Letters to the Editor: Join the conversation.
Focus on Forgiveness
Re “An Astounding Mercy,” by the Rev. Raymond P. Roden (5/2): At least this version of St. Maria Goretti’s story focuses on forgiveness and not just her fighting for her purity, as some interpret it. As a survivor of sexual assault, I know how hard it is to forgive. St. Maria Goretti, even at her young age, was able to forgive her murderer just as Jesus forgave those who put him up on the cross. Pray for us, dear little saint, that we may also follow Jesus in his extraordinary mercy and learn the healing that comes with true forgiveness.
Resisting Rape Culture
This entire story needs to be expunged from the church with an apology to the murdered fifth-grader, Maria Goretti, and all the millions of young people who were taught that she “overcame temptation” when she resisted her own rape. In not just canonizing her but making her a martyr, the church has been complicit in so much violence toward women. There is no grace here—just the sanctification of rape and rape culture.
‘They Were Patriots’
Re “Imposing Independence,” by Séamus Murphy, S.J. (4/25): The huge majority of the Irish people would reject the author’s tortured revisionism and his attempt to put Catholic social teaching, of all things, at the service of British imperial hegemony over Ireland. They would much more readily recognize their country and its history in the words of the veteran resistance leader Martin McGuinness, first minister of Northern Ireland and champion of the Irish peace process, describing the leaders of the revolution:
They were patriots and visionaries. They were republicans and socialists who saw all around them in the tenement slums of Dublin the deeply destructive effects of British rule. And they decided to act—not in their own self-interest but in the interests of the Irish people and of future generations.
Tired of Ireland
There are far too many articles and columns about Ireland published in this magazine. While the emphasis may play well to America’s East Coast (or rather New York and Boston) readers, I find it tiresome to focus on the Irish and Ireland when there are so many other injustices in the world. I have nothing against the Irish but am simply tired of repeatedly reading about them in a U.S. magazine.
A Better Option
The more I read of “City of God,” by James Dominic Rooney, O.P. (4/18), the more I disagreed. The Second Vatican Council happened, and to the faithful Catholic who believes in the Holy Spirit, its decrees and its spirit are the direction in which God wants the church to move. Although Father Rooney acknowledges the spiritual priesthood of all the faithful, a key council concept, he also describes his “private Mass” on retreat. That practice evolved in the Western church only during the Middle Ages. Vatican II respected that tradition and allowed it to continue. But the council’s emphasis upon liturgy as the work of the people of God makes a “private Mass” an anomaly. Jesus instituted the Eucharist as a community meal. Why turn it into a private snack?
The parallel later in the article between a “post-Roe v. Wade” and a “post-Obergefell v. Hodges” America is a very weak comparison regarding social ills. How can a ruling that sanctioned the murder of millions of babies and has therefore done irreparable harm to the innocent be compared with a ruling that harms no one and, in terms of social stability, might be beneficial?
The suggestion that the Dominic option is preferable to the Benedict option is, I believe, worthwhile; but I personally doubt that the future of the church lies in communities grouped around and inspired by celibate males. That option worked in many ages of the church, but I hope for a day when the gifts of all God’s people are lifted up and used as models.
In Of Many Things (4/4), Matt Malone, S.J., shares a meditation on Holy Saturday from “One of the greatest Christian writers who ever lived.” It is an elegant, poetic expression from a second-century homilist. But I wonder if it also subtly represents a primitive magisterium edging toward anti-Semitism. “I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden”—some Vatican-II ears might hear it this way. I did.
Tools of Repression
In “Fair Campaign Funding” (Editorial, 4/4) the editors lament the huge sums of money spent on political races in the United States but fail to properly diagnose its actual cause. In my view, “Big Money” in politics is just a logical byproduct of “Big Government.”
Instead of reducing corruption and protecting democracy, campaign finance laws can be used as tools of political repression. In arguing the Citizens United case before the Supreme Court, Malcolm L. Stewart, the deputy U.S. solicitor general, actually said that the federal government could prevent the publication of a book by a corporation if it endorsed a political candidate. America could face censorship if government bureaucrats decide to interpret an editorial or article that discusses an election as an illegal campaign contribution.
It is really sad that in our supposedly free society, so many people who claim to support “democracy” are all too eager to legally restrict the rights of their opponents to influence public opinion, public policy and the election of candidates.
Sacred and Secular
The comments on Steven Millie’s article, “A Sacred Calling” (3/28), were useful and thought-provoking. As an advocate of the Teilhardian view of the secular and the sacred, I see the need to continually find ways to integrate and synthesize the language that we use to express our understanding of both the secular and the sacred. For me there is only one reality—God’s! Politics should be humanity’s way of discovering and implementing the values that come from God as enumerated in Catholic social teaching: the common good, solidarity, human dignity and so on. It is the ongoing forum where honest dialogue between persons and nations takes place to discern the values the Spirit is continually pointing us toward.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s synthesis of the secular and sacred is an important step toward helping our politics become more humanizing while at the same time more divinizing. His view of all reality converging into Christ seeks the oneness, unity and community toward which true politics should be moving.
In Of Many Things (3/14), Matt Malone, S.J., writes of his father “that he didn’t leave the Republican party. The party left him.” I have always been a Republican, primarily because of economic policies. This year, however, I will vote for the lesser of two evils. I cannot give up my Christian values simply because I have always been a Republican. Jesus taught that we are to love. Jesus taught that we are to help the poor and to welcome the stranger.
Sadly, some do not yet realize how much richer our culture becomes because of the contributions of those who have chosen to immigrate here. Non-Christian values have infected American politics at various times of history. The Know-Nothing Party (also called the American Party) in the 19th century was founded on hatred of immigrants—Catholic immigrants in particular. Americans have always eventually triumphed over the toxicity that occasionally infects its politics. I have hope.
An Individual Duty
Re “Property and People,” by Robert Maloney, C.M. (3/7): Compulsory charity is not charity, and collective responsibility for individual decisions is not justice. Our God-given individuality, our own conscience, defines our trek through this life, and it is therefore the individual who should be charitably giving from his or her own heart as moved by the Spirit. To empower a government to be charitable on your behalf is nothing short of avoiding your individual responsibility and foisting it onto another. This is categorically immoral.
The matter of property and its ownership can be similarly understood. It should be the individual who determines ownership, not some bureaucrat who has some starry-eyed notion of equality. It is our difference that makes us who we are, and it is our individual responsibility and duty—not that of some government entity—to be considerate to others.