Hyde Should Go

The editors of Commonweal are wrong (“Why Hyde Matters,” September 9): supporting the Hyde Amendment is not politically responsible, nor is it moral. The Hyde Amendment is the epitome of injustice for low-income women and women of color; it affects their social, economic, and reproductive wellbeing. Catholics are called to follow our conscience and to serve those with the least in our communities. Likewise, a majority of Catholic voters believe that insurance should cover abortion care when a woman decides it’s the right thing for her. Policies like Hyde punish women for being poor. There is nothing responsible or moral about that.

Jon O’Brien,
President, Catholics for Choice
Washington, D.C.

Consider the Brits

Andrew Bacevich’s article (“Sound & Fury,” August 12) gives hope that the Brexit phenomenon may finally be addressed sensibly and honestly. But his invocation of the “Anglosphere,” which progressively replaced the British Empire after 1918, scarcely notes that the British role in this “special relationship” has rapidly diminished. To return to it will scarcely be palatable to any real “Brit.” Canada has opted for NAFTA, deserting the British Commonwealth in favor of aligning itself more with the American economic sphere. Australia and New Zealand are now protected by their defense agreements with the United States rather than with the British fleet.

Such evolving phenomena finally convinced Britain to endorse the EU—after attempting to create its own “Outer Seven.” But all this only further contributed to the diminution of British power.

Until now at least there was the currency “empire” of the British pound sterling to console. But the Brexit vote casts doubt on that as well. If the Euro ultimately will not float without a real international banking structure to regulate it, can the “British pound” survive without a British Empire?

Americans may be tempted to survey all this difficulty with quiet satisfaction, convinced that the global future of mankind is safe in our hands. Prosperity, after all, will satisfy the masses and can safely be substituted for autonomy. Even our own pampered elites will eventually be ennobled by their very riches. Alas, these are assumptions that “history” does not teach. Nor does religion—or literature—for that matter.

Bernard F. Reilly
Emeritus Professor of History,
Villanova University
Villanova, Penn.


Pope Francis in Amoris laetitia offers us a new way of understanding how authority, law, and conscience ought to work in Roman Catholic Christianity while insisting (with the authority of Aquinas behind him) that this understanding can be found in traditional Catholic moral theology. It was therefore disappointing that none of your five commentators made this central to their remarks (“A Balancing Act,” May 20). What we got instead was their disappointment that the exhortation did not have what they had hoped for.

Most of the exhortation’s other chapters have interesting and worthwhile pastoral advice about how relations in the family ought to work backed up by meditations on scriptural passages. But the use of scripture is often sentimental and unsophisticated; Paul’s paean to love, after all, was not especially about marital love.

Randolph Trumbach
Professor of History, Baruch College
New York, N. Y.

Published in the September 23, 2016 issue: View Contents
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