Volume > Issue > Letters to the Editor: March 1984

Letters to the Editor: March 1984

Opus Dei Against the Family?

“By no means…are parents called upon to abandon their child into the hands of the pro­fessionals, be they of the Church or the state.” — Silvio Cardinal Oddi, prefect of the Vatican’s Sacred Congregation for Clergy

“When God enters the picture, parents’ rights cease.” — official Opus Dei directive

 

Roman Catholic parents dis­cover without fail that an essen­tial part of educating children to adulthood is finding outside sources that corroborate their family values. In every area, in­cluding religious instruction, this has become difficult of late, par­ticularly for the “Papist” family — the religiously conservative (though not necessarily political­ly so) family with loving fidelity to Church, Pope, and Magister-ium.

Unfortunately, recent arti­cles about one of the newly prominent, religiously conserva­tive “outside sources,” Opus Dei (see the National Catholic Re­porter, May 27, 1983; New Ox­ford Review, June 1983; Chicago Sun-Times, June 17, 1983; The Wanderer, July 28, 1983; National Catholic Register, August 1983) have served only to confuse parents in search of this corroboration, by perpetuat­ing the controversy which has surrounded “the Work,” as Opus Dei has been called since its in­ception in 1928.

Somehow, other newly prominent and equally orthodox movements within the Church (the international Focolare movement and Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, to name but two) seem not to have gen­erated such polarized points of view as are being expressed about Opus Dei.

Even so, one has to look long and hard at the recent press to determine exactly where lie the bones of contention. Both sides have thus far really examin­ed only the territory of their own prejudgments, ignoring wid­er issues, notably parental rights.

None of the recent articles has presented enough objective information about Opus Dei to provide a balanced discussion, one that is long overdue. The late great Catholic layman Frank Sheed said after 50 years of street witness for Catholicism, “All polemic is stained with cheating.” Most articles on “the Work,” both pro and con, have borne out Sheed’s observation, and the ones cited above are no exception.

Almost predictably, the Left knee has had a negative re­flex. Peter Hebblethwaite (an En­glish former Jesuit) apparently based his piece in the National Catholic Reporter on the remark of a former member of Opus Dei Fr. Vladimir Felzmann: “To un­derstand Opus Dei, you have to understand Escrivá.”

The result is a gossipy essay that relies heavily on the ad hominem argument to discredit Msgr. Josemaría Escrivá, founder of Opus Dei. “[Escrivá] had little use for the Council [Vatican II]…his only interest in it was to see how far it could be exploit­ed.” “Socially, he was discreetly snobbish”; “privately, he did not like John XXIII because he was fat, undistinguished, and of peas­ant origins.” “Intellectually, Escrivá was narrow, mistrusting books,” and so forth.

Around these remarks is woven a short history of “the Work,” and certainly none of it is calculated to attract people to Opus Dei. What real information there is, and there is some, is bur­ied beneath the author’s preju­dices. The recounting of the per­sonal history of a former mem­ber does mention internal poli­cies that forbid members from attending their families’ wed­dings, birthdays, and special oc­casions of importance, but the topic is not pursued.

Several weeks later came Garry Wills’s syndicated column in the Chicago Sun-Times. He re­peated much of the NCR article, adding that Opus Dei is “weird,” and a group whose “devotion is directed to a fanatical obsession with sexual asceticism, anti-intel­lectual suspicion of modern the­ology, and reactionary politics.”

He went on to say, “It [Opus] recruits members on con­dition that they tell no one, even members of the family, they are joining.” Then summing up his attack on Msgr. Escrivá (his prime candidate for Big Brother in 1984) he concludes, “How odd that a Pope should decry Big Brotherism in Poland, while pro­moting its cause in Rome.” One gets the impression that Wills doesn’t think it odd at a just good ol’ repressive, monolithic, nightmarish, unenlightened Ca­tholicism rearing its ugly head as usual. Something that bad does­n’t deserve a fair shake, and it gets none.

