Matter for Reflection
Your advertisement that reads, Do you have a child or grandchild going to a non-Catholic college? Give them a Catholic education. Send them America. (4/9) has appeared numerous times over the past several years. As a Catholic ecumenist, I have always wondered how this advertisement strikes religion teachers and librarians in non-Catholic colleges, both secular and those sponsored by Protestant religious bodies.
I believe your excellent publication should be in the hands of college students regardless of the sponsorship of their college. I began my subscription to America upon the recommendation of my campus minister at the secular university I had attended in 1969.
I taught for many years in an American Baptist college in my town; two of my daughters and two of my nephews attended a United Methodist College in a nearby town; and, quite frankly, I believe that religion teachers and librarians at these two colleges could be offended by your advertisement. I find myself wondering how Catholic theologians teaching at non-Catholic universities and seminaries might feel as well. The finest Catholic and non-Catholic colleges and universities should encourage religious inquiry that is respectful of the many religious traditions represented within their student bodies. There is, I believe, a subtle implication in your advertisement that the Catholic faith of students attending non-Catholic colleges is in some sort of peril. Although this may be true at some colleges, I cannot believe this is generally true, certainly not true among the non-Catholic colleges with America in their libraries or on the suggested reading lists of their religion teachers.
Finally, a word about the use of the term non-Catholic. That it appears in your advertisement is understandable, because the term is freely used throughout the Catholic community. Nonetheless, to thoughtful persons from other faith traditions this term must surely be offensive. Never, in all my 33 years of active involvement in the ecumenical apostolate, has anyone referred to me and other members of the Catholic Church as non-Presbyterians, non-Episcopalians, non-Orthodox, non-Protestants or non-anything else, for that matter. Surely this issue does not concern the editors of your publication alone. Rather, I believe it should be a matter for reflection generally within the Catholic Church.
A. Ray Shaw
Thank you for highlighting the historic agreement now reached by the principal political parties for representative government in Northern Ireland (Editorial, Peace in Northern Ireland, 4/30).
Among other factors that have led to the implementation of the 1998 Good Friday agreement and the October 2006 St. Andrews agreement, you correctly identified the economic development and prosperity that occurred over the past decades in the Republic of Ireland and the province of Northern Ireland. It is true that the republic provided significant resources for infrastructure projects in border areas. But it is important to remember that other governments, led by the United States and the European Union with support from Canada, New Zealand and Australia, have long provided substantial resources in support of peace in Northern Ireland. Through the International Fund for Ireland, these governments funded economic development, particularly at the grass-roots level, in support of peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the six border counties of the Republic of Ireland.
Specifically, during the Clinton administration, the United States contributed over $150 million to the I.F.I. which, together with contributions from the E.U. and other donor countries, leveraged more than $1.5 billion of investment in the north of Ireland. Independent assessment of the I.F.I. during these years established that over 20,000 permanent jobs were created in the region through more than 4,000 projects that the I.F.I. funded.
The role played by the donor governments to the I.F.I. was instrumental in providing economic incentives for cross-community projects in furtherance of the peace process. The taxpayers of the United States can justifiably share in the achievement of peace to which the I.F.I. was a significant and vital contributor.
James M. Lyons, Esq.
Msgr. Robert W. McElroy is correct in every aspect of his analysis in Why We Must Withdraw From Iraq (4/30). While George Weigel and Michael Novak might be credibly characterized as Catholic lite on the just-war criteria as stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it is difficult to understand why the American bishops, after an initial complaint, have been so uninvolved in the necessary moral scrutiny of this disasterous war. Few have spoken out recently, and to my eyes the U.S.C.C.B. seems more concerned with liturgical detail than it is with the morality of warfare in 2007. Fear of accusations of political partisanship is not a justification for continued silence.
Robert M. Rowden, M.D.
San Rafael, Calif.
Doris Donnelly quotes Cardinal William J. Levada saying that theologians will not be true to the apostolic tradition if they attempt to provide new answers that are not faithful to that tradition. He also emphasized that Pope Benedict has stated that development of doctrine is characterized by its continuity, not discontinuity, with the apostolic tradition as taught and lived in the church throughout the centuries (Promoting the Faith, 4/30).
It must be realized that any theologian who accepts the thinking of today’s good Catholic Scripture scholars regarding the interpretation in Genesis of the creation of humans and original sin has to start out honestly attempting to provide new answers reflecting discontinuity with centuries-old apostolic tradition. Doesn’t the church have to be open to these recent interpretations and therefore open to those theologians who see these recent interpretations as giving them room to accept understanding of human evolution in much fuller terms than the church is usually willing to admit?
Thomas C. McNamara
Chadds Ford, Pa.
The interview with Cardinal William J. Levada by Doris Donnelly, Promoting the Faith, (4/30) was for me both encouraging and disheartening. The cardinal’s statement that engaging religion and science in conversation is important is encouraging, since it seems to recognize that our knowledge of God’s creation has grown tremendously in recent times. I take it as an acknowledgment that the church wants to avoid having another Galileo affair, as our knowledge of the universe, past and present, advances.
The cautionary statements directed toward theologians who might want to offer new interpretations of Scripture and tradition is disheartening, since it severely limits any linkage between theology and new scientific knowledge. This cautionary reluctance to consider new ideas and interpretations is risky because the potential for discord between today’s science and yesterday’s theology is far greater than that of changing from a terra-centric to a solar-centric universe.
Perhaps advancement in theology consistent with new knowledge in science will have to come from unofficial (lay) theologians, who are not so tightly subject to rigid discipline of the hierarchy.
John L. Coakley Jr.
Kansas City, Mo.
Cardinal William J. Levada spoke of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as not well received in some places (Promoting the Faith, by Doris Donnelly, 4/30). If he had addressed the reasons why and whether in consequence a revision might be undertaken, it would help dissolve an uneasiness in Catholic academic circles.
Chapter One of Part One is the sectionthe only onethat troubles scholars. Genesis 1 to 11 is treated there as history and anthropology. To literate Catholics this is the equivalent of a return to the theory that the sun circles the earth every day, a position that hurt the credibility of the church for centuries.
(Rev.) Sebastian L. Muccilli
Lake Park, Fla.
After reading the letters from Deacon Tagye and Deacon Jennings in the April 2 issue, expressing their feeling of being left out and overlooked in Maurice Timothy Reidy’s Of Many Things onMarch 12, I had to shake my head. Come on, fellows, get over it! How do you think women in the Catholic Church feel, who are left out and overlooked every day?
Glen Mills, Pa.
Your review of Prisoner: A Muslim and Jew Across the Middle East Divide (4/2) led me immediately to the public library. I had to wait for the book, which means others are reading it as well. Jeffrey Goldberg’s portrayal of his idealism and realism, optimism and pessimism, hope and fear in pursuing his friendship with a former Arab prisoner whom he guarded as a soldier in the Israeli Army personalizes this intractable conflict. Let us hope that many more Jews and Arabs find a way to know each other as individuals, recognizing the humanity of each.