Racism in America
I am an African-American woman and life-long member of the Catholic Christian faith. Thank you so much for the dedicated issue, “Black and Catholic” (7/7).
“Civil Rights Aftermath” (Vantage Point, 1964) ends with the statement “Let us get on” with the task of “binding up” the wounds of racism. That challenge, that call to righteousness was made 50 years ago by this magazine. An article or special issue by America once every 50 years on the deplorable state, on the stagnant state, on the regressive state of race hatred in the United States is not a sufficient effort to promote real sustainable change of attitudes and hearts of Catholic and white Americans. I truly believe this country would have made more significant progress since the Civil Rights Act if our Catholic and Christian clergy had more fully embraced God’s call to promote the rights, liberty and happiness of all. I thank you for acknowledging that most American whites, including Catholics, have yet to admit the truth about the inconsistency between their behavior and attitudes towards African-Americans and Jesus’ way in the Gospel.
Please continue this invitation for dialogue and change.
Cost of Independence
In “A Country in Question” (8/15), David Stewart, S.J., my friend, fellow Scot and fellow Jesuit fails to tell us to what extent the London government is currently contributing to the cost of running Scotland. We already have some control over own affairs; we have always had a separate education and legal system; we have control over certain fiscal matters, which reflect the different cultural and social outlook we Scots have compared with most of our English cousins (e.g., free medical prescriptions for all, no higher education tuition fees); and all three major political parties promise to grant more power to the regional government. Why would we want to saddle ourselves with massive defense and foreign policy costs? The Scottish National Party wants to keep the Queen and keep the pound, so where does that leave “the proud independent state”? The referendum should be held only when a future London government holds a referendum on whether or not to leave the European Union. If that vote is in favor of breaking with the Union, Scotland should by right have its vote on whether she wants to remain in an isolated U.K.
In “Order Restored” (8/4), Thomas Worcester, S.J., recalls a number of significant anniversaries in this “complex anniversary year,” none more significant, for Jesuits, than the 200th anniversary of Pope Pius VII’s restoration of the Society of Jesus. As Father Worcester says, “this anniversary takes place amid many other anniversaries worth acknowledging, as they provide useful context for the surrounding events.”
One anniversary he does not acknowledge may be worth recalling as well: the 200th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Norway. Article 2 of the Norwegian Constitution of 1814 reads: “The Evangelical-Lutheran religion shall be maintained and constitute the established Church of the Kingdom. The inhabitants who profess the said religion are bound to educate their children in the same. Jesuits and Monastic orders shall not be tolerated. Jews are furthermore excluded from the Kingdom.”
Norwegians are rightly proud of their Constitution, the second oldest in Europe and considered at the time one of the most liberal and democratic. It has been often amended. The sentence excluding Jews from the Kingdom was dropped in 1851. The part on Monastic orders was dropped in 1897. That left: “Jesuits shall not be tolerated.” When was that sentence dropped? Only in 1957.
In “For Israel” (8/4), John Conley, S.J., claims that the Presbyterian Church USA’s divestment overture is deeply stigmatizing. It is important to have a clear understanding of why the PC (USA) divested from the three companies: Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions. They are complicit in the brutal occupation of Palestinian territories. According to extensive research conducted by the PC (USA)’s Mission Responsibility Through Investment committee, Caterpillar provides bulldozers to the Israeli military, which are weaponized and used to demolish farmland and many thousands of Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip, the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Motorola Solutions manufactures fuses for Israeli bombs, the communications system for Israel’s military and surveillance equipment for illegal Israeli settlements. And Hewlett-Packard furnishes the computer hardware for the Israeli Navy, which is a central part of the Israeli siege against Palestinians in Gaza, and the biometric scanners for checkpoints, through which all Palestinians (but no Israelis) in the occupied West Bank must pass.
Shutting Down Debate
The last sentence of “For Israel” provides a clue to Father Conley’s thinking. Equating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism (let’s name it outright, rather than resorting to innuendo) makes any such criticism immediately morally suspect or worse. This is an easy and effective way to marginalize critics of Israel immediately. The atmosphere has become so thick that it’s pretty much impossible these days to fight against a charge of being anti-Semitic.
I expected a better understanding from someone who is a professor of philosophy at a Jesuit university and more from America in publishing this piece.
Sell The Bank
I believe “Revamping God’s Bank” (Current Comment, 8/4), about reforms at the Institute for the Works of Religion, is mistaken. I have been long troubled by the inability of the Vatican to properly control the Vatican Bank. It has been a constant source of corruption, scandals and embarrassment. The proposed solution, yet another reorganization with a new director, will only continue this historical pattern. I have never understood why the Holy See needs to be in the banking business. The bank should be sold.
In his tribute, “My Father’s War” (7/21), Raymond A. Schroth, S.J., notes that soldiers on both sides “did their best to slaughter one another” and that today “historians wonder whether this ‘war to end all wars’ was worth it.” He tells his father’s admirable story well and knows his father believed that the killing he did in wartime was “right.” But who tells the stories of all the soldiers from that horrendous war—from any war—who did not go home to marry, raise children, nurse their own mothers? Who did not feel medals pinned on their chests, hear themselves hailed as heroes? And can anyone really say that a veteran signing up for another war is doing what is “right”? War is stupid, brutal killing. I wish Father Schroth had said that outright just once in his article.
Readers respond to Pope Francis’ remarks in an interview with America’s Vatican Correspondent Gerard O’Connell during the return flight from South Korea to Rome.
The poor are everywhere. Pope Francis has shown over and over again that he stands with the poor regardless of their geographical location. Like almost everyone, I would love to see the pope and be in his presence, but every time he speaks, as in the press conference aboard the plane from Korea, it is as though he is present to me, answering my questions, leaning in to listen to the pain in my own heart and reminding me that the Spirit of God is everywhere.
I hope the pope will visit China “tomorrow.” It is the hope of generations of Catholics like my family in China. The country needs it!
Thank you for posting this. I had just read a headline “Pope supports U.S. bombing in Iraq.” Honestly, where did he say that?