A Watched Pot Never Boils

In “Curbing Medical Costs” (3/10), Daniel Callahan starts a necessary discussion about health care. Unlike the proverbial frog in the pot of water, which did not detect the rising temperature until it was too late to jump out, the American people are becoming aware of the rising costs of health care.

There are several aspects of the problem that need addressing. First, pharmaceutical companies have led us to believe that we need to demand the latest drug or device being promoted. Television commercials may give lip service to lifestyle modifications like diet and exercise, but because no revenues are forthcoming from such advice, it is found in the fine print. Second, the disengagement of citizens from the political process has allowed big money interests, including pharmaceutical manufacturers, device makers and insurance companies, to have disproportionate influence in Congress.


I agree that we need a change in our culture; this requires that we develop the political will to fix the system. We can become engaged and influence the outcome, or we can cynically grouse and allow moneyed interests to dictate the future. Are we frogs or persons?

Larry Donohue, M.D.

Seattle, Wash.

Just Reverence

The article by Patrick J. Ryan, S.J., “To Kill an Only Son” (3/24), made me reflect on Thomas Aquinas’s suggestion that religion is allied to justice, the duty we all share to render to every person what is rightfully his or her due. With Christianity, Islam and Judaism all intent on giving glory to God through religion itself, the most superb way to reverence God in all three religions is to meet the demands of justice to all our fellow men, women and children. This would surely change our troubled world.

Anthony F. Avallone

Las Cruces, N.M.

Heart of the Matter

I found “Lessons From an Extraordinary Era,” by Roger Haight, S.J. (3/17), to be of great interest. It is helpful to have a list of important theologians and the ideas associated with them, but I wondered about the names that are not there. How can one talk about Catholic theology since Vatican II without mentioning Hans Küng? Although women and liberation theologians took on “Vatican Catholicism,” it was Küng alone who went right to the heart of ecclesiastical matters with his inquiry of the doctrine of infallibility.

Joe Fiorino

Cincinnati, Ohio

Signs of Grace

Many thanks to Roger Haight, S.J., for his exciting overview of the theologians of our time. I would add one dimension to Haight’s account of the influence of Edward Schillebeeckx, O.P. His theology of “sacramental sign” revolutionized our traditional understanding of sacraments and put to rest our arid Aristotelian notion of transubstantiation in the Eucharist. Because of Schille-beeckx, I am still delighted and deeply grateful to see the whole world as sacramental.

Thomas E. Ambrogi

Claremont, Calif.

A Richer Maturity

Bishop Donald W. Trautman’s review of Archbishop Piero Marini’s A Challenging Reform (“Consilium Versus Curia,” 4/14) seems to cast recent liturgical developments in terms of a tussle between the 1950s and the 1970s. But is it really that simple? Might there be a perspective in the early 21st century that outdistances the two postconciliar perspectives (those of the Consilium and the Congregation for Rites) summarized in Bishop Trautman’s review? Does a term like “liturgical renewal” even mean the same thing to younger generations that it does to Bishop Trautman and those who recall (somewhat viscerally) preconciliar days? Perhaps we need to acknowledge a new set of challenges as liturgical reform moves beyond birth into a richer maturity.

Feeling no deep connection to the earlier Roman Missal, I do not write as one of its apologists. I am convinced, however, that among those who do yearn for the earlier usage or who are open to rediscovering it, not all are truly interested in turning back the clock. Nor would they play unwittingly into a return to a “preconciliar mentality.” Their concerns are wholly other, and to them the old polemics are no longer quite so compelling.

Archbishop Marini’s book might prove more helpful as a historical record of a period that is ending than as a roadmap or clarion call for the future.

John-Bede Pauley, O.S.B.

Collegeville, Minn.

A Familiar Tune

The recent assessment of Barack Obama’s embattled pastor Jeremiah Wright (“Sharp Words From Another Jeremiah,” 4/14) by John F. Kavanaugh, S.J., calls for further refinement. Kavanaugh terms Wright’s words “sharp,” but sharp words alone would not have sparked the public firestorm this preacher’s sermons have caused. The prophet Jeremiah’s message of judgment also contained expressions of hope, a sentiment not readily apparent in Jeremiah Wright’s presentations.

Images of Wright did not conjure up for me a comparison with Jeremiah the prophet, but instead with Detroit’s incendiary radio priest of the 1930s, the Rev. Charles E. Coughlin. There were those who thought he was a prophet, too.

(Rev.) William T. Cullen

Lisle, Ill.

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