Taking Part in the Body
Cynthia Reville Peabody’s article, “Staying Power” (7/18), found me asking myself once again, why do I stay in the Catholic Church?
My answer to this question is, quite simply, the Eucharist. Coming together as the body of Christ, we women in the pews give thanks and receive the bread of life, which nourishes our souls and sends us forth to love and serve. In spite of the investigations of women religious, in spite of top-down changes in the very language that attempts to express our faith, in spite of being denied a place at the table of power, we women come to take part in the Eucharist. We prepare the table; we run the schools and hospitals; we raise children in the faith. We stay, and by doing so, we quietly attempt to correct the evils we perceive.
Why do I stay? My answer was given long ago: “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of everlasting life.” This much I know for sure: If we women did not stay, the church would die of neglect.
Jane W. Urso
Pearl of Great Price
Thanks so much for a wonderfully clear and thought-provoking commentary, “Staying Power” (7/18). I think the question is not why women are leaving the church, but why, in the name of everything that is good and holy, are we staying? I love the church. I grew up in it, thrived in it and deepened my spirituality and sense of service through it.
But the church I experience now is remote, controlled, power-hungry and so unlike Jesus that my prayer now includes a lament for the poor Christ.
When will we find our way back through the centuries to the simple, straightforward way to love God and all people that Jesus modeled for us? When will we be able to sell everything we have accumulated over the centuries to buy back the pearl of great price that Jesus left us? I am not leaving the church. I am resolved to live simply the model that Jesus left us.
Promoting the Common Good
Your editorial “The New ‘American-ism’” (8/1) provides interesting insights about the American dream. There is no one party that espouses the concerns of the vulnerable and the common good. Republicans tend to be pro-life and pro-growth and rationalize the common good to include, basically, the protection of the freedom of opportunity for anyone to succeed economically.
Democrats, on the other hand, tend to be more socialist and want to share the resources of the fortunate with those who are less fortunate—with one glaring exception, the unborn. They are more concerned with the rights and fair treatment of the common good of us all, except for the unborn.
Both parties hold to a form of exclusivism. The Republicans tend to exclude social programs for the poor, elderly and disadvantaged, while the Democrats tend to exclude the business sector and the unborn. Hence, the idea of the common good cannot be fully embraced by either party.
Maybe a third party could include a subtle socialist agenda for the poor, vulnerable and unborn, while, at the same time, promoting growth in the business sector. There are very few pro-socialist Republicans and probably even fewer pro-life Democrats. If each party were more inclusive of these views, maybe the common good of all Americans could be secured.
Helping the Poor at the Parish
Your editorial writer (8/1) is quite wrong to identify a “peculiar American premise that the poor are generally better off left to their own devices, lest their dignity be degraded by paternalism—a high-sounding slogan that can be used to abdicate collective responsibility” in the rejection of entitlement programs.
My grandfather refused to accept government assistance to feed his large family for over two years—not due to the sin of pride, but due to his concern for the simple human dignity of his family. Ultimately, he found work and his family prospered. Yes, he did accept gifts from his Protestant brethren at his church. This is where charity begins—with a human, neighborly, Christian connection and not a faceless government bureaucracy.
I am not a wealthy man, but I am moved to compassion for the long-term unemployed in my parish. I try to do for them what others did for my grandfather many decades ago. Such is one’s Christian duty. When government spends other people’s money to care for the forgotten in society, this seems to be a good thing, but it is far better for government to enact policies that create conditions for fuller employment in the private sector. Collective responsibility for the poor must be assumed by communities and parishes, not by tax-payers.
Dust Off the Catechism
“Keep Holy Election Day,” by Nicholas P. Cafardi (7/18), seems to be a deceitful article. I am surprised that the magazine is still able to identify with Catholic readers. My fear is that the author soothed some souls on the left with his article, which was clearly his intention.
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos. 2270-73, abortion is defined as directly contrary to moral law and manifests an abominable crime along with infanticide. No president before Mr. Obama has done more to advance abortion and infanticide. While in the Illinois senate, he led the opposition to the “Born Alive Infants Protection Act” and as chair of the Health and Human Services Committee in the same legislative body, he kept Born Alive (IL SB1082) from coming up for a vote in 2003. I hope neither Mr. Cafardi nor the editors of America were aware of this.
No Deliberation Needed
Contrary to Professor Cafardi’s opinions about holiness, there are some readily apparent answers to some complex issues. Abortion is not a question that allows for any discussion or deliberation. Mr. Cafardi cites a church teaching that error has no rights. Death to an innocent child is not the privilege of any person to call a right.
Our holiness as voters should not depend on whom we are encouraged to support by the church. We may and should be advised, however, to avoid some candidates who do not recognize that there is a hierarchy in law, when or if there is a conflict as clear as abortion.
St. Louis, Mo.
Violence and Legality of Drugs
Drugs did not create Mexico’s organized crime networks. Just as alcohol prohibition gave rise to Al Capone, drug prohibition created the violent drug trafficking organizations behind all the killings in Mexico. With alcohol prohibition repealed, bootleggers no longer gun each other down in drive-by shootings. It is worth noting that Mexico’s upsurge in violence began only after an anti-drug crackdown that created a power vacuum among competing cartels.
Drug prohibition funds organized crime at home and terrorism abroad. It is time to end this madness. Whether we like it or not, drugs are here to stay. Changing human nature is not an option. Reforming harmful drug laws is an option that Congress should pursue.