The Letters

Freedom From Fear

Re “Thank You, Senator,” by Matt Malone, S.J. (Of Many Things, 5/14): I agree with Father Malone about the importance of addressing others with the proper decorum. In fact, persons who have developed courtesy in their lives create an atmosphere of comfort and freedom from the fear of humiliation. This, in turn, enables people to be themselves without fear of rejection.

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No Perfect Christian

Re “Revisiting the Dictatorship of Relativism,” by Aaron Pidel, S.J. (5/14): This article reveals the author to be very reflective as he highlights some gems from the thought of Pope Benedict XVI. If I could summarize: Religion and reason go together; the “left” in U.S. politics could use a healthy dose of religion to gain a wider view of human dignity; the “right” in the U.S. political sphere could gain back some of its moral integrity by speaking louder against obvious violations of human dignity on the part of some of its members; both sides need to check their egos at the door and embrace reform and a reality check; there is no perfect political party, just as there is no perfect Christian. 

James Hickman

Real Reform

Re “California Has Over 700 People on Death Row; Executions Could Resume Soon,” by Jim McDermott, S.J. (5/14): As a pro-life, moderate Republican, I oppose capital punishment and support stringent gun control laws. For a number of years, I have been pen pals with a man who is serving a sentence of life imprisonment at a Philadelphia prison. He is a devout Jehovah’s Witness, and I believe that he has reformed his life. I certainly agree that solitary confinement is inhumane, and life without the possibility of parole is also inhumane. In my view, it does not take into account the fact that people can change their lives for the better. I do think a life sentence may be just, depending on the seriousness of the crime, but the prison environment must be humane.

Tim Donovan

Prodigal Son

Re “Who Are the ‘Real’ Catholics?” by Kerry Weber (5/14): Thank you, Ms. Weber, for returning the focus to a positive and potentially fruitful perspective. The Catholic Church should indeed be a home where people can fully be themselves, oriented to God and blessed by communal life. Catholics are excluded when people align themselves with the eldest son in the story of the Prodigal Son—the “real” and “good” son who does as he should. The whole point is that we need to be merciful, as the Father is merciful. 

Elissa Roper

At the Heart

This is a thoughtful article that goes to the heart of much of the divisiveness in the church today. The charge that polling is flawed because it isn't focused on 'real' Catholics is a cudgel in the culture wars.

Vince Killoran

No Closure

Re “Life Without Parole Is No Moral Alternative to the Death Penalty,” by Katie Quandt (4/30): As a person whose family member was a victim of homicide, I have thought and rethought and reviewed the facts regarding the death penalty and how it is currently carried out in the United States. This issue calls forth a response that is informed by faith, based on Gospel values as well as research. I agree that “locking people away and throwing away the key is not a moral solution,” if that is where efforts at restorative justice end. Ms. Quant fails to offer any solution to an unjust criminal system and the need to form consciences that are informed by faith and fact. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 61 percent of persons support alternatives to the death penalty. And, as a family member of a victim of homicide, my sense of loss and pain would only be magnified by knowing another (possibly innocent) human was executed; there is no “closure.”  

Marge Mattice
Green Bay, Wis.

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