So, what was that Pavlovian twitch of the Right knee? In a short piece in The Wanderer enti­tled, “Why the Enmity Toward Opus Dei?” Joseph T. Gill ex­pressed the gratitude we all have felt in discovering Opus Dei as a place where “genuine, authentic Catholicism is preached in no un­certain terms,” but only after striking back at Wills in kind: “It is difficult to imagine more ig­norance, misinformation, and falsehood could be crammed in­to a small space”; “Wills falsely and recklessly wrote”; “such malignant nonsense and drivel”; “it is surely to be regret­ted that Garry Wills chose to des­cend into the sewer and to un­load his venom unfairly.”

Finally: “The Garry Wills’ of this world hate Opus Dei for the same reason their intellectual ancestors hated Christ and put Him to death: it and its priests and lay members are faithful to the teachings of the Father. For the same reason, we love Opus Dei.” Other than an attrac­tive quote from Fr. Andrew Byrne about the general purpose of Opus Dei, there is once again little real news.

Moving upward from the low road of ad hominem vituper­ation, we find a subtler and more elegant form of reasoning, but polemical as well, and yielding as little real information. In the New Oxford Review, Fr. George William Rutler wrote a beautiful essay, “The Rise of Opus Dei.” Rutler’s prose rose to the high, one might even say, ce­lestial road, and from there his view is magnificent. It would be no surprise if the piece were al­ready reprinted and distributed widely within “the Work.”

To lay bare some of the skeleton of his reasoning, we have this: Opus Dei is like Vati­can II: misunderstood, misrepre­sented, and therefore part of Church tradition; only the Church that defined the God-Man can explain Opus Dei, and the explanation is that it is a Per­sonal Prelature (which has not been explained yet in detail for full members: the Rule has never been published); to accuse Opus Dei of secrecy is to hold Jesus suspect; Christ was dismissed by “logical people” for being con­troversial; “but to dismiss Opus Dei is to contradict the voice of the modern Popes and architects of Vatican II” (and inferentially to dismiss Christ).

Besides the dicto simpliciter and the false analogy, most of that is argumentum ad verecundian. This (unfair) appeal to rev­erence or authority is just as ir­relevant a manner of reasoning as the ad hominem argument, but rather harder to expose graceful­ly, while still keeping full appre­ciation of the surrounding prose.

As for real information, there is next to none. However, Rutler’s suggestion that the fu­ture will see Opus Dei as the in­carnation of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium is reassuring. Quite pos­sibly it could turn out to be true, but we’ll have to accept this conclusion too, on faith, not on the power of Rutler’s reasoning.

Finally, we have Carl B. Schmitt’s “The Fruits of Sanc­tity” in the National Catholic Register, which stresses a point totally ignored by most of Opus Dei’s critics: that sanctity is the entire raison d’être of Opus Dei. He insists that sanctity can only be pursued in terms of human freedom, quoting Msgr. Escrivá many times on that point.

Such personal and whole­some testimony is hard to resist, much less criticize, for Schmitt barely suggests that there is any controversy. That would be quite all right if he didn’t begin with premises that effectively prevent further inquiry. He quotes Msgr. Escrivá: “The only explanation [for the ‘enormous success’ of Opus Dei] is the will of God,” and again as saying, “The only thing that’s important is what God thinks.” Then he continues himself, “no Catholic wants any­thing to succeed in the Church unless by the will of God.”

The trouble with statements of this type is that you can only believe or disbelieve, accept or reject them. It would be hard to imagine anyone questioning Msgr. Escrivá, “But, how do you know that your success is the will of God?” since everything that exists, including failure and evil, can fall into that category. “We know that our success, the approval by the Pope and the Church, is the will of God,” goes the inferential answer, “because the Pope and the Church have approved of us,” which is, of course, the begging of the whole question.

When there are important questions being asked and few answers being volunteered, par­ents have learned that begging the question serves the same pur­pose as stonewalling. And that can excite healthy suspicion as well as some resentment.

