To: (Multiple email addresses may be specified by separating them with a comma)
BY Jim Cosgrove
Regarding the letter titled “Shoulda Been an Anti-Catholic Contenda” (Oct. 10-16):
I was disturbed by the letter writer's pronouncement upon The Godfather as an anti-Catholic, if not the anti-Catholic movie. He mentions the last and most intensely revealing scene of the movie as the ultimate proof. The calculated killing spree cut with the scene of the baptism of Michael's nephew and godson (not child) is horrific, but this is not an attack on the Catholic Church.
There are many disturbing acts of violence in The Godfather. Having family roots in the culture of Sicily and the Mafia, I felt that the movie was brilliant in showing the hypocrisy and evil of the Mafia tradition. If the Church or its members are involved with this kind of evil, by all means, don't sweep it under the carpet and only produce movies and write books about the good ol' days and the perfection of the Church! Does being anti-Catholic mean recognizing our faults and need for improvement? I hope not; I would have to call myself anti-Catholic.
We should be aware that the Mafia is still very strong in our world. The Holy Father has spoken in strong language to the Catholics of Sicily about this, and there are individuals who are bravely standing up against the institution. The story told in The Godfather is very real. Those people were Catholic — but, unfortunately, the truth of the Gospel was not lived. All of us should take this to heart, especially at this time in our country's history.
ELIZABETH A. BURGHARDT
While I agreed with much of Tim Drake's column “The President and the ‘First Lady’” (Nov. 28-Dec. 4), I was surprised that he drew a sharp distinction between Sen. John Kerry and President John F. Kennedy. Remarking that, in “matters of faith, they were miles apart,” Drake implied that Kennedy was a more serious Catholic.
In the 1960 campaign, Kennedy opposed any aid to parochial schools and was against establishing diplomatic relations with the Vatican. Speaking before a group of Protestant ministers in Houston shortly before the election, Kennedy told them that he believed “in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.”
Kennedy's statements on the campaign trail led some Protestant observers to warn voters against him on account of his secularity. The Lutheran scholar Martin Marty described Kennedy as “spiritually rootless and politically almost disturbingly secular.” The theologian Robert McAfee Brown similarly thought him a “rather irregular Christian.”
On matters of faith, these two JFKs from Massachusetts seem to have much in common.
JOHN F. QUINN
Middletown, Rhode Island
An Opportunity Missed
Your editorial “Judge Casey: Pro-Life, Pro-Law?” (Sept. 5-11) lauded Judge Richard Casey for the record he is giving the Supreme Court. But Judge Casey failed to take advantage of the golden opportunity provided him. He should have declared the partial-birth abortion procedure unsafe for the mother, as it is. Also, he should have challenged one of the tenets of the Roe decision, that first-trimester abortion is safe for the mother. In fact, it is not.
WILLIAM F. COLLITON JR., M.D.
I am very curious why so many good people are silent on the concept of the formation of a third political party and the nomination of a morally solid and unapologetically Christian candidate for president in 2008.
Is it not time to re-Christianize today's “Roman Empire”? Are we Catholic Americans timid hand-wringers? Are we totally indifferent to the peril of the slippery slope we are on? Are we fearful of “rocking the boat”? Are we so enamored of our playthings that we have no time to be concerned for our collective souls? Where is our faith?
The Catholic Church has an unbeatable organization of parishes across the 50 states. Other Christian groups have the same. I'm sure the numbers add up. It should attract all good Democrats who have been disenfranchised by flaming liberals taking their party to oblivion. It should attract those who held their collective noses as they voted Republican in November.
I feel strongly that there may be a short window of opportunity to exert a Christian influence on our nation and that window would be open in 2008.
Let us not forget the lesson learned at the battle of Lepanto! Armed with Mary's rosary, strengthened, guided and nourished by the sacraments, possessing the three theological virtues of faith, hope and charity — and the four cardinal virtues of fortitude, temperance, prudence and justice — God's will may be done.
JOHN H. LEE
Port Townsend, Washington
Regarding “Think Christmas” (Letters, Sept. 26-Oct. 2):
Thank you, fellow Virginian Lauren Hall, for sharing your use of Christmas Madonna stamps throughout the year. What a wonderful idea! This Scripture came to mind: “We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).
JEANNE MARIE MACDONALD
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Divorce and the Reformation
I would like to make some additional observations regarding the column by Jennifer Roback Morse titled “What Straight Divorce Has To Do With Homosexual Marriage” (Commentary & Opinion, Oct. 10-16).
I totally agree with Mrs. Morse that no-fault divorce has been devastating to Americans' understanding of marriage. However, I believe it needs to be pointed out that, until the Protestant Reformation, divorce was considered impossible — as is still the teaching of the Catholic Church today. The (post-Calvin) reformers, having jettisoned the sacraments, no longer regarded marriage as sacramental; they considered it no more binding than any other legal contract. As such, it could be rescinded. This, I believe, is where it all began, and we are facing the fallout. No-fault divorce is merely the law drawing to its logical conclusion.
For a Catholic Catholic Mass
Are they still at it? In “New Mass Translation: Not Stalled, But No Final Text Yet” (Sept. 5-11), you mention three objections to providing an accurate translation of the Mass texts.
Some critics say that using “And with your spirit” instead of “And also with you” is “theologically rigid and a movement away from natural English expression.” And there's the complaint that the new translation should be “ecumenical,” which is to say, in accord with the changes that Protestant denominations put in their translations to fit their theology. Finally, feminists want to replace accuracy — not to mention “natural English expression” — with “inclusive” language. So what if one survey pointed out that 68% of Catholics oppose castrated English, while only 9% “strongly” support it? The shrillest wheel gets the most oil.
Here's an idea: Let's translate the Mass prayers in accord with Catholic theology instead of Protestant theology or feminist ideology.
I was pleased to see the explanation and diagram of a feeding tube with the article: “Terri's Life In the Balance: Florida Supreme Court Overrules Feeding-Tube Law” (Oct. 10-16). I'd like to expand on that.
A feeding tube can be “normal” to many people. The man in the drawing was lying in bed. But if a person is able, he can perform his regular duties while still dependent on this specially prepared formula. How do I know?
Our son, Bob, was born 21 years ago. He had numerous medical problems and surgeries. His early special-education teachers told us he was severely retarded. His therapists told us he would never run or ride a bike. His doctors told us his adult height might reach five feet tall, if he even survived his endocarditis, collapsed lungs, heart failures and several other medical situations.
Today our son still depends on this artificial feeding for 80% of his daily nutrition. He hooks himself up to his feeding tube for 8 to 10 hours during the night. Our doctor told us that this “formula” is the perfect food. At 6 feet 2inches tall, Bob plays on his college baseball team, lives in a dorm and is a senior studying a double-major at Franciscan Universtiy of Steubenville.
Terri Schiavo has the right to be loved. Her family has the right and duty to help her reach her potential, whatever that may be. God has a purpose for every life, no matter what the age or condition. Let's continue to pray for those who try to protect life.
MR. AND MRS. JAMES ALBRECHT
BY Jim Cosgrove
Tim Drake's article “Youth Revolt” (Sept. 19-25) indirectly quotes Greg Dinato as saying he supports abortion rights. He never said such a thing, Dinato tells us. And, in fact, the Ohio Senate minority leader's voting record has been rated 100% pro-life by Ohio Right to Life. The Register regrets the mischaracterization of Dinato's position.
Partial Birth, Total Defeat
In the letter titled “Of Presidents and Judges” (Oct. 31-Nov. 6), a Register reader presented a strong defense of Judge Richard Casey's decision in the matter of partial-birth abortion. The author pointed out articulately that Mr. Casey, a judge, is subordinate to the Supreme Court and must obey the law. We are a nation that believes in the rule of law. It is our foundation. I was almost convinced. But not quite.
There are good laws and there are bad laws. For example, millions of people were put in Nazi concentration camps; 6 million of them were executed simply because they were Jews. This was all done according to the law. The Nazis wrote the law. In subsequent trials in Nuremberg, Nazi defendants claimed their barbarous actions were within the existing law. Allied judges, some being Americans with backgrounds similar to Mr. Casey's, rejected this defense.
The United States was founded by lawbreakers. All our forefathers risked being hanged for treason. Why did they break the law? They spelled out their reasons clearly in the Declaration of Independence: “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.”
“These ends” would be barbarous acts. By Mr. Casey's own admission, partial-birth abortion is a barbarous act. Yet he defends it as being within the law. What law? God's law? Catholics think not, and Mr. Casey claims to be Catholic. One of his defenders insists that the Casey decision puts the Supreme Court on the spot. But the court has long been on this spot, and they don't mind at all. They have declared themselves in support of abortion, any kind at any time, and they feel no shame.
Mr. Casey had a chance to take a giant step — to disobey the law, thus showing the Supreme Court the one thing that it does respect and fear: that a vast chasm exists between the court and the people, causing fragmentation in the government. Mr. Casey might have lost his job, but, as the Lord says, “Blessed are they who suffer in my name.”
Mr. Casey lost his chance and, in doing so, may have lost the cause. If we can't win on partial-birth abortion, it is difficult to see how we can win at all.
WILLIAM A. STIMSON
I appreciate the article in the Register on celiac disease and the problems it can cause faithful Catholics, “Wheat Allergies Don't Stop Them” (Nov. 7-13). Both my daughters have recently been diagnosed with celiac disease. Giving up the host has been a great sacrifice. I would like to point out, however, that the headline for the article is very misleading. Celiac disease is not an allergy. Allergies cause the body to produce histamines. Unless you have something like a severe peanut allergy, taking an over-the-counter antihistamine can cover the problem.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune response of the body to gluten. Gluten actually damages the intestinal tract in the body, and there is not any type of medication that can cover or moderate the problem. The damage to the villi in the intestinal tract causes the body to mal-absorb nutrients and causes the body to form antibodies that can attack the organs and joints.
Many people have allergies to something, and they are accustomed to popping a pill and taking care of the problem. People with celiac disease cannot pop a pill. It is a very different problem, and it is important for priests to understand why just the amount of gluten present in the host can cause such tremendous problems.
Food allergies work out of the system in approximately five days. It can take three months to a year for the body to recover from damage caused by gluten for the celiac patient.
I love your paper. Keep up the good work.
