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January 19, 2009

A Great Gift

Thank you for your review of the life of Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J. (Current Comment, 1/5). One aspect of Avery Dulles should not go unremembered: he was never too busy to take time for journalists who sought him out.

I especially remember one time when I was writing a Newsweek cover story that took me on a round of interviews with theologians in Washington, D.C. Avery offered to pick me up himself at Dulles Airport. So there he was, waiting for me at an airport named after his father, John Foster Dulles, at the wheel of a beat-up sedan given him by his uncle, Allen Dulles, former head of the C.I.A. He treated me as if I, not he, were the most important person in the car.

After he transferred to Fordham, Dulles frequently met me near the Lincoln Center campus in Manhattan for long lunches. Though he didn’t eat much himself, he patiently answered questions until we were the only patrons left in the restaurant.

His great gift, I always felt, was his instinct for the lively center of the Catholic tradition, which allowed him to appreciate what had been lost in the postconciliar church as well as what had been gained. I never could get around to calling him “Your Eminence,” and I’m sure he was glad of that.

Kenneth L. Woodward

Former Religion Editor, Newsweek

Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.

Example for All

Re your tribute to Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J. (Current Comment, 1/5): It is only in recent years, as a theology student myself, that I have grown to love and appreciate Cardinal Dulles. His example is one to be emulated in all aspects of life, particularly in his humility and openness of thought. We ask his continued prayers for his beloved church. May those of us left behind to further his work continue to show the same deep respect for one another and for all we encounter in our daily lives.

Angela Marczewski

Schenectady, N.Y.

Transparency Needed

Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl presented an insightful and pragmatic essay on “How to Save Catholic Schools” (12/22). I have spent almost every day of the last 35 years working with and for more than 3,000 Catholic schools across the United States. My experience suggests that the archbishop’s call for partnerships with individuals, organizations and businesses is very much on target and necessary.

What Archbishop Wuerl did not say, however, is that in order to develop and maintain these partnerships, both transparency and accountability are essential. Unfortunately, all too many Catholic schools, parishes and dioceses fail to require accurate and understandable financial reports, annual audits and disclosure of test data.

My experience suggests that when Catholic school administrators and boards provide the information required to ensure transparency and accountability, donors respond, partnerships are formed and maintained, and Catholic schools thrive.

Richard J. Burke

President, Catholic School Management Inc.

Madison, Conn.


Thank you for the wonderful job redesigning the magazine (Of Many Things, 1/5). Your effort has resulted in a more readable format. The new fonts and layout have come as a welcome change to my aging eyes, and once again I can sit down and read the articles without trouble.

Michael Truscott

Washington, D.C.

Feeling Left Out

The cover of your recent issue proclaimed “The Harvest Is Great” (1/5) and promised stories of vocations in a modern church. I couldn’t wait to get through the stories of religious women and of attracting young adults to the priesthood and religious life, so that I could get to a story about the role of permanent deacons in the modern church.

Alas, there was not a word about deacons. What a missed opportunity for the magazine really to talk about the modern church!

(Deacon) Tony Cuseo

Delray Beach, Fla.

Helping Homeowners

Thank you for “Forgive Us Our Debts,” by Jennie D. Latta (12/15). One measure of the fairness of a capitalistic society is how it treats those who fail economically.

Under current law, bankruptcy judges cannot modify the terms of a home mortgage in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case. They regularly can modify the terms of virtually all other secured loans. The single legislative corrective action most needed today is to permit home mortgage modification in consumer bankruptcy cases.

In 14 years as a bankruptcy judge, I can count on the fingers of one hand the consumer cases of debtor fraud or abuse that I could not correct. Bankruptcy debtors are our neighbors, friends and retired parents who are in financial difficulties because of job loss, divorce, illness or the birth of a new child. They are honest and hard working. Our laws need to give them the respect and help they are due if our society is to measure up.

C. Timothy Corcoran III

Tampa, Fla.

Just a Coincidence?

The juxtaposition of the headline “What to Do With Bad Gifts” in the online edition of your recent issue (Current Comment, 12/22) with an online ad reading “Father Martin’s books—a gift they’ll open again and again” may or may not have been deliberate, but it certainly succeeded in tickling my funny bone.

Gini Parker

Duxbury, Mass.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
15 years 5 months ago
In a letter to the Editor (Jan.19-26) Deacon Tony Cuseo commented on the lack of coverage re permanent deacons in the article on "Vocations in a Modern Church (1/5)." As a layperson, I lament the exclusion of the laity in the articles! The coverage seemed to equate vocations with the religious life. This is perpetuating a common misconception. By virtue of our Baptism, we are all called (vocation) to serve and to contribute to the fullness of God's kingdom on earth. We might all walk different paths as we fulfill our vocations, but surely it is the same call. America-you missed the boat here! This was a great opportunity to clarify the real meaning of a vocation and you let it pass. Shame!
15 years 5 months ago
Had there been an article in the issue “The Harvest Is Great” (1/5) about the diaconate regreted as missing by Tony Cuseo, it would have spoken about the abundance of the harvest of candidates and the success of diaconate programs. In our diocese, each year a new class starts and it is at the limit the program calls for. What I would like to see is an appreciation of the "Second Harvest" aspect of vocations today. Many if not most deacon candidates are married and have raised a family. Many priest candidates have worked out in the marketplace and bring to their new work practical experience priests in the past did not have. My son's current pastor on a military base is a widower who returned to Eastern Europe before it was safe to do so, so as to be a priest of an Eastern Rite. His attitude toward the chldren of his parishioners reflects mine towards my grandchildren. One may even speak of the "Second Harvest" aspect of remarriages. A number of my fellow Knights of Columbus have remarried upon the death of their spouses, as have the widows of deceased Knights. The joy of their new-found loves animates their lives, and the witness of blended families is a example of what our failth communites should aspire to. There is one puzzling thing about the diaconate I would like to know. Why are men who are divorced but not yet annulled inelligible for the program?

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