Add to that Schmitt’s state­ment that Opus Dei insists on sound doctrine, which pleases Papist parents enormously. But he gives an unexpected reason for it: “If you are clear and solid on what is necessary, and only on what is necessary, then you are freer than the birds in every­thing else.” Speaking as a parent/CCD instructor who barely sur­vived the 1960s coping with the imaginative interpretations given to St. Augustine’s “Love and do what you will,” that does not re­lax my parental vigilance.

Because of the lack of real information coming from official Opus Dei spokesmen as well as from the recent press, it should be clear that more must be said, not less, about Opus Dei and the Papist family. In the saying, care must be taken to avoid fallacious reasoning, because this reasoning does such great disservice to the Truth, to Opus Dei, and eventu­ally to the Church.

What parents need is the truth, the whole truth, and noth­ing but the truth, concerning their God-given children and the recruiting methods of Opus Dei, which lead to vocations to “the Work.”

Fr. Andrew Byrne, an Opus Dei priest, wrote to London’s Daily Mail, January 17, 1981: “In some cases when a youngster says he wants to join we do ad­vise them [sic] not to tell their parents. This is because parents do not understand us.”

It is obvious that any poli­cy that deliberately prevents par­ents from taking part (however badly) in the fundamental deci­sions of their children will pro­duce immediate controversy as well as long-range emotional chaos within the family group. More to the point, it violates the spirit of Pope John Paul’s Familiaris Consortio: “The right and duty of parents to give education is es­sential, since it is connected with the transmission of human life; it is original and primary with re­gard to the educational role of others, on account of the unique­ness of the loving relationship be­tween parents and children; and it is irreplaceable and inalienable, and therefore incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others.”

Failure to acknowledge this fundamental role of parents in today’s world of Planned (“no parental notification”) Parent­hood, Moonie-like cults, the North American Man-Boy Lovers Association, and other secular humanists seeking the ruin of Catholic families, borders on ma­licious mischief.

The acknowledgment by Opus Dei of its recruiting policy is welcome, since it confirms the private experiences of many fam­ilies, my own included. More should be forthcoming about the corollary practice of “family dis­cretion” within “the Work.” Too often this practice has been inter­preted to mean solely “my new family, not my old,” as I heard one full member put it. For it is this slow, unannounced change of fundamental loyalties that can seem so unnecessarily cruel and insensitive to the natural family, rejected (for life?) without expla­nation. Moreover, Papist family members are intensely reluctant, even when their basic family trust has been violated, to cause scandal to Holy Mother Church by openly criticizing any group so publicly “Catholic.”

Efforts must be made to avoid further misunderstanding between Opus Dei and the Cath­olic community of families. Any­one who has read Msgr. Escrivá’s handbook of Opus Dei spiritual­ity, The Way, cannot help but be impressed by the depth and profundity of his Catholicism. But it is neither anti-Catholic nor heretical to weigh his insights ac­cording to the scales provided by Catholic tradition and doctrine.

How best to understand these, for example:

Maxim 399: “If, to save an earthly life, it is praiseworthy to use force to keep a man from committing suicide, are we not allowed to use the same coercion — ‘holy Coercion’ — in order to save the Lives (with a capital) of so many who are stupidly bent on killing their souls?”

Maxim 941: “Obedience, the sure way. Blind obedience to your superior, the way of sancti­ty. Obedience in your apostolate, the only way, for in a work of God, the spirit must be to obey or to leave” (my italics).

Maxim 644: “Be silent! Don’t forget that your ideal [your vocation to God through Opus Dei] is like a newly-lit flame. A single breath might be enough to put it out in your heart.”

Maxim 639: “Remain si­lent, and you will never regret it. Speak, and you often will.”

Maxim 650: “There are many people, holy people, who don’t understand your way. Don’t strive to make them under­stand. It would be a waste of time and would give rise to indis­cretions.”

Is it official Opus Dei policy that “holy coercion” can be used in the pursuit of potential mem­bers? Or that “blind obedience” is required?

Is it policy that speaking of one’s vocation to “the Work” is disallowed for the reason that the mere speaking of it will de­stroy it? How well prepared are the newly accepted members?

