Relax, They Won’t Hurt

I have just perused the changes referred to in “Musicians Prepare for Coming Changes in Mass Text” (8/2). They are very minor. They seem to reflect a return to translations that older members might remember from the joint Latin-English missals. In this respect, Novus Ordo might be considered the “change,” whereas the new texts represent a traditional and more faithful translation and continuation of the original Mass texts. I welcome them. I’m sorry for the inconvenience to musicians and choirs. Maybe they can readapt some of the music and lyrics from the pre-Vatican II days. The changes are so minor there should not be anywhere near the disruption caused in the wake of the Second Vatican Council.

James Caruso


Fairfax, Va.

The Tragedy of Iraq

Your editorial on leaving Iraq (8/16) is outstanding. Copies should be passed out to all Americans. As a retired U.S. Air Force chaplain with two enlisted Navy years during World War II and 18 years as a military priest at 12 bases, five of which were overseas assignments, including Vietnam, I totally agree with your exquisite statement. Over 4,000 soldiers killed and over 310,000 injured. What a frightful tragedy!

(Rev.) John L. Mansfield

Boston, Mass.

What Is the Greatest Danger?

In response to the editorial “Turning Point” (8/16): the people of Iraq are much worse off now than when the United States invaded. We must not attack Iran. Even if Iran develops nuclear weapons, it will not be to attack Israel. Iran knows that if they take any offensive against Israel they will be annihilated. The danger of an attack on Iran by Israel or the United States is the greatest danger facing the world now.

Joseph Malikail

Ottawa, Canada

Nonviolence Is Not Pacifism

I agree with the review by Drew Christiansen, S.J., of Daniel Philpott and Gerard Powers’s Strategies of Peace (Of Many Things, 8/2), and I too was puzzled by the absence of a section on nonviolence. I nearly gasped at Powers’s conclusion that more Mahatma Gandhis are needed, but even more needed are more Reinhold Niebuhrs.

Gandhi, not Niebuhr, breaks beyond the categories of just war and pacifism and gives us what William James was looking for—a moral alternative to war. Gandhi shows how nonviolent action can confront and absorb violence and how nonviolent action can change sinful social structures to prevent violence. Niebuhr represents the realist position, as in just war theory: faced with overwhelming violence, the responsible person will endorse a violent response.

Niebuhr compares his position with nonresistance, which he dismisses as otherworldly, but in our time we see violent interventions stretch on for years. On the other hand, we have seen nonviolence work in our own civil rights movement, the revolutions that freed Poland, the Philippines, the Velvet revolution in Czechoslovakia, the Orange revolution in Ukraine and the Otpor movement that ousted Milosevic.

Furthermore, endorsing Niebuhr implies that the just war theory is the Catholic Church’s position on war. In recent years the Sermon on the Mount, love of enemies, has moved to the center of the church’s reflections, to be appreciated not as pacifism but as a creative nonviolent response to violence.

Terence J. Rynne

Milwaukee, Wis.

Trust the Rising Tide

No one doubts that workers deserve a fair wage, but other assertions in your editorial “Give Labor Its Day” (8/30) need to be challenged. Liberal econo-mists assert that an earnings gap is inherently evil; the editorial says, “If left unchecked this gap could also threaten the health of the large middle class that characterizes the world’s best democracies.” There is no empirical data to support this underlying premise.

The real issue is the lowest level of education and earning power. It shouldn’t matter what the top wage earners make, so long as there is opportunity, not a guarantee, for all to achieve. It is true that a rising tide lifts all boats, no matter how tall the mast. There is no need to envy the rich; there is a responsibility of all to work for justice.

Robert Oberle

Macungie, Pa.

The Real “Real Islam”

Contrary to the current comment “The Real Islam” (8/30), the peaceful nature of early Islam is contradicted by its assault on the Christian Byzantine Empire and its conquest of the Levant and North Africa. The assault went on to conquer Spain and attempt to conquer France. Islamic aggression continued for centuries, subjugating Christian peoples. Today Christians are persecuted in Islamic lands. America, National Geographic and other publications have made it clear that Christians are fleeing from Islamic persecution.

Thomas Farrelly

Seattle, Wash.

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