Little Rock, Arkansas
Barbara Nicolosi's essay, “Art and Beauty” (Commentary & Opinion, Sept. 12-18), addressed issues that have been bothering me for quite some time. Some of the modern statues depicting Mary are truly ugly. My question is: Who are “they” who commission this “art”? Who approves their selections to be placed in our churches?
When God the Father, in his infinite love and power, created the mother of his divine Son, he made the most perfect woman to inhabit this earth, in every way. Mary was a young, beautiful Jewish woman and, certainly, among many other attributes, feminine. Why would anyone say “she is more human than strictly female”? More importantly, why is that statue in our cathedral?
I am looking forward to reading more of Ms. Nicolosi. Thanks for presenting outstanding articles that address a multitude of current issues. We always look forward to our next issue of the National Catholic Register.
Thousand Oaks, California
Keep Priests Off Pedestals
Regarding the letter titled “Celibacy: Now More Than Ever” written by Joseph Gesing of Silver Creek, Ga. (Sept. 19-25):
This type of misinformation is indeed what helped lead to the sex scandal. This kind of thought is exactly what put priests on their pedestals, making them venerated by the faithful and thus giving them excessive power and keeping the faithful subservient to them. This is why so many faithful look to priests as “godly and holy,” next to God, the hand of God. The Church needs to teach that these men are just men with none of the powers of Christ. They are merely an instrument of God in administering the sacraments. Merely a tool and not God himself or any part of him any more than the rest of us.
I realize how conservative this publication is and do not expect this letter to appear in it. What a tragedy that is. It just goes to show the editors’ bias and blindness and the desire to keep things as they are, thus thwarting any healing process within the Church.
Amazing how this sounds like the religious authorities of Christ's days on Earth.
Group Leader, San Jose Chapter
Survivors Network for
Those Abused by Priests
Your front-page article “Bishops Tackle Issue of Communion for Politicians” (Oct. 3-9) was barely adequate; the headline suggested vigor when, actually, “waffle” would have been more accurate.
Only at the very end of a long piece would a reader see the observation from Father Richard John Neuhaus at the “Public Witness/Public Scandal” conference, pointing out that it is a longstanding scandal that most bishops have tried to evade their responsibility in calling Catholics to account in years past. Your writer might have noted that Father Neuhaus received the only standing ovation of the day.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Regarding “Abuse Board Member is Abortion Activist” (Oct. 31-Nov. 6):
The background of persons to be nominated to serve in the U.S. Bishops' National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People should be evaluated more carefully.
That one of its current members, attorney Pamela Hayes, is an abortion activist is ludicrous. Somebody who brags about promoting a practice that leads to the killing of innocent unborn children certainly does not meet the qualifications to serve on this board. When questioned about her support for abortion, she answered: “So what? What are they going to do about it?” The answer to her arrogant comment is quite clear: She should be removed from the board at once!
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Editor's note: Shortly after the Register published the article cited above, Pamela Hayes resigned from the National Review Board.
When a Whim Becomes a Law
Regarding “Judge Casey: Pro-Life, ProLaw?” (Editorial, Sept. 5-11):
I agree with you that it's “only through the rule of law that we will end abortion.” It is precisely Roe v. Wade itself, however — more than any other judicial decision in our history — that shredded the rule of law in this nation. The servile obeisance of the executive and legislative branches to any utterance of any justice anywhere in the United States — an obeisance often given willingly — has transformed our former republic from a government of laws to a government of men.
Thus does the right of free political speech get perverted (literally) into the right to produce and market pornography. Thus do the courts command tax increases (the Kansas City school system being the most infamous example). Thus do California judges order (order!) that Catholic charities pay for contraception. Thus do judges order (order!) the Massachusetts Legislature to allow gay “marriage.” Justices throughout the United States, often appointed for life and impeachable only with enormous difficulty, have become a “law” unto themselves: each a Caesar, basing their rulings upon nothing but their whims. And those whims now encompass even so-called “international law,” as explicitly and publicly stated by several of our current Supreme Court justices. I consider this last development to be outright treason: a betrayal of our Constitution, a betrayal of our heritage, a betrayal of the wishes of the American people.
As for Roe itself: That the Court should have discovered in our founding documents the right to abortion as having been somehow “overlooked” and “there,” in the Constitution's penumbras, all along, is preposterous. (This is actually what Roe asserts!) The truth is that Roe never has been “law.” It was the end of law as God gave it, and as originally acknowledged and respected by our Declaration of Independence and Constitution as actually written.
Aside from courageous civil disobedience, we can all pray. We must re-dedicate ourselves to our faith and to our families every day. And then we must go forth and work to overturn the prevailing view that the courts have the final say in every aspect of our lives.
John Gerard Boulet, M.D.
Silence Spurs Suspicions
Archbishop Alexander Brunett from Seattle deserves congratulations and thanks for having had the wisdom to appoint a 10-member lay review board to evaluate the 13 allegations against that diocese (“Abuse Rooted in Poor Preparation for Life of Celibacy,” Nov. 7-13). It took courage for him to take this action and to openly report the board's findings.
Wisdom and courage must be his hallmarks. I found it telling that, as a young priest serving as an academic dean at a seminary in Michigan, Archbishop Brunett tried to warn his bishop about potentially problematic seminarians, but he was branded “counterproductive” and moved to parish work. It is pathetic that his good instincts were thwarted. Back then, many priests knew about sexual abuse by fellow clergy — and they kept it a secret to avoid looking bad.
I would like to know how our Church leaders developed the mentality of silencing men of wisdom and stubbornly defending the unfit. Is this mentality still prevalent today? My guess is that it is.
That article only addressed abuse of children by homosexual priests. But what about priests who are disobedient to God (and their bishops) by having sex with women? What about all the priests who have fathered children but are shielded from all responsibility by morally clueless bishops? Why do priests who know about fellow priests having sexual relations with women stay so quiet? Is it possible that, somewhere, there is a still small voice of God questioning all these injustices, but it is branded “counterproductive”?
Palo Alto, California
The best way of encouraging prayers for the poor souls in purgatory is by performing indulgences. Thus I was disappointed to see that your otherwise excellent article “Prayers to Purgatory” (Nov.14-20) failed to make more than a passing mention of indulgences.
The doctrine of indulgences is still critical to Church teaching. Indeed, the Holy Father made a point of granting a special set of indulgences for the recent Jubilee Year, just to highlight their importance. And doing indulgences is easy. The Calendar of Indulgences produced by Bridegroom Press (bridegroompress.com) lists every indulgence the Church offers us in a 128-page appointment calendar that can also double as a prayer journal.
The Church has honored 20 days during the year by attaching special plenary indulgences to those days. For those who want to live the liturgical year the way the Church intends, this calendar demonstrates how to follow the bright lights of indulgenced days and prayers toward a fuller life of holiness throughout the year.
The writer is founder of Bridegroom Press.
Online Singles Resource
Regarding “Dating for Life” (Prolife Profile, Nov. 7-13):
It is a great blessing that you recognize this ministry to singles for the pro-life apostolate it is. I've had several people respond to the dating and courtship article asking for more resources.
Please let your readers know that there are lots of resources on the single life and on dating at our website, GodofDesire.com.
I ask you and all of your readers to pray for this purity apostolate.
The writer is director of the singles ministry “God of Desire: From Dating to Courtship to Paradise.”
BY Jim Cosgrove
When Obedience Is Criminal
I was completely shocked and stunned to read the Sept. 5-11 editorial excusing Judge Richard Casey for his decision striking down the congressional ban on partial-birth abortion (“Judge Casey: Pro-Life, Pro-Law?”).
The judgment of Judge Casey's soul is in the hands of God. We can hope that his attendance at daily Mass and his devotion to the rosary will result in his obtaining the graces necessary to publicly repent of this objectively grave mortal sin, not only of injustice, but also of scandal. However, we are obliged (see Catechism, No. 2480) to avoid words and attitudes that would encourage another in perverse conduct and, thus, we are obliged to tell the truth and not to whitewash the gravity of the offense.
The idea that the “law of the land” required Judge Casey to overturn the ban evidences a completely erroneous view of law. It has long been the Christian tradition, that an objectively unjust law is no law and does not bind. No matter what the Supreme Court said in Stenberg v. Car-hart or elsewhere, it simply has no God-given authority whatsoever to tell a lesser magistrate he must rule in favor of the “right” to kill unborn children. Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton and Stenberg v. Carhart are not acts of law, understood in the proper sense as ordinances for the common good. In fact, they constitute tyranny. Obeying them is not respecting the “rule of law,” just the opposite: This is a case where obedience to an unjust law becomes a crime.
Also, all justices, at all levels of the judiciary, are themselves legally bound by the Constitution and have no right whatsoever, whether moral or legal, to decide that a woman's alleged “right to privacy” should take precedence over the right to life of an innocent. When they attempt this, they are acting ex lex, outside the proper sphere of their judicial authority. Thus a decision by Judge Casey to uphold the ban would have been the legally, as well as morally, correct decision, according to the “rule of law” and the Constitution he swore an oath to uphold — while his unfortunate actual decision is void of legal, as well as moral, validity.
Vincent J. Schmithorst
Natural vs. Man-Made
I found the discussion of the issues involved in Judge Casey's decision interesting (“Judge Casey: Pro-Life, Pro-Law?”, Editorial, Sept. 5-11). I will leave it to the legal scholars to debate whether or not there was a possible legal interpretation that would have allowed Judge Casey to find in favor of the partial-birth abortion ban.
I think the moral situation needs further examination. The Church teaches that we are obliged to obey the just laws of the land, but we are not required to obey manifestly unjust laws. We should oppose them. A soldier is required to obey his commander, but not when commanded to do something clearly evil.
By extension I would propose that, when one takes an oath to uphold the law of the land or interpret the law of the land, this, in reality, only applies to just laws. There is a higher law — God's law or the natural law — that does take precedence. Legislators should not work to pass laws supporting abortion even though it is the law of the land. It also seems to me that judges should not reaffirm abortion laws even though it is the law of the land. I do not think a judge's oath to uphold man-made laws supercedes his or her obligation to uphold the natural law.
Pope John Paul II says in Evangelium Vitae: “Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection.”
James E. Brown Jr., M.D.
