Conversion in Cuba
Re “A Tale of Two Countries,” by Miguel Díaz (9/21): It is beautiful and appropriate to wax poetic about mercy. We should all abide by these timeless truths. Yet the call of Christ is conversion. To simply plead for mercy in Cuba while not demanding conversion of the Castros misses the mark. If they refuse to convert, we cannot reward Cuba with tourism. Argentina’s military dictator, Jorge Videla, met his demise with justice as part of it. Likewise, the Castros must meet the same. “Life-on-the-hyphen” is difficult. Lo conozco muy bien. Life as an asterisk is far worse and a mockery of Christ.
Listening From Behind
In “Having the God Talk” (9/21), Helen Alvaré presents great ideas for “introducing” her son to Jesus. As the father of two young women, ages 16 and 21, I would simply add, respectfully, to let him lead the conversation and pose critical questions. Relying on your knowledge and sources, let him see your own faith, struggles and above all love for others, for God and for him. Listening well and responding from your own faith experience, richly informed as it is, are worth more than any author, any readings you might share. And if he isn’t already connected, help him connect to a community of faith and to peers who share his concerns and questions as well as his faith. They too will be a stronger and enduring force in his life that will sustain him in his faith.
In “Our Armed Society” (9/14), Firmin DeBrabander writes the United States is alone among “the so-called advanced societies” in which there are regular mass shootings. No doubt we need to work on the conversion of people to Christ. That will solve a myriad of society’s problems. But there are other issues to consider: Are the “so-called advanced societies” also those that promote killing the unborn the most? Or that are moving down the path of euthanasia?
In Chicago guns are highly regulated, but the murder rate is sky high. The suburbs have fewer restrictions and a fraction of the violence. So will more regulation help? Perhaps the most deranged will be denied a permit; but if gang members can get guns, the deranged also may just buy illegal guns. Historically, the largest number of innocents killed (post-birth) has been by governments against unarmed populaces. The Second Amendment is a protection against government tyranny.
Re Of Many Things, by Matt Malone, S.J. (8/31): About a week before former President Jimmy Carter made the announcement that he had cancer, my nephew and his wife and their four young sons went to Plains, Ga. They happened to be there for Sunday school, led by President Carter. Carter was gracious and so generous with his time, they said, taking questions from his sons—“What do you think of U.F.O.’s?”—and patiently answering them. He and his wife Rosalyn posed for family photos with them. These photos will be keepsakes for my nephew and his family, probably passed down for generations.
The Next Generation
Re “Progress Report,” by Joe Paprocki (8/31): Having worked in a ministry for people in their 20s and 30s for the past five years, I am keenly aware that we don’t have long to get this right. Many years after “Our Hearts Were Burning Within Us,” the U.S. bishops’ plan for adult formation, we still focus our resources on children. There have certainly been improvements, but, well...it’s easier to reach the children. Adult formation is hard. It takes energy and creativity and a listening heart. But parents who are indifferent about faith do not raise children in the faith. We have only to look at the very low level of Catholic marriages and baptisms to know that we are in danger of losing a generation.
I am hopeful, though! Pope Francis is setting forth a vision that resonates with people precisely because it speaks to their daily lives. Young people are listening and, as one of them said, they are “cautiously optimistic.” There are wonderful, talented, faithful young adults who will help move us into new ways of forming believers in the faith, augmenting what happens in community with modern tools of communication, which are mobile and flexible and fit their lives—if we let them.
Bad News Burn-Out
America reports in “Overcoming Indifference” (Signs of the Times, 8/31), “Pope Francis has chosen ‘Overcome indifference and win peace’ as the theme for the church’s celebration of the next World Day of Peace.” Are most people indifferent, or do they simply feel overwhelmed? The information revolution has meant that almost everyone, almost everywhere is constantly bombarded with news—often very graphic—about every tragedy, disaster and war going on in the world, along with countless “news stories” of human corruption of every type, great and small, of human cruelty, of man’s inhumanity toward fellow human beings. This massive onslaught of terrible news can engender a feeling of helplessness. This is not the same as indifference.
I applaud the editorial “Selling the Unborn” (8/17). If there is any positive aspect to the revolting commerce in body parts from aborted fetuses, it is that it underscores the fact that these body parts are human. The constitutional chicanery in abortion decisions like Roe v. Wade has been revealed for all to see. It is high time that the Supreme Court overturn the appalling decisions that effectively legalize abortion on demand and that thereby promote the sale of human fetal body parts.
Nicholas P. Cafardi’s review of Gerald Posner’s book, God’s Bankers: A History of Money and Power at the Vatican Bank, is disappointing (“Follow the Money,” 7/20). Mr. Cafardi fails to address some of Mr. Posner’s more controversial claims.
Mr. Posner repeats, for example, an allegation that the Vatican Bank accepted gold looted from Holocaust victims by the pro-Nazi Croatian dictatorship. The source of this allegation is a single-page U.S. intelligence report that reports a “rumor” from an anonymous source in Italy. No evidence corroborating this allegation, which first surfaced in 1997, has ever been found.
The main sources of allegations that “the Vatican” sheltered Nazi war criminals and helped them escape to South America are postwar U.S. intelligence documents, which often reported unverified information by unnamed sources. The fact that the 2003 invasion of Iraq failed to locate any weapons of mass destruction—despite the fact that the intelligence agencies of the United States and other countries all agreed that Saddam Hussein did possess them—should show the dangers of relying exclusively on intelligence reports for either policymaking or historical scholarship.
On our In All Things blog, retired Bishop Francis Quinn of Sacramento tells Luke Hansen, S.J., “I can’t see any reason why women shouldn’t be priests” (“California Bishop Voices Support for the Ordination of Women,” 9/18). Readers respond.
As a priest for 32 years working in parish ministry, I am puzzled by the continued shortage of religious vocations and how the church hierarchy responds to this crisis. We teach that Mass is the source and summit of our Catholic faith, but the hierarchy is willing to deny communities the Eucharist because there are not enough priests to go around. Many people decide that if the Catholic Church cannot provide clergy to staff our churches and celebrate the Eucharist, then they will just find another church or denomination that can meet their spiritual needs. Don’t invite people to the table and then allow them to starve.
I’m a woman and a Catholic involved in several ministries. I don’t want women clergy. I think women have many talents and many roles in the church. I don’t think both sexes have to do everything equally. Men don’t have babies. Women don’t have to consecrate the host. God made us male and female. I know it’s not a popular position, but it’s what I believe.
The article says the retired bishop was inspired to speak out by the encouragement of the pope, but the author seems to neglect that Pope Francis has said, just recently, this is a settled matter.
Every so often, we’re asked to pray for more vocations to the priesthood. That always strikes me as strange: doesn’t God know how many priests the church needs? Maybe, just maybe, he’s calling married people and women to the priesthood, but it’s the church hierarchy that isn’t listening.