Our society today has a top-10 mentality for everything from music to social issues. Abortion, homelessness, AIDS, Central America, and drugs head the list, with day-care trailing far behind. This pop chart may be a satisfactory yardstick for music, but it leaves much to be desired when it comes to solving pressing social problems.
I believe I have at least the start of one workable solution for quality day-care. It will require active help from people who desperately want and need this for their children, and from others who believe in the concept.
God has made it abundantly clear what He wants from me. With one stouthearted companion, I’ve formed a nucleus of Religious women, the Daughters of St. Anne. We will be working with children and continue to strive toward our goal of canonical recognition as a Religious congregation. The women we will be recruiting will come from the ranks of those whose marriages have ended by death or divorce and whose children have reached independent adulthood.
I have met quite a few women who, like myself, feel a call to unite themselves with God in a special way at this particular time in their lives. I see this special apostolate as an extension of the vocation of motherhood.
Our task will be to provide a loving familial relationship for children whose parents must work outside the home. The apostolate of child-care I envision will eventually extend from infants to latchkey children (after schoob* an all-embracing family of children. Each of us will be assigned no more than two children. This will not be preschool; instead, to the best of our ability, we will provide a home-like atmosphere with much love and gentle discipline, and the beginning knowledge of God through prayer and example.
Now to the mechanics of how actually to do all this: I see several possibilities now and am sure there are many more waiting to be thought of. One possibility is that in return for our financial aid some Religious community may have extra space we could share. Another option would be a small house or large apartment rented for us by a group of parents or friends, or a parish or diocese, in order to provide a badly needed service to the community. I hope to avoid possession of land and buildings; the expense is prohibitive and ownership makes it difficult to move from one area where a need has passed, to another where it is beginning. We plan to set an affordable fee with a sliding scale according to the parents’ ability to pay. For those who cannot afford money, we will barter for services — e.g., painting, sewing, carpentry, typing.
Our spiritual life will be based on the Ignatian form. A regulated prayer life is crucial to the success of any Religious community and must always be at the center of our lives and our work.
If you like the idea, please make copies of this letter, circulate it in your parish, your diocese, at work, anywhere. We have God’s help; now we look to you. This can be done anywhere in the U.S. The Daughters of St. Anne began their work in May, her Daughter’s month. With St. Anne, Jesus’ grandmother, as our protectress, we go forward.
Department of History, Wheaton College
Although I cannot subscribe again to the NOR (the money has just run out for a number of publishers — “first food for the kiddies, then magazines” has become our motto), I cannot let the subscription lapse without telling you how much I have appreciated the mix of rooted Christian faith and trenchant cultural-economic criticism embodied in the NOR. I hope to read it further from the library shelves. God be with you.
Prof. Mark A. Noll
Department of Philosophy, Bryn Mawr College
Polishing Hannah Arendt's Reputation
You did your readers and your series on vital works a disservice with the April publication of John Lukacs’s intemperate treatment of Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism. Lukacs’s piece is particularly disappointing because this book is an important though flawed work — flawed at least in part for some of the reasons suggested by Lukacs. It especially needs re-examination now in the face of developments in Eastern Europe. Yet the strident ad hominem character of the article soon leaves the work behind to vent rage at Arendt’s supposed opportunism and at the “arteriosclerosis” of the American (or is it New York Jewish?) intelligentsia.
Lukacs himself says enough about his own essay in the concluding paragraph: “But the main purpose of this article is not the denigration of Arendt [this must be the secondary purpose], no matter how much blackening her reputation deserves. My purpose has been to draw attention yet again to the self-willed…arteriosclerosis of American intellectual life.” Clearly the consideration of the work itself is at best a tertiary concern. Lukacs is unconvincing concerning her “opportunism.” He is probably right that the analysis of Stalinism is limited and was an add-on of sorts. But this does not amount to opportunism. He fails to mention that the equation of Stalinism and Nazism as totalitarianism was much controverted at the time of publication. Arendt was not just going along with the crowd.
As regards his few comments on the work itself, I would concede that there are historical mistakes and that Arendt’s principal theses are dubious — though, in my view, worth serious consideration. The counter-examples of resistance in Poland and Hungary cited by Lukacs in opposition to her suggestion that revolution is unthinkable in a totalitarian state are not convincing in as much as they were not totalitarian states, but territories occupied by the Soviet armies. Such examples are not as readily forthcoming in Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, though the current difficulties in the Soviet Union perhaps indicate phenomena for which her analysis is inadequate. Further, I do not find the three “reversible statements” cited by Lukacs to be reversible.
