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May 11, 2009

Some, But Not All

A correspondent in a recent issue (Letters, 4/20) wrote that “it is a great pity that the American bishops do not choose to lead by recognizing the complexity of the issue on which they are called to teach, and then teaching in a way that produces more light and less heat.” To place all bishops in that above category is both false and dishonest. The fact that the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote a negative and prohibitive letter to the University of Notre Dame regarding the issue of President Obama speaking at the graduation does not mean it represents all bishops.

I, for one, strongly support the president of Notre Dame, and although retired, know many active bishops who hold to the same position, precisely because we understand that holding a strong conviction about abortion (which I do) even as a fundamental moral imperative does not abrogate the need for cooperation with and recognition of our current U.S. president, especially considering the multiplicity of issues in our complex world.

To honor President Obama for what he represents simply as the president, and especially as the first African-American president, is a genuine and deserved action from and by the University of Notre Dame. I hope your writer could learn the use of the word “some” or “not all.”

(Bishop) Sylvester D. Ryan

Nipomo, Calif.

Winds of Change

In the challenging and optimistic article on the future of the church (“The Shape of the Church to Come,” 4/13) by Timothy Radcliffe, O.P., I was delighted to hear him say that “I expect a massive revival of religious life soon, even in the West.” As a formation minister in a religious community and a former vocation minister, I have the same intuition. I wonder what the indicators are that he has seen regarding this notion.

Mike O’Grady, S.M.

Dayton, Ohio


Hooray for Elizabeth A. Johnson, C.S.J., and the uniquely feminine gift of divine imagination she shows in “An Earthy Christology” (4/13). She transplants the pot-bound, withering tree of Catholicism into the larger context of our “great story,” so that it might thrive and flourish in the universal, sacred soil of the cosmos.

Through the human consciousness of Jesus, we are becoming aware of all creation as the Christ, the beloved of God. Taking responsibility collectively to create a future worthy to manifest this inherent dignity is the human/divine task that will see us through the next turn on the evolutionary spiral. Here we celebrate our true homecoming to the all-inclusive love that is our source—as it was in the beginning, is now and ever evolving. Amen!

Alice MacDonald

Santa Barbara, Calif.

Keep on Keepin’ on

I have enjoyed reading the decade-by-decade replays of your coverage of the past century of the church and the world by Charles R. Morris (“The First 50 Years,” 4/13, and “A Catholic Moment,” 4/20). Some of the events in the second half of the century I remember distinctly—not only how they happened but how full of joy and elation (or distress) we all were at some of the things that were taking place. This reminds me that this present time too will pass, and one day we will be able to look back in a similar way at the wars and injustices of these years, as well as at the hope for change in both the country and the church. We have to ask ourselves if what we are doing now will make us glad we did it when we see it in the future.

Please continue what you are doing at America. I cannot tell you how much it means to me to be able to look forward to your take on the events of the present day. I know you will continue to address the issues with faith, intelligence, knowledge, compassion and human concern—even though you make a few mistakes from time to time!

Lucy Fuchs

Brandon, Fla.

About Those Mistakes…

In the article by James T. Keane, S.J., on the mistakes your magazine has made over the years (“Oops!” 4/13), he neglected to include your support of Barack Obama, whom you should have seen for the scourge he would be on America. You intentionally muddied the waters and diminished what the U.S. bishops wrote in their document Faithful Citizenship about the priority that should be given in considering one’s vote to matters of intrinsic evil. These mistakes contributed to a majority Catholic vote for a socialist without a moral grounding in natural law.

John J. Van Beckum

Brookfield, Wis.

Taste Test

Thank you for Kate Blake’s “Animal Welfare” (3/23), as well as the “Church Writings on Nature” in the same issue and the cover of the issue itself, both of which supported Blake’s position concerning our stewardship for animals and our place within creation. Vegetarianism is the logical outcome from any in-depth study of the conditions that can be found on “factory farms.” Not only are animals subject to cruel and abusive treatment; the negative impact on the environment resulting from livestock agriculture has also been documented in various studies.

But with issues like respect for life, war, poverty, moral values, human relations and other issues remaining a priority, I am not surprised that people are still ingesting animals and processed foods with ingredient lists that can barely be pronounced. I think most folks just shrug and keep munching. Yes, Jesus probably ate meat and fish, but he didn’t have the other nutritional means available that we have 2,000 years later.

We in industrialized societies have so many comforts available for convenience and enjoyment, including a vast array of grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and more. There is really no justification for producing food from animals the way we do currently. “I like the taste” somehow does not suffice.

Roger Feldman

Sterling Heights, Mich.

The Gift

The article by Leo O’Donovan, S.J., on Karl Rahner, S.J. (“Reading Karl Rahner,” 3/30) was a real gift. It helped me refocus and reaffirm why this man has meant and still means so much to me. During my years of doctoral study with Rahner in Munster during the late 1960s, he was a towering theological intellect. In the ensuing years, he also became for me a kind of spiritual director into the experience of mystery that grounds Christian life and thought.

O’Donovan’s “five guiding questions” for reading Rahner made it clear again what a gift Rahner was and remains for the church and the world.

Paul F. Knitter

New York, N.Y.

Parallel Problems

As I read “Then There Was One” (Daniel P. Sulmasy, O.F.M., 3/16), about the failures of the Catholic health care system in New York City, I kept thinking that we could have written virtually word for word (including the title) the same description of Catholic education in the northeastern United States.

Brother Sulmasy hit more than one nail on the head with his analysis. Perhaps we have forgotten the biblical injunction “Do not be afraid.” It is hard to remember in a climate where one succeeds “not by one’s accomplishments but by not making mistakes.”

(Rev.) Dan Arnold

Erie, Pa.


Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
13 years 9 months ago
Regarding Van Beckum comment, perhaps many of us do no agree that America muddied the water - but rather gave us insight and help as we considered the issues and who to vote for. In my opinion, the water was muddied by others who tried to make the presidential election into a one-issue contest - just as they did in the previous election. However, this time, many eyes were opened because of the mistake of following "orders" for one-issue voting in the previous election, which accomplished nothing at reducing abortions. If the stats in this issue are correct - we have a long way to go to try to convince others of the immorality of abortion - but an attitude of authoritarianism will never win converts.
13 years 9 months ago
For those of us who do not see life in black and white, the discussions in America before the election regarding President Obama were greatly appreciated. In my life I am a person of faith, a mother, a lawyer, a sister, a daughter. The list goes on and on. I am so very weary of both fellow Catholics and non-Catholics attempting to define my identity as a Catholic as inseparable with the abortion issue. Yes, that is an issue that I have prayed about and thought about, however, there are many pressing issues that I believe are equally important and they too involve life issues. This was reflected in my vote. The "socialist" labeling and finger pointing must stop; it precludes real discussion on the issues and alienates us from each other.
Jim McCrea
13 years 9 months ago
Mr. van Beckum: you give credence to my belief that once a fixed idea of duty gets inside a narrow mind, it can never get out.
13 years 9 months ago
COURAGE?! With response to two letters (Letters, 5/11). In the first Bishop Ryan claims that there are some active bishops who strongly support the president of Notre Dame. Perhaps, as we approach the feast of Pentecost, the Spirit will give them the courage to speak out. In the last letter, John van Beckum strongly criticises America for its support of candidate Obama. While I disagree with Mr. van Beckum, I commend America for having the courage to print the letter.

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