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Reader grateful for panoramic view of Christianity

The Editor: I often clip Gerald Schmitz’s column, Readings and Meanings, to keep in mind movies worth seeing. I am thankful for his conscientious account of the festivals, especially his admiration of documentary films. But I am writing now in response to his May 20 review of the new Garry Wills’ book, The Future of the Catholic Church.

Although I am not a Catholic, I have several of Wills’ books in my library and they all bear re-reading. The future of the Catholic Church, however, seemed too partisan an interest for me — until, that is, I read Schmitz’s review, and now I would like to read Wills’ book after all.

I am always grateful to writers from the western Christian tradition who have a panoramic view of Christianity, acknowledging the undivided church up to the 11th century, the centrality of the Greek language in the Roman Empire and the early church, the church’s “sources” in the theology worked out in the early councils in the East and by the Church Fathers, the fraud perpetrated by the forged Donation of Constantine, the disputed “primacy” of Peter and so on. 

A couple of quibbles about statements in the review: although Emperor Constantine (a saint in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches) is venerated for having lifted the persecution of Christians in the empire by the Edict of Milan in 313 CE, it was Theodosius I (347-395 CE) who effectively made Nicene Christianity the official state church of the Roman Empire. About Gregory Baum, it is true that his mother was Jewish but his father was a German Protestant and I understand from an interview I did with Baum some years ago, he was raised a Protestant and it was from Protestantism that he converted to Roman Catholicism.

In the end, however, we all go back to Paul, as Wills argues. I quote too from his earlier book, What Paul Meant: “He (Paul) retained the core value of the Jewish Law, as both Jesus and he affirmed it. ‘The entire Law is fulfilled in this one saying, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ ” (Gal 5:14). — Myrna Kostash, Edmonton

Christians are called to be lovers of the truth

The Editor: A letter in the June 10 Prairie Messenger said the church needs to listen and learn from the homosexual communituy.

We are all called to be lovers of the truth and follow our Lord who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Then, according to his sixth commandment, “Thou shall not commit adultery,” we are forbidden all thoughts, words and deeds contrary to marriage between a man and a woman.

To contravene his just and holy law brings death to the body and eternal suffering to body and soul, as in Sodom and Gomorrah.

The spiritual Works of Mercy are “instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful (uncertain or lacking in clarity), correct sinners, be patient with those in error or do wrong (but always being truthful), forgive offences, comfort the afflicted and pray for the living and the dead. — Mrs. Dolores Flaskay, Calgary