DEAR ABBY: I could not disagree with you more strongly regarding your advice to "Worried About My Friend," who doesn't want to be in her friend's wedding. She told you she thought her friend's fiance was abusive, and the marriage would be the biggest mistake of her friend's life. You told her to be there for the bride on her big day and afterward, in case she had to help her pick up the pieces of her broken heart -- that's what friends are for.
Abby, a friend should speak up when a friend is about to make a terrible mistake. Most of us need help when making important choices. We may not see ourselves -- or people with whom we are in love -- as others do. We lack objectivity.
In my opinion, a true friend values the friend over the friendship. Risking the friendship for the sake of the friend can be an act of great love.
Anyone considering giving this kind of advice takes the risk of rejection, embarrassment or error. When making a decision to offer advice, one should ask: "Is my decision made to help my friend? Is it motivated by love?"
You may be right, Abby, that it's unlikely anyone with wedding plans will listen to such advice, but it's not impossible. Some may listen. For the sake of those, I hope you will publish my letter. Friends are not just for picking up the pieces of a broken heart. They are also for trying to catch that heart before it shatters on the hard pavement of a poor discernment process. -- (REV.) RICHARD G. FRANCESCO, PASTOR, ST. BENEDICT CHURCH, NEWARK, N.J.
DEAR FR. FRANCESCO: You are a wise and caring religious adviser, and I'm pleased to print your letter. However, I think your timing is off.
While it is never pleasant to hear that one's friends think the object of our affections is an unworthy jerk, the time to speak up is while the two are dating.
By the time the wedding plans are being made, most brides are deaf to anything beyond the sound of wedding bells and will probably react defensively to criticism of their intended -- preferring instead to believe the friend is jealous, overly judgmental or has ulterior motives. Furthermore, many young women would be reluctant to face the potential embarrassment of calling off a wedding once the announcement has been made.