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December 19, 2011

On Your Knees, Americans

In “To the Ends of the Earth,” his review of the Rev. Robert Barron’s television film “Catholicism” (11/21), Maurice Timothy Reidy writes: “Yet in general the film fails to convey that the church is a living tradition, one that continues to inspire artists, musicians and writers, as well as young theologians and lay ministers. Shots of worshipers in Mexico and the Philippines are not enough to capture the vitality of the church today.” Are you kidding me? Unfortunately for North America and for Europe, the vitality of the church today is precisely in Mexico and the Philippines. Does the United States halt daily at 3 in the afternoon to pray for divine mercy? Filipinos do. Do penitent North Americans crawl for miles on their knees in supplication for the intercession of the Blessed Mother? The pilgrims to Our Lady of Guadalupe do, and we would be wise to follow.

Diane Penney

Birmingham, Ala.

Reasons for War

If in your editorial “War Is Not an Option” (12/5) you cannot assess the practical threat from Iran, I would suggest the problem may be in your lack of military assessment skills. The attempt to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States on U.S. soil is only the most recent casus belli. Several years of Iranian support for attacks on U.S. troops as part of our occupation in Iraq are also cause for war, as is supplying missiles to international terrorist groups. If you cannot see these causes, how can you assess the chance of success of a strike? One does not further the cause of peace by pretending the reasons for war do not exist, but by presenting them and defeating them, showing how peace is practical and preferable.

T. M. Lutas

Munster, Ind.

Consumption Is Good for You

I wish that Kyle T. Kramer (“A Better Life,” 11/21) had attempted to reconcile his rejection of the “Gospel of More” with the needs of today’s economy.

We may wish that we spent less on goods and services we don’t need, but we spend less at a high cost to businesses and the private sector generally at a time when, as a good Keynesian will tell you, we need to increase demand for those goods and services in order to spark the employment this country desperately needs.

Consumerism for the sake of excessive consumption is to be condemned. Fewer and fewer Americans can afford to indulge in that kind of consumption. But without consumerism, this economy will suffer.

Brien Kinkel

Silver Spring, Md.

From Wisconsin to Honduras

I appreciate Stephen J. Pope’s “From Condemnation to Conversion” (11/21) and what it has to say about restorative justice in Wisconsin. We who participate in the prison ministry here in Honduras know of restorative justice only in theory, since here the interest is in retribution because of the state laws broken. My interest is to bring a similar workshop to Honduras. I will share your article in the national assembly of prison ministry this coming week.

Robert David Voss, S.J.

El Progreso Yoro, Honduras

Orwell Is Not the Answer

Re your editorial “A Spirit-Led Future” (12/12): There are about one billion Catholics in the world. Of them, one million are members of the clergy or religious orders or have some other institutional role. So the problem is not in institutions but in the Catholic people. Institutions, starting from the Vatican and going down to the local organizations aimed at serving the people, have lost impact on the spiritual lives of the laity. Emphasis was put on commandments rather than on developing rich spiritualities. It is time to abandon the George Orwell, 1984-model of the church and to move to one of small groups, local communities, which take over the responsibilities of living by the Spirit. Express this spirit in nongovernmental organizations serving the poor, sick, prostitutes and tax collectors as Jesus did in his days on earth.

German Otalora-Bay

Oaxaca, Mexico

What the Author Left Out

While John O’Malley, S.J., has a valid point about exchange between theologians and bishops (“A Lesson for Today,” 10/31), there are several things wrong with his premise.

He says how wonderful Trent was for these exchanges, yet that council was the one that pronounced 127 canons declaring people who questioned its authority to be anathema—“condemned to eternal fire with Satan” according to the Pontificale Romanum. Not a particularly Christian viewpoint.

Second, he limits the discussion to theologians and bishops. I think that the sensus fidelium, the view of the people of God, would be just as valid as, if not more valid than that of bishops and theologians. Theology is the ideas of men, not of God. The people are dealing with the practice of Christianity, not the pronouncement of it, and I have found the theology of our communities to be far stronger than the pronouncements of the men who claim authority. Perhaps they should listen some time.

Denis Nolan

Daly City, Calif.

Thank You

Bravo for the courage and consistency in your editorials. Thank you for taking the bishops to task for their inconsistency in pleading for religious freedom while they demonize disagreement and conceal criminal activity. Thank you for showing how Penn State can be an example of dealing with the second and greater abuse, the concealment and subterfuge exemplified by most of the hierarchy’s response to sexual abuse by clerics (11/28).

Bravissimo also for taking pre-emptive war with Iran off the table as an option in the face of folks who hide American imperialism under the cloak of just war theory (11/28). Thank you for your Christian position on undocumented immigrants (12/12). You give me hope in Advent.

(Rev.) Joseph Oechsle

East Norriton, Pa.

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