The Letters

A Humbling Correction

Re “Pope Francis Declares the Death Penalty ‘Contrary to the Gospel’,” by Kevin Clarke (10/30): The interesting question is: Has the church been wrong on the issue of the death penalty as morally acceptable up to now? Does it not humble all of us to think that our doctrines and dogmas could be off the mark for centuries until Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis took the final two steps (1995 and 2017) to reach the conclusion that the practice is categorically contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ? By analogy, slavery was not condemned by the church as intrinsically evil until Pope John Paul II announced it to be so.

Frank Pray
Online Comment


A Reformed Prisoner

I’m very pleased that Pope Francis is again strongly speaking out against killing serious criminals by capital punishment. I have been a pen pal with a man who has been sentenced to life imprisonment at Graterford Prison in Philadelphia. From our years of correspondence, I’m convinced that he’s reformed his life.

Tim Donovan
Online Comment

The Church and Everyday Life

Re “Ministry and Millennials,” by Zac Davis (10/30): The statistics speak for themselves. Something urgent needs to be done, but nearly every example has to do with exposing people to the rule book or getting together for a social event, neither of which has much to do with real life.

When young Catholics leave school or college their religion has to be part of their everyday life. They have to belong to the Catholic community, which means that there has to be a Catholic community, which is more than a church.

In the early church, Christian communities were more like enlarged families, with people looking after the interests of one another. Our clergy is overworked, and more young Catholics should become involved in ministries that assist the clergy. Think about what the young need. If we adults act like Christians, our children will remain Christians.

Randal Agostini
Online comment

The Alienation of Young Women

What an astonishing article. It is very long, yet not once does the author even allude to the reasons that the young adult generation of which he is a part is leaving in even greater proportions than did their older siblings, parents and even grandparents.

Young adult women are choosing not to marry in the church, and they are not returning to baptize babies. I have read numerous interviews with these young women. A common refrain is that they refuse to raise their children in a church that essentially tells their children that the sons are more important than the daughters, and that women must be submissive both to the male clergy and to husbands.

All of the initiatives mentioned in this article do not even touch on the doctrinal reasons millennials are leaving and have no plans to return. And who can blame young parents who do not feel that they can entrust their kids to this church?

Anne Chapman
Online Comment

Speed-talking Through High School

Re “The Corrosion of High School Debate—and How It Mirrors American Politics,” by Jack McCordick (10/30):

When my sons were in high school, I judged speech and debate over a period of eight years. Everything this writer says is true. I will add two points: Debate judges are the source of the problem and perpetuate and magnify the problem; and the speed talking that debate teaches has no value in the adult world, unless you are going to make a career out of voiceovers for drug and car commercials.

Christopher McNally
Online Comment

The Justice of the Estate Tax

Re “How Does Trump’s Tax Plan Line Up With Catholic Social Teaching?” by Kevin Clarke (10/30):

Of all the proposed tax cuts, the one that is most unjust is the elimination of the estate tax. The superwealthy have an obligation to return to the country some of the wealth they accumulated simply because it was the labor, infrastructure and natural resources of the country that allowed them to accumulate such wealth. It is not a confiscatory tax that takes away all of the heirs’ wealth, as too many would have us believe. It is simply a tax that recognizes the debt the wealthy owe to the country that allowed their genius to flourish.

Alfred Chavez
Online Comment

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