Of the “many people, holy people, who don’t understand your way,” how many are par­ents? Why would it be a “waste of time” to try to explain what is going on to them? And what kind of “indiscretion” is it that a “holy person” cannot under­stand?

These questions, asked in loving concern and all humility, must be addressed publicly by official spokesmen for Opus Dei. Not to provide answers is to per­petuate a situation in which Catholic parents — as in the Plan­ned Parenthood view — are some­how the natural adversaries of their own God-given children. And that is unacceptable on ev­ery level of understanding.

Michael di Sales

Brooklyn, New York

Small Comforts

As an admirer of James J. Thompson Jr.’s Christian Classics Revisited series, I regret that Thompson decided to include in his project Jacques Ellul’s L’impossible priere (Dec), a work which surely more properly be­longs to some corpus hereticorum.

Impossible Prayer (weakly translated as Prayer and Modern Man) is an attack on the poor — on the poor at prayer, no less. El­lul’s thesis is that all “tradition­al” and all “spontaneous” prayer is theologically “impossible.” The French lawyer insists that the “only reason” for prayer is that prayer has been “command­ed by the Wholly Other.” He thus places a taboo on all prayer that springs from men’s hearts. We are even told that genuine “prayer is the sole act left to our decision which can attack effec­tively…the religion in man’s heart.”

Almost pharisaically, Ellul assumes the role of an inspector-general, scrutinizing the prayer of his fellows for its allegedly re­missive spontaneity. Here is one of his reports: “There is a strange custom in France which consists of inscribing prayers on the vo­tive plaques erected in churches. These graffiti…are often very moving, sometimes funny or as­tonishing. There are requests by the thousands for success in school examinations, requests to be loved by ‘X,’ or to be healed…. ‘Let me find work before to­morrow so that I can feed my daughter.’ ‘Give me the courage to jump by parachute’ (etc.).”

Our inspector-general’s judgment? “The graffiti reveal in­deed the content of individual prayers, and the result is not par­ticularly satisfying!” Too obvi­ously “from the heart,” you see!

Plainly, Ellul has forgotten the sacred truth that no sooner do the poor desire something (as Thomas Aquinas puts it) than God hears them before they put up a prayer: “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will hear” (Isa. 65:24). As Thompson rightly says, quoting Bernanos, “the wish to pray is a prayer itself.”

But Thompson goes on to knock those who “pester the Lord for small comforts and cheap benefactions.” Happily, tradition affirms a more expansive view: “It is lawful to pray for what it is lawful to desire,” writes Augustine. This removes the superfluous and the inordinate from genuine prayer, but not small comforts and benefactions. These we may pray for, as for large benefactions, not in order to change the Divine disposition, but that we may “deserve what Almighty God from eternity has disposed to give” (Gregory).

I agree with Thompson, though, that a great mystery is involved here.

John F. Maguire

Albany, California

Democratic Socialism’s Failure

In reading the NOR, I have come across articles and letters excoriating capitalism and Mi­chael Novak. Simultaneously, the NOR has seemed to oppose total­itarian societies. Perplexed, I awaited NOR’s interpretation of a just economic system — a Christian system, I presumed, that would be unlike any we have seen before. Well, to my chagrin, John C. Cort’s article ap­peared in the December issue and confirmed my worst suspicions — social justice and the Catholic Worker Movement are properly socialistic.

I simply couldn’t believe what I was reading. Cort stated that property rights are “simply” a matter of human law. But what of God’s Ten Commandments; most notably, the Seventh — “Thou shalt not steal” — and the Tenth — “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s goods”? Property rights from God, no?

After the obligatory snide remark directed at Novak, Cort attempts to show how democrat­ic socialism is the best system and that it is not totalitarian. And so, he believes essentially that workers should control the workplace. Has he seen what his workers tried to do to Grey­hound? And why should entre­preneurs, who provided the work situation through their own crea­tivity and, yes, capital, suddenly just give everything away?

Cort’s analysis of foreign examples of socialism is simplist­ic. No mention of Israel’s 100 percent inflation rate, or Swe­den’s high rate of suicide. (As for France, Cort should speak with my family that actually lives there, and chafes under Mitterand’s socialist tax scheme.)