I appreciate the focus that the Register has given to the moral implications regarding infertility treatment (“Helping Fertility the Natural Way,” Oct. 17-23, and “Couples Ask: What's Wrong With In-Vitro Fertilization?”, Aug. 8-14). I also appreciate that you offer information so as to help couples make better moral treatment choices. God bless!
Ten percent of all married couples struggle with some kind of infertility during the course of married life. Most couples will state that it is their “right” to conceive and carry a child to birth. Unfortunately, most married Catholics who struggle with infertility hold a similar conviction.
The personal, spiritual and societal consequences of manipulating reproduction have led to grave and dark behaviors. It has been my experience that the message of personal pro-life choices in the midst of suffering through infertility is still too quiet.
Catholics need to speak out against the horrendous medical practices and, at the same time, offer hope, encouragement and testimony to suffering couples.
Squaw Valley, California
We Have Prevailed
Regarding “Catholic Voters Score Pro-Life Gains” (Nov. 14-20):
Praise Our Lord, we have prevailed through prayer, correct thinking and action at the polls on Nov. 2. This 84-year-old is left wondering about one specific point. In the days and months and years ahead, will the mainstream media begin tweaking numbers so that poor Ralph Nader — a man of principle, though we may disagree on many points — will be blamed for “costing” Kerry the election as he was blamed four years ago?
If I may belabor another point, why do they still advocate fetal stem-cell research? After well over 20 years, this research is still full of “maybes” and “possibilities,” with no positive results. Use of adult stem cells (and cells drawn from babies' umbilical cords), on the other hand, has resulted in some progress in treatment of 56 diseases. Political and financial considerations — again?
Harriet D. Fox
Mount Sinai, New York
I read with interest Barbara Nicolosi's on-target essay, “Beauty Will Save the World” (Commentary & Opinion, Oct. 3-9). It is my opinion that this piece should be required reading for all pastors.
The number of times that I have been distracted at Mass by the cacophonous sounds of a well-intentioned, unprepared, tone-deaf music director are too many to count. When are pastors going to realize that well-performed music enhances the liturgy and has the ability to uplift the soul? It does not take a Ph.D. to realize that a dignified Mass, with a well-prepared homily and good music executed by professional musicians, is certainly going to attract more congregants.
Unfortunately, in order to save a few hundred dollars on the weekend, some pastors would rather settle for the equivalent of Catholic karaoke. The fact that those pastors do not care in what manner the Mass is presented to our Lord speaks volumes.
The sacrifice of the Mass is a beautiful rite. When it is celebrated, it should be done so with the very best that we have to offer.
Cherry Hill, New Jersey
BY Jim Cosgrove
Dressed and Blessed
Regarding “Modesty Rocks!” (Oct. 3-9): I'm really pleased to see so many teen-agers and parents concerned about the appropriateness of the fashionable clothing of our day. I also think Theresa Kuhar is wise in asking her kids if the clothing they want would be appropriate for Mass before they consider buying it. However, regarding this standard, I have had a growing concern about the kind of apparel I have seen worn at church lately. I would like to remind everyone that a modest outfit by no means makes it appropriate for Mass. I don't see anything wrong with my baggy tie-dye shirts and sweats, but I certainly would be embarrassed to be seen wearing them at Mass.
I think we would do well to keep in mind that one way to help keep the Mass holy in the eyes of the young is to maintain a higher-than-daily standard of appearance as well as attitude when it comes to being in the presence of God and receiving holy Communion under his roof.
I'm writing to support the letter from Mr. John Peacock of Fremont, Calif., titled “The Silence of the Singers” (Oct. 24-30). I spent 11 years in music ministry in the letter-writer's hometown, during which I waged a constant assault on mediocrity, with mixed results.
I agree with Mr. Peacock that liturgical-music publishers, including Oregon Catholic Press, are part of the problem. Their neutering of well-known lyrics (not only of traditional hymns but also of contemporary favorites) is an affront to our worship. However, they've established something of a stranglehold on our hymnals because they're successfully targeting a market with low standards and low commitment — the performers (both within the choir loft and out of it) and also church administrators who expend resources sparingly and haphazardly.
In the Protestant churches I grew up in, the entire congregation sang hymns in four-part harmony. This was possible because all four voice parts were printed in the hymnal, and the congregants could either read the music or follow the strong singers among their neighbors. While I was in graduate school, I visited a Mennonite church where the same practice was followed, to great effect. (In Catholic churches today, however, it's rare to find even a choir that can sing four independent parts.)
On an eternal scale, of course, all our efforts are mediocre. But deliberate mediocrity — repeatedly giving less than our best effort — is maddening, especially in an area that so centrally affects our quality of worship.
JOHN M. BLISS
Let States Have Final Say
I greatly appreciated the tone and analysis in your editorial titled “Judge Casey: Pro-Life, Pro-Law?” (Sept. 5-11). In addition to the evil of abortion itself, there are a number of reasons why Roe v. Wade is wrong. One of them is that judicial review is itself not enshrined in the Constitution. Another is that the 10th Amendment assigns matters of morality to the jurisdiction of state governments, an idea that corresponds to the Catholic teaching of subsidiarity: Keep the power distributed as widely as possible so that no one corrupt human being can wield absolute authority.
I have great personal qualms as to whether the federal partial-birth abortion ban would help or hurt the pro-life cause. It would certainly hurt the cause of subsidiarity, as it yet again increases the power of the federal government beyond constitutional limits. Our political goal at the federal level must be nothing more nor less than to overturn Roe and set back the tide of judicial activism. Otherwise, abortion should be a state-by-state issue.
Your editorial notes that “Catholics might be tempted to fight ‘bad guy’ tyrannical judges with ‘good guy’ tyrannical judges who ignore the law and do what they please.” The same principle applies to fighting “bad guy” congressmen who try to expand the federal government beyond constitutional limits with “good guys” who do the same thing.
I pray every day for the day when every form of abortion is illegal in the United States of America, but I also pray that is achieved through proper legislation at the state level.
JOHN C. HATHAWAY
I read with interest “Self-Expression Through Mutilation” (Sept. 5-11).
There is one type of body modification (mutilation, really) that is approved by overwhelming majorities in this country and in Western Europe, is spreading around the globe and is endorsed wholeheartedly by the medical establishment: tubal ligations and vasectomies. One could go even further and point to hormonal contraceptives — they chemically modify the body.
It would seem the evil tentacles of contraceptives have a far-flung reach.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Family Fashion Faux Pas
“Modesty Rocks!” (Oct. 3-9) was an excellent article. I think it may be time to put out a similar reminder to us women in our 30s, 40s and 50s. Too often, I see women in my age group doing the cleavage thing. Meanwhile, there are flattering swimsuits that cover us up and styles that are very attractive, no matter how many kids we've had.
I honestly think we don't ask ourselves, “Would I wear that to church?” I've even seen it in church. Women with short shorts and halter tops — serving as lectors and extraordinary ministers of communion, too. Anyway, as a 43-year-old wife and mother of five, I thought it was a great reminder that how I dress myself is important and how I allow my children to dress themselves is important, too.
Teens and Free Will
As a mother of five teen-agers, I wanted to comment on “The Road to Chastity” (Aug. 15-21).
My husband and I have done a lot of things right to help our children live chastely. We pray together, are active in our parish and have spoken to our children about real love and the love the world offers. Each carries around a signed card promising to keep pure. We haven't had television in our home for more than 10 years, and we eat together as a family nightly. If we go to a movie, we discuss the good, the bad and the ugly. Our Internet access is very limited, and the computer is located in a central part of our home.
I have been praying and sacrificing for my children. I feel that my husband and I have done as much as we can to “proof” them against the worldly pull. Certainly we haven't been perfect, and we've had our challenges.
However, God has given each person free will. Our 17-year-old daughter has chosen to go against the values that we have tried to instill in her. We are devastated because it wasn't supposed to turn out this way. I somehow want to warn parents that there are no foolproof methods to keep your children chaste. I thought that my husband and I made a great team in parenting.
If I could do anything over again, I would work on my marriage. I would learn how best to blend spouses' different backgrounds, ideas, strengths and weaknesses. I would be more docile to the role of my husband as the head of the house.
We can't change what has happened with my daughter, but we can learn to love more, deeper and better. We can exercise more faith that God has a perfect plan for all of us and, ultimately, all we can do is to let go and let God.
Regarding “Prenatal Screening Reconsidered” (Sept 5-11):
My fourth child is now 18 years old. I was 35 when I became pregnant with him. The doctor told me that, because of my age, “We will do amniocentesis and then decide whether to terminate.” I very emphatically told him, “No, we will not!” and found another doctor. Seven months later, we had a perfectly healthy baby boy.
I never had any fears about “something being wrong with the baby.” He was our gift from God, healthy or not. Abortion was not an option under any circumstances. And I refused to let anyone take away our joy at welcoming new life.
Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
To Translate Truth
Regarding “New Mass Translation: Not Stalled, But No Final Text Yet” (Sept. 5-11):
I don't believe the issue is that a “new” but stalled translation is on the way. We need a correct translation. I cringe every time I hear the celebrant begin the Credo with “We believe.” Yes, I know that a council of the Church originally promulgated its creed with “We believe,” but the prayer of the Church in fact begins with “I believe.”
The translation “And also with you” completely misses the point. The response of the congregation is intended to recognize the charismatic spirit of the ordained priest or deacon. As a matter of fact, that's why a lay cantor must bypass those words when singing the Exsultet.
The article presented some comments by Father Allen Morris, secretary for the Department of Christian Life and Worship of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. I hope that Father Morris does not have a contributing function in the translation project. He is quoted as saying, “No one was sitting on their hands” and “Each have their own opinion.” It seems the reverend father does not have an understanding of formal English grammar. Perhaps he is part of the problem.
WILLIAM G. STOOPS
Missing: 19 Million
Regarding “The Roe Effect: Aborted Voters” (Commentary & Opinion, July 25-Aug. 7):
Did you really mean to say that abortion is a means to an end to rid ourselves of abortion? It was almost congratulatory.
To suggest that the “missing 19 million” voters would be up to no good anyway denies the redemptive power of Christ and his promise of salvation he made on the cross. It also suggests someone doesn't read the news.
