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True Greatness

I was surprised and grateful to read “Ford’s Foundation,” by Aaron Pidel, S.J. (3/31), about the true greatness of John C. Ford, S.J.

When I was a young Jesuit in philosophy studies at Weston College, Father Ford helped me greatly to deal with a number of spiritual and psychological problems with which I was struggling. He was/is the kindest person I have ever met. It is truly sad and tragic that he is judged and ostracized for his support of “Humanae Vitae” and not judged on the great academic and pastoral work he accomplished. Although he was a very busy priest and academic, he helped many individuals in his pastoral ministry to deal with the various difficulties and problems for which they sought help.


It is my hope that this article might restore in some small way the legacy of this kind and generous person, Jesuit and priest.

William L. Mulligan, S.J.
Cambridge, Mass.

We Remember

Aaron Pidel, S.J., claims that John C. Ford, S.J., has been forgotten these last 25 years. Father Pidel refers to one book, John Cuthbert Ford, S.J.: Moral Theologian at the End of the Manualist Era, by Eric M. Genilo, S.J. (Georgetown University Press, 2007), but I think he underestimates the book’s influence and thereby overstates the “forgotten” legacy of Father Ford.

A much-recognized work, the book won honorable mention as a Book by a First-Time Author at the 2008 Catholic Press Association Book Awards. In 2009 Brian Johnstone, C.SS.R., wrote in The Catholic Historical Review that the book “should be required reading for any course in the history of moral theology.” 

I’m sure that Father Pidel is right that some have forgotten Father Ford, but at least we in the field of moral theology have not.

 James F. Keenan, S.J.
Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Acts of Sacrifice

Re Of Many Things (3/31): The commentary of Matt Malone, S.J., about his visit to California was quite moving, especially his connection to Marine Sgt. John Basilone of Raritan, N.J. We Americans have a habit of forgetting the acts of sacrifice our neighbors from all over our country have made, bringing peace and freedom to numerous peoples around the globe.

As a young soldier, I had the privilege of serving at Arlington National Cemetery, which was populated with the graves of many sung and unsung heroes like Sergeant Basilone. Citizens like him continue to serve and sacrifice for us and many innocent people around the world. It is nice that Father Malone took the time to help us remember them. Thank you.

Brian Flanagan
St. James, N.C.

Sharing Faith

For me, the contributions of John W. Martens to “The Word” column have deepened and developed over time into consistently simple, clear, excellent commentaries.

I have read many thoughtful and fine Word columns over the decades by a long list of faithful believers and outstanding illuminators. But I do not recall a column better than “Away With Death” (3/31). Thank you, Professor Martens, for the work of sharing your faith.

Robert B. Murray
Braintree, Mass.

Discontinue the Ad

Thank you for “A Road Map to Nowhere?” (Current Comment, 3/24). Many abhor the Israeli government’s systematic injustice toward Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. It’s hard to fathom our government’s continual, unconditional and massive monetary aid to Israel and its military, even though they march forward with their apartheid-like system. Our collaboration affects our credibility at many levels.

Hopefully a solution will come from the inside, since many of the diverse peoples living in Israel have been working together. They are fed-up with war, violence and the government’s rhetoric; they yearn for peace based on equality. Let’s support those peoples and organizations working creatively and nonviolently.

Divestment and boycott, especially toward goods produced in the occupied territories, is a good strategic move. As in apartheid South Africa, let’s affect the economy of a structurally unjust system. As a sign of solidarity with this, I hope that America will discontinue the full-page advertisement from the Ministry of Tourism, Government of Israel that has appeared on the back cover of previous issues.

Rafael Garcia, S.J.
Kansas City, Mo.

Role of Community

As an investment analyst for over 45 years, I read “Noble Vocations,” by Joseph J. Dunn (3/24), with more than casual interest, expecting to find some degree of scolding about “the man” and his questionable intentions. The scolding was there, but I still found the article excellent and provocative reading.

A successful organization recognizes the contributions, responsibilities and rewards of all its constituencies. Customers come first, followed by employees, then vendors and lenders, if there are any, and finally shareholders, whose sole right is to any remaining profit.

A provocative element came as I realized I did not include community on the list of constituencies. Are taxes enough? Is there room for some effort from all members? Is charity something to be assigned to shareholders? Is it an individual responsibility? Let the debate begin, but I’m sure there’s room in the model.

The second possible disagreement may involve how to expand the notion of corporation as a human enterprise. While it is useful, maybe even imperative, that students of all fields of study be exposed to the moral dangers and social benefits of the corporate world, I would argue it ought to begin in business schools themselves.

L. Michael Braig
Kirkwood, Mo.

Critique of Capitalism

There is no denying the importance of teaching college students about business and the economy. I take issue, however, with Mr. Dunn’s defense of today’s extreme free-market version of capitalism (neoliberalism). It has led to the dismantling of controls on the global movement of currency and capital, spurred a precipitous reduction in taxes on incomes and wealth, hobbled labor unions and weakened regulations protecting investors, workers, communities and the environment.

This has resulted in breathtaking wealth inequality and the concentration of economic power in the hands of a few transnational corporations. It is an “ethics-free zone,” with an underlying conflict of interest between ethical practice and the imperative for shareholder return.

All students of Catholic colleges and universities should be exposed to a critical study of capitalism as it has historically been construed and practiced, and particularly of the troubling aspects of the contemporary version of it.

Michael W. Gent
York, Pa.

Whose Voices?

In “Good Corp, Bad Corp” (3/17), William T. Cavanaugh speaks the truth when he suggests that the absolutism of “more speech is better” ignores the reality of what is being said and heard in the public square. Are we becoming an oligarchy in which the rich control public discourse and the poor are voiceless? If so, we will soon have the best government money can buy.

Martin J. Gleason
Washington, D.C. 

Universal Health Care

Obamacare leaves a lot to be desired. The Canadian system of Medicare for all makes much more sense, even from an economic standpoint. But considering the vituperative attacks on the modest Affordable Care Act, I can only imagine what would be said if the Democrats had pursued a health care system of a universal service, based on need. The Communist takeover would be complete!

In “When Projections Attack” (3/10), Kevin Clarke highlights the clear Catholic position on health care as “a basic human right, a minimum guarantor of a just society, offered to all according to need.” Why have I never heard a sermon that presented the health care debate in those very clear and cogent terms? It is sad to see that many of the loudest Congressional opponents of Obamacare, or indeed any proposal for a more egalitarian health care system, are Catholics.

Gerry O’Shea
Yonkers, N.Y.
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Mike Van Vranken
4 years 10 months ago
I too would like to hear a sermon or homily on Catholic teaching concerning healthcare. But, I would also like to hear that the full responsibility of providing such complete universal healthcare falls on the Church, not on the government. You and I are responsible for making sure everyone has access to immediate and complete health care. Unfortunately, we have abdicated that responsibility and turned it over to a civil government who cannot make it happen. The Church, with our support, under the authority and power of Jesus Christ, can make it happen right now.


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