950’s. His presence on the delegation and assignment to the Social Committee was evidence of an openness in his newly independent country and in its diplomacy.
At the time I was on the staff of the National Catholic Welfare Conference Office for United Nations Affairs, which was, incidentally, the first full-time nongovernmental organization office at the United Nations.
What Gives Me Courage
A Soldier’s Decision, by Michael Griffin, (1/29) brought tears to my eyes. My grandson served as a Marine in Iraq, but he is home safe now.
Yesterday I was at a Bible study in our church, and we spoke of love for everyone, including our enemy. This is right, but if you want to get into deep trouble, tell your friends here the war is wrong and that you must love even the Muslims and others. Do you want to be considered a traitor?
I read an article from the magazine Sojourners at another meeting, and it was not well received. When I want to feel I did the right thing, I read Dietrich Bonhoeffer and that gives me courage. I wish I could get this from my church.
Mary A. O’Donnell
Tiny Little Credit
This letter is a response to a letter from Anna M. Seidler (2/5) about I Need a JobAny Job! by Stephanie Ratcliffe (1/29). It is a great article, but the part I best liked was that tiny little credit, Art by the author. Let’s hope we are blessed with more of the sameart and heart.
Gifts That Give
I somehow missed Sally Cunneen’s article praising Heifer International, (Icon of Creation 12/18). But I did read Kathleen Shopa’s letter (1/15) criticizing Heifer for sending animals around the world for the less fortunate to eat. This is the last thing they intend. They send chickens so the families can have their own eggs for nutrition. They send cows so these people can have fresh milk for their children and themselves, then possibly sell what is left to neighbors to bring in a little money. The water buffalo helps with the fields so they can plant vegetables. The manure helps to fertilize the crops. The only requirement is that each person who receives an animal must give away the first offspring from that animal to another needy person. All of this was featured in an episode of 60 Minutes not too many months ago.
To further the discussion raised in the State of the Question on Catholic Fidelity (1/15), I would like to make the following observations. A recent book, Church Ethics and its Organizational Context: Learning From the Sex Abuse Scandal in the Catholic Church (2006), a collection of essays by 19 scholarsand the initial offering of Boston College’s Church in the 21st Century seriescompletely ignores the John Jay report and its Supplement (2004, 2006). Its neglect of what the authors of that report characterize as one of the most extensive collections about sexual abuse of minors and one of a very small number not based on forensic content is deplorable. In an attempt to compare scandals, one of the contributors to the collection, Professor Kimberly D. Elsbach, cites as an example Salomon Brothers’ handling of a financial crisis. However, instead of comparing apples and oranges, scholars need to research how other organizations have handled the sexual abuse of minors.
Ifas the John Jay report demonstrated and as Thomas J. Reese, S.J., noted (America, 10/22/04)the church seems to have been ahead of the rest of American society in dealing with the evil of child abuse, those who critique church management need to factor that into their discussion, something that has yet to happen.
The distress that so many people have expressed over sexual abuse of minors is surely justified. However, reacting to it with little learning and much moralityOscar Wilde’s verdict on his judgewill need to yield to more effective analysis, one that places the abuse and the church in a broader societal context. There is a real danger that those who have embraced the present crisis hoping that it would usher in the future church they desire may develop an allergy to any positive news as their visions fail to materialize.
Focusing on the scandal alone will not energize the kind of broad involvement needed for church renewal. Nor will relying on such generalizations as after all the church has gone through substitute for a vision that will balance its problems with an appreciation of its vitality, its extraordinary history in this country and an appreciation of the miracle of the Catholic people over these recent years.
(Most Rev.) Thomas J. Curry
Santa Barbara, Calif.