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Our readersFebruary 17, 2015

‘Whole-life’ Witness

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.

Lois Kerschen
Online Comment
The writer is one of the founders of Democrats for Life of America.

Dangerous Denial

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.

Leonard Villa
Online Comment

Women’s Validation

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.

Mary Mills
Online Comment

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.

Vincent Gaglione
Scarsdale, N.Y.

World Order

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.

Benjamin J. Urmston, S.J.
Cincinnati, Ohio

Required Reading

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.

(Rev.) Joe Annese
Las Vegas, Nev.

Abortion Alternatives

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. 

John C. Moore
Bloomington, Ind.


Status Update

Comparing women’s roles in the church to their roles in Fortune 500 companies or the White House seems like a very, very low bar. Wall Street and the U.S. political system are profoundly sexist institutions. Universities, K-12 schools, libraries and museums, the legal profession, real estate agencies and the medical professions do a much better job hiring women. It could be that the church really does hire women at impressive rates; if so, I’d brag with a different set of comparisons.
Rachel Jennings
I particularly appreciate Sr. Walsh’s comment that many equate ordination with power. I cannot count the number of presentations I have done and dioceses I have worked in where I have been told that for the message to really be heard it needs to be delivered by a priest. I am happy to serve in the ways that I am able to, but I wonder if this sort of thinking unnecessarily limits the church.
Leisa Anslinger
Unfortunately, in a clericalist church like ours, at least as it is now, ordination is power. So we either give exclusivist “privileges” to those outside the ordained priesthood or we ordain women. This isn’t to say women can’t (and don’t) show leadership in other ways, but it is not the same.
Ryan Hoffmann
The truest women church “leaders” I’ve encountered, in life and history, were those who, like Christ, put on aprons and washed feet in humble service. I get a kick out of the fuss on Holy Thursday—the disciples were being told to do what their mothers did for them every day. Maybe the chief executives and theologians and university presidents need to become more like their nannies, home health aides, receptionists and housecleaners, not the other way around.
Brenda Becker
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Richard Savage
9 years 3 months ago
America often publishes articles by well-meaning persons advocating for action on the perceived threat of climate change (formerly called global warming). A recent action by a Democrat member of the House illustrates what is really behind this campaign, supported by the USCCB, to “help the poor.” Rep. Raul Grijalva, (D-AZ), the ranking member of the Committee on Natural Resources, has written to seven universities, asking for information on the funding of personnel who question the seriousness of climate change and its effect on “the poor.” One such letter came to the University of Colorado at Boulder, asking for information about any external funding to Prof Roger Pielke, Jr. Prof Pielke, in his blog, has denied any external influence on his research. He has also announced he will not be researching further on policy for climate change research. Pielke dared to differ, in Congressional testimony, with Dr. John Holdren, President Obama's Science adviser. Grijalva's letter to CU makes this explicit: “Prof. Roger Pielke, Jr., at CU’s Center for Science and Technology Policy Research has testified numerous times before the U.S. Congress on climate change and its economic impacts. His 2013 Senate testimony featured the claim, often repeated, that it is 'incorrect to associate the increasing costs of disasters with the emission of greenhouse gases.' ” The Democratic Party, which receives tens of millions of dollars from the likes of Tom Steyer, can't abide the possibility that foundations skeptical of the “climate crisis” (think Koch Foundation) should be permitted to fund research. The really disgusting aspect of this attempt at jackbooted censorship is that Pielke is not a skeptic; he even supports a carbon tax to combat climate change. That, however, is not good enough for Holdren and Obama. Climate change over a few coming decades is not enough to scare people. We must convince them that (in Holdren's words) “...climate change is an urgent public health, safety, national security, and environmental imperative”. Obama has only two years left to save the planet. Very much to his credit was Pielke's oft-stated consideration of both sides of the issue: stopping climate change (if real) vs the needs of the billion or more people who lack access to electricity, a consideration America magazine and the Church seem incapable of making. How appropriate, in the Year of the Sheep.

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