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Our readersMarch 25, 2015

Listening Well

Re “On Dying Well,” by Jessica Keating, and “Ars Moriendi” (Editorial, 3/16): People are often surprised when I tell them that in my 17 years as a hospice chaplain, I have had relatively few people discuss assisted suicide. Granted, it is illegal here and therefore not an option within hospice, and perhaps those seeking a chaplain are less inclined toward this option. Yet it is still somewhat surprising, given the acute physical, emotional and relational suffering from the wide range of diseases and illnesses that I have witnessed. This may be due to religious convictions or desperate hope for some satisfaction that outweighs this terminal suffering.

I believe, however, the argument from “human solidarity in suffering” that seems implicit in these articles cruises into a vague communal stoicism or toward a challenging or nearly punitive God that I would not represent. I do not favor changing the current prohibition, since I think assisted suicide could become a convenient social control; but like the case against artificial contraception, the church’s current argument is being lost in the public square. It is those who are suffering whose voices carry weight. Those who believe in the paschal mystery of suffering, death and resurrection had best listen more and theologize less.

David E. Pasinski
Fayetteville, N.Y.

‘Not Even Close’

Re “Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Recalled As a Leader of Courage and Vision” (Signs of the Times, 3/16): Perhaps the Rev. John Tracy Ellis, the prominent Catholic historian, said it best when comparing Father Hesburgh to the rest of Catholic leaders in this country: “It was not even close.” He was a champion of the environment before it became fashionable. He was so present for God in so many areas that one is in awe how he let God do so much through him. It must have saddened him to see all the rancor in the world today. He was able to break down barriers, not just bloviate without building. In Father Hesburgh the words of Paul the Apostle resound. “Where grace superabounds.” We were blessed to have him in our midst. May the Lord bless and keep him.

Bill Mazzella
Online Comment

Recovery and Resurrection

Re “The Lives of David Carr,” by John Carr (3/16): Many years ago, after John Carr had given a presentation for our diocese, I drove him to the airport in Bismarck. I remember our deep discussion about family, addiction and the impact of addiction on loved ones. Our talk also included the joy of resurrection in recovery. We talked about A.A. and Al-Anon. I never forgot that visit and reflected upon it when I heard of David’s death. David was one of the lucky ones. He knew the cross of suffering through addiction and the joy of recovery through the 12 steps and a loving family that became frustrated yet never gave up. Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Thank you, both Carrs, for giving and living the example.

Annetta Sanow Sutton
Online Comment

Hard Truths

I write to commend the March 9 issue, which features two contributors—Bishop Edward K. Braxton, the African-American bishop of Belleville, Ill., and J. Augustine Wetta, O.S.B., a Benedictine monk of St. Louis Priory. Both add pulse to the environs of St. Louis, Mo., which has been called the Rome of the West.

In writing about what it’s like for an African-American to observe without interruption our pristine Caucasian Catholic culture, Bishop Braxton said many things many of us whites have probably never considered. And Father Wetta, in a brilliant piece, told the truth about Ferguson from all points of view. I live 20 minutes from Ferguson and have read nothing better anywhere about the atmosphere in which this sad debacle occurred.

Donal Mahoney
St. Louis, Mo.

Sort Of Sorry

Re: “Of Many Things,” by Matt Malone, S.J. (3/9): Father Malone makes the case for forgiving Brian Williams, Bill O’Reilly and the soon-to-be canonized Blessed Junípero Serra. No one can disagree that at the heart of our Christian faith is forgiveness and mercy, so gloating that the powerful have fallen is wrong.

What I find lacking in his analysis is any mention that Mr. Williams and Mr. O’Reilly must first take responsibility for deceiving, misrepresenting and/or lying about their personal involvement in some news stories. Mr. Williams made a “sort of apology,” and bombastic Bill refuses to acknowledge any wrongdoing.

This is the same modus operandi that our bishops have taken in the sex abuse scandal. They “sort-of apologize” for making “mistakes” but deny that they and their predecessors’ actions were sinful and criminal.

