Thank you for the small photo in News Briefs (5/10). The image of Bishop Edward J. Slattery in his crimson robe with yards of train borne by some flunky speaks volumes about how far the Catholic Church has strayed from being the creation of Jesus. Evangelicals asked a question decades ago: “What would Jesus do?” My guess is that Jesus would take the crimson finery, cut it into sleeping bags for the homeless or clothes for impoverished children. Jesus would certainly not wear such a garment down the main aisle of a basilica supposedly dedicated to his way of life.

Patricia P. Normile


Terrace Park, Ohio

Sackcloth and Ashes

I suffered a shock of incredulity when I saw the royal finery displayed by Bishop Slattery (News Briefs, 5/10). I would think sackcloth and ashes would be more appropriate for him, at the current moment, as a member of the hierarchy. On the other hand, that would require being in touch with the real world—something I have not observed in that privileged group. How can this display be the representative of Peter? It’s really quite comical. Shame! Shame!

Dennis F. Murphy

Charlotte, N.C.

Be Prepared

Re “Pilgrim People, Part II” (Editorial, 5/17): Really interesting articles for us, the church in Central America. This coverage of the sexual abuse crisis in the United States and Europe helps us learn and be prepared for whatever may happen here. Thanks.

(Most Rev.) Rodolfo Valenzuela Núñez

Bishop of Vera Paz

Cobán, Guatemala

Out of Whack!

Joseph A. Califano (“Criminally Unjust,” 5/24) is more than correct in his analysis and prescriptions. And it is not just those of us whom many consider liberal who are questioning the never-ending and unproductive “get tough” policies. “What do these say about a state that focuses more on prison uniforms than caps and gowns?” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California said. “The priorities have become out of whack.... Thirty years ago, 10 percent of the general fund went to higher education and 3 percent went to prisons. Today, almost 11 percent goes to prisons and only 7.5 percent goes to higher education.” We can keep locking people up at $25,000 to $30,000 per prisoner per year and get nothing for the money, or we can get them rehab and a job.

In November 2000 the bishops published a superb analysis of our criminal justice system and how to begin ameliorating the situation. “Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice” is well worth studying and implementing (http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/criminal.shtml).

Rick Malloy, S.J.

Philadelphia, Pa.

Turning a Blind Eye

The Of Many Things column on May 17 was an honest and necessary contribution to the dialogue about the clerical sexual abuse scandal, and I have enormous respect for the fact that Maurice Timothy Reidy had the courage to write it and America the wisdom to publish it.

The article has implications far beyond the sexual abuse scandal. If we are really honest with ourselves, many of us would admit that we sometimes have a tendency to turn a blind eye to acts of injustice. We are inundated daily with images of injustice, from poverty in the inner cities and rural areas of the world’s wealthiest nation to disease, natural disaster, war and genocide in places far away.

All of these instances of injustice seem to make some kind of claim upon those of us who believe that fidelity to the Gospel means helping to bring about a more just world. Is it any wonder, then, that we sometimes feel so overwhelmed and so powerless to effect any real change that we seek comfort in our own experience of a life in which God’s grace is real and present? That doesn’t mean we care less about injustice than those who are public crusaders against an injustice they seek to remedy. But we do need to prayerfully seek out ways to use our gifts and the circumstances in which we find ourselves to promote justice in the world, even if we can do so only one person at a time.

Chris Kuczynski

Baltimore, Md.

Obey God Rather Than Men

Re “A Path to Citizenship” (Editorial, 5/24): Illegal immigration is a problem. At the end of the day we should reflect upon the church’s teaching and not simply our own feelings and statistics. See the Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2241: “The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin…. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.” And No. 2242 informs us that as Catholics we are “obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel.”

Carey McIntyre

Milwaukee, Wis.

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