I want you to know that your last two issues have struck me as more superb than usual. Congratulations to staff and contributors for such excellence!

Let me comment on one writer, Jo McGowan, whom I have long appreciated. Her column on the nonordination of women in our church (“Hiatus,” June 4) was honest, heartfelt, and on the mark.

I don’t believe John Paul II has backed future popes or councils into a corner by his declarations on that subject, any more than the Council of Florence did by its stated “dogma” that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. Males are no more the sole icons of “Jesus the priest” than are women the sole icons of the “bride of Christ”; otherwise, there could be no baptized laymen! I hope that McGowan can bring herself to return to the Eucharist pretty soon, even though it is presided over only by males for the foreseeable future. The Spirit who moved Peter and Paul (re: circumcision) is still breathing.

Tracy, Calif.



As a friendly but sometimes bemused onlooker outside the Roman Catholic Church, I’m always fascinated to read something like Jo McGowan’s “Hiatus,” in which she explains that she has stopped going to Mass because of the Catholic Church’s attitudes toward women.

Dissatisfied Protestants faced with a similar situation would simply find another church to go to—and indeed, not a few Catholics are doing this. Can one be a Christian and not worship with a congregation? Can a congregation be a congregation and not be entitled to a priest, and a church be a church and not permit women or married priests to be raised up to serve its congregations? If one believes the Roman church is in error in denying the possibility of women or married clergy (and various other things), why could it not be in error also in claiming to be the only true ecclesial representative of Jesus Christ? I’m puzzled. I’d be interested in hearing Ms. McGowan’s response to such questions.

Weare, N.H.



Jo McGowan says so simply and honestly what so many of us believe about the ongoing discrimination against women in the church and the world. It takes courage to tell of her own hiatus, as she will no doubt be assailed by those who will explain that she just does not “understand” the position of the hierarchy, that she is risking her immortal soul. But as she says, discrimination has a long history of being justified by tradition, and the church in this case is no different.

Pacific Grove, Calif.



Notwithstanding the considerable merits of Jo McGowan’s argument regarding the place of women within the church, I do not understand the logic of her action in not going to Mass. In fact, it is bizarre. In substance, she is saying, “I don’t agree with you, I object to what you are doing, therefore I will do harm to myself.” Curious.

Berwyn, Pa.



Jo McGowan’s column touched on a question I have frequently asked: “Why do I stay?” After years of exploring other religions, I have come up with the following reasons: The Roman Catholic liturgy touches me in a way no other liturgies have, and it connects me to my history and my ancestors.

Matthew’s Gospel tells us we can judge a tree by its fruits. The Catholic Church unquestionably has produced an abundance of good. However, any gardener will tell you that a tree thrives after a good pruning, when the dead wood has been cut out.

Tucson, Ariz.

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Published in the 2010-07-16 issue: View Contents
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