Ecumenism in the Classroom
I was excited to read the excellent article “Basketball Diary,” by B. G. Kelley (11/16). When I first came to the evangelical school where I teach English, I was the only Catholic. Now, in my 10th year, I have three Catholic colleagues. I too have felt a strong sense of belonging to my little school. I have always felt accepted as a sister in Christ. Until the last three years or so, I would feel guilty (true to my Catholic heritage as I am) about not serving in a Catholic school, but we have such a strong dedication to our students that I could not leave. In addition, I trust that God is using me to contribute to a spirit of openness and fellowship with fellow Christians of other denominations.
Mary Ann Milligan
Facing the Wall
Re “U.S. Cardinal Questions Israel’s Security Barrier” (Signs of the Times, 11/9): I believe that the Vatican and Christians from all around the world try to help, but they are unable to stop our tears when we face daily the separation wall directly opposite our windows and front door.
Bethlehem, West Bank
Sharing Good News
Tears spontaneously came as I read “Birth Plan,” by John J. Hardt (11/16). The wonder and beauty of birth, parenting and the support of the Christian community simply rise up in the account. I shall share this story with the students in my moral theology class at my high school.
Seeing Is Believing
Re “Of Many Things,” by Drew Christiansen, S.J. (11/16): Having just returned from an eight-day “witness” trip to Palestine, I deeply appreciate this article. The theme of my visit, which was sponsored by Sabeel (an Anglican group working for peace and reconciliation) was to “show, not tell.” Basically, I saw the five horrid things that the Israeli government is doing to the Palestinians: 1) the wall that imprisons them; 2) the settlements that expropriate their land; 3) the occupation that restricts their freedom; 4) the demolition of their homes; and 5) the prisons that incarcerate whomever they will. I returned with sadness in my heart and without a clear idea of what we can do to change this horrible situation. Articles like yours are a start.
In the Book of Life
“Birth Plan” is the most poignant pro-life tribute I have ever read. This essay ought to be distributed in all Catholic churches throughout the country and also sent to every member of the U.S. Congress. Close to 40 years ago, my wife and I lost our third child in the third month of pregnancy through miscarriage. The experience was then and still remains traumatic, but not nearly the wrenching loss experienced by the parents in “Birth Plan.” In our case, an attending nurse told us she held the tiny baby in the palm of her hand and baptized it. Sad to say, at the time I didn’t have the presence of mind to ask for the baby’s body, so as to give it a proper Catholic burial. Apart from its mother’s womb, the surgical garbage can was the only cradle our child ever knew. Fortunately, however, later on we had him/her enrolled in the “Book of Life” at a special shrine dedicated to all children aborted, miscarried or stillborn, at Holy Innocents Church, in New York City. We named our child Michael if a boy and Michelle if a girl, and it was so recorded in the “Book of Life.”
The Mission Is the Message
Re “A Survivor’s Story,” by George Anderson, S.J. (11/23): I had the great blessing of coming to know Immaculée Ilibagiza through her writings, hearing her speak and going on a pilgrimage she led to the shrine of Our Lady of Kibeho. She was left to tell not only of her survival of the 1994 genocide through prayer and the grace of God, but also of her mission to spread the message of Our Lady. That message is that the world has abandoned God. It must come back now. Immaculée is Mary’s gift to us.
(Rev.) John McHale
White Haven, Pa.
Forgiveness in Rwanda
I was very moved in reading Immaculée Ilibagiza’s account of her journey in faith to Christian forgiveness. I recall my own experiences visiting Rwanda several times shortly after the genocide. I spent some time with a good friend, a newly ordained diocesan priest, whose whole family had been killed except for his younger sister. He was the first priest assigned to a parish where thousands had been killed. It was just before Christmas, when the Hutu refugees were returning from Tanzania by the thousands. Seeing the hundreds of returnees streaming into his parish, he said to me: “How these people have suffered. Now I am their pastor, and I must bring them together”—an inspiring insight into his deep understanding of his own priesthood. Visiting his home village, an old family friend hugged him, saying, “Father Emmanuel, we are so happy to see you.” He told me the old man was trembling, for Father Emmanuel knew the old man was the one who had killed his father. I witnessed many instances of deep Christian faith among the people of Rwanda. More should tell their stories.
Cal Poulin, S.J.
Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines
No New Legislation
Re “The Iron Pipeline,” (Editorial, 11/16): We are saddened to see, once again, America editors buy into the rhetoric of the amalgam of anti-gun organizations.
Mayor Daley and his family have had the power for years to confiscate illegal guns in Chicago. Why haven’t they done so? As Mayor Bloomberg’s private forays claim to prove, any crimes that may be occurring at gun shows are readily apparent to casual investigators and ought to be prosecuted by the appropriate authorities. No new legislation is required. All that is needed is political backbone to follow the law and do their jobs as prosecutors everywhere. If these politicos really want illegal guns to be gone, they have the legal means to make that happen. But what they really want are all guns—yours and mine, not just the illegal guns.
America ’s editors are astonishingly naïve. To suggest that smuggling handguns from outside the country or within can be effectively controlled, when many tons of cocaine and other hard drugs cannot, indicates fuzzy analysis and a disconnection from the real world of large cities today. Liberal wishful thinking has, sadly, been a trait of Jesuit leadership, which has undermined so much of the good done by Jesuit fathers on the ground around the world. Outlawing handguns altogether, except for the incompetent and convicted criminals, will leave plenty of them solely in the hands of people who threaten the innocent while disarming those law-abiding citizens who need such weapons for self-defense.
Food for Thought
Thank you for this very sane, very Catholic and very Christian comment by John Kavanaugh, S.J. (“Slandering the President,” 11/23). I will forward it to as many of my fellow parishioners as possible as food for thought.
Silence of Leadership
The real damage of the widespread calumny Father Kavanaugh criticizes is the divisive effect it is having on family and social relationships. Many are using calumny to destroy an opponent. Unfortunately, the days of “loyal and respected opposition” are gone from our public square. What makes it even more tragic is that religious persons are exponents of this method of public conversation. Unfortunately, it is behavior common amongst persons who claim to be spokespersons for religious communities. The silence of the leadership in this area is saddening. Allowing this issue to continue without comment by the leaders of religious groups is one of the main reasons many people do not become active members in churches. The leadership of all religious groups should be condemning this calumny, not just Father Kavanaugh. Thank you for your brilliant work and the work of America.