The Model Gentleman
“Conspiracy of Bishops and Faithful,” by Drew Christiansen, S.J. (9/27), reminds me that the 19th-century prose and even the poetry of John Henry Newman may be a little hard for today’s readers to digest. But to read him, even to meditate on his seamless logic, introduces 21st-century folks to a methodology sadly lacking in church conversation. Furthermore, this man cannot help but give us the model of the “gentlemanly” (today we might say more civil) mode of reaching sound doctrine and practice. Great strides have made the Catholic Church a more universal believers’ church. Much remains to be done. At present the constructive contribution of the laity still seems to be voluntary rather than organic and systematic. Newman’s future canonization may be a stimulus in the latter direction.
Pompano Beach, Fla.
Protecting the Club
In response to “How Will They Know?” (9/13), I am among those who have left the church, three years ago. I was 59. With no voice in the church, I could no longer sit in the pew and write the checks that support the hierarchy and all its misdeeds. I realized that I was an enabler. If there had been one sign in Rome that bishops would be held accountable for hiding the criminal acts of sexual predators, there would have been some hope. But those who live in luxury in Rome and chanceries around the world have more concern for their own lifestyles and protecting the members of their club than they have for children and teenagers preyed upon by priests under their supervision. This is the church that has some of the most powerful teachings on social justice; but when it comes to themselves, it’s all empty words.
Bravo for Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s “The Schools We Need” (9/13)! But what is missing right now is a united national campaign to take the idea forward. Would this bring the hierarchy and the laity together as a church? Has not our parochial approach hindered us in an era that requires more innovation in telling our story in the mass media? Could the national campaign lay the groundwork for informed servant leaders in decades to come?
Francis J. Butler
Fight for Vouchers
I thoroughly enjoyed Archbishop Dolan’s defense of Catholic schools (9/13). But the weakness of his plan is that he does not explain where the money will come from. His statement that surely “American Catholics have the wealth and imagination” doesn’t cut it in terms of a realistic plan to tackle the problem. In suburbs, middle-class families pay high taxes for bloated school budgets. How can they pay these taxes and still send their children to Catholic schools? The only solution is to go back to fighting for vouchers. We must argue that closing our schools and sending these students to public schools will be an impossible cost increase for the local taxpayer.
Are Words Enough?
As I read Jeannine Hill Fletcher’s review (9/27) of Comparative Theology, by Francis X. Clooney, S.J., one of the hardest things for me to understand was the depth of the split between Eastern Orthodox Chris-tianity and the Roman Catholic Church. I have come to the tentative conclusion that it has little to do with theology, but it does have something to do with the authority models adopted by either side (apparently different interpretations of tradition) and a healthy portion of almost tribal nationalism. Is it possible for even the most exhaustive study of the texts revered by each side to shed light on all these influences?
C. R. Erlinger
San Antonio, Tex.
Kyle T. Kramer’s column “Horse Sense” (9/27) suggests that horses, since they operate on solar energy and deposit a waste product that fertilizes the farm, are more energy efficient than cars and other machines. There is another interpretation of the same phenomenon: Horses leave droppings. When dry, they turn to dust, which carries disease. The horseless carriage was a healthy development.
Night and Day
The Of Many Things column by George M. Anderson, S.J., on Dorothy Day (9/27) reminds me of hearing about the Catholic Worker movement 40 years ago. Otherwise I knew nothing about her. It is all my loss. What a wonderful woman! So human, just like me; so holy, as I hope to be, now an old man but still striving toward that elusive goal. In the 1940s there was a love song with the words, “Under the hide of me, there’s a burning, yearning, deep down inside of me.” That song sums up her life in her love for Jesus and the poor.