Faith-based news media (including yourselves, I believe) have, in the past couple of years especially, chronicled Gen-Xers bucking their boomer parents' and grandparents' “pro-choice” attitudes and habits. If this is victory, I'll take the mixed-up kid going to the polls over an abortion every time. At least there is a chance he'll ultimately choose redemption over death some time in his life.
Who's Minding the Site?
At the end of his otherwise unobjectionable article “My Computer, the Bookkeeper” (Oct. 31 - Nov. 6), Brother John Raymond includes a list of his favorite charitable organizations. Giving Brother Raymond the benefit of the doubt as to the depth of his knowledge of these “favorite” groups, I must voice strong objections to at least two of the organizations he lists.
The Catholic Worker is essentially a socialist organization that embraces a wide variety of far-left agendas, including socialized medicine and attacks on the “military-industrial complex.” If you search its website very thoroughly, you can find a rare reference to Jesus, though almost none to “Jesus Christ.” But the website does include essays favoring clean needle-injection sites for drug addicts and blaming America for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The sympathies of the Catholic Worker are further illustrated by its favorite links section, which will take you to radical sites such as the Noam Chomsky Archive, Pax Christi and the anarchistic Jesus Radicals. The Catholic Worker site also includes a link to the “Church Reform” organization Call to Action.
Brother Raymond also includes among his favorite organizations Catholic Charities USA, which uses charitable contributions to lobby for a wide range of extremely liberal economic and social policies. Its site links to a number of far-left organizations, including pro-abortion groups such as the Leadership Conference for Civil Rights. Worse yet, Catholic Charities itself is a member of the Leadership Conference; their fellow members include pro-abortion groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Feminist Majority. Perhaps worst of all, however, is that Catholic Charities includes a link to the pseudo-Catholic publication the National Catholic Reporter.
If your readers are inclined to contribute to charitable groups, it would be far better to give to organizations that focus on helping people, as opposed to hating the Church and America, or joining with those who do. I would urge your readers to take a look at both Catholic World Mission (catholicworldmission.org) or the Padre Pio Shelter, in the Bronx, N.Y., which is run by Father Benedict Groeschel and the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (franciscanfriars.com).
BY Jim Cosgrove
The Quality Quotient
Regarding “Terri's Life in the Balance” (Oct. 10–16):
If the Florida Supreme Court has overturned the constitutionality of the emergency law passed last fall by the Florida Legislature that saved Terri Schiavo's life, then there is cause for concern — but not for surprise.
The quality-of-life mindset permeating our culture underpins many of the assaults directed against vulnerable individuals throughout all stages of the human life cycle.
Here's how William Brennan put it in his book Dehumanizing the Vulnerable:
“Although these quality-of-life proponents claim they wish to enhance everyone's life, many of them are only primarily concerned with enhancing the lives of people with an ‘adequate’ range of capabilities. Anyone who falls below the minimum standards of acceptability — especially individuals suffering from debilitating illnesses and those whose survival depends upon respirators, feeding tubes and other life-sustaining aids — is placed in imminent jeopardy of being declared superfluous. Unborn children are sacrificed because they are viewed as only potentially human, not as humans with potential. Handicapped children are rendered expendable because they do not possess the requisite physical or mental capacities, while the severely afflicted elderly have lost theirs. In the practical order, the quality-of-life imperative too often translates to mean the quality-of-life for some at the expense of others.”
Regarding “Decades-Long Cover-Up?” (Sept. 26-Oct. 2):
The most apt word I can think of when I hear about so-called Catholic colleges and universities refusing to tell students and their parents whether their theology professors are teaching in accordance with Catholic teaching is ridiculous.
A comparative example would be a person going into a jewelry store and putting down $100,000, and the jeweler telling you that he can't tell you if it is a real diamond or a zircon.
The difference would be that the result of making an error in regard to choosing a college can be much more serious.
Judge Casey's Quandary
Regarding “Judge Casey's Difficult Decision” (Sept. 12-18):
I don't think the judge should be given a pass quite so easily. Professor Robert George gave a very reasonable approach to Casey's quandary, which could easily have been taken advantage of.
Furthermore, in the very same issue of the Register, you quote Evangelium Vitae in your editorial. You point out that the Church teaching regarding laws permitting abortion is that it is “never licit to obey it, or to take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or to vote for it.” Judge Casey's position does not excuse him.
Roe v. Wade and its progeny have nothing to do with our U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court is not interested in “strong messages.” As a matter of fact, Sandra O'Connor admitted that late-term abortions were brutal, but pointed out that all abortions were. Nothing will change the mindset of the U.S. Supreme Court majority constituency. At this point, they probably wouldn't know how to reverse it even if they wanted to.
With all respect for his personal piety and physical disability, Judge Casey missed an opportunity that he should have been looking for.
ROBERT H. MESSIER, M.D.
Hillside, New Jersey
The Issue is Sanity
After reading Jennifer Roback Morse's column “What We Learned in Massachusetts on May 17” (July 4-10), I was indeed nonplussed as to your motive in publishing it. Discussing homosexual unions being legitimized by recognition of them as marriages belies rationality. What is, is; what is not, is not. In this case, marriage is a union between a man and a woman. Relationships between homosexual men or women are not, and can never be, a marriage, discussion of the various pros and cons therefore or state laws thereto notwithstanding.
The issue is not whether we want a national policy of marriage as the sexually exclusive union of a man and a woman or a national policy of marriage as the union of any combination of consenting adults with no particular expectation of sexual fidelity, as Morse says, but rather whether we want to retain sanity in the laws that govern this country.
ALBERT C. SCHULTZ
San Antonio, Texas
Research and the Reagans
As 2,000 doctors associated with the Christian Medical Association noted in a letter to Congress and President Bush (“Ron Jr. Wrong on Stem Cells,” ProLife Victories, Aug. 22-28), Ron Reagan Jr. — in a shameless exploitation of his father's memory in making stem-cell research a partisan issue before delegates to the Democratic National Convention and a national TV audience — offered “political science of the worst sort.”
Ron Reagan, a lifelong liberal who, according to brother Michael, never voted for his father, ignores the public and scientific record, as well as his father's own words, in trying to link him to embryo-destroying research. Ronald D.G. McKay, a stem-cell researcher at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, has labeled claims of an embryonic stem-cell cure for Alzheimer's a “fairy tale.”
Michael Reagan has written that he's “tired of the media's insistence on reporting that the Reagan ‘family’ is in favor of (embryonic) stem cell research, when the truth is that two members of the family have been long time foes of this process of manufacturing human beings — my dad, Ronald Reagan, during his lifetime, and me.”
President Reagan stated: “Unless and until it can be proven that the unborn child is not a living entity, then its right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness must be protected.”
While over-hyped, speculative embryonic stem-cell research wallows in rat and mouse research, adult stem cells were first used to treat human illness in 1957 and today are used to treat about 80 human diseases. Yet Ron Reagan made no reference to an alternative that is decades further along, or to the fact that the Bush administration last year wisely invested $190.7 million in that research.
Ron Reagan began his speech on stem-cell research by saying it “should not — must not — have anything to do with partisanship,” yet his presence at the Democratic National Convention and John Kerry's promise to “lift the ideologically driven restrictions on stem-cell research” belie that claim.
DANIEL JOHN SOBIESKI
Adoration for Elders
Regarding “Stay With Us, Lord” (Oct. 17-23): I have a wonderful idea for every diocese during this Year of the Eucharist: Have a day of adoration weekly at the nursing homes. Most nursing homes have a weekly Mass; a few hours of adoration could follow.
If finding a monstrance is a problem, maybe a closed parish would loan one to the elderly. Better yet, the elderly and their families may want to donate money to purchase a small monstrance as a permanent fixture for their chapel. I know for a fact that this is a great idea because Foley's Nursing Center and adjoining Heritage Place Apartments (of Foley, Minn.) implemented a modified service four years ago this coming February.
The elderly love it and look forward to it weekly. Their prayers, sufferings and silent presence are an awesome source of grace. The elderly are Mary's humble army ushering in the triumph of her immaculate heart with her son's Eucharistic reign.
BY Jim Cosgrove
I enjoy reading Father C. John McCloskey's commentary. It is always well informed and well written.
However, I do not share his optimism about the Roman Catholic Church in America (“Who Are We? Catholics Might Disagree with Huntington,” Aug. 15-21).
I think the Church is being secularized, losing its identity and conforming itself to the American world. It is extremely difficult for any sense of otherworldliness to survive in the oppressive material consensus of modern America.
But our Church will never falter. She is guided by the Holy Spirit, as is so evident in all of her teachings. Our problem in America is a lack of courage on the part of bishops and some priests to explicate these teachings.
Father McCloskey's commentary included a long, optimistic quote by Alexis de Tocqueville on the Catholic Church in America. Here is another quote from de Tocqueville's Democracy in America that speaks to my (pessimism):
“Above this race of men stands an immense and tutelary power, which takes upon itself alone to secure their gratification and to watch over their fate. That power is absolute, minute, regular, provident and mild — it would be like that authority of a parent, if like that authority its object was to prepare man for manhood; but it seeks, on the contrary, to keep them in perpetual childhood.”
Patrick J. Walsh
Moved by Morse
I have never felt the need to write someone after reading an article, but “What Straight Divorce Has To Do With Homosexual ‘Marriage’” (Commentary & Opinion, Oct. 10-16) just touched my heart. I found it to be the most insightful writing on the subject that I have read.
I agree with the writer, Jennifer Roback Morse, that we have a lot of work before us to straighten out the mess we're in.
I will continue to pray for all those who have the talent to write and aren't afraid to write the truth. God bless your work.
Regarding “Year of the Eucharist Invigorates Adoration for Vocations” (Oct. 3-9):
When I was in the eighth grade, I went to a weekend retreat for boys at a nearby Catholic college. The first night there, we were each assigned a half-hour period for adoration in the chapel where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed.
I was given the 8-8:30 p.m. period. When I relieved the other boy and knelt down on the kneeler, there in front of me on the stand was a big card with the heading “Alone at last with my God.”
I was struck with these simple words. I am alone with God, just him and me. And all through my life, I remembered those words as I attended adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in various churches.
This afternoon as I knelt in adoration at St. Mary's, I asked myself, “Why am I alone?” Jesus is here on the altar, but where are all the people? They were all here at Mass today when adoration began. Why not now? What is more important in their lives on a Sunday afternoon: TV, sports or shopping at the mall?
