Letters | Sexism in the church, outrageous redemption & more



I agree with Jim Holt (“Why I Left,”  December 1), but I have more to add (besides having a gay brother, and the fear of mortal sin when I ate before Communion or missed Mass). I am a woman, and women’s unequal status in the church is truly unacceptable to me. The church’s stance on contraception also angers me; I am a nurse and believe that being “pro-life” means being genuinely insensitive and ignorant to the plight of so many poor families and destitute women. And what about the men who force themselves upon women?

Priests were held in high esteem in the old days. This regard for clergy warped my appreciation for the intellectual women around me, and for myself.

My husband is an anesthesiologist. Often he comes home from a day in the operating room saying, “I worked with all women today.” The operating room is an important space that affects life and death. Why do men run the entire religion realm?

Marianne Polkowski-Burns
Walnut Creek, Calif.



I don’t at all want to engage in denominational kvetching, and I’m nothing but glad that B. D. McClay found her way to any branch of Christ’s church where she could feel the assurance of grace (“Why I Came,”  December 1). But I have to say that I found her characterization of the Episcopal Church completely bizarre. She experienced it, she says, as a place where if your sins cross a “bright red line,” you’re on your own, with no possibility of forgiveness. Unless my Episcopalian brothers and sisters in the United States are far weirder than I think they are—I’m a British Anglican—this seems like an unlikely contradiction of a piece of the faith so fundamental that all the churches of the east and west share it, whether Latin or Orthodox or reformed. We’re all of us dedicated to the outrage of a redemption that doesn’t have to be earned, and yet wipes away every sin, adultery very much included; and along with our sins, also washes away the lines of every color between human and human that our self-righteousness tempts us to draw. It’s true that we Protestants tend not to see the saints or the Virgin as intermediaries in this process. But again, Christ as intermediary is common to us all.

Francis Spufford
London, U.K.



Commonweal published a letter from Richard Haas of Manchester, N.J. (“Dirty Money,”  January 25). After reading it, I feel compelled to respond.

Mr. Haas alleges, without providing any proof, that the disgraced Theodore McCarrick was connected in some nefarious way to the also disgraced Robert Brennan, who fleeced investors through his First Jersey Securities. Not content with piling on against these two despicable characters, Mr. Haas sees fit to drag into his allegations of participation in skullduggery the names of two institutions of learning: Seton Hall University and St. Benedict’s Preparatory School. If Mr. Haas has evidence that McCarrick, Seton Hall, and St. Benedict’s were all knowing participants in Mr. Brennan’s dirty dealings, he should present his evidence. Instead, he calls on the esteemed Seymour Hersh to expose the dirty dealings he seems sure were committed.

Mr. Haas, before condemning other people and institutions, should present the facts that convince him his allegations are valid. He should not call on someone else to prove his assumptions correct.

Thomas J. Wright
Murray, Utah

Published in the February 22, 2019 issue: 
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The Truth & Trump

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