I agree with much of what Fr. Andrew Greeley writes in “Signs of Life” (August 15), except for his depiction of “fallen-away Catholics.” He lists many reasons why Catholics leave the church, but he ignores the continued abuse of power by popes and bishops.
For the past five years, I have attended monthly meetings of Voice of the Faithful in an Episcopal church—we were forbidden to meet in our own parishes by Cardinal Bernard Law. In 2004, I was horrified to hear a few bishops discuss denying Holy Communion to John Kerry; one even asked Catholics who vote for prochoice politicians not to receive Communion. After I wrestled with my conscience and prayed for guidance and direction, I voted for Kerry and began receiving the Eucharist in a local Episcopal church, where “any baptized Christian is welcome to receive Communion.”
Catholic bishops are again interfering in the 2008 election. Douglas Kmiec, a prolife Catholic Republican, was denied Communion in April because of his public support for Barack Obama. Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston was recently quoted in the Boston Globe saying he couldn’t understand how any Catholic could vote Democratic.
As a seventy-four-year-old cradle Catholic, I object to Fr. Greeley’s reference to “lost sheep.” It was not the sheep who went astray in the church; it was the shepherds. And until they are held accountable many of us will continue to worship a God who is not Republican, Democrat, or Catholic.
EILEEN M. FORD
NOT JUST ABOUT ‘ROE’
I bet that some high-profile bishops will skate around their own Faithful Citizenship document—written to help Catholics decide how to vote—and all but endorse the Republican ticket based on speculation by Democrats about the beginnings of life and their positions on the legality, not the morality, of abortion. More attention should be paid to the insights of both Douglas Kmiec, the antiabortion Catholic legal scholar, and the report on abortion reduction by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. Together they demonstrate that approaches other than reversing Roe v. Wade can be more effective in promoting life and discouraging abortion.
This election could make a real difference if the next president gets to name Supreme Court justices who return the matter to the states. Then we would see conflicts that make the 1960s look tame!
DAVID E. PASINSKI
THE EXTREME MIDDLE
Grace Tiffany’s description of the Church of England in Shakespeare’s time as a moderate via media makes no sense (“Via Media,” Letters, August 15). Though that church did occupy a middle ground in the religion of the time between radical Puritans to the left and conservative Catholics to the right, it persecuted both sides with severity. Thus, to cite two notable examples, the Anglican churchman John Jewel diligently suppressed any Catholic response to his Challenge Sermon of 1559, which denied the authority of Rome. In the 1570s the Anglican champion John Whitgift made use of the sword no less than the pen in attacking his Puritan opponent Thomas Cartwright, who was forced into exile in Germany. Both Jewel and Whitgift had their positions reinforced with royal proclamations. This recourse to the sword against Catholics became even more common after the return of foreign-trained priests and Jesuits in the 1570s and ’80s—and against the Puritans once Whitgift became archbishop of Canterbury in 1583. How, I ask (with John Noonan, July 18), could Shakespeare have been indifferent to all this bloody religious persecution? A careful reading of King Lear, among other plays, suggests that he wasn’t.
[See Letters, October 24, 2008 for a response to the above.]
WELCOME TO THE DANCE
I agree that, for a convert like David Deavel (“The Gift of Incompetence,” August 15), the details of Catholic ritual can be daunting. As a cradle Catholic nearing the end of my seventh decade, my advice is just to join the dance! The rhythms of liturgy are all that is left of the joyful dancing that accompanied the ancient banquets Jesus enjoyed.
We older Catholics make mistakes too. I remember kneeling at the altar rail and having the paten clip my Adam’s apple, causing me to close my mouth just as the host was approaching. One of Vatican II’s changes I most appreciated was receiving the Eucharist in the hand. After all, you don’t “break” a fresh loaf of bread. You tear off pieces and hand them out. Jesus did not have the Apostles tilt their heads back so he could drop the pieces into their mouths. He handed them his body to chew on.
Welcome, David, to this mysterious community.
NICHOLAS E. BEDESSEM
William Pfaff’s column on malfeasance at General Motors (“General Malfeasance,” August 15) is just another futile exercise in the blame game. Is it the unions or management of Japanese automakers that has brought this icon of American capitalism to such a sorry state? Was it GM management’s lack of vision or its greed that brought the company to the brink of bankruptcy? Or was it the union’s fault?
The issue now is survival. A nostalgic dream of what might have been accomplishes nothing. Sacrifices will have to be made, by retirees, labor, and especially management and shareholders, if GM is to survive.
J. THOMAS MEYER