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BCM welcomes letters from readers. Letters may be edited for length and clarity, and must be signed to be published. Our fax number is (617) 552-2441; our e-mail address is bcm@bc.edu.



Re "Who Will Care?" by Gail Friedman [Spring 2002]: The number of nurses per patient has been reduced to dangerous levels, in the name of cost containment. Nurses often work extra shifts to ensure there is an RN available. After 16 hours, these nurses are more prone to make errors, but the hospital is covered because it has an RN on duty. When the stress gets to be too much, we have burn-out and we lose these nurses to some other line of work.

The reason patients go the hospital is for nursing care on a 24/7 basis. Those who don't need nursing care go home. Hospitals need to hire more nurses and do with less profit to make the profession one that will continue to be attractive to the experienced RN.

Vienna, Virginia


The reason that there are not more males in nursing is that nursing schools in general make it hard on male students. I have done a survey of over 300 male nurses across the country. Asked "Do you feel that males are represented fairly within nursing?" a clear 68.65% said no. Look over my web site: www.malenurse-magazine.nursing-sites.com

New Albany, Indiana



The article by President William P. Leahy, SJ, ["The Gift," Spring 2002] was a more upbeat reflection on the priesthood and the Society of Jesus than the book review by Charles R. Morris ["Changed Order"] in the same issue, which spoke of Jesuit discouragement and confusion.

Even if the Catholic Church resumes the option of marriage for parish clergy, sees its way to encourage women who feel called to the priesthood, and continues to have significant roles for laity, I believe there will always be a place for celibate organizations. The health of the Society of Jesus resides in a focus on the call of Jesus as role model, witnessing to his gospel in the sacraments and in individual life, not merely in compassionate good works.

Belmont, Massachusetts


Congratulations on the Spring issue. It was timely, serious, helpful. I especially appreciated the piece by Alan Wolfe ["Presence of Mind"].

I do not, however, think readers were well served by Charles Morris's sad and shallow review of Passionate Uncertainty: Inside the American Jesuits, by Peter McDonough and Eugene C. Bianchi.

I wonder if you would have published that review if you had seen what Katarina Schuth, OSF, had to say about the book in the March 25 issue of America magazine. Schuth, who holds the endowed chair for the Social Scientific Study of Religion at the Divinity School of St. Thomas University in Minnesota, first pointed out how the authors' non-random sampling of nearly equal numbers of present and former Jesuits virtually guaranteed an unreliable final product. She then questioned the authors' acknowledged first principle of deliberately downplaying affirmative responses to their survey questions. Next, she gave examples of how the authors' own ideas and biases are freely, cheerfully, and confusingly intermingled with the survey data, and then wondered how the memories of men who left the order 10, 20, and even 30 years ago can possibly be relevant to the Jesuits' sense of themselves and their mission today.

Boston College Jesuit Community



Re the special section "Inside the Storm" [Spring 2002]: In the world of six degrees of separation, it happens that I once knew Fr. Paul Shanley, the priest accused of raping young boys at a parish outside Boston. My connection goes back to the late 1970s, when I was a BC undergraduate and a seminarian. My liberal Catholic friends and I heard that Fr. Shanley had been fired by the late Cardinal Medeiros from his street ministry of tending to homeless teenagers, many of whom were gay.

Shanley gave an unsanctioned speech at O'Connell House to a group of BC students. As best as I can now recall, his message was that the Church needed to be more accepting of gays and should minister to them. After hearing of the speech, BC promptly banned him from speaking on campus again.

The University had no prescient insight into Shanley's unsavory activities with children. Instead, I believe that the University, like the Archdiocese of Boston, was fixed on the theory that practicing homosexuality is immoral.

That is the part of the story that I remembered when allegations about Shanley first appeared in the national press. Those articles mentioned that Shanley had been assigned to a parish called St. John the Evangelist in Newton, Massachusetts. I did not realize until more recently, when the news of his arrest came across the wires, that St. John's went by another name that I knew very well: St. Jean L'Evangelist.