And so, Cort failed to make his case. He presented no empiri­cal evidence that Democratic so­cialism would improve society — in fact, all the evidence is to the contrary.

Jacques Casanova

Garden City, New York

JOHN C. CORT REPLIES:

I think Mr. Casanova makes a good point in quoting the Ten Commandments to challenge my reading of Thomas Aquinas that “property rights are a matter of human law, not of divine or na­tural law.” I should not have put it that way.

Actually, Thomas did not use phrases like “property rights.” Let me quote him direct­ly. But first, two quotes from the Old Testament to balance, not refute, the Commandments cited by Casanova: “Behold, to the Lord your God belong…the earth and all that is in it (Deut. 10:14). And: “It is God’s gift to man that every one should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil” (Eccles. 3:13). (Empha­sis added).

From these principles Thomas concludes, “Community of goods…is part of the natu­ral law,” and he defines the na­tural law as “the participation of the eternal law in rational crea­tures.” By this law we know that God made the earth and all that is in it for the use of all man­kind, as revealed in Deuterono­my and Ecclesiastes above. Thomas concludes, “The distri­bution of property is a matter not for natural law but, rather, human agreement [humanum condictum].” Once the agree­ment is made (and note that here there is a kind of democratic as­sumption of voluntary agreement rather than coercive dictation), then God, by reason of the Sev­enth and Tenth Commandments cited by Casanova, underwrites that agreement.

This too is oversimplified shorthand. But let us pursue Aquinas further: “The individual holding of possessions is not, therefore, contrary to the natural law; it is what rational beings conclude as an addition to the natural law.” Thomas then gives some of the common sense rea­sons that rational beings might appeal to in making this addi­tion. We are all aware of them, and I would agree that those who favor social ownership of the means of production, whether public or co-operative, must be sure that the structural arrange­ments used are as consistent as possible with such considera­tions, which come down mainly to, “each person takes more trouble to care for something that is his sole responsibility than what is held in common or by many.”

Just as strongly, however, Thomas insists on the natural law of common use. There would seem to be a contradiction here, as Casanova noted, and the seem­ing contradiction has been the occasion for politically conserva­tive Christians to neglect the lat­ter insistence (common use) and concentrate exclusively on the former (private initiative). In re­solving the seeming contradic­tion, Thomas starts from the fol­lowing assumption: “For the well-being of the individual two things are necessary: the first and most essential is to act virtuously (it is through virtue, in fact, that we live a good life); the other, and secondary, requirement is rather a means, and lies in a sufficiency of material goods, such as are necessary to virtuous ac­tion…. Finally, it is necessary that there be, through the ruler’s sagacity, a sufficiency of those material goods which are indis­pensable to well-being.”

In that section of the Summa Theologica in which Thomas explains, “to speak quite strictly, it is improper to say that using somebody else’s property taken out of extreme necessity is theft,” he places the two aspects of property in their proper rela­tionship, grounding them solidly in the teaching of Saints Am­brose and Basil, as expressed in Basil’s dictum and quoted in my article: “The coat that hangs in the closet belongs to the poor” (emphasis added).

We are therefore talking, not about charity, but justice. Thomas is not satisfied with wel­fare programs, necessary as these may be. He wants people to sup­port themselves — hence, full em­ployment. “For the peace of the state it is necessary therefore that the legislator should think out remedies against these rea­sons for injury done to others. In the case of those who are injured because they are unable to ac­quire what is necessary for sub­sistence, there will suffice the remedy of some modest posses­sion, so that through their own labor they can earn their keep for themselves.”

In all probability Thomas was thinking of land, or perhaps a sum sufficient to start a small business. The equivalent today is of course a job. Note that Thom­as is saying that if the govern­ment does not take care of this, then there is question of injury. Justice has been violated, not just charity.

Much more could be said about the economic and political implications of Thomistic teach­ing, which is really little more than explanation of the meaning of our Lord’s words in Matthew 25 (“Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the shelterless”), which in turn is explanation of what it means to love our neigh­bor, which in turn is explanation and proof of what it means to love God. But enough for now.