As far as I know, no bishop has ever publically apologized or shown any shame and sorrow for enabling predator priests to abuse innocent children, and it is the exception that a predator priest has apologized or expressed any remorse to those whom he abused.

Forgiving those who claim innocence makes no sense, and justice demands that forgiveness be withheld until the guilty acknowledge their guilt and ask for forgiveness.

Patrick T. Darcy
Columbia, Mo.

Annulment Correction

This is in response to the letter regarding the annulment process that was submitted by Thomas Severin (Reply All, 3/9). He wrote that the church no longer requires “archdiocesan and Roman tribunals to review and confirm findings of local diocesan marriage tribunals.” Actually, the church has not dispensed with the requirement that an affirmative decision rendered by the First Instance Court be ratified in Second Instance. Eliminating this requirement would speed up the process. At this time, however, ratification by Second Instance is still required.

Terri Shawhan
Cleveland, Ohio
The writer is a tribunal auditor in the Diocese of Cleveland.

Service Opportunities

I read “A Rite of Passage,” by William J. Byron, S.J. (3/2), with heightened interest. For many years, I’ve been a proponent of required national service for our young people, but I had never heard or read of any movement afoot until learning of the Franklin Project. While I’m a veteran, I know that military service is not for everyone. However, I share the belief of the expert planners who want to make national service “a new rite of passage for young Americans.” Following my tour of military service, I attended graduate school and earned a master’s degree through the G. I. Bill. In the late 1960s, as a married man with a young family, I would not have been able to afford school without that financial support.

I would be thrilled to see similar opportunities become available for all our young people who give a year or more of national service. As Father Byron points out, a program of national service will not only be a plus for our young people but “will mean progress toward a better America.”

My thanks to Father Byron for this informative article and for his enthusiastic efforts on behalf of this movement. I look forward to hearing more.

Richard P. Klus
Cincinnati, Ohio

No Alternatives?

I would like to reply to “Abortion Alternatives,” by John C. Moore (Reply All, 3/2). The letter seemed to imply that protestors at Planned Parenthood provide no alternatives for women seeking abortion. I am not aware of any town with a Planned Parenthood that is without a crisis pregnancy center that responds to pregnant women’s needs. Some of these centers are run by the protestors themselves, some by other groups. These services are offered to women seeking abortion. I have heard them advertise on radio stations that teenagers listen to. Often they are even listed in the yellow pages under “abortion alternatives.”

Mary Bognich
Overland Park, Kan.

Status Update

Readers respond to “Rediscovering Jesus,” by Timothy P. Schilling (3/16).

One of Pope Francis’ suggestions for having a closer encounter with Jesus is to receive spiritual direction. For three years in the ’50s I had a spiritual director at the seminary I went to. I have since then tried to have a spiritual director—to no avail. The priests I asked either said that they are not qualified or didn’t have the time. I know that there are professional spiritual directors, but they are few and far between.
Don Knippel
I have a Protestant friend who calls me a “born-again Catholic.” I returned to the church 17 years ago after being estranged for 30 years. My faith formation upon my return was an intense and emotional experience nurtured by mostly Christian influences like Kathleen Norris, Barbara Ward (“Joan of Arcadia”), Jan Karon (the Mitford series) and Diane Schoemperlen, as well as a daily personal Bible immersion. Everywhere I looked, I found God looking for me and rejoicing in my return. In the early days, it was as intense as any new relationship. Each day I grow closer and I will not grow apart from someone I walk with and spend time with daily. My only regret is that I know this is not the relationship with God that many of my fellow Catholics experience. I pray the church will be born again to a personal relationship with Christ.
Ellen Hargus
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Thomas Vogel
9 years ago
"Who Speaks For Islam" March16,2015 is a "must read" for all. Mention is made of the publication in English of an open letter to "Dr Ibrahim Awwad Al-Badri, alias 'Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi' and to the fighters and followers of the self-declared 'Islamic State'". Where can the text of the letter be found ? Beginning during a week at Georgetown and a one hour a day course in the summer of 1982, and the reading of John Esposito's book, "Islam, The Straight Path" I have continued to seek correct information about Islam. Dr Thomas T Vogel

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