St. Jean's was a French-Canadian mission parish on its last legs despite a devoted group of graying parishioners. A kindly old priest in his mid-seventies named Fr. Frank LeBrun ran it. Fr. LeBrun was a tolerant and welcoming man who accepted Shanley into St. Jean's after a number of other pastors had turned him down.

I went to St. Jean's on Sundays to lead music at Mass. Occasionally, I ran into Shanley at the rectory. He was tall, slender, handsome, and slightly graying: not the old man extradited from San Diego to Boston.

There were children in the congregation, though not enough to keep the elementary school open. But Boston in the 1970s was not a place that had an easy time integrating its public schools, and St. Jean's, just outside the city, was something of a haven for the children of white parents looking for an escape. At the time, the Boston archdiocese gave those parents a hard time transferring their public school children to their local Catholic parish school, so as not to undercut the attempts at public school integration. St. Jean's flew under the radar screen.

Thinking about Shanley for the first time in 20 years, I wonder if any of his victims were children whose parents sent them to St. Jean's in order to avoid having them attend integrated public schools in Boston. I wonder whether the myopic views of the Boston archdiocese about homosexuality blinded it to Shanley's real danger. I wonder why a Church, despite reports of misdeeds, allowed a sexual predator to operate inside a school for seven years.

Some believe that good will come out of this scandal and that the Catholic hierarchy will be forced to reform by ordaining women and married priests. I doubt it. The Church will make cosmetic changes to root out pederast priests, and a celibate hierarchy will resist deeper reform with its every fiber.

Oak Park, Illinois


I am a clinical psychologist who has specialized in treating individuals traumatized by childhood abuse. James Porter, now an ex-priest, repeatedly sodomized me when I was 11 years old. When in high school, I sought pastoral counseling with a priest; on the second meeting he attempted to fondle me. Parishioners hounded my parents from their church during the publicity surrounding the Porter trials and lawsuits against the diocese, accusing their son of being a Church-basher or of just being in it for the money. When my parents asked the pastor to intervene, he did nothing.

So I had ambivalent feelings when I read about President William P. Leahy, SJ, initiating a two-year, special academic focus on the issue. A part of me shouted, "Hurray, at last, thank God, go Eagles, leave it to the Jesuits!" Another part of me looked in vain for any mention of a need to focus on the key issue: an autocratic, patriarchal, medieval governing structure seriously dissociated from living life on life's terms. Even now, church authorities are trying to scapegoat the media, gays, lawyers, Vatican II, American culture, and the victims. What's the real problem? It's enabling pedophiles.

I strongly encourage other survivors of clerical abuse who are members of the BC community to speak up. Add your voice to the debate. This is the best way to heal. And it is also the best way to keep the debate at Boston College real and not simply cosmetic, insular, and academic.

Las Vegas, Nevada


Fr. Robert P. Imbelli has it right; the crisis is first about fidelity to Christ and his proclamation, then about ecclesial structures. Absent such purification of the inside of the cup on the part of everyone, efforts at cleansing the outside will only produce even more desiccated "Catholic Lite."

Claremont, New Hampshire



The 1824 cure of Mrs. Ann Carbery Mattingly after a novena by her parish priests at the suggestion of the German priest Prince Alexander of Hohenlohe ["Wonder bar" by Nancy Lusignan Schultz, Spring 2002] is more than obscure American Catholic trivia. It is part of the living tradition of her parish.

Each Thursday after the 12:10 p.m. Mass, that parish—St. Patrick's Church, in downtown Washington, D.C.—still celebrates a novena to the Holy Name of Jesus, inspired by Mattingly's sudden cure on the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus after a seven-year struggle with cancer.

If you're ever in the nation's capital on a Thursday, join us.

Centreville, Virginia



I just read your article in the Winter 2002 issue on women's boxing ["Get Busy, Girlfriend," by Carlo Rotella]. Thank you for putting into words what so many feel. Women should have every opportunity that men do to compete in any sport and make as much as they do.

I am very proud of the trail that Mitzi Jeter has blazed over the years to make the path of future women boxers a little easier. I'm sure that before too long, Mitzi will have the title "world champion" after her name, because she is the best women's boxer in the world. OK, I'm biased, but that's what cousins are for.

Edgewater, Florida

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