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November 14, 2011

I Can No Longer Listen

Re “Pope Promotes ‘Unworldly’ But Open Church” (Signs of the Times, 10/10): I would like to hear Pope Benedict’s message with a joyful, open heart. I would like to welcome the good news of Jesus into my life as it is proclaimed to me by my church and its pastoral leaders.

But in key respects, the church has made itself a countersign to the Gospel it preaches for me as a gay Catholic, but also as a Catholic who felt great hope when the Second Vatican Council took place, who believes in the equality of men and women, who sees the spirit at work in both the church and the world, so that the church can learn from creative, respectful dialogue with the world.

In my view, the last two papacies have betrayed the promise of Vatican II. So now, sadly, I tend to no longer listen to what the church has to say when pastoral leaders make the church a countersign to the Gospel they preach.

William Lindsey

Little Rock, Ark.

Before Earth Day, Genesis

I thank Drew Christiansen, S.J., for making the connections between faith, justice and the environment so clear (Of Many Things, 10/24). Many citizens are doing right by the environment. Catholics should do this even more. Before Earth Day there was Genesis. We are called to care for creation because it honors the creator and because our actions have consequences. As Blessed John Paul II said, “We cannot interfere in one area of the ecosystem without paying attention both to the consequences of such interference in other areas and to the well-being of future generations.” The Catholic Coalition on Climate Change is working to help Catholics link their environmental concern with our faith. See: catholicclimatecovenant.org.

Dan Misleh

Executive Director

Catholic Coalition on Climate Change

Washington, D.C.

Debate, Yes; Abuse, No

Re “Church, Not State?” (Editorial, 10/24): No one suggests that we should depend on charitable donations to maintain roads, schools or fire departments. We maintain these things for the common good. Taking care of the disabled, elderly and poor is also done for the common good and therefore deserves government support. Debating whether programs are effective or not is certainly reasonable, but verbally abusing the unfortunate is not.

Lisa Weber

Spokane, Wash.

Good Move

In response to Maurice Timothy Reidy’s Of Many Things (10/17): Joanne Simpson was a young, unwed college graduate student and pregnant. She might have aborted her child. She decided instead to put him up for adoption. Paul and Carla Jobs adopted her child and named him Steven—yes, Steve Jobs. Wise decision, Joanne.

Larry Lorenzoni, S.D.B.

San Francisco, Calif.

St. Paul: Print or TV Journalist?

Mo Guernon’s “The Forgotten Pope” (10/24) reminded me of the installation of Pope John Paul I, which I attended as a reporter for The Brooklyn Tablet, and his first press conference. As he sat facing the enthusiastic press corps, print journalists filled about two thirds of the room, electronic reporters the remaining third. Smiling radiantly, the pope said, “If St. Paul were alive today, he would be a journalist.” Applause and shouts cheered the pontiff on, and he laughed along with his admirers.

But then he said, “No, I take that back.” Surprised groans came, but he raised his hands and, still laughing, continued, “If St. Paul were alive today, he would be the head of the largest television network in the world, the better to proclaim God’s love to all people.”

If only this pope of 33 days and a mysterious departure had lived to carry on Paul’s mission.

Camille D’Arienzo, R.S.M.

Glendale, N.Y.

A Voice From Shantytowns

Thanks for the wonderful article by John O’Malley, S.J., “A Lesson for Today” (10/31). Since the 1960s, when I worked in the shantytowns of São Paulo, Brazil, I have opposed the absolute centralization of the church, with the Roman Curia in the dictator’s seat. The article may change my mind on one point. I had thought the trend toward centralization began with Trent and then got worse. Maybe I was wrong to be so assertive; but Vatican II, in my opinion, hurt the diversity of spiritualities around the world. I remember seeing a priest tear out the statues in a little chapel in rural Brazil in the name of a more “rational” Catholicism proposed by Vatican II. It is not just the free voices of theologians that must be heard, but also the poor and those who criticize the church and their social, political and economic environment. That was the lesson of the ‘50s and ‘60s. Then along came Rome.

Patrick Hughes

St. Augustine, Fla.

Not Proud

Re “Conscience in the Mud” (Editorial, 10/31): Your comments on all three topics—overseas bases, drones and human rights—are accurate. I am not proud of much of what the United States is doing these days.

Lisa Weber

Spokane, Wash.

A Call to Conversion

In response to your editorial “Conscience in the Mud” (10/31), on America’s loss of moral authority, I believe this is a timely comment on a situation that seldom makes it into the popular media. Somehow, as a nation we constantly notice the speck in others’ eyes, especially the eyes of the so-called enemy, yet seldom if ever the plank in our own eye. The truth does hurt, but it demands either a conversion on our part or the destruction or vilification of the messenger.

Sean Kennelly

Coventry, Conn.


Your whole assessment in the editorial “Conscience in the Mud” (10/31) is based on the premise that this is a police action, not a war. Your premise is wrong. This is a war involving both transnational groups and national states. The 9/11 attacks, the attempted assassination of the Saudi prince on our soil and the Cole attack were acts of war.

Your view of the laws of war is nonsense. Spies and those not in uniform can be legally executed out of hand. Treason is aiding the enemy and is legally punished by death—by drone or otherwise.

Harold Helbock

Vacavill, Calif.

A Flight to Happiness

“Goodbye to Happy” (Current Comment, 10/24) really hit close to home. After 30 years in the suburbs of our diocese we moved out to the country. I spent a year in the church in our town listening to music that was a dirge and to uninspiring homilies and enduring ushers whose behavior bordered on that of a sergeant-at-arms instead of ministry. I left—more like fled—Mass unhappy and angry. The parish we left behind when we moved had been no better.

Fortunately, we live only a few miles from the state line. Like a siren’s song, the parish just over the border called me. I found a home after leaving my diocese of 31 years. Now I’m part of a joyful celebration of the Mass and leave Mass spiritually fed and content. Yes, my new parish will learn the new translation of the Mass; they have no choice. As part of the 23 percent who saw this coming, do I look forward to it? Absolutely not. With all the problems in the world, you’d think the church would find something better to do.

Trish Conk

Winchester, Va.

Common Sense Morality

Your editors showed courage in publishing John and Charles MacCarthy’s “Life or Death Decisions” (10/31). The opinions of the authors reflect the ethics practiced by virtually every physician I have encountered during my many years of medical practice. It is a disgrace that we have so many bishops who lack the common sense that could influence prudent moral judgments.

William D. Green, M.D.

Springfield, Pa.

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