George Weigel’s argument in his America essay “The Just War Case for the War” (March 31, 2003), on the occasion of the invasion of Iraq, rested principally on a contorted definition of aggression as a cumulative record of odious behavior, which he used to prove that aggression by Iraq was in fact underway in March 2003. The problem with this type of rhetoric was identified by G. E. M. Anscombe many years earlier: “Men can be moved to fight by being made to hate the deeds of their enemies; but a war is not made just by the fact that one’s enemies’ deeds are hateful.”

Because I have learned from that and other of Weigel’s writings to read him very skeptically, I was gratified to see Peter Steinfels’s masterful critique of Weigel’s essay “The End of the Bernardin Era” (“Fabricating Bernardin,” May 20). Thank you for setting the record straight, both on the cardinal’s legacy and on Weigel’s highly polemicized characterization of it.

Roger Bergman
Omaha, Neb.


Regarding the editorial comment “The American Pope,” April 22: I often wonder why God placed me, a homosexual, in such a homophobic world. I could speculate as to the reason, but I’ve made my peace with the world in which I live. I have for the most part forgiven those heterosexuals who have made my life miserable one way or another. Still, that doesn’t mean I’ve given up the fight on behalf of myself and my gay brothers and sisters, no matter who they may be. I think the depth of the abuse that gay people suffer daily would surprise even the most liberal heterosexuals.

Which brings me to Archbishop Timothy Dolan. Jovial and self-deprecating he may be, but he doesn’t always make sense. To dismiss same-sex marriage with some off-the-wall analogy about his right to marry his mother is lame. So often heterosexuals have compared us to the incestuous, to pedophiles, to those who sleep with beasts. I think it’s pretty insulting for Dolan to make his comparison. It shows a complete lack of insight and sensitivity as to what same-sex marriage is about.

I have been with my partner for twenty-one years. Neither of us feels the need to formalize our commitment to one another. Our relationship speaks for itself. But that’s us. There are many gay couples who want the option to marry, and the right should be there for them.

Futhermore, I’m not sure what help you may need in understanding the dynamics of gay relationships, but your comment about “the skills intrinsic to marriage” may indicate a certain ignorance. That Commonweal has not taken a stand says more about the editors. I know it must be difficult to make a decision when you are not faced with the daily trials that gay people face, the prejudice, the hatred, the abuse. Personally, though, I thank God for my situation, as it’s made me a stronger person, and best of all it has made me sensitive to the suffering of others.

Carlos D. Chavez Jr.
Los Angeles, Calif.



In his interesting review of Raymond A. Schroth’s biography of Robert Drinan (“Not Above Politics,” February 11), David J. O’Brien (following Schroth?) identified Fr. Drinan as the first priest to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. As a matter of fact, he was the second to go to the House. Fr. Gabriel Richard, a French Sulpician, was elected to the House as a nonvoting delegate of the Michigan Territory and served two years (1823–25), before losing a bid for reelection.

John S. Kselman, SS
Menlo Park, Calif.

Published in the 2011-06-03 issue: View Contents
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