When young boys and girls are driven around to all kinds of sporting events, music practices, theaters and so on, why is there not one who asked Mom or Dad to drive them to adoration? Not even an altar boy in sight.
People these days have all kinds of problems and they are trying to solve them all by themselves, yet here is where the real help is. Just come and tell the good Lord about your troubles and then listen to him. Who else can help any better?
Remember when the apostles fell asleep in the garden? Jesus asked, “Can you not watch one hour with me?” How about you? Can you spare an hour, or 20 minutes, or even five minutes? Think how lonely it must be for Jesus to sit on the altar waiting for you to come visit him. Please come.
Plan B Profits
In “Pro-Life Advocates Continue to Warn of Plan B Dangers” (Oct. 3-9), a sentence really grabbed me: “Those in favor of lowering the bar for Plan B say women need faster access to the drug, especially in situations such as a weekend sexual encounter when doctors may not be available.”
What came to mind was a verse from Mark 8:36-37: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” This is a rhetorical question, as there is nothing in this passing world (sex, money, power — the gold calf stuff) that is more valuable than even one eternal human soul.
It seems today a similar question should be asked: “Or what shall a man (or woman) give in exchange for the life and soul of their intentionally aborted, unbaptized child?” Is a woman's personal freedom or “right” to have a brief and possibly forgotten “weekend sexual encounter” now held to have more value than an eternal and unforgettable child's life?
Flower Mound, Texas
Regarding “Bishops Tackle the Issue of Communion for Politicians (Oct. 3-9):
In this life, a person may posture and falsely proclaim his “faithfulness” to all in order to effect a public image, but he still will have to answer for this blatant hypocrisy in the afterlife.
I am reminded of what my grandmother used to say when she'd hear of someone failing in family life duties or in the practice of their religion: “People forget that they have to die someday.”
Nashua, New Hampshire
An Uneasy ‘Peace'
In “Armenian Orthodox Leader Sends Letter to Pope” (Media Watch, Aug. 15-21), you quote the Armenian Orthodox leader's letter to our Holy Father: “the centuries-long friendship and peaceful coexistence between the Christians of the East and the Islamic peoples.”
Peaceful coexistence? Of all the peoples of the East, the Armenians suffered as much as any from Islamic forces — indeed, near to total destruction at the hands of the Turks. Catholicos Garegin II is either senile or a traitor to the Armenian peoples of the world to write such an outright lie.
There has not been a time in the last 1,400-plus years when the relations between Muslims and others have been other than one of the other peoples being victims or slaves or inferior citizens (in a state of Dhimitude) of Islamic forces — or, in better times and ways, over-the-sword opponents of Crusaders and others who opposed them.
West Allis, Wisconsin
Beauty and Art
Barbara Nicolosi's article in the Sept. 12-18 issue, “Art and Beauty,” addressed issues that have been bothering me for quite some time. Some of the modern statues depicting Mary are truly ugly. My question is: Who are “they” who commission this “art”? Who approves their selection to be placed in our churches?
When God the Father, in his infinite love and power, created the mother of his divine Son, he made the most perfect woman to inhabit this earth, in every way. Mary was a young beautiful Jewish woman, and certainly, among many other attributes, feminine. Why would anyone say “she is more human than strictly female”? More importantly, why is that statue in our cathedral? In my opinion, one example of beautiful, modern statues can be found in St. Jude's Catholic Church in Westlake.
I am looking forward to reading the next series by Ms. Nicolosi. Thanks for presenting outstanding articles that address a multitude of current issues. We always look forward to our next issue of the Register.
Thousand Oaks, California
BY Jim Cosgrove
Chilling Effect on Choices
Regarding the editorial “Bush vs. Kerry: The Conscience Issues” (Sept. 12-18):
I feel that it is very unfair of you to present the five non-negotiable issues from the Catholic Answers Voting Guide without supplying the faithful with the whole truth.
The guide specifically says: “The unborn child is always an innocent party, and no law may permit the taking of his life. Even when a child is conceived through rape or incest, the fault is not the child's, who should not suffer death for others’ sins.”
Candidates need to learn that being wrong on even one of the non-negotiable issues is enough to exclude them from consideration.
You have portrayed Bush as the perfect candidate for every Catholic to vote for. You have given information that makes it look like he is right on every issue that really counts. That is not entirely the whole truth.
As part of informing our consciences, we, the faithful, have a right to be informed of the truth, without those in places of leadership and authority in the Church covering over and pretending all is well.
It needs to be said: President Bush is in favor of abortion in the cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother. President Bush is not against all embryonic stem-cell research but feels some is necessary and essential. President Bush believes that individual states should be allowed to decide what they do about homosexual marriages.
We deserve the truth and that should not be taken from us.
Wendy M. Johnson
Branchport, New York
Editor's Note: A good point. Please see Archbishop Burke's guidance on the question of two imperfect choices on the facing page.
I want to make an observation in response to Father Joseph O'Keefe, dean of the Lynch School of Education, Boston College, that Catholic schools must “innovate or perish.”
Since the 1960s, solid Catholic education has not been taught in our schools. We are now reaping the error of our ways. I speak from age and experience, not hearsay. The saddest fact is that this fault was being pointed out to our parish priests, bishops, cardinals and even Rome, to no avail.
The most obvious solution is to turn to God for his help. Decades ago, many parishes had daily Mass attendance for school-children. The problem is, we have lost faith in Mass and en masse. There is a frequently repeated statement attributed to an unknown non-Catholic who supposedly said, “If I believed what you Catholics believe about Communion, I'd crawl down that aisle on my belly.”
I can't help but believe that if, for the past 40 years, all the Catholic schoolchildren had attended daily Mass, monthly confession and had at least weekly recitation of the rosary, stations or a litany, not only would our schools be benefiting from God's graces being showered on us in response to the students’ prayers, but we would have less violence, child abuse and abandonment, divorce, adultery, drugs, homosexuality, pornography and mental-health problems.
The prayers of these children could have been the saving grace for their parents’ marriage. Doesn't anyone believe that but me? If clergy and religious really believe in what the Catholic Church teaches about the Eucharist, aren't we really denying our children the optimum object of life?
If our priests don't have time to offer daily Mass to our students, then our priorities are wrong, wrong, wrong.
I love the National Catholic Register newspaper and read some of the articles every week. I like the movie reviews (naturally), the pro-life/abortion articles and sometimes I like the Inperson, if the interview is with a young adult.
I was wondering if you've ever considered having a small section of “good books for teens.” It would give a brief summary of some good, inspirational, Catholic books and where to order them. I love to read and feel like I've read a whole lot. I really would like some other suggestions. Maybe it could be from kids around the country who would write in with a brief summary of a book they'd like others to read.
If you're interested, I'd be only too happy to contribute the first book's summary!
The Silence of the Singers
Regarding “Why Catholics Can Sing — But Too Often Don't” (Sept. 19-25):
In my opinion, Gord Wilson made a fundamental mistake. He asked two music ministers for their opinions. He should have asked a dozen people in the pews.
I travel much and attend Mass in many churches. Time and time again, I witness the music leader singing all alone, while the congregation suffers in silence. Why? Because the melodies are so bad, to put it in gentle words.
I have written the Oregon Catholic Press twice about this, but they take the attitude that they know best. Well, they don't! I have little problem with the lyrics, but the melody really prohibits any of us common people from wanting to join in. And the leaders haven't a clue. Perhaps they prefer singing solo.
Fatally Flawed Founding?
Regarding “Prayer Campaign” (Editorial, Oct. 3-9):
(You urge your readers to pray that) “in this year's elections, our nation will embrace the moral values of a culture of life; that America will reclaim her founding principles of faith and dependence upon God in public life.”
The “founding principles” included the legalization of slavery, and the near-total elimination of the population of Native Americans and their beliefs, established long before Christianity appeared! More need not be said!
Louis J Mihalyi, Ph.D.
California University System
Editor's Note: You are mistaken. Abolitionists, Indian-rights activists and civil-rights reformers were able to gain their victories by championing our founding principles. As articulated in the Declaration of Independence, these include the equality of all people and the right to life.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Mission Board Helping Sudan Nurse
I saw the front-page article “Uprooted” (Sept. 12-18), on Katie Gesto, the nurse-practitioner volunteer who has been in the Sudan for the past two years. I would like to point out that she was sent under the auspices of the Catholic Medical Mission Board's Medical Volunteer Program. We provide her travel expenses, a monthly stipend of $350 and full health insurance, in addition to Medivac, malpractice, life and liability insurance coverage. CMMB has even supported her with some medical and other supplies. This information was not included in the article, even though it was quoted that it cost her $4,500 to live there.
I don't mean for that to be made a point of, but was disappointed no indication of our organization's support was made.
Catholic Medical Mission Board
New York City
Fellowship Nurtures Students
I appreciate the college pull-out section about the Catholic colleges and universities (Sept. 26-Oct. 2) who require their professors to have the mandatum and those who take the Oath of Fidelity. I have served in Catholic campus ministry for over 11 years, and it is a critical time of growth (or decay) for the faith in the hearts and minds of our Catholic young adults. It is where the future of our Church and culture are coming of age and choosing whom they will follow. The importance of this battleground can hardly be overemphasized.
I would like to add one addendum to your great reporting and research. Many of your readers may not be able to afford a Catholic university education at one of the faithful institutions that you listed. For them, I would strongly recommend attending a school that has a Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) chapter on campus. The missionaries of FOCUS are fantastic in planting and watering the seeds of the Catholic faith in college students. You can find out more about FOCUS and colleges where they are present at their website: http://www.focusonline.org.
FATHER JAMES N. DEAN
Our Lady Queen of Mercy Catholic Church
Catholic School Enrollment
Regarding “Number of U.S. Catholics, Deacons Up; Priests Down” (Aug. 8-14):
You seem to have counted every aspect of the Catholic population except those children who are being home schooled. Over the past several years, this number has grown considerably, as more parents are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the education their children were getting in the parish schools, particularly in the field of religion.
It would be interesting to know just how many Catholic children are now being home schooled, many through high school, and how this affects the total number of Catholic children no longer attending the parish schools. Incidentally, I know firsthand that these children are being taught extraordinarily well, as they excel in all areas in national competitions — spelling, math and geography, for example — receive high marks by the National Merit Society and go on to do very well in college and in postgraduate studies.
