Letters | The Polish underground, tithes & alms, etc.

An Unassuming Hero

Thank you for the book review of Story of a Secret State: My Report to the World by the late Jan Karski (“Witness,” January 24). Karski was a professor at Georgetown University, and I had the privilege of taking some graduate courses with him during the late 1950s. He was dedicated to his students and highly respected by them. At that time, he was passionately anti-Communist, but he was also very mild-mannered, unassuming, and gracious. To my recollection, he never mentioned his exploits in the Polish Underground during World War II. I learned about them later. I regret that U.S. officials did not listen to his warnings and heed his information about the Holocaust.

Rosalie E. L’ecuyer

Fairbanks, Ark.


Grassroots Evangelism

I agree completely with what Fr. Nonomen writes in “A Hole in the Basket” (February 7). Some pastors may say they can’t afford to give away a piece of the collection, but the heart of the matter is they can’t afford not to. It works, and it allows lots of good to happen. It is real evangelism at the grassroots level.

I would take Fr. Nonomen’s suggestion a bit further and also apply it at the diocesan level. When dioceses make their annual appeal, why not have them pledge a certain percentage of the money they’re given to charity? Rather than being hidden in financial statements, the pledge could be part of the collection and known upfront. It would bring many people on board who have opted out of annual diocesan collections. Local needs like housing, heating bills, and food-pantry supplies, for both children and adults, could be addressed by individual dioceses with these funds. This, too, would be a very good tool for evangelization. Like parishes, dioceses may find they can’t really thrive without giving a portion of their funds away. People will respond generously when they see that their church’s teachings about the poor are more than rhetoric.

(Rev.) Pat Cawley

Vanderbilt, Mich.


Never Again

I read Bernard G. Prusak’s “Just Warriors, Unjust Wars?” (February 7) with a mixture of interest and exasperation. Later that evening I watched From Here to Eternity on TCM and it moved me to tears.

I find it difficult to accept that we are now pressing the Japanese to re-arm, that a reunited Germany furnishes us with young men to bolster our failed occupation of Afghanistan, and that we have lately failed in our effort to rescue the old British Imperial Mandate in Iraq. Meanwhile we demonize the Chinese and Russians, no doubt in preparation for future military interventions. Enough is enough. In October 1965 Pope Paul VI, in an address to the United Nations in New York City, put the case succinctly: “No more war, war never again.”

Bernard F. Reilly

Villanova, Pa.


What About Lee?

Bernard G. Prusak’s discussion of when it is morally permissible for soldiers to fight is fascinating, but—perhaps inevitably—it leaves some unanswered questions.

What do we make of an honorable person fighting on behalf of an evil system for reasons of his own?

Prusak says that Franz Jägerstätter, who was executed by the Nazis for refusing to join the army, would have cooperated with evil if he had fought, and that it “is hard to see how we could hold that he would have acted rightly” if he had fought. In the next paragraph, Prusak considers the case of a soldier acting in self-defense and finds that “a solder like Jägerstätter would have acted wrongly, though perhaps not culpably, had he fought and killed for the Nazi cause.”

But what about Robert E. Lee or any of the other Southern generals and soldiers who fought in an army that would have preserved an immoral system, slavery, but only because they could not afford to abandon their homes, their families, and their friends—no matter their private opinions of slavery? Was Lee morally culpable? Were the Union soldiers who wanted to preserve the Union but cared little about ending slavery?

John Mulqueen

New Rochelle, N.Y.


A Legacy To Be Proud Of

Contrary to Nathan Pippenger’s claims in “Getting On with It” (December 26, 2013), Occupy Wall Street has hardly been a failure. What is the number one issue of our time—one that both Democrats and Republicans feel compelled to address, if only with lip service? You can call it income inequality or you can call it lack of upward mobility. Whatever you call it, it’s the living spirit of OWS.

Pippenger argues that the Tea Party has been much more practical and therefore more effective than OWS. By what measure? True, the Tea Party temporarily gained a Senate seat for the GOP. But since then, it has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by nominating unelectable candidates.

Occupy Wall Street did the job that needed to be done. It awakened the conscience of America.

Larry Weisenthal

Huntington Beach, Cal.

Published in the March 7, 2014 issue: 

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