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Wishful thinking.

KEVIN CLARKE'S MARGIN NOTES ("HOW TO BE HEARD ON Capitol Hill," May) is outstanding, even though his idea for establishing a strong Catholic lobby for justice-issues legislation appears far-fetched. We do live in a time and place where big money influences government and special interests seemingly sway policy-making. I don't believe the Catholic Church in America will succeed in offsetting this trend by joining it.

Sadly, the majority of American Catholics are nowhere near where the justice issues need us to be. There are many reasons for this, notably a lack of preaching and teaching the connection between justice issues and following Jesus. The statements of popes and American bishops are excellent and powerful, but they have not been promulgated. The common good is no longer even a concept for consideration, much less a goal to achieve.

Conversion to gospel values and social justice issues continues in the only way possible, the slow, individual process of change. It doesn't come easily or readily in the cacophony of other gospels clamoring for our attention and allegiance. Individual Catholics will struggle for justice and find groups dedicated to the issues. It would be great if Clarke's idea happened. At present, it sounds like wishful thinking.

Father Mark Franceschini, O.S.M. Hillside, Ill.

While I agree with the comments in Clarke's article, there is one other way we have "shot ourselves in the foot." Many politicians think of Catholics as one-issue voters. For them, Catholics are prolife and will never vote for a candidate that is prochoice no matter what the rest of his agenda may be.

This year at the Catholic Lobby Day in Sacramento a group of five visited the assemblyman who represents the district in which we live. Although we had an appointment, the legislator, who was in his office, assigned us to a curt young staff person, who did not even bother to take our names. The assumption was that because we were Catholics, we would not vote for this prochoice assemblyman. In fact, he was incorrect. I had voted for him because I am a member of his party, Democratic, and I liked many of his positions on economic issues. We need to let legislators know that we care about a wide range of issues.

Name withheld Foster City, Calif.

Clarke needs to do some homework. Political corruption in poor nations is the largest obstacle to money reaching the people who need it--politicians in poor nations fill their own pockets. I believe in the principle proposed by Pope Pius XII: The authority closest to the problem can effect the best solution to the problem. Sending money to the federal government to solve any problem is the least efficient way.

Also, what Clarke lists as "core values" are not values at all, but particular programs that he feels are important. The issues are real and need addressing. However, the programs Clarke lists are not good solutions, in my mind.

And as it is with any political issue--regardless of how strongly you or I might feel about it--you won't get universal agreement.

Julius E. Miklosy Valparaiso, Ind.

A divine face-lift

Thanks to Rosemary Luling Haughton for her article "Hail Mary: The wisdom of a subversive devotion" (May). I've recently felt the need for experiencing the feminine aspect of the divine, and I have rediscovered this in Mary.

Haughton articulated for me some of my own lingering uneasiness with the devotion and helped me to see how Mary offers a feminine face of divine love and power to a church that grieves me in its discrimination against women.

Lynn Brunner Buffalo, N. Y.

Faith or fantasy?

Reading Lawrence Cunningham's article "`What in hell can we believe?" (April) left me somewhat distraught. I sat in my chair dumbfounded. My interpretation of this essay is that hell is a figment of one's imagination. If the concept of hell is just a state of mind, a myth, a fantasy, so must be the concepts of purgatory and heaven.

Taking it one step further, if heaven, hell, and purgatory are God- and scripture-related, it is safe to state that God and the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist are also states of mind or myths.

What we have here is a domino effect. Our basic Catholic truths are like a tightly woven rope with each strand representing an accepted truth. Once one of the strands breaks, eventually they will all break. That leaves us with nothing to believe in. Our beloved Catholic faith is deteriorating, and, like the rope, it is breaking strand by strand.

Armand J. Dionne Salem, N.H.

Defining morally straight

April's The Examined Life ("I promise to do my best" by Meinrad Scherer-Emunds) makes one very important point, and that is that the Boy Scouts have always and must always remain nonsectarian. On that basis we are working responsibly with our national office to address the current policy.

But I believe the current scout policy is very much in line with the Catholic Church's teachings on homosexuality. While the Catholic Church believes that having a homosexual orientation is not in itself morally wrong, the U.S. bishops have stated, "Homosexual genital activity is considered immoral."

There are other religions where a homosexual orientation itself is considered immoral and still others where even homosexual genital activity is not considered immoral, and so, as Scherer-Emunds points out, the Boy Scouts must ensure their interpretation of morally straight is broad enough to remain nonsectarian.

Please pray for those with hatred in their hearts on both sides of this debate.

Daniel Gasparo, Chief Executive Officer Boy Scouts of America, Greater New York Councils, New York, N. Y.

I thank Scherer-Emunds for his article on the Boy Scouts. By not accepting the gay scouts, they are teaching the scouts to be prejudiced. They are punishing young boys for something that is not their fault. Jesus loves them all, and they should be reminded of this.

Shirley Noel Northbridge, Mass.

A different matter

I cannot begin to tell you how disappointed I was with the way U.S. CATHOLIC chose to present the sticky issue of the eucharistic celebration among people with celiac disease--an allergy to gluten (Signs of the Times, April).

I perceived this as a slap at the church's position. By emphasizing the denial of the eucharistic celebration to "a little girl in Boston," U.S. CATHOLIC appears to be sympathy-mongering for permitting the consecrated bread to be composed of some alternative matter.

To permit consecration of matter that is not consistent with the first Eucharist as celebrated by Jesus and the apostles would be to break from a sacred tradition. Is this what Jesus meant when he said, "Do this in memory of me?" "Bad News," indeed, but not "thanks to church rules," as you purport, but for the propagation of misinformation.

Mickey O'Brien Westfield, N.J.

As a pastor of a number of parishioners who suffer from celiac disease, I would like to pass on a simple suggestion that has allowed them to participate in receiving the wheat host made with gluten.

Whenever they come to Communion, they indicate they want a small piece, and I or the eucharistic minister break off a tiny piece and give it to them. So far, none of them have had any bad reaction to receiving Communion this way.

All of them have said to me that it is not the size of the host that is important, but that they are receiving the Body of Christ--no matter the size of the particle.

If you are suffering from celiac disease, talk to your pastor and suggest the procedure we use here in my parish along with checking with your doctor.

Father Thomas J. Hargesheimer Owatonna, Minn.

Realizing riches

The poem "Expecting Songbirds" by Joe Benevento (April) is an exquisite depiction of how fear can banish life and how faith and love can restore it. Benevento shows us all how spiritually rich our daily experiences are if we only reflect upon them. Furthermore, the cover story about hell and his poem illustrate the difference between the path to God through fear and the one to God through courage and love.

David Partenheimer Kirksville, Mo.

Wedding hurdles

Abigail Kelly's article ("Can this marriage ceremony be saved?", March) was excellent and so very accurate. My daughter is planning her wedding. She is 24, Catholic, and she is marrying a young man from the Mormon Church.

My daughter feels intimidated by our pastor, who, when she approached him for information and wedding plans, proceeded to foretell that interfaith marriages eventually fall apart.

What was going to be the foundation of my daughter's marriage--a religious ceremony at our church--is now a ceremony totally devoid of religion, celebrated at the Mormon house of worship. We asked our pastor if he would at least co-officiate the ceremony at the house of worship, and he declined.

Name withheld Irvine, Calif.
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Publication:U.S. Catholic
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jul 1, 2001
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