River Forest, Illinois
Don't Take Us for Granted
Regarding “Eerie Silence? Convention Speakers Avoid the ‘A’ Word” (Aug. 8-14): Many issues are politicized and embraced by a particular party, only to be forgotten with the passage of time. While abortion has been widely politicized for over 30 years, it is, ironically, an issue that will not die. It may even determine the outcome of the coming election. Modern technology continues to improve our ability to see the reality of life in the womb, and the results are steadily undercutting the fundamental arguments of abortion proponents and the support of pro-abortion politicians.
The truth about abortion becomes clearer with each new advance in medical technology. For years, parents have listened to the ka-swish, ka-swish of a healthy heart while they waited for the technologist to interpret the fuzzy black-and-white images. Today, 3-D ultrasound technology needs no interpretation. Crisp, clear imaging technology allows parents to see their moving, living baby and answers the age-old question, “Is it a boy or a girl?”
This question, and the technology that answers it, reveals a truth that is irrefutable. The fetus, far from being an indiscernible “mass of cells,” has a sex, heartbeat, head, arms and legs. The fetus also carries its own unique DNA, making it an individual human in every sense of the word. Making this little life within the womb dependent on the mother's body, but not a part of the mother's body.
Truth, having been rejected, is sometimes difficult to see and even harder to acknowledge. Occasionally, our Supreme Court and politicians have failed to recognize truth, as was the case with slavery. Yet, just as the truth about the horror of slavery ultimately prevailed, so will the truth about abortion. Thomas Jefferson eloquently wrote, “We find these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Abortion cannot stand as a woman's right, because it ignores the fact that the fetus is a living human being. With every heartbeat, the fetus cries for the right to be born, just as slaves cried for the right to be free. There is also another truth: Politicians who support abortion cannot win the votes of an ever-growing number of people who recognize that the life within the mother's womb is a baby, a baby who has the right to be born!
Flynn ‘Overlooks’ Too Much
I read the article “Democrats for Life Had Silent Presence in Boston” (Aug. 8-14) which said, “The group Democrats for Life of America was in Boston for the Democratic National Convention, but members were not inside the Fleet Center as a visible group.”
Then I read that Ray Flynn, the former mayor of Boston and ambassador to the Vatican, was there. The fact that Ray Flynn was being quoted in the article aroused my curiosity. I don't know if I am the only one who caught it, but isn't that the same Ray Flynn that was pictured with his grandkids in Time magazine this month (Time, 8/2/04, page 42). He said, “I campaigned harder for Kerry than for myself. Because of his sacrifice for his country, I could overlook a lot of things.”
I will tell you that Ray Flynn may not have been visible at the Democratic convention, but I'm willing to bet that if Kerry is elected to the White House, Flynn will be visible in the Kerry administration. I was also wondering, if Ray Flynn was ambassador to the Vatican, does anyone think he just overlooked what the American bishops had to say about supporting pro-death candidates like Kerry? Ray Flynn tells the truth, that's for sure. He said he overlooks a lot of things, and he does!
Santorum Should Recall
Senator's Vote on Judge Bork
It is always important to look at the facts that someone leaves out when defending a position in a debate, as well as the ones which they use to bolster their case. Hence, it is noteworthy that in Sen. (Rick) Santorum's letter, “Sen. Santorum Replies” in your Sept. 19-24 edition, defending his support of Arlen Specter in the recent Pennsylvania senatorial primary, he tells us that Specter supported the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. Whether Senator Santorum has a short memory, or he deliberately left it out, it is relevant to note that Specter was a key vote against the nomination of Robert Bork to the same court.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Families Bear the Brunt
Three cheers for the Aug. 8-14 letter “Women at Work” by Vincent J. Schmithorst, Ph.D., concerning his doubts on the “New Feminism.” As Suzanne Venker's book 7 Myths of Working Mothers points out, children and (most) careers just don't mix. I do not believe there is any way to change that. It is not possible to effectively “serve two masters.” There are only so many hours in a day.
I consider myself extremely pro-life. Having children is one of the most important tasks. At the same time, I cannot help but be irritated by the women in my husband's office who get pregnant and go on maternity leave — and then decide they want part-time work, or leave altogether, after my husband has devoted much time to training them. Guess who has to pick up the slack and work extra hours, delaying his return home at the end of the day and causing him to work on Saturday mornings (so far almost every Saturday this year) and miss time with his own kids? My husband. Why? He is a man. That is reality.
In every family, someone must work in the marketplace to put food on the table, and it seems that men/dads are the best choice to do this — but because of “The Fall,” there is a cost involved. Most people do not seem to understand that men can't effectively serve two masters, either. A man can't be a corporate heavyweight and attend his children's Little League games or soccer practices. Children need their dads around. It has been noted time and again that the children of “great men” are frequently less than great themselves. I know one man who is a “great man” and, as far as I am able to discern, his children and grandchildren are not quite what he expected them to be. They are not bad people, but they are troubled. I am convinced this is so because of his absence during their “formative” years.
It seems to me that the “new feminists,” by insisting that women can mix corporate careers with childrearing, are only succeeding in ratcheting up the cost for the “average family man.”
KATHRYN J. GROENING
Regarding “Eerie Silence? Convention Speakers Avoid the ‘A’ Word” (Aug. 8-14):
Review the list of prominent speakers at the Democratic Party's recent national convention. It's telling that not one single faithful Catholic who believes and publicly supports the Church's long-held teachings on human-life issues was allowed anywhere near a microphone. This, in spite of the fact that Catholics comprise a very large segment of the Democratic Party.
Obviously, the litmus test used to select speakers was designed to filter out loyal Catholics. Has any national gathering ever shown such disdain, bordering on hostility, toward the deeply held beliefs of so many of its own members? Would any other group tolerate such intolerance?
Christ Chose Celibacy
Regarding “Stamp Out Celibacy” (Letters, Aug. 8-14):
It was God's will that the sins of man, committed in their human nature, must be expiated through the human nature of the divine Person, Christ. Knowing that Christ had a human nature, we know that he had the will to choose for or against celibacy. Wonderfully for us, Jesus, in his fully human nature, chose to do God's will and went freely to the cross (“not my will, but thine be done”).
The divine Person Jesus, son of Mary, fully possesses two natures — the hypo-static union — the incarnation. To claim that Jesus, in his human nature, didn't (or couldn't) freely choose celibacy or anything else is to deny the incarnation, i.e., the reality of the fullness of human nature and divine nature in the one divine Person, Christ.
Ponca City, Oklahoma
Regarding “Simply Divine Office: The Liturgy of the Hours Makes a Comeback” (August 8-14):
This is a very interesting and informative article. In addition to the website mentioned, http://www.liturgyhours.org reade,rs interested in praying from an online page or printing the relevant pages out each day may go to http://www.universalis.com It of.fers a painless way to learn to pray the different hours, including the Office of Readings. This is the most useful overall website I have found on the liturgy, including the readings for the Mass each day and the liturgical calendar.
Although I myself pray from the four-volume set (in French), I often access this site when I am traveling and am unable to carry two volumes during periods of overlap. I also access it to share readings in English with a friend who does not read French. I highly recommend it for ease of use (and thus ease in praying).
Visitors to the Universalis website include priests, laity, the young and the old. They come from all denominations. Some have not heard of the breviary before, some cannot afford the books, and some are blind and cannot use them. The users of Universalis retrieve more than 40,000 pages a week from the site. The core content of the Universalis site is now also available through mobile telephones that support the new WAP protocol for information retrieval.
CORAZON M. SIDDAYAO
In “Going Mobile: Exploring the Catholic Roots of Alabama's Port City” (Sept. 19-25), Lorraine Williams led a very interesting tour of Mobile, Ala.
She mentioned the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and Visitation Monastery, but omitted any mention of Spring Hill College, a Jesuit institution founded in 1830 and an important presence in Mobile. The campus and the chapel are beautiful.
This omission might not have bothered me if she had not ended the article by saying, “to complete the tour.” I am sure this was an unintentional omission, but she did not complete the tour, so to speak.
The article brought back memories of my years at Spring Hill.
MARY JANE CROWE
The CNS article “Memo: ‘Obstinate’ Politicians Must Be Denied Communion” (July 18-24) is indicative of the “hide-and-seek” position so often taken by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The point in question is the authoritative guidance from Rome on the denial of holy Communion to those Catholic politicians who promote the continuance of the sin of abortion.
Cardinal Ratzinger is clear on the denial of the Eucharist to those who engage in the public endorsement of grave and serious sins. As he so eloquently points out, “it is not a punishment or the passing of judgment on ‘subjective guilt’ but rather a reaction to an individual's public unworthiness to receive the Eucharist due to an objective situation of sin.”
Clear to you and me, but as before, the USCCB resorts to its escape clause of “pastoral discretion” to muddy the waters of authoritative instruction. The operative word here is “pastoral” — how to present clearly defined doctrine to an ill-informed and vocal minority? The answer for the bishops is twofold: First, address John Paul II's encyclical on the Eucharist (Ecclesia de Eucharistia), in which he declares, “In cases of outward conduct which is seriously, clearly and steadfastly contrary to the moral norm, the Church, in her pastoral concern for the good order of the community and out of respect for the sacrament, cannot fail to feel directly involved. The Code of Canon Law refers to this situation of a manifest lack of proper moral disposition when it states that those who ‘obstinately persist in manifest grave sin’ are not to be admitted to Eucharistic communion.”
Again, clear and concise instruction that, combined with the bishops’ authority, leaves no question on the action to be taken. The next step is the courage to use said authority and prepare oneself for the volley of criticisms by those ensconced in secular theology. In the end, the light of truth must be your guide — not the ease of appeasement.
HUMBERTO J. BROCATO
BY Jim Cosgrove
I was deeply disappointed when I read Sen. Rick Santorum's defense of Arlen Specter in his letter to the editor, “Sen. Santo-rum Replies” (Sept. 19-25). His fundamental assumption seems to be that Pat Toomey would have had no chance of winning the general election, and therefore Santorum had to ensure he was defeated in the primary in order to preserve the Republican majority. In fact, Toomey would have had a very good chance in the general election, especially with a popular senator like Santorum supporting him.
