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Catholicism and Latin America

August 20, 1989

Richard Rodriguez' Opinion piece on Latin America's drift to Protestantism ("A Continental Shift, Aug. 13) contains one of the most erroneous depictions of the Catholic Church I have ever seen in The Times.

How can he say "Catholicism assumes that men and women are powerless"? On the contrary, the church is more frequently attacked for its commitment to the notion of a free will and personal responsibility. Men and women are given unlimited power and license, but we must also accept the consequences of our choices and live with them.

Rodriguez's capricious allegation--"Latin America suffers because it is Catholic. Babies. Guilt. Fatalism."--is outrageous, irresponsible and wrong.

1.) Since when are children a curse?

2.) Guilt is unpleasant but necessary for mental health. It is analogous to the pain of the body. Without it one would not realize something is amiss and disordered. Guilt also protects from compounding the injury. Furthermore, the church fosters the alleviation of guilt through its sacrament of reconciliation. In addition, Rodriguez does not explain how one can be guilty when one is powerless.

3.) Hope, not fatalism, is characteristic of the church. Faith, hope and charity are the three most highly held Christian virtues.

JOHN PAUL ARNERICH

Los Angeles

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