Stem cells, shared Eucharist, teachers old & new

HELPING HAND

Thank you for your editorial “Life & Science” (March 27). I am a full-time MDiv student in the Boston area, and I work as an interfaith chaplain at one of the large research and teaching hospitals here.

Recently all employees received an e-mail from the hospital administration, lauding President Barack Obama’s decision to lift restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research because such research will be conducted at the hospital. The letter suggested that Obama’s decision marked the triumph of science over ideology.

I wondered how to respond to that statement, but only a few points came to mind—for instance, that research on adult stem cells is not ethically problematic, and has already yielded results. Your editorial provided more ideas to help me develop a detailed response. I am particularly grateful that your opinion is not grounded solely in official Catholic teaching, but in principles (for example, that taxpayer money should not go to projects that many citizens find ethically problematic) that are accessible to anyone, Catholic or not. Keep up the good work!

David Scholl
Brighton, Mass.


OPEN & SHUT

Margaret O’Gara’s “Table Manners” (February 27) and John F. Baldovin’s “Liturgy & Reunion” (March 27) illustrate the contradiction inherent in any ecumenical consideration of eucharistic hospitality. The closed Communion stance of the Catholic Church, like that of the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, reflects the demand for uniformity of beliefs between churches, which is largely unattainable even among members of the same church. The open Communion of mainline Protestant churches reflects a Eucharistic hospitality, which is based on faith rather then a technical approach to beliefs and doctrine.

Until there is agreement that baptism and the Nicene-Constantinopolitan creed constitute the bottom line for intercommunion, eucharistic hospitality between Catholic and Protestant Christians won’t exist. Until then, hospitality in any meaningful sense will remain a one-way street.

James Gaughan
Shorewood, Minn.

 

MAX'S PERFECTION

Thank you very much for Harold Bordwell’s piece about the anniversary of Max Jacob’s arrest in Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire and death in Drancy (“The Perfect Sinner,” February 27). The article was sharp and succinct, and made the point through Julian Green’s apt description of Max as a “perfect sinner.” The brief and lovely description of the poet was matched by a briefer and equally lovely description of the abbey community.

Hal Weidner, CO
Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire, France

 

HOMILY HELPER?

Kevin Madigan’s article “The Redeemed Life” (February 27) contributes some essentials to the layman’s knowledge of the sacraments. Please keep him busy.

Many respected Catholic theologians believe our sacramental theology lies in shambles, though they prefer to say this only at conferences of their learned peers. Would we profit by receiving homiletic versions of the Didache’s treatment of the Eucharist? Unquestionably.

Such important historical information could be “constructively disturbing,” however, demanding a quality of reflection that does not stop with a mere confirmation-class bulletin on transubstantiation. The community hungers for an incitement to reach for meanings in the tradition.

Emero Stiegman
Halifax, Nova Scotia

Published in the 2009-04-24 issue: 
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