Also, Santorum defends Specter by pointing out that he voted for Clarence Thomas, without mentioning the fact that he only did so because he was soon up for re-election and he later called Thomas “a disappointment.” Specter also worked with Ted Kennedy to torpedo the nomination of pro-life judge Robert Bork.
I have no reason to believe that, if Specter is re-elected, he will work with the pro-life Republicans in any way. And I cannot believe that Santorum continues to defend his terrible decision to support him.
Fort Wayne, Indiana
“The Pope, the Bishop and the Lost Icon of Moscow” (Sept. 19-25) failed to provide accurate information about the Blue Army's role in returning the icon to the Russian people. The Blue Army was not unaware of the icon's identity or value, as suggested in the interview with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
When I served as executive director of the Blue Army USA, I was told that the icon had been found in England and authenticated by a Russian Orthodox bishop in exile. It was said that a Russian Orthodox community in California had attempted to purchase the icon, but their funds for this purpose were stolen. John Haffert, co-founder of the Blue Army, then raised donations from Blue Army members to ransom the icon for the exclusive purpose of keeping it safe until it could be returned to Russia. The return of the icon was envisioned after the end of atheistic communism there, as promised in the message of Fatima. It was first taken on a tour of the United States and then kept in a strongly locked viewing case in the chapel of Domus Pacis, the Blue Army International pilgrim center in Fatima.
Pope John Paul II asked for the icon of Kazan and the Blue Army immediately gave it to him — first, because he is Pope, but secondly, because it was clearly more fitting that the Pope return the icon to Russia than that it be returned by a Catholic lay association. Its great value to the Russian people seemed to require this.
From the start, the Holy Father had no other intention than to return the icon of Kazan to Russia, and he expressed this desire to Bishop James Sullivan, then president of the Blue Army USA. The Holy Father hoped to return it personally, which would have been fitting. Unfortunately, this did not turn out to be possible, and so he eventually had to return it through emissaries.
The Russian Orthodox patriarch's response to the Holy Father seems to indicate that he doesn't realize or appreciate the sacrifices made by so many Roman Catholics to preserve and ultimately return this precious icon.
E. WILLIAM SOCKEY III Venus, Pennsylvania
Regarding “Kerry's Record Speaks for Itself” (editorial, July 18-24):
In a mind-boggling exercise in pandering, John Kerry recently said in an interview in the Dubuque Telegraph Herald: “I oppose abortion, personally. I don't like abortion. I believe life does begin at conception. But I can't take my Catholic belief, my article of faith, and legislate it on a Protestant or a Jew or an atheist … who doesn't share it.”
If Kerry had been running for president in 1860, would he have proclaimed that he was personally opposed to slavery, but he didn't want to impose his belief on Southerners who didn't share it or seek to overturn “settled law” as defined in the Dred Scott decision or amend the U.S. Constitution, which defined blacks as three-fifths of a human being?
So Kerry only gives lip service to his Catholic faith? He believes in the Church and its rules, but he votes opposite of what the Church teaches as a U.S. senator? If Kerry does not legislate his beliefs, pray tell, on what did he base all his votes? Someone else's personal beliefs, as in “the devil made me do it”?
Laws against murder are not based on religion. Even atheists oppose murder. And if you believe that life begins at conception, then you must believe arbitrarily ending that life is wrong.
Communion Controversy Continues
Thank you for publishing the leaked memo from Cardinal Ratzinger regarding the norms for denial of Communion to Catholic politicians (“Memo: ‘Obstinate’ Politicians Must Be Denied Communion,” July 18-24).
I'm writing with the hope that your paper can seek further clarification from the cardinal's office regarding a passage in that memo that is becoming a source of confusion among Catholic voters. The passage from the memo is: “When a Catholic does not share a candidate's stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.”
Without clarification, the statement can suggest that a Catholic can vote in good conscience for even the most extreme pro-abortion candidate if the voter makes a mere interior note that he is not voting for the politician's stand on life issues, but is voting for the candidate's other issues. Can the cardinal really be advancing a moral loophole that can be invoked to permit a voluntary severance of intention in the act of voting when it comes to abortion and the other life issues?
A commentator recently used this passage to suggest just as much by announcing that Catholics can vote for Kerry in good conscience. However, this commentator ignored the qualifying clause of “in the presence of proportionate reasons,” upon which the whole moral teaching hinges.
This minor clause has rather major implications for Catholics reflecting on the moral effects of voting for pro-abortion politicians.
Unfit = Unwanted
In “Couples Ask: What's Wrong With In-Vitro Fertilization?” (Aug. 8-14), Register staff writer Tim Drake points out the Church's opposition to in-vitro fertilization, which is centered around her desire to protect the dignity of the human person, warning against domination over the origin and destruction of the human person. A glaring example of such heinous domination is taking place here in the Midwest.
In the tradition of Nazi human experimentation on those deemed “unfit,” the Chicago-based Reproductive Genetic Institute recently announced that they are engaged in what Pro-Life Wisconsin recognizes to be modern-day eugenics. The clinic has announced that they have sacrificed “genetically flawed human embryos” by extracting their stem cells to begin 12 new stem-cell lines (the first to be formed from embryos with specific diseases), as reported by the Associated Press in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on June 14.
This is accomplished when multiple human beings are illicitly formed through in-vitro fertilization. Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis is then performed and the dysgenic embryos are sorted out. Those identified as “unfit” are unwillingly subjected to deadly stem-cell extraction. Stem-cell lines are attempted to be derived with the hope of finding a cure for the exact diseases for which these particular embryonic people are discarded. In Chicago, the sacrificed human embryonic children were found to have genes identified to cause seven different diseases, including muscular dystrophy, blood disorders and a form of mental retardation.
The bottom line is that human beings are being formed for the express purpose of sorting the fit from the “unfit” and using the “unfit” for the perceived good of society. In-vitro fertilization has set us on an inhumane course toward this type of utilitarian treatment of individuals, which can never be tolerated in a civilized society.
The writer is director of Pro-Life Wisconsin.
Carl Olson Fan Club
Carl Olson's thoughts are always so well stated, but, without question, “Holy Cloud!” (Spirit & Life, July 11-17) was extraordinary. His personal touch in taking his faith back to his (evangelical-Protestant) family after his conversion to the Catholic faith could not be more touching or memorable for this reader.
Eliot, Chesterton and Thomas Aquinas are some of my favorite faith writers, and Mr. Olson really rounded off a great contribution by teaching and inspiring with their excellent writings.
BY Jim Cosgrove
In “Santorum Defends Specter Campaign” (June 20-26), Catholic Sen. Rick Santorum proposes a reason for his sad and tragic support for the re-election of abortion advocate Arlen Specter to the U.S. Senate.
Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis recently re-emphasized the Holy Father's concern over how “the moral gravity of abortion ‘has become progressively obscured’ in our time.” In order to combat this tendency, we must “have the courage to look the truth in the eye and to call things by their proper name” (Evangelium Vitae, No. 58): Sen. Arlen Specter is a committed advocate for the legality of directly slaughtering pre-born children. Such a position is dramatically antithetical to the moral law and the most basic duty of civil government to protect the innocent from bloodshed. This means that Specter is at least as unworthy of Catholic support as a proponent of terrorism, slavery or genocide.
How grave is Santorum's advocacy for such a candidate? According to Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs, when a Catholic supports such a culture-of-death candidate for office, they “may not receive holy Communion.” In addition, Santorum recently affirmed that he would “require” legal abortion in cases involving “life of the mother, rape and incest.” This is from his most recent candidate survey filed with the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference.
Should he “obstinately persist” in such a position, according to Canon 915, he must be just as surely excluded from the reception of holy Communion as John Kerry.
Jesus Christ is in no way partisan. Should a politician on either side of the aisle violate “non-negotiable ethical principles” and thus affirm the deadly secularist moral relativism in the culture, they may not be admitted to holy Communion. Every member of Christ's mystical body has the duty to witness to the horror of abortion according to his or her state in life. Sen. Santorum's obvious and scandalous failure to do so significantly undermines the efforts of the Church as a whole — which he presumes to criticize.
PATRICK DELANEY, Madison, Wisconsin
The writer is a member of Pro-Life Wisconsin's speakers' bureau.
Sen. Santorum Replies:
The writer questions my support for pro-choice Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., as a pro-life Catholic member of Congress. My remarks in the Register and in CRISIS magazine answer this question. Republicans hold a narrow Senate majority, only 51 seats. If Republicans lose the majority, we lose our ability to schedule debates and votes on pro-life initiatives in the next Congress. A primary defeat for Sen. Specter would have hurt our pro-life Republican majority and pro-life President, George W. Bush and, thus, the pro-life cause.
Regarding the likelihood of Sen. Specter becoming the next Judiciary Committee chairman: It's important for Catholics to keep in mind that, without Arlen Specter's support, Clarence Thomas would not have been confirmed as a Supreme Court justice. Furthermore, the senator has backed all President Bush's judicial nominees, including filibustered nominees. And one correction regarding my pro-life positions — I would not require exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.
RICK SANTORUM, Washington, D.C.
The writer is a Republican senator from Pennsylvania.
Celibacy: Now More Than Ever
The letter by Ronna Devincenzi, “Stamp Out Celibacy?” (Aug. 8-14), is a good example of “not thinking with the Church.” First, she dismisses the opinion of 269 U.S. seminarians just because they are free to leave and some may not go on to be priests. That is like saying medical students in school don't know what it takes to be a doctor because some may drop out.
Then she cringes at the thought of a priest being an icon of Christ. In fact, it has always been understood that a priest is called to be “another Christ.” He acts in persona Christi. When he consecrates the bread and wine at Mass, he says, “This is my body” and “This is the cup of my blood.” He does not say, “This is Christ's body” and “This is Christ's blood.” When he forgives sins in the confessional, he says, “I absolve you,” not “Christ absolves you.”
Perhaps it is the symbol of marriage that best shows the priest's connection to the Church. He is wedded to the Church. He is the bridegroom and the mystical body of Christ — the Church — is his bride. The priest is called to love, serve and even give his life for the Church, just as Christ did. That is why a priest is called Father. He brings forth spiritual children by administering the sacraments and serving the needs of his congregation.
