I was astonished to read Cathleen Kaveny’s column on the RICO statute (“Not the Mafia,”  February 8). I expect most readers would agree that the church isn’t a mafia organization whose purpose is thoroughly criminal, but we all understand that there have been many efforts to expand the reach of RICO for the purpose of reaching the executive/administrative levels of organizations—people who may not commit the actual crimes, but who order, encourage, or enable the criminal behavior of other workers. Even police departments have been accused under RICO statutes. While no one suggests that pastors or bishops ordered priests to sexually abuse children, many of them surely enabled these crimes. And even if we agree that there have been serious efforts to prevent abuse more recently, the extent of the enabling is staggering.

But the real astonishing admission in Kaveny’s piece is that the church has been left “morally bankrupt” by the scandals. Perhaps she meant that “many people think” the church is morally bankrupt. After all, she claims that the church’s “central purpose…is to follow Christ.” But on the other hand, she wonders: “What would happen if the church ran with the metaphor and declared its own moral bankruptcy?” Then she lays out what that would entail. Does she mean that the church has not yet (not even yet!) dedicated itself to reforms fundamental enough to escape the serious charge of “moral bankruptcy”?

Ed Lawry
Pleasant Hill, Ore.


Thank you for publishing an exceptionally thoughtful piece about Paul Virilio’s social, political, and spiritual vision (“St. Bernadette’s Blockhouse,”  January 25). The essay served as my introduction to Virilio’s thought and work, and I’m deeply moved by his insight and witness. The militarization of Western society and the rapid decline of privacy are invisible, highly printable dangers. I commend your decision to publicize Virilio’s efforts to bring these dangers to light.

Mary Ellen Sinkiewicz
Boston, Mass.

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Published in the March 22, 2019 issue: View Contents
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