November 8, 1996

page 16



As a Catholic priest whose career spans the pontificate of John Paul II, the recently published His Holiness only confirms what many of us have known all along the scandal of papal collaboration with the Casey CIA during the Reagan presidency.

None of us who have borne the burden of John Paul's single-minded revisionism are even a bit surprised that a real, live scandal has existed for many years, revolving around this pope's alignment with the U.S. political right wing.

If, as the author states, this pope's legacy to Europe and Western thought is the recommended placement in Europe of even more deadly American missiles and therefore the "credit" for really intimidating the communist "enemy," it is at least bloodless albeit unprincipled in light of the gospel; but this same tone in Central America and in concert with the same CIA did get some blood on a white cassock!

Those of us who have lived through the papal destruction of each initiative by priests and bishops in Latin America to help establish a just social order all in the cause of a one-dimensioned, steel-faced, irrational anticommunism!

Yes! We know who this man is!

We were there firsthand to witness the atrocities of the entrenched dictatorship of the Somoza family in Nicaragua, the wanton killings of hapless peasants by the Duvalier family in Haiti, the genocide in Guatemala, the destruction of whole villages in El Salvador and elsewhere in Central America by the landed aristocracy using American weapons.

Yes, we know who this man is! Our blood and that of our brother priests and bishops and the brave and innocent and starry-eyed [Roman] Catholic sisters hallow the ground of Latin America. The only person who wasn't "clued in" was Pope John Paul II!

[Fr.] FELIX [Ralph] TECCA Warren, Ohio



December 20, 1996

page 16



Fr. Felix (Ralph) Tecca's letter, "Real live scandal" (NCR, Nov. 8), invites further comment because it touches the very core of our credibility as Catholics today. How can our pope and hierarchy be so completely out of touch with the real world of the poor, the very people with whom Jesus himself chose to be identified?

Surely part of the answer lies in being able to alter the concept of ministry from "serving the community" to a new paradigm that is limited to leading and directing. From such a position of authority, which excludes all but the most superficial contact with the poor, our leaders find their authentic common ground only with the rich and the powerful, the actual exploiters of the poor. Servus servorum Dei (servant of the servants of God) becomes nothing but a hollow symbol.

We have seen over the past decades in Latin America that most of the hierarchy, especially those most recently named, are identified with the affluent minority. They are assured of "respectful greetings in the marketplace and the first seats at banquets," while their acceptance of the status quo lends legitimacy to the ongoing oppression of the poor....

The bottom line seems to be: Do we imitate Jesus Christ or Caesar? Do we minister to the least of our brethren and run the risk of being crucified or do we wash our hands of their problems and stay comfortable?

LARRY BOUDREAU San Antonio, Texas