Catholics and the poor
Editor: In his guest column printed in your August 22 edition, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver, Colorado wrote: “His (Congressman Paul Ryan’s) fiscal perspective has been roundly condemned as being somehow anti-Catholic — even by a few American bishops.” In fact, the budget proposal spearheaded by Congressman Ryan in the House of Representatives was criticized by representatives of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as well as about 60 other heads of various Christian denominations and religious organizations and the heads of 45 developmental agencies. According to the statement released by the USCCB, Congressman Ryan’s budget plan “undermines the lives of dignity and the rights of poor and vulnerable people.”
While I absolutely agree with the archbishop that compassion for the poor cannot disregard fiscal responsibility, we must also keep in mind that the Catholic social justice principle commonly referred to as the “preferential option for the poor” forbids disciples of Christ to balance the budget of the United States on the backs of those in need.
Editor: Catholic concern for the plight of the poor, as shown in the September 5 issue of TLIC, is really impressive. You could hardly turn a page without coming across an editorial, a column, a news item or letters to the editor on the subject. Clearly we’re all united on whether the poor should be helped. We differ only on how this help should come about.
Should the government bear total responsibility for discharging this obligation? Or should it have a smaller part, the remainder to be assumed by the private sector? Of course either way there are lots of problems. For one thing, the government has to pay heavily to manage the behemoth of public assistance and the cost must be borne by the taxpayer. The private sector, on the other hand, can do the job more economically, but might not have access to all the needy.
However, each of us is entitled to his own idea of justice. What’s wrong is the assumption that the other guy’s motive is ulterior. Ridding ourselves of hostility in this matter might just permit an amicable solution to bubble to the top of the mix.
Catherine N. Dillon
Catholics and the President
Editor: The author of the letter “Catholics for Obama” (TLIC 9/5) refers to that phrase as an oxymoron. She may want to take note of statistics from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life showing that 54 percent of Catholics voted for President Obama in 2008. It is likely that this year a similar number of Catholics will vote for the president’s re-election. There seems to be a faction among Catholics who would like a smaller Church made up of people who believe exactly as they do. Many Catholics, however, continue to make political decisions based on more than one issue and refuse to be driven out of the Church. Some Catholic Democrats agree that abortion is wrong, but have decided that Republicans are more interested in talking about the issue than in doing anything about it. Others may see abortion as one part of what the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin referred to as the “seamless garment” of life issues that include ending war and poverty, caring for the sick and aged, making capital punishment illegal, strengthening gun control, and caring for the environment. Others may object to the Republicans’ attitude towards undocumented immigrants; the GOP’s denigration of science; their efforts to weaken workers’ rights; their opposition to equal pay for equal work; and their pandering to the birthers, who believe the ridiculous notion that President Obama was born outside the United States. Still others may have observed that the Republican presidential nominee has changed his opinions on a number of issues, depending on which stance will get him elected.
Editor: Having watched the Republican Convention and then the Democratic Convention, I was troubled by the fact that “God” was taken out of the Democratic platform, until they voted it back in. What are the Democrats doing?
Mrs. Obama’s speech was about what a good man her husband is, and that he is on the side of women; but how is abortion, right up until delivery, for almost any reason, a good thing? And contraceptives, for all women, should be made available!
These are some of the things that the President and Mrs. Obama believe in and want to use our taxes to pay for.
As a Catholic I believe in God and His laws and strongly disagree with the president and his party.
Forty-two percent of our country is Roman Catholic, but we are quiet. We can make ourselves heard loud and clear on Election Day.
Vote your beliefs and pray for our country.
St. Ignatius Retreat House
Editor: Pete Sheehan’s August 8 article has made the news of the closing of St. Ignatius Jesuit Retreat House in Manhasset official. How sad indeed is everyone who has ever been connected there in one way or another. I wonder what the generous Bradys would have said today. One must commend the remaining two Jesuit priests who are still there as spiritual pillars of the retreat house — Fathers Damian Halligan and William Walsh, who are beloved by all who have been able to frequent Inisfada. Same holds true for all the Jesuit priests and brothers who served there over the past many years.
It was my privilege to give Inisfada some 16 years of my PR background and experience by laying the groundwork for opening the doors to many more people. Many more lay people joined in swelling the numbers of those who needed special retreat offerings on weekends, or during the days or evenings when they could attend. I had spent 12 years at Fordham University and my family boasted of (my) Jesuit uncle who, although he was in the Southern Province of the Jesuit Society, did make his retreats up north at Inisfada and the retreat house in Staten Island, which sadly is also closing.
If there is a silent majority of Catholics out there who have not been able to serve our Church, our faith, in more pronounced ways, now’s the time to get involved. We need to join in the Army of Christ … We need to bring the Holy Spirit out to the highways and the byways much as Father Damian Halligan said in Mr. Sheehan’s superb article. The only convincing one needs is to look at the world about us and (almost) weep.
Thanks to Notre Dame Parish
Editor: I would like to make a correction to your recent (Sept. 5) article, “On their way to priesthood.” Deacon Jason Grisafi’s home parish is Notre Dame. Our pastor, Father Bill Slater, and the entire parish community have in some way led to my son’s vocation. I would like to thank Sister Mary Jane Coleman, Director of Religious Education, and the many dedicated catechists who helped lay the foundation for this journey. Thanks, also to Maria Cantasano, Coordinator of the Youth Ministry, who brings alive the Word of God through her many good works with our young adults. As Jason’s mother, I take great pride in his diaconate ordination and know that Notre Dame Parish has played a significant role in his spiritual formation.
New Hyde Park
TLIC apologizes for the error.