Justice for Africa

As someone who works to promote social justice in Africa, I applaud “Decline and Progress in Africa,” by Peter Schineller, S.J. (8/11). Schineller is absolutely correct in suggesting that the solution to Africa’s problems must come from within Africa and that international institutions can do more to support developing nations. But the role that the United States plays in destabilizing as well as aiding the countries of the continent needs to be highlighted.


Yes, Africa has received increased aid to help with H.I.V. and AIDS victims, malaria and education. But many African governments have also received substantial support from the United States in the form of military aid. The true goals for the United States in Africa may be to increase access to Africa’s oil, counter terrorism and offset China’s growing influence in the region. Humanitarian aid has also become a business in many cases. Budgets of many a nongovernmental organization are greater than available national coffers. How can the solutions to Africa’s problems come from within when their efforts are undermined by such external factors?

True security and development in Africa is dependent upon responsible and fair U.S. policies toward the continent. Increased military aid and support for illegitimate governments is not what the people of Africa need and not what they are asking for. To continue the substantial progress, Schineller notes, the United States must be a responsible and real partner with the people and governments of Africa.

Rocco Puopolo, S.X.

Executive Director

Africa Faith and Justice Network

Washington, D.C.

The Threshold of Forgiveness

The subtitle of “Mercy Toward Our Fathers” (Camille D’Arienzo, R.S.M., 8/18) says that “forgiving priests could be the key to healing.” Although D’Arienzo carefully acknowledges the huge impediments to forgiveness from those who were sexually abused by clergy, she fails to cite one of the fundamental barriers for those abused, their families and even for the average person in the pews.

Truth and accountability are indispensable for any threshold of forgiveness. Without them survivors are being asked to forgive not only their direct abusers but also the very same hierarchical leaders who continue to abuse them through corporate defense strategies, secrecy about the full extent of abuses and demonization of survivors whose only realistic option for justice, however inadequate, is civil suits and/or financial settlements.

The actions of hierarchical leaders betray their own expressions of deep apology and their expectations of forgiveness. Perhaps a better formulation of the issue might be “truth and accountability could be the key to forgiveness.”

Bill Casey

Chair of the Board of Trustees

Voice of the Faithful

Alexandria, Va.


Thank you for “Bethlehem’s Wall,” by Austen Ivereigh (9/1). The practices he describes, as well as the fact that the government of Israel has still not implemented the agreement of 1993 with the Vatican, raise the question of why our government has not put some pressure on the Israeli government to act.

It also raises the question of why the American Catholic Church has not put more pressure on our government to take action on this matter. I can only hope Ivereigh’s article will be sent to many members of Congress as well as the two presidential candidates in the hope that something will be done to allow Catholic priests in the Holy Land the same freedom that Jewish rabbis have in the United States, and to assist Christians in Bethlehem in maintaining their presence at one of Christianity’s holiest sites.

Carl C. Landegger

New York, N.Y.

Thanks, But No Thanks

While reading “A Church Transparent” (Thomas J. Healey, 9/8), the following thought occurred to me: God save the church if it starts emulating the accounting practices and business principles of the leading investment banks, Wall Street firms and Fortune 500 companies. Ethical stewardship and financial and moral accountability were not invented by American entrepreneurs. How is it that, given the financial debacles seen on Wall Street in decade after decade, we are not slightly more humble about the practices of American business, especially when it starts preaching to the church?

Michael Manning

Rumson, N.J.

The Perils of Change

Re “Expressing Holy Things” (Bishop Victor Galeone, 9/8): The church should be immensely hesitant to change any prayers that have become second nature unless there is an absolutely certain reason for the change (which is not the case with the recently approved changes to liturgical prayers, in my opinion). I know a chaplain who serves people who worship in a community that made substantial changes to the text of the Lord’s Prayer, and those who are elderly and having mental difficulties are no longer able to say the prayer with others because it is so hard to learn new forms of prayer.

One change I would advocate would be to the Creed. What is wrong with “for us and our salvation” rather than “for us men and our salvation”? Is there anyone who is afraid that the “us” might be confusing to those who might otherwise think that the “us” also refers to our dogs and cats?

Patricia Gross

Arlington, Mass.

Anything but Bold

In “A Bold New Direction” (9/8), James T. Keane, S.J., and Jim McDermott, S.J., report that until the dying days of Richard H. Tierney, S.J., “the Irish Question remained a focus of the magazine.” If so, poor Father Tierney must have been spinning in his grave these past 40 years (the latest phase of the Troubles, or the “Irish Question”). Apart from a few timid or safe comments, America was by its silence complicit (like the U.S. Catholic press in general) in the British oppression of Catholics in Northern Ireland. That, of course, merely followed the lead of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. With a few honorable exceptions, the Catholic bishops of the United States failed to take a stand against British injustice in Northern Ireland.

It’s almost enough to make this Irish-born priest want to be a Protestant!

(Rev.) Sean McManus

President, Irish National Caucus

Washington, D.C.

Just Recognition

Thank you for the article by George M. Anderson, S.J., on the recent appointment of Miguel d’Escoto as president of the 63rd General Assembly of the United Nations (“A Transplant of the Heart,” 9/8). His appointment was a historic event that apparently went unnoticed everywhere else.

I cannot comprehend how Father d’Escoto remains prohibited from performing his priestly functions, especially because (as America noted in the same issue) we are suffering from a “shortage of priests.” How many young men were discouraged by observing how cruelly this great priest has been treated? How many young men with powerful vocations were turned away from the priesthood a quarter of a century ago because they identified too openly and too strongly with Miguel d’Escoto and his companions?

Charles Scanlon

Columbus, N.M.

Out of Alignment

In “Teaching Evolution” (9/15), Paul Cottle gives the impression that Catholic teaching offers an unqualified acceptance of evolution. I don’t see this as the case—Pope Pius XII, in Humani Generis, called for research and discussion that should “be weighed and judged with necessary seriousness, moderation and measure.” Differently from Cottle, I see Catholic teaching as giving a qualified acceptance of evolution, asking us to use the richness of Catholic thought to examine the origins of human life and evaluate evolution’s proposals.

This shows why some Catholics are interested in theories of intelligent design. While some theories are held captive to ideas about the earth being relatively young, others allow us to explore larger issues about life’s origins that align with Catholic teaching.

William Hayward, M.I.C.

Kenosha, Wis.

Where’s the Beef?

Re “Dear Senator McCain,” by John Kavanaugh, S.J. (9/22): The Catholic Church in the United States is great on trying to make sure every pregnancy comes to term. It is not so great on making sure those babies and their mothers have access to affordable, continuous health care. The Republicans do not care much about providing affordable health care either, clinging to a failed market-oriented approach that doubles the cost per person for health care compared to a single-payer, universal system.

Where’s the beef? Do we want to take care of these babies or not? Forget the “isms”; we are talking about the most effective, cheapest way to provide health care to our brothers and sisters.

I would like to hear from the pulpit that we need to vote for politicians who can 1) get us out of the Iraq war and 2) give us a single-payer universal health care system in the United States. That would give any demands for making abortion illegal a little more credibility.

Bob Bjorkman

Omaha, Neb.

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