The bishops, burdens of war & a plea for cartoons

A Sign Of Things To Come?

I was very impressed with Timothy P. Schilling’s brief but comprehensive article about the rich history of the American College of Louvain and its impending closure (“End of an Era,” March 25). He captured so well the essence of the Louvain experience, which I myself shared in the earliest days of the English-language faculties of philosophy and theology. It strikes me and other alumni of the college as sad that this richness will be lost, both for the American Catholic Church and the Belgian/Leuven community. It is ironic that the closure was announced in the same year that John Henry Newman was beatified. His attempt to establish a Catholic university in Ireland, modeled on the Louvain experience, was frustrated in part by the Irish bishops. I too hope, with Schilling, that “the closure of the American College is not a sign of things to come, with only the largest or most rigorously ‘orthodox’ seminaries allowed to continue.” That would be sadder for the church than the failure of Newman’s project in Ireland.

(Rev.) David J. Norris
Fresno, Calif.

 

A Bargain

I share the sadness of Timothy P. Schilling about the closing of the American College of Louvain. It’s extraordinary that the bishops could so easily cast aside 157 years of service to the American and universal church. It’s even stranger to read of the official reasons for the closure—namely, “size, staffing, and money.” It was the bishops who decided not to send seminarians there, thus decreasing the size and increasing the per-student cost. It is also only the bishops who can lend diocesan priests for the seminary staff. As for the money, it should be noted that a University of Louvain education was a great bargain, because most of the education costs were absorbed by the university and not charged to the dioceses from which the seminarians came. With Schilling, I hope that the closing of the American College is not a sign of things to come. We need priests who are well educated in the great tradition of our church.

(Rev.) Eugene J. Mckenna
Wakefield, R.I.

 

Hidden Wounds

Thank you for Barbara Mujica’s insightful article on the challenges faced by injured soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan (“Don’t Look Away,” March 25). The incidence of clinical depression and post-traumatic stress disorder among these veterans is estimated to be anywhere from twice to six times as high as it is in the general population. The resulting substance abuse and aggressive behavior, when left untreated, can lead to other serious problems: unemployment, relational issues, homelessness.

It is indeed imperative that we care adequately for these men and women, albeit at great cost. They have borne the battle that, as Mujica points out, often “outlasts the war.”

(Rev.) Raymond Maher, O Carm
Brockton, Mass.


Episcopal Fallibility

Daniel Finn (“Uncertainty Principle,” March 25) points out that the American bishops opposed the new health-care law because it allegedly provided federal funds for abortions—while at the same time they were invoking the Hyde Amendment, which undeniably allows federal funds for abortions. Further questions remain. Even if there were federal funding of abortions, do we know the probable number of abortions that might result? Do we know how many abortions the new health-care law might prevent, by guaranteeing health care for women and their children? It seems plausible that the new law may reduce rather than increase the number of abortions.

Then there is the bishops’ claim that Catholics should follow the bishops’ direction in such matters. With all due respect to the bishops, can we ignore the fact that bishops were comfortable with slavery and religious persecution for nearly two millennia? Can we forget the cover-ups of recent sexual scandals and the resulting diocesan bankruptcies? Perhaps we may be forgiven for sometimes questioning their judgments.

John C. Moore
Bloomington, Ind.

 

More To Come?

I agree with Nicholas P. Cafardi (“Another Long Lent,” April 8) that “the fact that [Philadelphia] bishops approved the [review] board’s mistaken recommendation doesn’t mean they committed a crime; the grand jury would have indicted those bishops if they had come to that conclusion.” However, having indicted the former secretary of the clergy (Msgr. William Lynn) because he “knowingly kept these men in ministry,” they did not proceed to indict Lynn’s successor, Bishop Timothy Senior, who kept at least two of these men in ministry, which gave rise to precisely the same “child endangerment” for which Lynn has been indicted. Pennsylvania’s jurisprudence provides for “sealed” indictments, and future indictments are not out of the question. Perhaps this is the next shoe to drop.

Susan M. Smith
Wallingford, Pa.


Bishops, Speak Up!

The editorial “State of the Unions” (March 11) is an excellent reflection on social-justice issues. It notes that the Wisconsin Catholic bishops and other religious leaders voiced their opposition to Governor Scott Walker’s proposals and their support for unions, but in general the church hierarchy seems slow to promote social justice. Catholic priests are reluctant to mention it in their homilies for fear of retribution from their parishioners, and many bishops in the United States implicitly support Republican political candidates who foster a message contrary to church teaching on social justice. Yes, prolife issues are important, but the dignity of life extends beyond the unborn to the dignity of all people.

Virgil J. Meyer
St. Paul, Minn.


Say It Ain’t So

My subscription to Commonweal had lapsed for about a year, and upon recently getting a few new issues, I was struck by the absence of cartoons. My love for your magazine as probably the best of its kind was only enhanced by the topical drawings that adorned many of the articles. In fact, I hoarded the magazine so I could go through old issues to find the best cartoons. Looking at an issue from summer 2009, I see several, but there are almost none in the most recent issues. Are they going or gone? Please make it not so!

Gary Ciocco
Gettysburg, Pa.

Published in the 2011-04-22 issue: 
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