Letters | Human error, borders, monsters, bells


I had to respond to an aside in Paul Baumann’s December 8 dotCommonweal piece regarding the shakeup at the New Republic, in which he describes its staff’s loyalty as “about as common as a typo-free newspaper (or magazine).”

I have been reading the “dead tree” version of Commonweal for twenty years, and, as I often tell friends, there are only two publications in which I have yet to discover a typo: Commonweal and the Onion. Be proud! Happy New Year.

Laurie Zelesnikar
Medford, Ore.



I wrote to the editors about Thomas Albert Howard’s article on Ignaz von Döllinger (“A Matter of Conscience,” October 10, 2014). Thank you for publishing the letter (December 19, 2014), but you misspelled Worcester, Massachusetts, as “Worchester.”

I checked my original letter and found that I did spell it correctly.

Because I am visiting professor of art history at the College of the Holy Cross, which is located in Worcester, this is embarrassing. Thank you.

Joyce Polistena
Worcester, Mass.


The editors reply

Our apologies for embarrassing Joyce Polistena—and for bursting Laurie Zelesnikar’s bubble.



Thank you for your wonderful editorial “Out of the Shadows” (December 19, 2014) on bishops’ celebration of the liturgy on the Mexican border. You are indeed “calling attention to the human cost of the broken immigration system.”

Most of our social problems (including the immigration mess) arise when our public officials, civil or ecclesiastical, do nothing. So it was quite refreshing to read about our bishops giving public witness to the Christian values we proclaim every day. We proclaim these values not only when we are in church but especially when we move from one border to another. Every day we are coming closer to living in a world without borders.

William J. Rademacher
Las Cruces, N.Mex.


In bad company

Reading your editorial about former vice president Dick Cheney (“Shameless,” January 9), I had the impression that you view him as an aberration in the American body politic. If only. In fact, he follows in a long line of patriotic zealots throughout U.S. history. In the past they spouted sayings like, “My country, right or wrong.” They think their version of patriotism is the only valid one. People like that should not be merely shunned or ignored. They need to be confronted for the ethical myopia they espouse. It’s the patriotic thing to do.

Michael Petrelli
Haddon Township, N.J.


The ring of truth

Tom Quigley’s article “The Bells of Balangiga” (January 9) suggests that if the United States returned the bells to the people of the Philippines, it might symbolically close an unfortunate chapter in our relationship. The seal on the bell that is shown in the article is the great seal of the Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans). The bells belong to the order, it seems. Perhaps simply returning the bells to the Franciscans would serve as a positive step in redressing that dark period of our history.

Simeon Distefano, OFM
New York, N.Y.

Published in the February 6, 2015 issue: 
Also by this author
Rogue State

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