Thank you for Gerard F. Powerss Our Moral Duty in Iraq (2/18). It would be worthwhile for leaders of our country and our military first to reconcile with those people whose loved ones we violated. This would, Ihope, lead to some real discussion about Iraqi autonomy over its resources and government. Powers asks what policies and strategies best serve the interests of the Iraqi people, but not what Iraqis (including the leaders) actually want. To do what we think would be good for Iraqis without asking what they want the United States to do for them may lead only to more negative feelings toward our country.
In Church Teaching and My Fathers Choice (1/21), John J. Hardt makes it clear that he does not like the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faiths response regarding artificial nutrition and hydration and that he must obey the pre-emptive decision of his father, who has concludedwhile in perfect healththat he could never endure the terrible burden of a feeding tube, carefully inserted into his side by a medical professional.
Perhaps Hardt should sit down with his father and suggest to him that such an anxious approach to death may not really be, as he apparently thinks, the fulfillment of a promise sealed in his baptism. Christ gave us the example. He did not abandon the will of his Father in heaven, even though he knew that his side was soon to be pierced in a way far more burdensome than any of us will ever have the misfortune to endure.
(Dr.) Edward J. Furton
Ethicist and Director of Publications
The National Catholic Bioethics Center
Lesser of Two Evils
Thank you for the excellent articles by Thomas A. Shannon (At the End of Life, 2/18) and John J. Hardt (Church Teaching and My Fathers Choice, 1/21).
These pieces reflect an unavoidable challenge implicit in the story of modern, high-technology medicine. We are required to use medical interventions to reach wanted effects even as we recognize the risks of other, unwanted, harmful effects. We must constantly weigh the probabilities of beneficial and harmful outcomes of medical interventions, so we seek a humane, not reckless, proportion of help and harms.
Managing our dying has become inevitable in our era of effective technology-based medicinenot, of course, by inflicting death (deliberately starting a new lethal processeuthanasia) but certainly by managing pain and discomfort with potentially lethal medicines (which we take for granted as morally permitted in palliative care of the dying). More and more often, we must manage our dying by allowing one rather than another lethal process to win the race and produce the death that is inevitablesooner rather than later.
James F. Bresnahan, S.J.
Image of God
Thank you for Karen Sue Smiths Artful Contemplation (3/3). I returned home this afternoon from teaching a class where we had discussed art and morality in the context of Leo Tolstoys essay On Art. I had struggled to articulate how one can enter into the experience of the artist and come to a greater awareness of self, others, the world and God through fine artwork. In the mail was the current issue of America with Ms. Smiths article. I was delighted by her suggestion that art images abound as fertile ground for reflection and prayer. In her description of first seeing van Goghs paintings from Arles, she nicely captured the essence of what I wanted to say. We have long become used to turning to spiritual reading as a source of prayer, but it is refreshing to think of a visit to the Cloisters, or any art museum for that matter, as a source of contemplation.
I agree with Lori Erickson (The Mysteries of Lourdes, 2/25) that places of pilgrimage can be truly inspiring. At Lourdes the faith in God, the hope of cures or blessings and the true charity toward other seekers are all quite palpable. There are many other places where peoples faith and love seem to live on and permeate the entire site. Assisi is one of them; the spirit of Francis can still be felt there. I also find this in many old churches because of all the prayers, love, fears and sorrows that have been brought there through the years.
I experienced something different but equally impressive at Dachau. The pain and suffering, the anger and agony are so strong there that the very stones seem to moan.
Human beings seem to leave invisible footprints wherever they go. But, like Lori Erickson, one has to go with an open mind and an open heart to make contact with them.
Soldiers of Christ
While appreciating the position of Patricia McCarthy, C.N.D., against accepting ads recruiting military chaplains (Letters, War Profits, 2/11), I must disagree. I have been opposed to our invasion of Iraq and many aspects of the prosecution of that war, but I believe that Catholic priests are needed to minister to the men and women who serve in our armed forces. I also support Americas acceptance of money for ads for priests to minister to our military. It would be irresponsible not to provide them with ministry.
There have been warriors in whom God has worked and does work. In our quest for peace, we are still called to love and minister even to those with whom we disagree.
Mary Frost, S.D.S.