The Loneliness of All Saints
Robert Ellsberg’s “Dorothy in Love” (11/15) reminded me of a day in high school in the 1950s when a teacher talked about Dorothy Day in the Newman Club. We visited her New York office. I have been an admirer of this remarkable laywoman ever since.
These letters reveal a woman who is spiritually strong. She does not demand that Forster Batterham live the Catholic social message. Her long loneliness is similar to what many saints feel at times; and like those saints, she does not lose faith in God. They do not surrender but hold to their inner faith, to the hand of God. Eventually she had to know that if she was to do what she was called to do, there could be no Forster in her life.
Did Galileo Go to Mass?
There is a fundamental error of fact in the penultimate paragraph of John Haught’s review of my book Galileo: Watcher of the Stars (12/6). Haught says I make “so little of the fact” that Galileo attended Father Benedetto Castelli’s daily Mass. In fact, during Galileo’s years under house arrest near Florence, Castelli was in Rome, so Galileo certainly did not attend the Mass he said daily. Professor Haught seems not to have noticed that I provide evidence that Castelli was shocked to discover that Galileo had become, as he thought, a Christian; and of course I discuss Galileo’s own Copernicanism and Maria Celeste’s piety—as Professor Haught, who has read my book, must know.
Leaders With Backbone
Re Christopher Ruddy’s “Our Ecumenical Future” (11/8): It seems that the Vatican’s position on ecumenism is another example of an exaggerated fear of losing power and authority rather than of seeking and embracing Christ’s message and truth. Many Catholics have left the church over the past 40 years. Many have found Jesus alive and well in other Christian churches. Instead of writing articles, why not do something more effective?
To propose a march on Rome might be considered “heretical,” but it might bring legitimate change. Did not Jesus demonstrate his profound displeasure over the mismanagement of his father’s house? Today we have a church characterized by dissent, division, criticism and intransigence. If theologians and church leaders are waiting on the sidelines for a new pope who will align the church’s mission more closely with Christ’s message, it will be another 50 to 100 years for that kind of change. Jesus was not just a polite soul filled with compassion and love; he knew how to funnel his energies in protest against religious authorities. Some call this backbone. We see it in Martin Luther and Martin Luther King Jr. We need leadership with backbone.
Michael J. Barberi
Not Where History Is Going
The vision of Raymond A. Schroth, S.J., in his commentary “Two Peoples, One State” (10/15), may seem superficially attractive, but it is completely opposed to the wills of both peoples, existing realities and basic political rights.
Israeli Jews and many Israeli Arabs are committed to the vision of their state as the Jewish homeland and refuge. And Palestinian Arabs are not excited by the prospect of Israeli Jews “demonstrating leadership” in a hypothetical combined state. A “one-state” solution would require Israel to annex the West Bank and confer Israeli citizenship on its Arab residents against their will—a blatant violation of international law that also defies common sense. Palestinians and Israelis have different histories, religions, languages and all other characteristics of peoplehood, going back thousands of years.
The trend in recent decades has been toward more nationalism, not less. The former Soviet Union is now 15 independent states. Yugoslavia disintegrated amid war and chaos into seven countries. Iraq, Lebanon and other multi-ethnic states—including Belgium, which Father Schroth presents as a model of a binational state—are straining at the seams, or worse.
Not Even Nixon
M. Cathleen Kaveny’s “Catholics As Citizens” (11/1) makes good reading, but I’m puzzling over the contrast between prophet and pilgrim. I think of myself as a bit of each and truly believe that the prophet is “acutely aware of just how far human society still remains from the kingdom of God” and attempts to speak and act prophetically out of that realization. My more significant reaction to the essay, read 48 hours after watching the election returns, is that the (false) prophets who have advocated voting based on the candidates’ and parties’ stances on abortion have contributed mightily to a polarized electorate and to the ascendancy for the moment of the party of no.
Bishops who have all but demanded that their people vote Republican in the past few election cycles now witness a Republican party that not only Teddy Roosevelt but even Eisenhower and Nixon would not recognize. And they wonder why they cannot get bipartisan support for just and humane immigration reform to be brought to Congress.
The Church Discriminates?
I applaud your editorial “Bullying, a Deadly Sin” (11/8), but I don’t see how this is consistent with the official teaching of the Catholic Church on homosexuality. When a whole class of people, even prior to behavior, is classified as intrinsically disordered, one can reasonably conclude they can be treated as lesser persons and deprived of certain rights, like raising children or receiving kinds of employment, especially in the Catholic Church. Despite the church’s statement that “every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided,” I cannot help but see that the official teaching is a form of class “bullying” that discriminates against a broad swath of the human race. Discrimination is discrimination, overshadowing the parsing of “just” and “unjust” treatment.
Ken Smits, O.F.M.Cap.
Fond du Lac, Wis.