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Web Letter

The high-and-mitery bishops should be ashamed of themselves for abandoning a long tradition of Catholic social teaching. They need to be pastors again and escape their captivity to lawyers, technocrats and public-relations consultants. The episcopate's union-busting activities are especially galling in Scranton, Pennsylvania, long a proud union town. When I was a student in that diocese's parochial school system in the 1950s and 1960s, the nuns taught us that the two great commandments were to stay in a state of grace and never cross a picket line. We were proud of the fact that Scranton's Bishop Hoban joined with Theodore Roosevelt to support the United Mine Workers during the great anthracite coal strike of 1902. Though I and my classmates were a bunch of feckless coal-crackers in a depressed mining area of Appalachia, the nuns made sure to drill into our memories the Latin names of the three great Papal encyclicals on behalf of organized labor: Rerum Novarum (1891), Quadrigesimo Anno (1931) and Mater et Magistra (1961)--no dumbing-down here, Deo gratias. Yet, as always, the Roman Catholic church seems unable to cast out the beam in its own eye: hasn't the church always maintained its vaunted parochial school system on the backs of a large pool of cheap labor--laywomen today and nuns in the past? In my day, we had fifty and sixty students in a single classroom, with one nun. Control of the parochial schools should be taken away from the dioceses and put in the hands of the religious orders whose core mission is education, not spin doctoring.

Edward Moran

Brooklyn, NY

Apr 16 2008 - 11:43pm

Web Letter

In theory, the popes ever since Leo XIII's famous encyclical "Rerum Novarum" have been backers of workers' rights. Workers' unions might be another story, what with the late John Paul II's condemnation of liberation theology, especially as it applied to Third World countries and countries run by dictators who were known for wiping out any labor opposition and probably favoring the oligarchs. The assassinated Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador may be a case in point, as he was threatened and shunned by the Vatican which signaled and complicitly sanctioned his death warrant issuing from the fascist oligarchy still running El Salvador. This pope will of course employ the usual lofty abstractions in his speeches in the USA. But I also fear he will insult millions of Americans if he makes his usual denunciations of feminsim, women's rights, choice, gay rights, same-sex marriages or unions and Catholic politicians who disagree with the Vatican's thoughts on any of these issues. We will see.

Jim Guinnessey

West Palm Beach, FL

Apr 15 2008 - 4:23pm

Web Letter

I don't appreciate the tone of this letter, nor the unwarranted attacks. Surely the author makes a few good points but in particularly, two things stand out in my mind as offensive to me, a young practicing Catholic.

First, you act like the Church's sole financial responsibility is to pay salary to its school workers, when this is not true. The Church's first financial responsibilty is to fund and provide for its operations and charities.

Anyone who has ever worked for a church can expect to have a low income, and this was generally true in the past too. The exception to this in Christianity is in certain megachurches where the pastors get their own Lear jets.

And yet like any other job, when the money's tight, it's hard to pay the bills, and it's a bad time to ask for a raise. Since you seem to know that the sex abuse scandals have consumed a large portion of the money, you already know that the money's tight. And yet you seem upset that a non-profit organization should have financial difficulty, grouping them in with the most corrupt corporate enterprises out there, who are guilty of much more.

Finally, what is with the end of this article, which has decided to take on the fact that the Catholic Church has decided to maintain its policy on social norms that has come straight from Jesus Christ, who did not advocate homosexuality as an acceptable change from the norm, who did not choose women as his disciples even though he fought for their rights as God's children, who spoke against divorce directly, and who did not say it was a good idea to destroy your unborn babies no matter what you think about when life begins?

So when you conclude by inquiring about Christian teachings, you simply look silly, for the article shows you do not understand how the Catholic Church is set up, its history, or specifically, how it adheres to the teachings of Jesus Christ himself more closely than any of these errant ex-Catholic groups do.

Colin Leicht

DeKalb, IL

Apr 15 2008 - 9:15am

Web Letter

As a 70-year-old Catholic and a product of Catholic schools, I hope Bonavoglia is wrong but am afraid she's right. When I go to church and look around all I see is gray hair. When I went to France in 1968, I went to mass at Notre Dame Cathedral during Sunday high mass, and my wife and I and a young mother and her child were the only ones in church. The church can't seem to climb down from its arrogance and listen. I was told that France was 95 percent baptized, 15 percent participants. A priest friend of mine says that the sun seems to setting on the church.

James Pinette

Caribou, ME

Apr 14 2008 - 11:08pm

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