WORTH THE STRUGGLE
I appreciate very much your publishing Ned O’Gorman’s wonderful piece (“Untouchable,” December 5, 2008). Although I know there are many like myself—gay practicing Catholics—who refuse to compromise their faith or their homosexuality, it was nice to see a reminder of this in print. The church doesn’t always make it easy for its gay and lesbian brethren. But faith is well worth the struggle. We do have our disappointments. In California we are recovering from the bruising passage of Proposition 8, which the church publicly supported. That was extremely difficult. The bishops of California recently published a letter of support for gay and lesbian Catholics in a local Catholic paper. Although I personally welcomed the gesture, I wonder whether it was too little too late for some gay Catholics. Perhaps Mr. O’Gorman is right that “the only way for [gay and lesbian Catholics] to live a life of faith and fullness is to live the life of the outlaw and renegade, trusting in the Lord and his consolations.”
CARLOS D. CHAVEZ JR.
Los Angeles, Calif.
LOVE WITHOUT SEX
Ned O’Gorman’s piece saddened me. He seems to believe that “the fullness of love” can only be experienced in sex acts. Where does that leave celibates like Mother Teresa? Sex isn’t a necessary condition of “the fullness of love,” though it can be a beautiful expression of it. I think the worst thing a church can do to its members is to make them comfortable in their sins. Why keep hammering at the Catholic Church when it struggles, more and more alone, to avoid that?
A WELCOMING COMMUNITY
Ned O’Gorman’s very personal article spoke for many homosexuals who must live lives that only grace and sincere faith keep from quiet desperation. However, this is not always the case. As pastor of St. Joseph’s Church in Greenwich Village for almost eighteen years, I came to know many homosexuals whose lives were exemplary witnesses of Catholic fidelity. This was true even though they received little support from members of the hierarchy and documents issued by the Vatican. I shared their disappointments and frustrations, always surprised by their continuing commitment to the church, sacramental participation, and altruism. But some, after much struggle and reflection, gave up and joined other ecclesial communities.
The ministry that I and the other members of the pastoral staff exercised permitted many people to see the compassionate face of Christ and to hear his gospel more clearly. The church was experienced as a welcoming community that was mater et magistra (“mother and teacher”). Serious reflection on God’s Word and individual conscience were intelligently and faithfully engaged dialogically. We walked a careful path with fidelity to the present teachings of the church and openhearted ministry. Ned O’Gorman knew this because of his frequent visits to the parish and participation in the Sunday Eucharist.
(REV.) ALDO J. TOS
New York, N.Y.
THE ONE ESSENTIAL THING
Ned O’Gorman’s Last Word was an eye-opener. But where does it leave us? If we are to abandon the taboo against homosexual love, is everything relative? Where are the absolutes? Perhaps seeing how many things are relative can help us focus on the one essential thing—which is our encounter with the living God. This is what Jesus taught and lived. In his plan, judging others is useless; forgiveness is readily granted; but living a life in God demands all our strength. Perhaps we sometimes get that backward.
In response to your recent editorial (“The Bishops & Obama,” December 5, 2008), I believe the prolife program promoted by the bishops for thirty-five years since Roe v. Wade has had little success in reducing the number of abortions. It is time to ask, Where is the flaw in their approach? One flaw is directing most action and resources to the top level of government without making a corresponding effort to build support from the bottom up. As Bishop Blase Cupich advised, we need “a prophecy of solidarity with the community we serve.”
Legislators and even courts are responsive to the electorate. Too few resources have been devoted to teaching and persuading the general public. Without a grass-roots initiative to change more minds, the noble efforts of the hierarchy are doomed to remain ineffectual.
(REV.) CONNELL J. MAGUIRE
Riviera Beach, Fla.
AN UNNECESSARY DEBATE
If those in favor of legal abortion would just think clearly for a moment, we’d hear no more about abortion “rights.” A single fact should end the argument: Search the world and you won’t find one person who would have given his or her mother the right to abort his or her life.
PHILIP REED MORAN
There’s no need to color in the magazine’s cartoons just because you can (see the December 5, 2008, issue). Better to let the drawing and text speak for themselves. As your neighbors at the New Yorker understand, color only distracts. The colored cartoons look like a page from a six-year-old’s coloring book.
St. Paul, Minn.
TROUBLE IN INDIA
Jo McGowan’s last column (“On Edge: Living with Fear in India,” December 5, 2008) was one of the most moving pieces of writing I’ve read anywhere in a long time. I’ve shared it with others, and they agree. Would that there were a way to prevent the suffering endured by the young Indian girl McGowan describes.
JOSEPH D. POLICANO
East Hampton, N.Y.
In his article “All In?” (December 19, 2008), Fr. Toan Joseph Do discusses the pro multis clause in the Eucharistic Prayer, which has been translated in English as “for all,” instead of the more literal “for many.” Fr. Do argues that changing the English translation to “for many” would have harmful effects on believers gathered together in worship because of its restrictive tone. I think his argument overlooks an important fact.
As believers, we know the truth in Christ Jesus and yet do not fully comprehend this truth. For example, over the centuries theologians have struggled to explain how God could be both transcendent and radically immanent. Despite the fact that it is impossible for us to comprehend fully how these two realities could coexist in a single being, both have been affirmed without qualification throughout Christian history.
It seems to me that applying a more literal translation of pro multis would enable a similar balancing of two theological truths: first, that Christ died for all; and, second, that it is possible that not all accept Christ’s gift of salvation. Of course, as Cardinal Francis Arinze states, there will need to be catechesis of the faithful so that these two truths, suggested by the phrase “for many,” are understood in conjunction with each other. But we should not shy away from the difficulty of balancing them. In Christian faith, we are strengthened not by what sits well with us from the start—as the phrase “for all” may—but by what pushes us to a closer apprehension of the truth in Christ Jesus.
Notre Dame, Ind.