Re “The State of the Family” (Editorial, 2/9): For those of us who promote a “whole-life” policy, the need to support parents and their children is part of being pro-life. Organizations like Democrats for Life of America, Feminists for Life and Consistent Life work on programs that fulfill the needs of the mothers and children after birth. Poverty is a pro-life issue because it endangers lives. At D.F.L.A., we encourage those who favor the Democratic Party because of its traditional championing of social justice to be active in the party to make it pro-life across the board and to run pro-life Democrats for office so that we can present our case with the strength of numbers.
In “Nigeria on the Brink” (Current Comment, 2/9), the editors style Boko Haram simply as a “militant group,” thus participating in the denial that paralyzes the West’s response to Islamic terror. Boko Haram is an Islamic terrorist group in the style of ISIS, Al Qaeda and others. Simply ask the question: militant for what? The answer is the imposition of Islam on Nigeria and the elimination of Christians and other faiths. The multinational force talk sounds nice but raises more questions: Which nations should provide troops? Who will organize this force? How long will it take? Meanwhile, the terror and the deaths continue in the face of Western fecklessness. It is time for the denial to stop.
Re “Take These Gifts,” by Mary Ann Walsh, R.S.M. (2/9): Both men and women receive a calling by God to enter into a life of ministry. The church validates and distinguishes a man’s call from God by ordaining him. And how is a woman’s call from God validated by the church? Unfortunately, I believe that many consider a woman’s “job” (secretary, faith formation director, youth minister, etc.) within the church to be that validation.
I will graduate in May with a master of divinity degree. Attaining this degree is a very God-driven decision, yet there currently is nothing in place within the church that validates and distinguishes my call from God. I personally have no desire to be ordained, but I do want to be valued for the leadership qualities I possess.
Cuomo and the Bishops
Father Malone raises an interesting point when he questions (Of Many Things, 2/2) why Gov. Mario Cuomo could make the moral case for government to codify action on economic policy but could not do the same for the issue of abortion. I wonder, however, if Mr. Cuomo didn’t take his cue from the bishops of the United States.
Our bishops have regularly and consistently informed us of the sins of abortion, assisted suicide, etc., and have codified church discipline for these assaults on the sacredness of life. On the other hand, I have never heard any explanations from the bishops why unjust war policies, economic policies that create homelessness and hunger or adverse immigration policies that split families are not equally assaults on the sacredness of life deserving of the codification of church discipline.
Knowing the diversity of American and Catholic opinion, the bishops perhaps do not codify church discipline on such issues or pursue governmental codification of them so as not to appear to “theocratize” American life. Mr. Cuomo’s Notre Dame speech, to my mind, applied that logic to the issue of abortion. Just as I very much would have been interested in Mr. Cuomo’s response to Father Malone’s questions, I likewise would like to hear from the U.S. bishops why they do not codify church discipline on the issues of war, economy and immigration.
Re “Pope Urges Government Response to Poverty as ‘Moral Imperative’” (Signs of the Times, 2/2): In the 1963 encyclical “Pacem in Terris,” Pope John XXIII wrote that there are problems of universal dimensions that cannot be adequately addressed except by a structure “of the same proportions” that can act in an effective manner on a worldwide basis (No. 137). “The moral order itself, therefore, demands that such a form of public authority be established.”
I take the expression “moral imperative” to mean non-optional and that all of us should be striving for a more workable world. Instead, I find that a democratic world authority is not even part of public discourse. Can America begin a serious discussion of this topic? I suggest a critique of Transforming the United Nations System: Designs for a Workable World, by Dr. Joseph E. Schwartzberg, as one place to begin.
Thanks to John J. Conley, S.J., for his article “How Not to Preach” (2/2). I just finished giving a course on homiletics to a class for deacons. One of the fellows mentioned that his pastor is too “overworked” to prepare for his homily. I am 82 years old, with 53 years in the priesthood, and I have never seen an overworked priest—busy, yes, but not overworked. The fellow who is overworked is the plumber who has a wife and four kids and gets up three or four times a night because he is on call around the clock. The college student, carrying a full load of credits and working two part-time jobs to keep his head financially above water, is overworked. I can listen to a homily and after one minute know if the preacher opened a book during the past week. I firmly believe that most priests do not realize that the homily is just as important as praying the words of consecration.
In her fine article, “The Feminist Case Against Abortion” (1/19), Serrin M. Foster rightly emphasizes that women are often “driven to abortion because of a lack of resources and support.” We might well consider the implications of this: for instance, that the focus on repealing Roe v. Wade is misguided. A majority of Americans believe abortion should be legal at least in certain circumstances. Given that fact, the criminalization of abortion would not be enforced. Women would die as the result of back-street abortions.
Some may argue that since slavery was successfully outlawed despite popular support, the same would be true of abortion. It is a false analogy. With emancipation, the victims of slavery could flee the plantation and seek legal protection. Federal forces could intervene to enforce the law, just as they did to integrate schools. But there are no surviving victims of abortion, and once the deed is done the likelihood of identifying and imprisoning the women responsible is very slight.
If there are to be demonstrations, Christians might better direct their time, effort and money toward promoting centers that offer alternatives to abortion rather than toward picket lines outside Planned Parenthood.