Was saddened to tears to read about John Garvey’s death (“Not Ours to Mend,” February 20). I have loved his writing for years—his columns in Commonweal, his slim, elegant books. I have particularly cherished his columns for their compassion and their humor. His joy in Orthodox theology gave me a new appreciation for that rich tradition. My heart reaches out to his wife, their children, his friends and colleagues. Godspeed home, John.

Elizabeth Lynn
San Pablo, Calif.



“Boehner’s Blunder” (editorial, February 20)—that is, inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress without consulting the White House—should be “rewarded” with long overdue sanctions on Israel for its brutal treatment of Palestinians and its expansionist policies. Unfortunately, this is unthinkable in a plutocracy that enjoys the best foreign policy money can buy. The very day after Netanyahu arrogantly lectured President Obama on national television, Congress gave him endless standing ovations if only to ingratiate themselves to the plutocrats financing their political careers. Funny, too, how the Je suis Charlie folks never dared satirize Netanyahu’s American minions, unless of course they also depend on the same plutocrats.

John Vavone, SJ
Spokane, Wash.



My wife handed me a copy of the February 20 issue of Commonweal, telling me that my retired pastor used to read the magazine from cover to cover. So I read most of the issue and was favorably impressed.

The editorial, however, was a completely different matter (“Boehner’s Blunder”). What planet do the editors live on, or what do they smoke?

Our president has blatantly lied to the American public so often that nothing he says can be taken at face value. Yet the editorial carries his tainted water admirably. “Israel has long enjoyed unflinching support from congressional Democrats”—Really? Was this invitation calculated to “make Democrats look weak on national security”? Do you think they need help with that? Who actually believes what the president or the Iranians have said about the negotiations?

Your editorial was disgraceful! I hope reader feedback will show you the error of your own disingenuous screed.

Roy W. Fileger
Jacksonville, Fla.


New Confession

I found Fr. Nonomen’s column on the Sacrament of Reconciliation very helpful (“True Confession,” February 6). I suspect he’s quite right about the form the sacrament needs to take these days. As he notes, though, “Not all priests are skilled at facilitating that encounter.” Yet he adds, “I believe every diocese has at least a few who possess” the requisite skills. He’s undoubtedly right. Still, I’ve long thought that there are in every diocese many pastorally educated women who possess those skills in abundance. When might we see the development of a canonical/sacramental “order of confessors” that might benefit from the gifts of such women?

John F. Kane
Denver, Colo.



I generally enjoyed Jeffrey Meyers’s article on Hemingway in Cuba (“A Good Place to Work,” February 20), but he needs to be more attentive to the facts of history. Fulgencio Batista did not return to Cuba to be elected president in 1952, as Meyers claims. Batista was running for the presidency that year, but polls showed that he was going to lose. Instead he pulled a military coup on March 13, deposing President Carlos Prío Socarrás during his last months in office. Cuba had been a functioning and promising democracy (in spite of corruption) between 1944 and 1952.

Alejandro Anreus
Roselle Park, N.J.


Was Hemingway a Castroist?

It is the height of chutzpah to string together a series of Hemingway quotes to bolster the author’s view that “if the United States had adopted Hemingway’s sympathetic attitude and maintained relations with Cuba…the people of both countries would have benefited.” Castro came to power in January 1959; Hemingway died in July 1961—just two and a half years later.

In a letter dated August 25, 1961, two months after his death, Mary Hemingway wrote, “Por cuanto, he never took part in the politics of Cuba.” What’s more, Jon Michaud wrote in the New Yorker: “The truth is that...the regime never managed to establish a solid link between Hemingway and Castroism.”

Joseph W. McManus
Boca Raton, Fla.


Friends Like These

As an actively engaged Jew who teaches at a Jesuit university and works as a spiritual counselor for a Mennonite church, I spend a lot of time in community with Christians. As a reader of your magazine, I turned to your article (“What Christians Owe Jews,” February 20) with eagerness.

After three reads all that I can say is that I felt hard-pressed to detect any philo-Semitism. This “soft supersessionism” seemed to me but a version of the old “hard supersessionism,” and I came up with a short list of what this particular Jew feels owed.

At the very least I feel owed Christians’ capacity to live with paradox. We know that light is both a particle and a wave. Christians ought to be able to say, “Your covenant with God is eternal and enduring, and has nothing to do with ours, which does not replace or negate it any more than light’s wave-ness negates its being a particle. The two exist in different states.”

Second, I feel owed Christians’ capacity for questioning and doubt. For two thousand years Christians have been telling Jews that we missed the boat by rejecting Jesus. After all that Christians have put us through—Christians should say: “This messiah idea came from the Jewish people, and they have a checklist of what’s required to be the messiah, and the one we call Jesus doesn’t satisfy those requirements. What if they’re right and we’re wrong? What if our deifying him is a form of idolatry, one that has added bigotry and bloodshed to the world?” And then I hope Christians will ask themselves, “If we remove his divinity, what remains to us as Christians?” I think Christians will find that what remains is marvelous, transformative, and healing.

Third, I hope that Christians will go back to the core belief that all of humanity is one through our shared descent from Eve and Adam. And then I hope Christians will go back to the covenant God made with Noah, and remember that all of God’s children are equal in God’s eyes, and remember that God is the God of Muslims, Hindus, Bahais, and even those who do not believe in God, that through the Noahide laws all human beings are part of God’s unfolding promise.

Andrew Ramer
San Francisco, Calif.

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Published in the March 20, 2015 issue: View Contents
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