Love, Peace, Justice
Re “Catholics Must Combat Bigotry at Every Turn” (Our Take, 9/4): Thank you, editors, for your words. As an African-American Catholic, I am deeply concerned about the recent events in our country. It is time for our church families to come together to stand for the Gospel values of love, peace and justice. Let us together work to build the kingdom of God.
Re “Out of Many, One,” by Matt Malone, S.J. (Of Many Things, 9/4): I believe that Father Malone needs to recognize that some of us interpreted President Trump’s statements very differently. In my opinion, Mr. Trump was referring to how patriotism (for those in the military, in particular) encourages a unity of purpose toward a common goal, and success is often achieved because there is no room for bigotry, hatred and prejudice.
Loving God and Each Other
Re “When a Jew and a Catholic Marry,” by Mark Oppenheimer (9/4): Thirty-seven years ago this month, this Polish-American cradle Catholic from Ohio married a nice Jewish boy from New York. I have been very happy ever since in spite of the initial resistance from my parents and the reactions of other Catholics and Jews. As the article points out, the success of an interfaith marriage depends on the couple and their flavors of faith.
My husband was raised in a very secular household, in which his parents rarely went to a temple or celebrated the holidays. I was educated in Roman Catholic and public schools with lots of Catholics. My husband never had any interest in becoming an observant Jew or converting to Catholicism or any other form of Christianity. He supported the religious instruction of our daughters and attended watershed events at our parish with his parents.
My older daughter, who seriously considered conversion to Judaism and went on a Birthright trip to Israel, came back to the church later. With her husband, a Protestant, she is raising her sons in the church. My youngest daughter, who graduated from a Catholic high school, is receiving religious instruction at a reform temple and will likely convert to Judaism. Go figure! We are all O.K. with each other because we love each other—differences and all. In the end, that is the most important thing: that we love God and each other.
Re “Lawyers Lead, Pastoral Workers Lag on Pay Scale in Catholic Church,” by Michael J. O’Loughlin (9/4): I have been the chief financial officer for the Catholic Diocese of Richmond for seven years, and I worked in a similar role for the Diocese of Greensburg, Pa., for 15 years.
Catholic priests receive very good health insurance when they are active, and most dioceses purchase Medicare supplement plans for their retired priests, at no or very little cost to the priests. In addition to having comprehensive health insurance, the priests usually have very low deductibles and out of pocket expenses. While active, priests receive a number of allowances for workshops, retreats, cars and car insurance, in addition to the allowances mentioned in the article.
Two of the other benefits that are often overlooked are pensions and long-term care. Without referring to the report in this article, I imagine that nearly every priest in the United States receives a pension. Many dioceses have some sort of plan for priests who need long-term care. Assisted living and long-term care can range from $4,000 to $11,000 per month depending upon the level of care. The cost of long-term care insurance is very expensive.
Converting the cost of these benefits into an “annual compensation” analysis is complicated, but it can be done. In my diocese, we have done this work, and the annual cost for an active priest is in the range of $94,000.
Michael J. McGee
A Cherished Community
Re “When the K.K.K. came to Charlottesville,” by Nichole M. Flores (9/4): I attended the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and worked at the medical center caring for premature babies. It is a community that is dear to me. Watching the protests there chills me to my bone.