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September 12, 2011

The Deficit’s Real Cause

Wow! I am glad someone said it, and I am not surprised that it was your editorial, “The New Americanism” (8/1). I have noticed the disturbing presence of Catholics lining up on the side of privilege entrenchment—that is what this whole manufactured “crisis” is all about. The deficit was caused in large measure not by spending on welfare programs and Pell Grants but by two wars, an unfunded drug mandate and irresponsible tax cuts. And it is an extension of those privilege-entrenching tax cuts that are the true objective of Congressman Paul Ryan. Thanks to America for bringing Catholic social justice to shine its light on the debate.

John D. Fitzmorris

New Orleans, La.

Bishops, Rethink the Policy

In “Rights of Conscience” (8/1) Kevin O’Rourke, O.P., speaks of individual conscience, but is there not a community conscience? The community at large instinctively understands that saving the life of the mother in the case of a non-viable fetus is the only moral option. I believe that this intuitive sense of right and wrong rests on “objective...theological reasoning.” The church’s prohibition of abortion stems from an underlying imperative to protect human life. In a medical emergency when the life of an 11-week-old fetus cannot be saved, the written prohibition against abortion cannot apply. Saving the child’s life is medically impossible. Then saving the mother’s life emerges as the only relevant moral imperative.

Were the administrators of Catholic hospitals to allow the deaths of both the mother and the fetus the human, moral and legal consequences would be enormous. The U.S. bishops and the Committee on Doctrine would do well to re-examine the absolute prohibition in similar cases.

Jack Kehoe

Sugar Land, Tex.

Considering the Whole Picture

My thanks to Nicholas Cafardi for “Keep Holy Election Day” (7/18). For several years I lived in Philadelphia where Catholics were mentally hounded by priests and bishops on the abortion issue at voting time. I oppose abortion. I feel, however, that the voter needs to look at the whole picture when deciding on a candidate. While abortion is not the only issue, it is also not the only moral issue. The voter has to pick the candidate best suited for the office for which he or she is running. If my candidate is pro-life, I rejoice. If not, I hope for the best. I should not have to vote against my conscience in order to avoid a pro-choice candidate.

Rose Cuva, S.N.D.

Baltimore, Md.

Be My Friend, Please

I have just finished “Forgive Us Our Debts” (6/20), by William O’Malley, S.J., who taught me at McQuaid High School in Rochester, N.Y. Father O’Malley not only taught us well, he lives life with gusto. He told our 1978 senior class, “As soon as you leave this room seek out your classmates who are not popular, athletic or scholarly and make them your friends! Do what Jesus would do. Bring friendship to them now. Otherwise in 20 years you will regret it.”

I immediately sought out one who had borne the brunt of four years of mocking and chastisement, rolled up my sleeves and let him know he was a “good guy.” We remain friends to this day, though I do not believe he is any more popular now than he was then. I do not regret befriending him, even though as a result I too then had to submit to weeks of mockery from the “popular” guys.

Brett Huther

Webster, N.Y.

When Abby Met Greeley

Thank you for Michael Leach’s “People of the Book” (8/1) with its recollection of the Thomas More Book Store, where I worked for a year while matriculating at Loyola Universty Chicago. Shall I ever forget the bags and bags of mail orders we had to process, by hand, for weeks after “Dear Abby” recommended one of Andrew Greeley’s titles? Quelle Joie!

Craig B. McKee

Daytona Beach, Fla.

Why I Cannot Serve

Re your editorial “Ahead of the Story” (8/15): As a priest and a victim of sexual abuse by a clergyman, I consider myself a victim, not a “survivor.” I can become a survivor only when the hierarchy of the church faces up to its wrongdoings.

An “apostle” is one who is sent and actually “becomes” the sender. In this case, when I was ordained in May 1971, I was “sent” by Cardinal Humberto Medeiros to preach the good word. But I had been raped in August 1970 while stationed as a deacon at Sacred Heart Parish, Roslindale, Mass.

The nine months between rape and ordination saw a lot of soul-searching. All the doubts and fears of the previous seven years of seminary training were revisited. Should I be a priest? Of course, since I had no idea that the bishops had been covering up all these abuse cases, that did not enter into my decision. In my naïveté, I reasoned that the little good that I could do as a priest would offset the evil that I had encountered.

Shortly after my ordination, the American Psychiatric Association said that “those who were abused could become abusers.” What I heard, however, was that I would become an abuser. I then started building walls around me so I would not be hurt again—or hurt others.

I ministered until 2001, when I had a flashback. I continued in ministry until 2006, but by that time I was so overwhelmed with the betrayal of the hierarchy that I could no longer in conscience be an “apostle.” In short, the only way I can find healing is for all the hierarchy who had any input into the coverup to step down and let the church pick up the pieces and begin again.

James F. Moran

Alexandria, Va.

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