Let us proceed to Casano­va’s more immediate objections to my socialistic tendencies:

(1) The Greyhound strike. Has he noted that about the same time Greyhound was protesting that its drivers’ salaries were excessive and needed to be cut, it gave its chief executive a raise, from S400,000 to $500,000?

(2) Ex­cessive inflation in Israel. Israel has not had a socialist govern­ment since 1977. The inflation was a byproduct of the conserv­ative Begin government.

(3) Sui­cide in Sweden. Recently I visit­ed Sweden and was captivated by the order, beauty, cleanliness, efficiency, prosperity, high em­ployment, and low inflation that characterizes that country now, and has over the years it has been governed by socialists. On my re­turn I revisited New York City and was appalled by the contrast. Such comparisons are not entire­ly fair, but they are relevant, and Sweden has proved to my own satisfaction that democratic so­cialism can work.

About the suicide rate: In Sweden most suicides occur on sunny days — the psychology be­ing that if a person feels suicidal on a sunny day, then the sense of despair is all the more compelling than if one feels rotten on a rotten day. Neither Sweden nor any human society is a substitute for the Kingdom of God, nor for the consolation of God’s grace, and, sadly, if one feels rotten in a good country like Sweden, then one must feel rotten indeed. Sweden, like all nations of the modern world, has not been im­mune to the cancers of atheism, agnosticism, doubt, and despair. Socialism cannot guarantee Thomas’s “good life.” All it can do is do a better job than capital­ism of providing that “sufficien­cy of material goods [for all], such as are necessary to virtuous action.” That is enough for me, and I hope it might be, some day, for Mr. Casanova.

Social Issues

A note to praise Dale Vree’s remarks on the not-generally-praiseworthy Gregory Baum, es­pecially Vree’s first paragraph (Dec.).

One small point: about questions that can be called “so­cial,” I don’t think the Magisterium has ever spoken quite as apodictically as it has about ques­tions of pure faith and personal morality. In those social areas, it isn’t so easy to find an intellec­tual position that puts a man fairly and squarely into heresy, or a course of action that puts him fairly and squarely into mor­tal sin, such as might be fully “social,” and not individual. (The rich man who oppresses his employees or tenants is of course an individual sinner.)

But in the great encyclicals most notably, the Magisterium has at least proposed a perspec­tive, a scale of values and priori­ties, and very much on the lines Vree suggests; and it has done so very emphatically. A good Cath­olic should therefore seek to go along with it. If he gives it some­thing short of a fully theological “assent of faith,” he is, I think, justifiable. But he’s in a bad way if he opposes it flatly, as so many do who are elsewhere so vocal in their zeal for the Magisterium.

My book on the nuclear weapon approaches completion: with luck, it will succeed in an­noying everybody except NOR readers. I find that with very few exceptions, people’s attitudes to that question correlate exactly with their politics and hardly at all with their professed beliefs in faith and morals. (The same is true of people’s responses to such cases as Sacco-Vanzetti and the Rosenbergs. In either case, the same facts are available to all of us. Yet political conservatives interpret them in one sense and political liberals in another. Mor­al: strong political partisanship — in any sense — is a bad thing. It clouds the judgment.)

But I really write to extend some high-powered four-engined prayers, to you and all your NOR people.

Christopher Derrick

Surrey

England

Intellectual Vacuum

What is the meaning of Juli Loesch’s article, “My Pilgrimage: Coming Home to the Church” (Nov.)? Of the many such jour­neys that must have been availa­ble to you for publication, is it indicative of this magazine’s poli­cy to have presented one that “balances” opposition to abor­tion with all manner of implicit ugliness toward conservative American values? What does it mean when she compares “the Left with their abortions” to “the Right with their bombs”?

Bombs are, regrettably, weapons, and weapons are, historically, tools of defense or offense, and in our nation’s case, defense. De­fense, incidentally against a very real threat. Loesch has drawn a parallel between a country’s right to self-defense and the Left’s murder of unborn babies. At last the NOR has arrived at that intel­lectual vacuum where such as this can be glibly stated as actual fact. It is not only incorrect, it is a lie. I will not renew my sub­scription.

