Family Reunion

Re “Rome Open to Anglican Return” (Signs of the Times, 11/2): We are told that this promised apostolic constitution is a response to the many and frequent knocks that our separated brothers have made at the door of the Catholic Church. This easily brings to mind the parable of the prodigal son. How many times did he have to knock at his father’s house, and what list of conditions did his father put on him before he opened his door to him? And it remains to be seen how his elder brothers would react to the cautious admission of their younger brothers!

George Calleja


Caloundra, Queensland, Australia

The Power of Forgiveness

“Art of Redemption,” by David Paul Hammer (10/26), is a testament to the singularly transformative power of forgiveness. It is also a moving testament to the power of art to plumb the inestimable mysteries of the human heart. As a Christian, an artist and the family member of a murder victim, I am deeply appreciative of both.

Matt Malone, S.J.

London, U.K.

Not So Free Speech

I was glad to see Drew Christiansen, S.J., (Of Many Things, 10/26) address the need for more inclusive and global news coverage. Where I live, most people rely on Fox News as their primary source of information and consequently the basis for their values and judgments.

The majority of Americans get their news from television. The problem is, it is high on entertainment and low on analysis because it is all filtered through the sponsors and their corporate interests. Our so-called free speech is not so free. Two notable exceptions are Free Speech TV (www.democracynow.org) and Link TV (www.linktv.org), both nonprofit and commercial-free. They can be found among the Public Interest channels of your satellite TV and are alone worth the subscription price.

I hope your magazine continues to report periodically unbiased social analysis with a global perspective. The promotion of our national interests is not a universal norm. As Americans we need to see ourselves as others see us. You are not going to get this by tuning in to Fox News.

(Rev.) Charles A. Hammond

St. Joseph Church

Sandusky, Mich.

Required Reading

Bravo to Drew Christiansen, S.J., for his Of Many Things column on Oct. 26, especially for noting the deterioration of coverage at CNN. I agree with most of his views on what is good but would also applaud public radio not only for its coverage of the world but also for what it brings us about local events. This column, together with Father Thomas Massaro’s “Democracy on the Line,” should be required reading for anyone who cares about how the media inform us and our own responsibilities.

Bob Nunz

Los Alamos, N.M.

No Danger: Laity Still at Work

Peter Schineller, S.J., raises the issue of having no provision in canon law to deal with the situation in which the pope becomes incapacitated (“Power Vacuum,” 10/12). But he says that if the pope were comatose for months or years, “much of the work of the church would grind to a halt.” In fact, the “work of the church” is largely carried on at the parish level by the laity, through their various ministries.

In any large organization, in times of crisis people may look to the top for leadership, direction and reassurance. But the day-to-day activities of most organizations will continue to take place without the presence (or interference) of the people at the top. With due deference to the leadership of the pope, let’s give credit to the hundreds of millions of workers in the vineyard who make Christ alive in their communities.

Ray Turner

San Jose, Calif.

A Question of Credibility

In “The Price of Death” (Editorial, 10/26), the editors write: “The Catholic Church in the United States has long been opposed to capital punishment. As early as 1980, the U.S. bishops voted to declare their opposition.” Might one ask what the bishops’ position was during the previous 200 years of American history? Indeed, the church’s long, unfortunate history of executing religious dissenters (when it had its hands on the levers of secular power) and supporting wars of religion must be adequately addressed if its current anti-capital punishment stance is to have any credibility. After all, if the church erred then, how can one be sure that its new stance is correct?

Mark Kolakowski

Fair Haven, N.J.

A Consistent Ethic of Life

I thought the death penalty (Editorial, “The Price of Death,” 10/26) in the United States might end shortly after the Catechism of the Catholic Church said it is no longer a moral alternative. Yet a privately conducted poll in California recently found that Catholics support the death penalty in higher numbers than any other religious group.

There is a lack of connection with our core belief in the unique value and dignity of every person. We will have arrived at consistency in our beliefs when Catholic pro-life groups fight as hard against the death penalty, euthanasia and war as they do against abortion.

Paul W. Comiskey

Newcastle, Calif.

Don’t Miss This Article

If America ever printed an important article, it is “Prudential Investment,” by Doug Demeo (10/26). In his sizing-up of the present investment policies for institutions, Demeo has offered valid points that each of us, if we have holdings, can use to investigate environmental stewardship, labor conditions or executive compensation issues of the companies we invest in.

The examples he gives convince me that we all have a stake in persuading corporations to attain high standards. We need to make our individual voices heard so that we will be taking part in bringing about change for the common good.

Jeanne B. Dillon

Summit, N.J.

Parents at Fault

Re “Generation Text,” by Mark Bauerlein (10/12): As a youth minister who works full time with high school adolescents, I think the author is right, but for the wrong reasons.

This generation can be described as the Dumbest Generation, to use Bauerlein’s term. This, however, is not primarily because of new technology or the ever-broadening web that is youth culture. Those are secondary problems. The root is this: Adults, particularly the parents of this generation, have lost their authoritarian backbone and no longer set the rules that are necessary for healthy adolescent social and family life. Parents blame the culture or the technology, forgetting that the parent is the number one influence in the lives of teenagers today.

It is the parents and most other adult role models today who allow and teach our young people to become too busy with school, work and extracurricular activities, connected to others 24/7 by technology and never leaving adequate time for family relationships. Hoping to assuage their own guilt, parents buy them the latest gadgets and forget their responsibility to take those away when the time comes, or forget that a 12-year-old does not really need a phone to begin with. Nor does every kid need a car, a laptop or a BlackBerry. And when those things become obstacles to life, family and real relationships, parents have the responsibility to take those things away. As a parent, I must recognize that I am the problem or the solution—the primary model for my kids. I must know for myself when it is time to shut off my laptop and cellphone and be present to my family.

Mike Buckler

Ormond Beach, Fla.

A Questionable Hypothesis

While welcoming the prominence given to an important public health problem, I am surprised that your editorial “An Untreated Epidemic” (11/2) gives credence to the vaccine hypothesis. The evidence for a link has always been vague, of poor quality, inferential and tenuous; the evidence against a link is now devastatingly strong. In the United Kingdom we have seen an outbreak of measles as a result of reduced vaccinations from the scare, which has led to at least one death, a number of cases of permanent disability in children, many hospitalizations for a preventable illness, much unnecessary distress—and no drop in autism rates. Reducing vaccination rates not only puts a particular child at risk; it reduces the number of individuals in a community who are immune. This raises the risk for everyone.

Victor Pace, M.D.

London, U.K.


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