Perhaps most importantly, I would suggest that Arendt was not an ideologue but a political theorist, whose reputation rests most on a work unmentioned by Lukacs — The Human Condition. It is an interesting and important work, largely because it is a persuasive attempt to revive much that is valuable in classical political theory, especially Aristotle. For this work alone, her reputation does not require “blackening,” but polishing.
Robert J. Dostal
Department of History, University of Kentucky
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
Looking Beyond the Silence of Pope Pius XII
It was very disturbing to read Larry Chase’s letter (May). Chase libels Pope Pius XII as being a supporter of the Nazi cause to the end, despite the fact that he was the author of his predecessor’s encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge that condemned Nazism in every respect. Chase also objects to the silence of Pius XII during the war. We don’t know why Pius XII chose to remain silent. Maybe because when the Archbishop of Utrecht protested the deportation of the Dutch Jews, in retaliation all converted Jews, who were not subject to deportation, were immediately sent to death camps. Or because the Hungarian bishops’ letter protesting the deportation of Jews was not permitted to be printed and delivered to the pastors.
No matter what the reason was, Pius XII saved more Jews than anybody else through his Nuncios Rocca, Cassulo, Roncalli, and Burzio. Here are some quotes from people knowledgeable about the Pope’s actions: From Rabbi Safran of Bucharest: “In the most difficult hours which we Jews of Romania have passed through, the generous assistance of the Holy See…was decisive and salutary”; from Nahum Goldman, President of the World Jewish Congress: “With special gratitude we remember all he has done for the persecuted Jews”; from the Jewish News Bulletin (June 4, 1944): “To the everlasting credit of the people of Rome and the Catholic Church the lot of the Jews has been made easier.”
Whippany, New Jersey
The Story on Pope Pius XII
I’d like to think that if Larry Chase slandered Pope Pius XII, it was unintentional or perhaps due to insufficient research or a lack of resources (see his letters in the Nov. 1989 and May 1990 issues).
I am a missionary sister who has spent many years in Japan. It was my pleasure to be a member of a retreat group of sisters from several congregations in Hokkaido, Japan. All of us considered it a great grace that the retreat master was Fr. Paul Molinari, S.J. I have already referred other people, mainly Jewish people suffering to this day, to him because of the same indictment Chase mentions.
Here is the story: Fr. Paul was in the Holy Father’s chambers on a Wednesday morning. Pope Pius was there with some of his staff. The monsignor in charge of the night wireless came in with a late news dispatch from Holland. A Dutch bishop (I’m sorry I don’t have his name) was reporting that because of a sermon he gave in his cathedral, 200 men were summarily executed. The sermon, of course, was one of very strong language against the Nazis for just such practices.
Pope Pius was in anguish. “These papers that I hold,” he said, “are full of the same complaint. If I, as head of all the bishops, release this as my talk for the morning audience, 2,000 people might lose their lives.” “I cannot do it.”
Nevertheless, the Holy Father, with the help of his staff and also his housekeeper (who has written a book about those terrible days, which has been translated into English) organized a very strong and of course secret line of passage for countless Jewish people who were thus saved from Hitler’s cruelty.
After the war, prominent rabbis and Jewish leaders from this country and abroad sent messages of thanks in the form of letters and plaques to the Holy Father, as was reported in the Catholic press.
Sr. Maria Hostia Bruns
Missing Robert Coles
Please let me know if and when you will resume the regular columns by Robert Coles.
Mrs. Clonts Lake
Robert Coles is currently suffering from a severe, debilitating, and very painful back problem. Please remember him in your prayers. We hope he’ll be back in the saddle before long.
Prof. Christopher Nugent
Mario Cuomo: Dwarfed by Thomas More
John C. Cort may have been a bit too generous with Gov. Mario Cuomo vis-à-vis his ecclesiastical critics (“Abortion & Hell-Fire,” May), especially in the light of Cuomo’s hero, Thomas More. After all, More went to the scaffold in his refusal to join his more, shall we say, realistic or forward-looking contemporaries in their “deference to statute.” Or if the Governor refers us to his Notre Dame speech of 1984, where he pleaded that abortion is less a matter of a consistent ethic than of a consensual ethic, he is then stuck with our variant of vox populi, vox dei. If the first is compatible with a King Henry VIII, the second is with an Adolf Hitler.
I fear that St. Thomas More has come upon bad days. Cuomo should take down his portrait, or try harder to measure up to it.
Mrs. Brayton Wilbur
The Dulles Clan
May I congratulate you on your May issue. I found it quite absorbing, especially the article by Fr. Avery Dulles, S.J. (“Vatican II & Scholasticism”). His uncle Allen Dulles was a good friend of my husband, and spent time at our house. I also had the pleasure of seeing Fr. Dulles’s father, John Foster, several times.
