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This letter was published in the May 25-June 1, 2009 issue of America magazine. 

Slash and Burn 
Bravo to your editors for the editorial on sectarian Catholics (5/11)! While hyper-Republicans slash and burn to make political points, and our bishops either play along or are ominously silent, the church's hold on Americans continues to erode (as documented in "Slowing the Exodus," by John J. DiLullio Jr., in the same issue). Catholics of all political persuasions need to put their faith first and let their politics follow.
A way to do this — and to provide a true and compelling witness to our culture and the ever-increasing numbers of ex-Catholics — is to renounce violence in all situations, from abortion to the death penalty, from war to assisted suicide, from destruction of embryos to destruction of the environment. There is plenty in Catholic social teaching to argue for such a comprehensive approach. Christ did not teach that only the "innocent" have to be protected while everyone else is fair game for "prudential" violence.

We need at least some of our cardinals and bishops to step front and center and speak out for a full-Gospel, comprehensive "culture of life," an approach faithful in all respects to John Paul II's vision.  Except on abortion, so much of what the Catholic Church in the United States is doing on a wide variety of issues is practically secret. Can anyone lead us forward from this state of stagnation and decline?

Mark E. Rondeau
North Adams, Mass.

Mark Rondeau - Writer, Editor, Photographer