Rehabilitating the culture of poverty

Bravo! Thanks for the article suggesting creative applications of Catholic social doctrine to the federal deficit and entitlement crises (“Creative Catholic voice in budget debate,” May 22). No thoughtful Catholic can ignore Jesus’s multiple entreaties that we assist our impoverished and disabled neighbors. But the Gospel messages also promote healing and rehabilitation. Thus, Russell Shaw directs our attention to the alleviation of conditions that “create and sustain a culture of poverty.” This is why the bishops who signed the “circle of protection” letter missed the boat. The root causes of poverty should not be protected and sustained. Better to heal than to foster, borrow and spend. 

— David J. Young, Supply, N.C.

Of good and evil 

How tragic it is to witness the confusion and the discord that exists in the Church today. Russell Shaw delineates the political debate that rages between “social democracy” and “democratic capitalism” (“Creative Catholic voice in budget debate,” May 22). The crux of the problem is that one of the parties overlooks intrinsic evils like abortion and homosexual marriage in order to achieve its philanthropic goals to aid the poor and the marginalized. 

The sheep have been abandoned for many years because the shepherds lacked the courage to proclaim a basic teaching of the Church: One may not do evil to achieve good. 

— Chuck Steer, Clearwater, Fla.

Violating moral order 

The call for a more “Creative Catholic voice in budget debate” adds some common sense to the well-worn refrain of helping the “most poor and vulnerable among us.” Governments do not merit grace by legislating charity. Individuals acting in conformance with the Church’s teaching of “subsidiarity” do merit grace. The U.S. government has squandered many hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars since 1965 in a fruitless “War on Poverty.” Yet poverty is more pervasive today than ever, to prove Christ’s admonition, “The poor you will always have with you” (Mk 14:7). 

The Church needs to teach about the roots of poverty, found in broken families, unwed motherhood, absentee fathers replaced by government welfare checks, generational culture of welfare dependency and related violations of the moral order. 

— Joseph R. Fakult, Willowick, Ohio

Give pontiff more credit 

Re “If Pope John Paul II can be a saint, really, anybody can” (Openers, May 15). 

To think you know a man just by public appearances for seven years! Does John Norton know anything about Pope John Paul’s life? His life as a young man seeing his country being occupied by Adolf Hitler and later on by the Russians, seeing his friends jailed and disappearing, working in mines to avoid being drafted, studying at lunch time and at night, studying in an underground seminary, eventually becoming archbishop of Krakow and eventually coming to Rome and becoming pope? What a trajectory. Obviously I cannot tell his life in five lines. But he certainly deserves a thousand times better Opener than Norton so carelessly gave us. 

— Mariacristina Von Feldt, via email

Parental holiness 

I, too, liked Pope John; he seemed to be the closest to being “one of us.” I don’t think you have to be pope, nun or a member of the clergy to be considered saintly. 

The father or single mom who sometimes works two jobs to pay the rent and put food on the table certainly would be a candidate. Many of these moms and dads have faith, but don’t have time for daily Mass or daily prayer. Their prayer just might be asking God to help them or asking forgiveness for something they may have done. In all of these troubles they still have time to teach their children proper morals, right and wrong. 

A hard-working mom or dad who succeeds in raising their children to be God-loving, honest and good citizens should be considered saintly. The Church doesn’t notice, nor does the world, but I bet God does. 

Jeanne Dacey, via email

Sanctity in any climate 

Re “Do harsher or milder climates generate more saints?” (Openers, May 29). 

God asks that we bloom where we are planted. Many of the Old Testament prophets did not understand the Lord’s call. Even Jonah was reprimanded with a stay in the belly of the whale for three days to encourage him to follow the Lord’s will. 

The warmer the growing season, the more saints. And also the more sinners to be converted. The Good Lord grants the support his faithful servants need to do his will. 

— Suzanna Carney, via email

Marian devotions 

Re “Blessed Mother in the Americas” (Faith, May 22). 

I never realized that there were so many Marian shrines in the Americas. Thank you for enhancing my devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary! 

Bill McCuen, via email

Furry friendships 

Fellow travelers” (In Focus, May 15) is wonderful! My late wife, son and I have had a great many dogs, all of them having been strays or abandoned, and they have given us not only companionship but friendship, love and joy — more than most human beings we know. 

— T. Gavin King, Claremore, Okla.