Letters • April 20, 2020


Photo brought back memories

In the Time Capsule (Catholic Virginian, March 9), I was overjoyed to see a photo of St. Katharine Drexel during a graduation at St. Emma.

The photo brought back memories of my own graduation from St. Emma in June 1966, when priests, nuns, lay teachers and classmates said “goodbye.”

Thanks to St. Katharine Drexel and her half-sister, Louise Morrell, African Americans such as myself were able to experience a first-class Catholic education.

When I entered St. Emma in 1962, St. Emma Industrial and Agricultural College for Boys had become St. Emma Military Academy as far back as 1934 when my dad graduated. The academy offered a secondary education along with military science studies and training in an industrial trade such as carpentry, plumbing, electricity, tailoring, shoe repair, auto mechanics, woodworking and agriculture. There were catechism classes and daily Masses.

My memories also go back to the Lenten seasons, when socials and dances between St. Emma cadets and St. Francis de Sales’ girls were delayed until Easter.

I also recall the military parades on Easter Sundays, when my parents, relatives and large crowds gathered to gaze at the marvelous formations and socialized afterward.

Even though St. Emma closed in 1970, my aging classmates and I, and those classes before me, can hold on to the special memories for years. These experiences were all possible because St. Katharine Drexel and the wonderful Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament touched so many lives, especially African Americans and Native Americans.

The photo of St. Katharine Drexel will be a keepsake.

– Matthew Thomas Jr., Bedford

Clericalism hinders Church’s divine mission

Though I appreciate his intentions, I’m afraid Father Pat Apuzzo has muddied the waters somewhat in his treatment of “clericalism” (Catholic Virginian, April 6).The phenomenon he ascribes to “some laypersons” and to “some clerics” is better termed a “general sense of moral superiority.”

It can be common to all Catholic Christians and, in fact, to all human beings. Witness the New Testament parable of the pharisee and the tax collector (Lk 18:9-14).

Bishop Robert Barron, in his “Word on Fire” series on notable Catholics, has a treatise on the author Flannery O’Connor. The latter clearly demonstrates the evils of moral superiority in her short story, “Revelations.””Clericalism,” however, is a specific type of moral superiority attributable only to clerics.

The author Stephen Boehrer, a laicized priest, perfectly illustrates the reality of clericalism in his book “Purple Culture.” Despite the fact that “there are a lot of deacons, priests and bishops who do not fall into clericalism,” according to Father Apuzzo, there are too many who have and, sadly, many who still do.

Much of the cover-up for the ugly abuse scandal in the Church can be attributed directly to clericalism. Pope Francis himself has identified clericalism as a major impediment standing in the way of the Church’s divine mission. We Catholics cannot afford to muddy that reality.

– Francis M. Glynn, Yorktown

Letter was insult to African American Catholics

This letter is a response to Jack Rowett’s letter (Catholic Virginian, March 23). He states that the disproportionately high number of African Americans in our prison system is caused by their culture of pregnant teenagers, absent fathers and rampant crime.

Is he suggesting that single parenting, abandonment, and illegal behaviors are exclusively African American characteristics? Is he suggesting that the white population of the prisons don’t share many of the same problems?

This higher rate of incarceration of African Americans has been with us throughout history. Virginia, much to our shame, has a history of enslaving multiple generations of African Americans to the most brutal form of incarceration. And then “separate, but equal” and Jim Crow laws led to persistent institutional, systemic racism. Our legacy of mistreatment of African Americans has ensured that they remain disadvantaged as we remain advantaged.

African Americans have been in this country since the very beginning. Their communities, neighborhoods and schools should look like all the other affluent neighborhoods and schools that we white people feel entitled to enjoy. But indeed, they do not. The sad fact is that prejudice, discrimination and racism continue to plague many African American communities.

It is an insult to the faithful and loving African American Catholics who read this newspaper to have “their culture” maligned by superficial, mean-spirited and inaccurate sociological theory. Their deep commitment to our faith and the abiding belief in “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” are lived on a daily basis by our African American friends.

– Helen Henrich, New Kent

Focus on salvation of souls

Jack Rowett’s letter (Catholic Virginian, March 23) seems to have touched several nerves.However, the statistical fallacies abound.

First on the bonfire of vanities is that correlation implies causation. Statistical studies always mention controls when demonstrating causation — a lack of causation must be demonstrably absurd statistically. Most of the statistics cited are meaningless correlations in the absence of controls. Second, case studies lack generality specifically since there are no controls.

Studies controlling for the effects of race, income, and education show a culture of fatherlessness and teen pregnancy likely partially causes problematic behavior.This defends Rowett’s final statement, but little else.

Similarly, controlled studies show that lack of access to good legal services (where lawyer’s income quasi-substitutes for quality) leads to more incarceration as noted by Rachel Condon. Our final log on the bonfire — peer review of flawed studies does not catch all errors.

However, Catholics, ought to focus on the salvation of souls. Indeed, social justice degenerates into “the soft bigotry of low expectations” without first giving the gift of faith. Social science atheistically recognizes churches as social levelers.

Without faith firmly proclaiming our equality before God, there is no leveling. Without welcoming all into our family of faith, there is no leveling. Using language to place certain groups in their own “separate but equal” Mass or offer the Mass preferring one vernacular against another inhibits leveling. Hence, universal Latin equalizes and gathers — as Vatican II promoted.

Equal before God, we implore him in the Lord’s Prayer to address our spiritual needs first in the Eucharist, our daily bread, and then our temporal daily bread. People universally need Christ!

– Timothy Olmsted, Farmville

Positive development

During this distressing time of global pestilence with its accompanying sickness, death, economic hardships, and disruption of normal life, including the loss of public Masses, at least one positive development has occurred.

In the Diocese of Richmond, our Lord, truly present in the Blessed Sacrament in tabernacles, has emerged from distantly placed adoration chapels to appear front and center in the main bodies of our churches which is his proper place.

The ways of the Lord are mysterious indeed. Let us pray that after this trying period has passed our Lord will remain front and center so that the faithful may more readily behold and adore their king.

– Mary Jo Anger, Chester

Pandemic a ‘sacred, holy time’

With all of our advances in the past 50 or so years in science, medicine and technology, many of us and society in general seem to be so self-satisfied and absorbed in our accomplishments that we have felt no time nor need for God, much less the need to acknowledge him!

But in the midst of our recently completed Lent and creation’s joyous hallelujahs to spring’s renewal, God has not forgotten nor forsaken us!

In his perfect timing, and especially in our diocese’s bicentennial, a time of jubilee, he has ordered our lives, in a very concrete way, to come back to him and to experience our own spiritual renewal and his deep and everlasting love.

Literally, God’s very important announcement and command to us and to the world is: “Be still and know that I am God!”

Is he using tough love to accomplish this? Most definitely! But often, as we know, when a child has been headstrong, hostile and estranged through sin, even a most loving parent needs to use tough love to gain that child’s attention and to let the child know the situation is serious.

Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic can be life-threatening, but what a sacred, holy time this truly is in so many ways! So, with this grace-filled, God-given holy season in our history, may we implore his forgiveness and accept love’s invitation to return to him and receive the peace that only God can give.

– Sharon Lucas, Henrico

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