Since I was taught St. Thomas Aquinas in my school years, I was happy to read such a splendid defense of him by Fr. Dulles.
Also, I very much enjoyed the short story by Binney Paik.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Not "in Dutch"
I am a Dutch Calvinist who is appreciative of much of what you have to say. Henri J.M. Nouwen is one of my favorite writers.
Supporting John Cort
John C. Cort’s March column, “Report from the Holy Land,” gives an excellent presentation of the major problems in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Israeli designs on the lands of Palestinians, hegemony, Lebensraum, and gross human rights abuses that shake and violate the human spirit.
I was rather dismayed to see, in my May issue, two letters that find fault with Cort’s findings and not one in support. For those who sit in their academic ivory towers, claiming ideological dishonesty by those who do not hold the Israeli apologists’ views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Shame on you! Go to a refugee camp in Gaza, and see for yourself the degrading conditions that these people are forced to live in. Maybe then you will begin to question some 40 years of lies and propaganda.
However, I agree with the second letter you printed. It is extremely important to remember that, prior to and immediately following Israel’s independence, the viability of a Jewish state was not assured. The insecurity that originates from this fact, as well as the Holocaust, is real and legitimate. And it must not be forgotten that there are those who want to destroy Israel. Cort does seem to overlook this. However, current Israeli policy toward the Palestinians is divorced from real Israeli security concerns. Israeli policy is presently based upon taking land away from Palestinians and giving it to Jewish settlers. This is the fact that emotionally charges Cort as it does many other concerned people.
New Jargon, Old Errors
Fr. Arthur McGovern argues in his “The Evolution of Liberation Theology” (June) that “liberation theology has matured over the years,” so that one can no longer accuse its proponents of “neglecting the spiritual and stressing only the political”; as one example of this maturation, he adduces their recent writings in “spirituality.” McGovern apparently brackets any discussion of whether “spirituality” is necessarily Christian, or even compatible with Christianity — a question that is surely relevant to the problem of many “liberation theologians.” But even with the points he does address, his answers are at best naive.
Perhaps many of these theologians are not explicitly or specifically Marxist, but only use dialectical analysis. I am no political scientist and will not attempt to discuss that aspect of their analysis in detail. One need only be a reasonably well-educated Catholic, however, to find serious theological problems with the works of at least two of those whom he defends. (These are the only two I have had occasion to read closely, but I am told that they are fairly representative.)
Jon Sobrino writes in Christology at the Crossroads: “On the cross God himself is crucified. The Father suffers the death of the Son and takes upon himself all the pain and suffering of History.” This is Patripassianism — a doctrine specifically declared false long ago. Sobrino also declares that, “Jesus gradually fashioned himself into the Son of God, became the Son of God” — which is Adoptionism, another position explicitly condemned by the Church; Sobrino’s denial that his statement is Adoptionist and his alleged explanation of his position provide no argument, but only meaningless jargon.
Leonardo Boff writes in The Maternal Face of God that, “the Virgin Mary, Mother of God and of all men and women…is to be regarded as hypostatically united to the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity.” Now, this statement as it stands is of course nonsense, mainly demonstrating Boff s failure to understand the theological language of hypostasis or hypostatic union. Upon reading Boff s “assertions in support of this hypothesis,” however, one finds that: (A) what he seems to mean suggests classical Nestorianism, taking the implications further than any Nestorians I know of ever did, and then applying them to Mary as well as to Jesus Christ; (B) out of this Nestorianism Boff has managed to bring forth a new heresy — his own, so far as I can tell, although I am told it bears some resemblance to the Sophiology condemned by the Eastern Orthodox churches — which declares the incarnation of the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary.
These are indeed questions of spirituality rather than immediately of politics. Having said that, however, we must recognize that both writers make absurd statements precisely because of (so far as one may determine their motives from their jargon) their political concerns and analysis. Sobrino makes Patripassian statements to express God’s “solidarity” with the poor and outcast of the world, and he is an Adoptionist because of his understanding of historical analysis and the Kingdom of God viewed thereby. Boff is a — what shall we call it, a Marian Nestorian? — because of his concern for women’s liberation, his response to which involves regarding masculine and feminine as eschatological categories that must be treated explicitly and identically in the process of salvation.
The problem with these liberation theologians, then, is not their political analysis per se: Concern for the poor and for social justice is indeed (statements of certain right-wing philosophers and politicians to the contrary notwithstanding) an essential aspect of the Kingdom. But when the form of such analysis demonstrably leads to heresy, it cannot be used by Christians.
McGovern pleads that those who assess liberation theologians present them in “as fair and objective a light as possible.” One would, however, need blinders — or at the very least rose-colored glasses — to see the works of these liberation theologians as acceptable.
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