The Letters

No Surprise

Re “Civil Society and a Public Argument,” by Matt Malone, S.J. (Of Many Things, 10/2): I have no problem with this column’s deploring the loss of linguistic civility and polite forbearance, but I have a great deal of trouble handling your “surprise” that things have devolved to the current distasteful state.

Stuart Meisenzahl
Online Comment


Support KNOM

Re “A trip to the country’s oldest Catholic radio station,” by Pauline Hovey (10/2): I am so pleased to see this detailed article. I have been on the mailing list for KNOM (and a very small-time contributor) for many years. They have an excellent newsletter that one can read online at They are great witnesses for the faith in a very difficult environment. I hope this article will lead to more contributions!

Ann Johnson
Online Comment

Cognitive Dissonance

Re “Government discrimination,” by Nicholas P. Cafardi (10/2): I noticed when I moved to a suburb of Detroit from Ontario, Canada, that the neighborhoods were divided by income. It was amazing to me to see schools where kids from one socioeconomic group, despite attending public schools, had to engage only with other kids from the same narrow income strata. 

I hope that this book starts the conversation by shining a light on a system that seems to be stuck in the past. Real change cannot happen until everyone takes responsibility for it. When you are taught that everyone is equal and then you live in a place where equality is not a reality, what do you think you learn?

Catherine Shortt
Online Comment

Religious Antiwar Mentors

Re “Ken Burns’s ‘Vietnam’ revisits division and bloodshed wrought by a ‘barbaric war,’” by Raymond A. Schroth, S.J. (10/2): My involvement with the Vietnam antiwar movement was the direct result of Catholic religious activists at the time, particularly Fathers Daniel and Philip Berrigan and their friends, so I appreciate Father Schroth’s observations. As a high school student in New Jersey, I remember reading essays on war and peace by Father Berrigan and Thomas Merton in Jubilee magazine, a great Catholic publication of happy memory! 

Neglecting the religious aspect of the peace movement is a serious oversight, given the spiritual power of the Catholic activists and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s wonderful antiwar address at Riverside Church in 1967. I am forever indebted to the religious mentors of that time, particularly Dorothy Day and Father Dan Berrigan, who took the time to help many of us find the way. 

Mary Kambic
Online Comment

Needless Suffering

Re “Death & Life in the Afternoon: A Meditation on Bullfighting,” by Angela Alaimo O’Donnell (10/2): The St. Francis Alliance writes to share its dismay that a Christian magazine published an article romanticizing bullfighting. S.F.A. is a group of Catholics and other people of good will committed to seeking a just and compassionate world for all creatures. 

Multiple popes have condemned the practice. In 1920 Benedict XV wrote that the church continues “loudly to condemn these shameful and bloody spectacles.” The author acknowledges that bullfighting is cruel yet also portrays it as beautiful and meaningful. We are astonished that a Christian magazine would publish an article with so little nuance and in contravention of the pope’s words and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which says of animals: “Men owe them kindness.... It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly.” Bullfighting serves no purpose other than the entertainment of a few. It is needless suffering and should be treated accordingly. 

Liz Holtz
St. Francis Alliance 
Washington, D.C.

Ignoring Reality

Re “The Decline of Unions is Part of a Bad 50 Years for American Workers,” by Kevin Clarke (9/4): This article is correct in stating the importance of unions. But it ignores the reality that the United States is part of a global economy where limited resources are shared among countries.

LeRoy Schlangen
Richmond, Minn.

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