February 9, 1998
Dear Mr. DeWolf
Your letter of October 22 deserved an earlier response, for its date and for its content. Unfortunately, my project Preaching the Just Word, five-day retreat/workshops across the country in an effort to improve the preaching of justice issues, takes me away from DC for weeks at a time, with mail accumulating at home to roughly 75 letters a week. Not a valid excuse, however, in your case; I'm afraid I postponed a reply out of sheer embarrassment.
Your point is well taken, and I appreciate your effort to find (without success) a defensible reason for the omission of Roe v. Wade in my Gonzaga homily. In the area of examples, I try in my homilies and lectures to (1) include instances pertinent to the occasion and (2) vary somewhat the specific examples, so as to broaden their range and extent. Life issues (e.g. abortion, euthanasia, and capital punishment) have entered most of my homilies within my justice project; I preach at each retreat/workshop, and we have had 66 so far.
Still, I cannot escape your criticism. To your group, within the Red Mass at Gonzaga, when addressing our legal shame, I should have included Roe v. Wade. You make your case clearly, logically, incisively. It may ease some of your pain to know that henceforth, in similar circumstances, I shall give priority to this miscarriage of justice. In fact, I am presuming to add this example to what will be the published text of the Spokane homily in the collection of my homilies that should appear in early 1999.
Finally, let me thank you sincerely for this significant critique; the good effect will outweigh the embarrassment it has produced. No need to apologize for your "stridency"; I deserved it.
With a warm prayer for you and your important apostolate, I remain
/s/ Walter J. Burghardt, S.J.