JULY 7, 2003
Martin E. Marty
America, The National Catholic Weekly, the respected Jesuit magazine, attracts Sightings for its coverage of public topics. The current (and typical) issue, July 7-14, responsibly treats clerical sexual abuse, reporting on the week the bishops met and Frank Keating's resignation from the review board dealing with the abuse issue.
In the same issue, Donald J. Moore, S.J. reports on peacemaking efforts by Israeli and American Jews, Mennonites and other religious service organizations. From his Jerusalem post, Moore has to answer the question he regularly hears there: "Is anybody listening?" He has to answer: "Simply put, nobody is listening, at least nobody who has political clout." Plenty of "clearly Jewish, pro-Israel" peacemaker voices do not get heard there. Or here, where "American politicians seem almost fearful of listening to voices critical of AIPAC [American-Israeli Public Affairs Committee]" with its agenda "supported by thousands of Christian evangelicals" who offer "unconditional support for whatever actions the Israel government and hardline political elements" deem vital and undertake.
Moral theologian Gerald Schlabach revisits the just war tradition and sees a need for Catholics and Mennonites to work on a "just policing" approach, since the policing we now do makes different demands than does war-making. A conscientious piece.
America does remain faithful to the pope, as Jesuits are to do. So John F. Kavanagh, S.J. pictures himself hooted off stage at (Catholic or other) commencements this year, where audiences rejected speakers with whom they disagreed. Were Kavanagh such a speaker, besides his anti-abortion stand, he said he would lose more of the audience for his attacks on the present administration's "systematic neglect of our working poor" and the rest for what he calls his "'insensitive' evaluation of the present 'victory' in Iraq [quotations his]." His column has followed the papal line against the war there.
The lead staff editorial, "Noble Lies?", might as well drop its question mark. "Have people come to power who believe that leaders may lie in what they regard as the national interest?" It faults highly placed hawks in the administration for following Plato of old and Leo Strauss of the recent past. Plato: "the rulers of the state ... may be allowed to lie for the public good." Strauss: "an educated elite could rule through deception," an idea the editors believe his students in Washington have put into action. For America's stands, we surmise that the whole editorial staff -- and the pope? -- would have been hooted off the stage at commencements in 2003 for questioning and accusing that way.