Scott Williams

Lawrenceville, Georgia

For Christmas Glitter

For many years our family has enjoyed the New Oxford Review — it has encouraged us in and taught us our Christian faith.

But with deep regret we re­ceived our December issue con­taining Carl R. Schmahl’s “Sa­maritan Woman: A Christmas Story.” We love Christmas — ev­en the glitter. Shame on you for giving us a hate-filled Christmas story.

We’ll not let the NOR in our house again.

Ralph & Carmen Bennitt

Augusta, Georgia

Religion & Politics

Nowhere in the United States, I think, do religion and politics come together so stimulatingly and so fruitfully as in the New Oxford Review.

Thomas H. Robinson

University of Maryland, Asian Division

Okinawa, Japan

Icons Wanted

The icons of Dorothy Day and Archbishop Romero by Rob­ert Lentz in your December issue were most impressive. You ought to consider making reproduc­tions of them available for sale to your readers.

Richard Kimball

Highland, California

Ed. Note: Full-color prints (lith­ographs) of those two icons — as well as of several others, including Dorothy Day and Archbishop Romero — are available from Bridge Building (sponsored by the Roman Catho­lic Archdiocese of San Francisco).

With this issue of the NOR, Robert Lentz joins our masthead as a staff Artist.

No Ecclesiastical Slant

To the NOR: a most blessed future! I read with joy of your Editor’s and Managing Editor’s reception into the Roman Catho­lic Church. I hope that the NOR’s becoming a Catholic pub­lication, albeit unofficial, does not reduce the input of articles from reformed and evangelical catholics, Anglicans, and evangel­icals. Those of us who desire to read independent, honest intel­lectual work by Christians who feel a strong identification with the historic, apostolic Church, but are in communion with non-Roman Catholic churches (I am a Lutheran), have few sources that are not with ecclesiastical slant. I have felt none in reading the NOR. I pray this freedom will remain.

Thank you for your work. It is stamped with love, love from the Eternal fount — the tri­une God.

Tom Wimmer

Marion, Illinois

Presbyterian Encouragement

I want to offer you some encouragement on the decision to make the New Oxford Review a distinctly Roman Catho­lic journal. I was originally at­tracted to the NOR because of its willingness to present varying perspectives on our common faith, although i recognized in its pages a deep affection for the Roman Catholic Church.

Now that the choice to be­come explicitly Catholic has been made, I feel left out in the cold, a little like a kid staring through the window at a party to which he has not been invited. But this is the price we pay for making decisions, isn’t it? Some are inevitably left on the outside.

My hope is that you do not suffer an undue loss of subscrib­ers, and that the Lord whose call you are obeying will smile upon you and make you prosper. Please, for the sake of those who are not called to the Catholic Church, remember that many others look to the NOR for liter­ate pan-Christian thought. Try to remain as open as you can.

Rev. Carl R. Schmahl

First Presbyterian Church of King Ferry

King Ferry, New York

Ed. Note: Will do.

Me Against The World

I was given your name and address by someone who said you are a very understanding magazine with a deep compas­sion for those who are incarcer­ated.

I am a prisoner in the Neva­da State Prison in desperate need of your help. I feel as though it is me against the world, and no one cares. It is hard for me to admit it, but I am lonely and I honestly need friendship. It is my hope that a few of your readers will be able to relate to my loneliness and will be kind enough to be­friend me by writing me.

Edward Lee Jones

Carson City, Nevada

You May Also Enjoy

Caelum et Terra Readers: Welcome!

It is with sadness that we announce that there’s been a death in the family…

How a Neglect of Physics Has Turned Christianity into a Myth for Modern Man

What would most Christians say if asked to give a brief summary of the history…

The News You May Have Missed

Germany's Generation X... Marriage With Benefits... Furry Repositories of Love... Ministers of the Gospel of Atheism?... A Man-Turned-Woman-Turned-Man's Prerogative... Good Luck Charm?... and more