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December 03, 2007

Facing the Truth

Of Many Things, by Drew Christiansen, S.J., (10/29) is a perfect example of why I subscribe to America. It was beautiful writing about a very painful subject that we all must face someday, the end of a parents life. What is really important in life is the individual human spirit and the fact that God is present in every one of us. Once we all can understand and accept this fundamental truth, the answers to all of the worlds problems become clear.

David Morris

Sea Girt, N.J.

Medical Culture

I applaud the views presented by Myles Sheehan, S.J., in A Struggle for the Soul of Medicine (11/5). A parallel and growing concern is the medical environment in which young physicians will find themselves. In an increasing number of health care systems, countless words are spent upholding notions of personalized care, patient safety, continuity of care and physician wellness; but the real money is spent on all things efficient and all varieties of technology. In addition to training these young physicians how to care, perhaps some attention should be given to the cultures of medicine in which they will find themselves, and how they might survive and continue to thrive within them. Better yet, perhaps some of these young physicians, mentored well, will be inspired not only to practice patient-centered medicine but to become the new and needed leaders in health care reform.

Mary V. Clemency, M.D.

Berkeley, Calif.

Unsubstantiated Claims

In Church Records and the Courts (10/29), William W. Bassett says there is a sea change taking place in jurisprudence in the United States concerning the rights of religious institutions. While it is true that laws that many never expected to be applied to religious entities are now being applied, this is because of the religious organizations wrongdoing, not any change in the law.

Bassett argues that previously confidential documents are now being forced into the public. Yet if religious entities believed that their internal documents were privileged, they either received bad legal advice or have been deluding themselves.

Religious entities have been subject to neutral, generally applicable laws since the Supreme Courts first free exercise case in the 19th century.

Bassett also recommends a system of purging files of rumors, hearsay, anonymous notes and unsubstantiated claims.

Given the hierarchys record of rejecting legitimate clergy abuse survivors claims as not credible, one can only imagine what will be left in the employment files if unsubstantiated claims are the basis for purging. One need only review the recent case of the Jesuit priest Donald J. McGuire, who was just arrested by the federal authorities, to see the shortcomings of this advice. Parents allegedly sent letters of complaint about McGuire to the order in 1993, 1994, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003. Under Bassetts system, if the Jesuits had engaged in an annual purging, they might well have deleted one of those claims after another as otherwise unsubstantiated.

Marci A. Hamilton

Princeton, N.J.

Coalition of the Willing

After reading Americas editorial Amnesty and Abortion (10/29), I propose a logical response to Amnesty Internationals recent decision to support the so-called right to abortion. Like many Catholics, I have enjoyed my past 25 years volunteering with Amnesty as a group coordinator, area coordinator and financial contributor. I have witnessed firsthand the tremendous good resulting from Amnestys tireless grass-roots activism combined with painstaking case research and savvy political pressure. Amnesty has filled a unique, blessed role, helping some of the most abused and hidden souls on earth. I have been proud to serve alongside my fellow volunteer activists and Amnestys talented staff.

This year, I regrettably ended my relationship with Amnesty, as did many other Catholics and defenders of the unborn. But rather than looking too long at the closed door behind us, lets see the door that has opened for us. Lets mobilize the existing army of activists at our Catholic high schools and colleges (and nonstudents like me) to carry on the fight for human rights. Properly organized, we can work right alongside Amnesty and other human rights organizations, while remaining true to the consistent ethic of life that we hold so dearly. Leaders at our Catholic high schools and colleges should seize this opportunity to band together the brothers and sisters of the human rights movement, who, like me, feel like troops dropped among those from a different army.

What a powerful and logical response this would be coming from the Catholic Church, whose founder was relentlessly persecuted, publicly tortured, wrongly convicted and willingly executed.

Stephen Kaneb

South Hampton, N.H.

Captive Audience

The disingenuousness of many of the statements in your editorial Thanking Our Soldiers (11/12) took my breath away. Our soldiers are being manipulated for geopolitical advantage, as are the Iraqi people themselves.

You ask us to pray for a quick and just conclusion to these wars. It seems a bit too convenient to launch an unjust war and then expect God to bring it to a just conclusion. Why do you not mention that the American Catholic bishops are on record as having concluded that, even if one holds to the just war doctrine, the invasion of Iraq did not meet the criteria? A better reformulation of your prayer would be: Dear God, please fix what we allowed our reckless administration to get us into.

I work on a campus that has a peace and justice institute. As on many mainline Christian campuses, such institutes are tokens, nothing more. They allow university administrators to say that the difficult teachings of Jesus are preached according to the institutions mission statement, while at the same time effectively marginalizing those teachings and ensuring that they remain unattainable ideals. I cannot even imagine our university going on record as opposing the governments policies in any significant way.

Unfortunately, your editorial is strong evidence of what Marcus Borg has called the imperial captivity of much of the church in the United States.

Barbara Quintiliano

Malvern, Pa.

My Peace I Give You

After reading Thanking Our Soldiers (11/12), I sincerely tried to find an appropriate way to thank them. While I support them as individual fellow human beings, I simply cannot find a way to thank them as you suggest for their sacrifice and mission. I am convinced from my reading of the Gospels that one cannot achieve peace through war, or love from hate, and still imitate Christ.

I have come to believe that our Jesuit colleges and universities and other Catholic institutions that continue to allow R.O.T.C. training are an enormous scandal to the witness of Christ. What the church should be teaching is Christian ethics, with its primary value of Christlike love of friends and enemies alike. My love for our soldiers perhaps can best be exemplified by asking as many of them as I can to consider laying down their weapons.

Let us also remember that, ironically, on the same date as Veterans Day, we also celebrated the feast of another soldier, St. Martin of Tours, who upon his conversion to Christ-like love renounced war and violence.

Tim Musser

Cleveland, Ohio

Hidden Riches

Thank you for Margaret Silfs article, Treasures of Darkness (11/5). The phrase I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places came up in neon lights for me, as did her statement Sometimes I think the darkness is one of Gods richest gifts to us. Things grow in the darkness.

With a lot of help from God and Margaret Silf, I feel I have pushed through some dark and heavy earth in the past couple of years.

I am cheering you on to have many more Silf articles. They really hit at the level of heart and soul.

Anitra Hansen, S.S.J.D.

Toronto, Ont., Canada

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