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Separate Issues

Re “Selling the Unborn,” (Editorial, 8/17): The tragedy of abortion is a mother finding herself in a situation where she decides ending the life of her child is her best option. “Pro-life” is a euphemism for taking this hugely personal and difficult decision and placing it in the legal system, as if a judge could bring more knowledge and wisdom to this decision than a mother, her doctor and whatever religious counsel she seeks.

The law establishing that the fetuses resulting from this decision can be used under legal controls in the search for cures to disease is a separate matter, a bringing of some good from the tragedy of a mother finding the end of her child’s life is her best decision. Let us not confuse the tragedy of abortion with the hope of medical research. We as Christians should, of all people, best see the possibility of good coming from tragedy, a resurrection following crucifixion.

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Peter Castaldi
Online Comment

Not a Solution

Other comments on “Selling the Unborn” show little relationship to reality. “Between a woman, her doctor and her God” is nice slogan, but it is not what happens. The woman goes not to her family physician or to a minister but to an abortionist, whom she does not see until she is on the table and with whom she is unlikely to have any discussion. Since the vast majority of abortions have social or economic causes, solutions can be found. Indeed, they are provided by pregnancy resource centers every day. Women need love and support, not abortion. Killing is never an answer, and the death of a child is never just a “difficult decision.” It should be unthinkable to take a child’s life to ease the parents’ problems—a permanent “solution” to a temporary problem—especially when it isn’t even the child but other factors that are truly the issue.

Lois Kerschen
Online Comment

Reality Check

Re Of Many Things (8/3): Father Malone’s response to statements about bishops is long overdue and to the point. If one reads Father Malone’s writing and substitutes “Republicans” for “bishops,” the fundamental points still apply. I would urge Father Malone to “meet a lot of Republicans” and also realize that perceptions do not always align with reality.

Ken Balaskovits
Park Ridge, Ill.

Women in Chains

Nicholas Sawicki’s fine, fact-filled article, “Today’s Slaves” (8/3), elucidates this global crime and Pope Francis’ wisdom regarding this human trafficking. As Mr. Sawicki notes, more than half the victims (53 percent) are exploited sexually, and almost half the victims (49 percent) are women. From childhood up, trafficked females are routinely raped, tortured and brutalized.

I suggest this is caused not only by poverty and greed but also by the global perception that women are inferior, dispensable. The perception is both overt (“Women are buffaloes. Men are humans,” is a traditional Thai proverb) and covert (the continuing income inequality of women in the United States). In our church, too, gender bias keeps women in an inferior status. Pope Francis says women will never be ordained. And the world listens.

Francine Dempsey, C.S.J.
Albany, N.Y.

Flannery’s Holy Work

As an admirer of Flannery O’Connor, I was saddened to read about her struggle with the tension between her “desire to be a successful writer and to be spiritually committed,” described in “Far Away From God,” by Susan Srigley (7/6). I don’t know of anyone whose labors have been a greater imitation of God the creator than O’Connor through her literary masterpieces. Why have Christians failed to see that being created in God’s image makes us agents of the continuing work of creation and that therefore our work, whatever it is, is holy?

Donald Rohmer
Muenster, Tex.

Revisiting the Catechism

I was disappointed for Daniel P. Horan, O.F.M., when I read in his column, “Never Justifiable” (6/22), that he found the Catechism of the Catholic Church to be “primarily a summary instruction manual of church teachings for catechists.” I wondered: Had he ever given it the opportunity to be more than that?

In 2005 I decided to read the catechism from cover to cover. Over the course of the year, I assigned myself three to five pages each day, determined to read patiently and prayerfully (which was key). I was pleasantly surprised to find myself reading well past five pages on many an evening because it was just too good to put down. And when I got to the back cover I found the catechism to be far more meaningful and uplifting as a whole than any collection of its parts. If Father Horan, or anyone else reading this letter, has not yet given this a try, I heartily recommend it. Perhaps they too can gain a whole new appreciation for the catechism by doing so.

Ronald Bonesteel
Overland Park, Kan.

Mad World

Re “Nuclear Dud” (Editorial, 6/22): President John F. Kennedy stated, “Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or by madness.” On Jan. 25, 1995, the United States launched a multistage rocket off the coast of Norway to study the northern lights. Russia had previously been notified, but the message was not passed up the chain of command. Russian radar picked up the launch of our missile, and they prepared to launch a counterattack. President Boris Yeltsin had five minutes to decide whether he should launch a nuclear attack against the United States. If he had followed their military protocol, he should have launched the attack. For some reason, he did not. “The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us,” said President Kennedy. If we forget history, we will repeat it.

(Rev.) Rich Broderick
Delmar, N.Y.

Sowing the Word

Re “The Kingdom Unusual,” by John W. Martens (6/8): The Scripture scholar C. H. Dodd famously defined the parable: “At its simplest the parable is a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought.” It seems like seeds, plants and trees are the most ordinary of things, especially a mustard shrub. But as Mr. Martens notes, it is eminently useful for birds to nest. Here the birds represent Gentiles, so the crucifixion of Jesus—one of thousands of executions during that era—becomes the crucible for the unleashing of the Holy Spirit, which incorporates Gentiles onto the tree of Judaism, a complete surprise to the early church.

That said, another author noted that by using parables rather than rigidly defined dogmas, Jesus gave the Holy Spirit room to move in and through his parabolic words through the various eras and cultures in which his word has been sown.

(Rev.) Mike Lydon
Online Comment

Rethinking Mission

In “Company Men” (5/11), William J. Byron, S.J., calls for the preservation of “mission and identity” at Jesuit institutions of higher learning. How about “accessibility and affordability”? Catholic colleges and universities are among the most expensive in the country (Georgetown is about $46,000 per year and Catholic University is $40,000, excluding room and board, of course). The smaller ones have bottom lines that are more tuition-driven than investment-driven. They need to keep raising tuition just to stay in business. College needs to be affordable, and a Catholic college should be affordable to those who need it. It’s time they rethink their social mission as something other than a playground for America’s upper class.

Christopher Ratto
Online Comment

Status Update

Readers respond to “Surviving in America,” by Tom Deignan (8/17).

My grandparents were Polish. I was baptized in a Polish-speaking church in 1946. My grandmother, a citizen for decades, spoke what was called broken English. She never really learned the language. Two of her sons served in World War II; Dad served in the Army Air Corps. People have created a myth about past assimilation. Immigrant children learned English then, as they do today. I am fortunate to live in a neighborhood rich in diverse cultures. The parents and grandparents struggle with English; the children do not. The immigrants I encounter work hard, which is the only “handout” they want, and the only handout my grandparents wanted. Nothing has changed!

Bob Ashdown

In my grandmother’s time, there was a conscious effort to assimilate and become more “American.” Today it seems like that is a dirty word and the focus is more on identity politics at the expense of a common, shared society.

Jeremiah Woolsey

When my Irish-speaking great-grandmother came to the United States, the first thing she did was learn how to speak German—the language of her new home city, Cincinnati, Ohio—then English.

Mary Eileen Homa

This is a very problematic article. The issues pertaining to the history of Hispanics in this country and migration do not perfectly match up with European immigration. If America is serious about discussing Latinos and immigration, get a Latino expert on immigration to write about it. Otherwise all the pictures of Hispanics you post, however much they are meant to humanize us, simply keep us as the voiceless, abstract “other.”

Mike Mendez

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