Tear It Down
Re Bill Williams’s review of Julian Guthrie’s The Grace of Everyday Saints (11/7) about the fight to save St. Brigid’s church: I was married in St. Brigid’s 56 years ago, and I can state that it was not a thriving parish. Two friends of mine were among the very few lay ministers doing lectoring, marriage preparation and the adult Christian initiation program. The Academy of Art, a private real estate conglomerate, bought the church for $3 million a few years ago. It remains empty because of its landmark status and earthquake damage.
Every big city has churches like St. Brigid’s, built for immigrants in the early 1900s, that are being torn down because of demographic changes. I have been stridently opposed to church closings, but this is one that should have been closed.
San Francisco, Calif.
In response to “Vatican Document Calls for ‘Supranational’ Reform” (Signs of the Times, 11/7): The document is a hard read, but you captured its main points. I think it makes a mistake calling for the gradual creation of a world authority, because this sets off alarms among extreme nationalists and scares others of us who favor subsidiarity and good citizenship over the councils of the well-intentioned.
We do need more and better regulation of national and international financial markets. The Vatican would do well to point out this need and give priority to the common good and international justice and leave the details to concerned citizens.
R. J. Asselin
As Father Colbert Says
Having read “Blessed Are the Rich,” by John Kavanaugh, S.J. (11/14), I continue to be caught by Stephen Colbert’s take on this from last year: “Because if this is gonna be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we’ve got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition—and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.” This year this will be part of the penitential rite for our feast of Christ the King.
(Rev.) John Farley
Grand Junction, Colo.
Tea Party Boos
I thank John J. Kavanaugh, S.J., (11/14) for exposing the hypocrisy of the likes of George Weigel. They pound the table calling for adherence to the magisterium. But they are selective in what they add to their Catholic cafeteria tray. Weigel is the Catholic mouthpiece for the Tea Party wing of the Republican party. Whenever I preach in homilies on social justice themes that come right from the readings, I get angry attacks from those brainwashed by the right wing media. Whenever an idea is proposed that comes right from the church’s teaching on immigrants or labor, they reply that these teachings have no official standing and can be ignored. They add that these teachings are not infallible. They pass over the fact that apart from the definition of the Assumption, there have been no infallible church statements.
(Deacon) Bob Killoren
Some Theology Must Be Undone
Toward the end of “Remembering Justice,” (11/14) Peter Henriot, S.J., says of the synod document “Justice in the World,” “Good theology, keen social analysis and relevant practical recommendations make it one of the most influential documents of the Catholic social tradition.” He points out that this belongs to the wisdom of see, judge, act. Why not go a bit further by changing the order to: keen social analysis, good theology and commitment to obvious conclusions? This would include the hermeneutic of suspicion. As Juan Luis Segundo, one of the outstanding theologians of liberation, put it, ideology often needs to be undone in order to do the good theology that flows into Gospel action.
One example of this is the need to undo the ideology that Europe is the church and the need to resist the ideology that the church serves itself first and only then the Gospel and its mission.
Halls Creek, Australia
Never Too Late to Learn
“A Lesson for Today?” by John O’Malley, S.J. (10/31), should be required reading for bishops and theologians. Instead of today’s confrontations and recriminations, Trent provides a model for bishops and theologians to interact in charity and dialogue while at the same time respecting each other’s charism. Since most U.S. bishops do not have advanced degrees in theology, they would be wise to listen to the professionals discussing theological opinions on a variety of topics. On their part, theologians should recognize that the bishops have the “last word” as chief teachers of the faith in their dioceses.
The recent confrontation between the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine and the theologian Elizabeth Johnson, C.S.J., is but one example that clearly shows the current model is not working. I believe that Trent provides an important lesson to ease the tension between bishops and theologians. The question remains, however: are they willing to learn?
Patrick T. Darcy
I read your editorial “Conscience in the Mud” (10/31) while standing trial with the “Hancock 38” for occupying the entrance drive to Hancock Air National Guard Field, outside Syracuse, N.Y., from which the Reaper drone is operated.
Some readers of America’s editorial may be true believers in the would-be redemptive violence of weaponized drones. The fact that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is increasing expenditures for them at a time when he is obliged to reduce the Pentagon’s overall budget should tip us off that we will be dealing for a long time with the ethical challenges presented by these instruments of international lynchings.
(Rev.) Bernard Survil
Three Theories on Francis
I thank Jon M. Sweeney for his commentary on the marvelous painting of St. Francis of Assisi by Giovanni Bellini, “St. Francis in the Desert”(11/7). Readers may like to know of the ongoing discussion about what is happening in the painting. Millard Meiss writes, in his book Giovanni Bellini’s St. Francis in the Frick Collection, that it is a portrayal of Francis receiving the stigmata. John V. Fleming, in From Bonaventure to Bellini, says that having received the stigmata, Francis is ready to take flight as the angel of the sixth seal in Revelation. I contend that Bellini was portraying Francis as the new Moses who would lead the Catholic Church where it should go. As Moses came down the mountain with the 10 Commandments in stone, Francis had the law of love of Jesus Christ inscribed in his flesh.
Stephen Pastick, S.F.O.