Next, she says “to say that Jesus had the gift of celibacy is to deny his divinity.” Jesus is a divine person, but he has two natures, a human and a divine. His divine nature was always in line with the Father's will. But his human nature was subject to temptation, just as we are. (See the narrative on the agony in the garden in Luke 22:42-43.)
To be a Catholic priest is to be engaged in a spiritual enterprise. We are also engaged in a spiritual battle. The secular de-Christianizing forces are striving to suppress any public display of the Kingdom of Christ. Thanks to our sex-saturated society, the witness of clerical celibacy is needed now more than ever.
JOSEPH GESING, Silver Creek, Georgia
Carl, Converts and a Growing Congregation
Just a few words to inform you just how much we enjoy Carl E. Olson's “Spirit and Life” columns. Mr. Olson is a very gifted and excellent writer who can say much in a few words.
Converts to our Catholic Church from evangelical and fundamentalist churches bring much richness and blessings to our Church. With countless problems in our Catholic Church, the Lord's grace is moving many souls to join the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church that Jesus established. God is indeed good!
Those of us who are cradle Catholics must pray and be well informed about our Catholic faith. We need to always make anyone interested in the Catholic Church feel right at home.
Our family is blessed to be part of a Byzantine Catholic Church in San Luis Obispo. At this friendly parish, no newcomer is a stranger, since any new face is greeted and invited to join us for refreshments (free) after Mass. Yes, the Lord is good indeed! In eight years, the congregation has doubled — thanks to a beautiful, reverent liturgy, orthodox and inspiring sermons, and a warm and friendly congregation.
Back to Carl E. Olson — we thank God for you and the many gifts that you have brought into the Catholic Church. Keep up the good work. We look forward to continuing to read your columns in the Register.
MR. AND MRS. CONSTANTINO N. SANTOS
No Clear Choice in This Campaign
The Register has recently printed numerous articles and letters suggesting that all Catholics express a pro-life position at the ballot box in the coming presidential election. The clear implication is that we (must) vote for President Bush. This attitude is myopic and ignores Catholic social teaching and the teaching of our Lord in the Gospels.
The Bush administration, consistent with the Republican Party's mission to enrich the wealthy and impoverish the poor, has shifted enormous wealth from the lower and middle classes to the wealthy, has siphoned billions from our treasury for a war of dubious necessity, has continued a decades-old refusal by Republicans to raise the minimum wage to a level above servitude, has cut many social programs while billions are lost to corruption and has overseen the transfer of thousands of jobs to the Third World.
These policies and many others have caused great suffering among the poor and needy all over the world. By making abortion the only issue in the election, the Catholic press gives credence to the left's charge that we are more interested in the unborn than the living.
The Register ought to present a balanced picture of our political and social landscape instead of campaigning for one candidate over the other. If Catholic social teachings are to be our guide in the voting booth, clearly neither of the candidates is worthy of the Catholic vote.
Regarding your editorial “How to Defend Marriage” (July 25-Aug. 7):
Women and men feel, think and express themselves differently, but in ways that can complete them both. This I call complementarity. (See the Catechism, Nos. 372, 2333 and 2357.)
In traditional “marriages,” children begin dealing with and learning from these differences early on and begin building fulfilling relationships. Good relationships require work and sacrifice.
In same-sex marriages, the children would not be able to deal with and learn from complementarity. This would leave them seriously handicapped in forming realistic expectations of others and achieving lasting and fulfilling relationships.
If same-sex marriages become acceptable in communities, the whole idea of complementarity will become unimportant. Achieving good relationships will become much harder. This will cause more disorder and suffering in families and larger communities.
These readily observable facts are why those who defend marriage feel so strongly about it and are so opposed to allowing same-sex “marriages.” Catholics owe it to those who think and feel otherwise to try to explain that the Catholic Church teaches that homosexual desires are not sinful unless the person intends to carry out homosexual acts. This is explained in the Catechism 2357-2359.
In “Swedish Pastor Gets Jail Term for Anti-Homosexuality Sermon” (July 18-24), the word “homosexuality” was used to mean the same thing as homosexual acts. It gives the false impression that the Church teaches that “homosexuality” is always condemned by the Bible and the Church. This misunderstanding makes an already difficult teaching much more difficult to understand.
FATHER WILLIAM HOCHHEIM
BY Jim Cosgrove
Faith and Balance
First of all, thank you for the best Catholic newspaper this country has to offer and for the fair, balanced view of issues facing the Catholic Church in this country and throughout the world.
Second, the page-one article “In Today's Climate, Can a Priest Clear His Name?” (July 11-17) is a blessing beyond words. I am personally grateful for your “daring” in publishing the concerns on an issue that has caused a number of the clergy much hardship, and of course the Church itself.
Yet another example of the Register's well-balanced thought and reflection on the priest-hood and the Church as a whole.
FATHER MARIO MARZOCCHI, S.S.S.
Regarding “Eerie Silence? Convention Speakers Avoid the ‘A’ Word” (Aug. 8-14):
Titles are misleading. What happens when the title for anything loses its intended message? To retain that same message, you simply change the title. The image created in your mind will change along with it. Basic advertising!
Take, for example, the term “abortion.” An accurate definition is “the induced termination of a pregnancy resulting in the death of the embryo or fetus.” If you approved of this procedure, you were labeled pro-abortion. Abortion-rights activists concluded that, by retitling their position to “pro-choice,” the impact of what they were championing would be softened. Using this logic, Christians opposed to abortion could now, with clear conscience, feel comfortable backing political candidates who covertly support abortion by saying that they are “pro-choice.”
Lately, it appears that the term “pro-choice” may be losing its grip, so the abortion cause is again feeling the need for re-labeling. The new term is “single issue.” The question asked is, “Does a single issue outweigh the merits of a good social program?” Abortion supporters urge voters not to cast their ballots on any one “single issue.”
Could the term “single issue” be a defense mechanism created by Christians to justify their support of pro-choice or pro-abortion candidates? Does the need for title changes signal any guilt feelings on the part of pro-abortion Christians? Perhaps so. Nevertheless, they have opted for material gain and a higher standard of living, all at the expense of 4,000 aborted babies a day. What a trade!
One final question. How do Christian people end up supporting a position such as this? Do these Christians just choose to ignore fundamental beliefs of our faith, or is it that our clergy in general are not vocal enough? Religious leaders should seek to form the consciences of their followers by spelling out principles of morality. If they don't, then people are free to assume that these precepts are probably not too important. The leaders need to instruct persons on how they need to consider, first and foremost, the candidate's position on abortion — before the candidate's position on material, health and social issues.
People are intelligent enough to differentiate right from wrong, but leadership and guidance from our shepherds is essential. When this leadership decides to stand up in unison and defend the fundamental laws laid down by almighty God, then and only then will the number of Christians supporting abortion start to decline.
EARL AND MARGO HAGEN
Grand Blanc, Michigan
Wages of Abortion
Regarding “Kerry Admits Life Begins at Conception” (July 18-24):
Is a hired gun obliged to keep a contract to waste the intended victim? No, he is not bound to keep the contract, according to sound moral theology. There is no obligation, ever, to carry out a contract to do something evil. “Therefore contracts to do what is evil induce no obligations; for example to commit murder or theft” (Noldin, Summa Theologia Moralis, Vol. II, No. 526,4).
Is a lawmaker obligated to promote abortion if he has received money and support from prochoicers? The contract or agreement, if such was made, is null and void. He or she is not under obligation to keep a contract to do evil. The same holds for a promise to do something evil. God does not hold anyone responsible for not keeping a promise to do something evil.
Abortion, and the promotion of abortion, is a sin — a mortal sin by nature — because it is a grievous offense against God. As such it is against the natural law. The natural law, subjectively, is the obligation that God necessarily imposes on man to pursue his proper purpose through suitable actions. It is therefore the eternal law itself that God, by his will, imposes upon man (Noldin I, No. 112). “Thou shalt not kill the unborn child” is a law that God imposes on all of us alike, whether we are voters or legislators or judges. Because God has created us in his image and likeness, we are by nature and by birth obligated to reflect in our thoughts and actions on earth the eternal beauty and truth of the wisdom of God in heaven.
From this, it follows that no legislator, judge or voter is bound by any contract or commitment he or she may have made to promote abortion. Is it a mortal sin? God was not dealing with trifles when he promulgated the Ten Commandments. The matter is grave. If anyone does abortions, or promotes abortion, while he is in his right mind and is free to act, he offends God gravely and thereby forfeits the right to heaven and justly deserves the pains of hell. Not even God can distance himself from justice.
FATHER ANTHONY ZIMMERMAN, STD
BY Jim Cosgrove
Catholic Is as Catholic Does
“Catholics Are Key, Protestant Activist Says” (July 4-10) well expresses the barometer of where we are at as the people of God in the United States. Referring to the reception of holy Communion by Catholics who are pro-choice on the issue of abortion, politician or otherwise, as an “in-house issue” is quite weak. Since when is truth a private matter?
The facts are, some American bishops rise to the occasion of challenges to the Gospel and some do not. When we look at the facts of weak faith in the Eucharist and tolerance toward abortion and contraception by U.S. Catholics, one has to wonder: Just how Catholic is the Catholic Church in the U.S.A. today?
FATHER WILLIAM C. KEEBLER JR
Saint Lawrence Catholic Church
By failing to proscribe Communion for pro-abortion politicians at their June meeting, the bishops have left many lay people wondering if they are serious about protecting the Eucharist from sacrilege and the laity from scandal, but they may have inadvertently provided the road map to quickly solve the problem (“ Bishops Will Approach Abortion's Lawmakers Individually,” July 4-10).
The bishops said, “We commit ourselves to maintain communication with public officials who make decisions every day that touch issues of human life and dignity.” Since the controversy is over publicly pro-death public officials such as John Kerry, they should get public counseling.
The next time Mr. Kerry comes to church with his entourage and a gaggle of news people and photographers to make a political event out of attending Mass, the priest should do something rarely done in America: segue from his reflection on the Gospel to a pro-life homily.
The homily, prepared by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, should explain why abortion is wrong, that it is human sacrifice for convenience, that women are treated like bozos in that critical information about abortion is withheld from them, that minors are aborted without parental consent, and that those who promote abortion are terrorizing the souls of our young people. The priest should then explain the requirements for receiving Communion as prescribed by Canon 916 and written in our missals.
On hearing such a homily, the majority of people will opt against those who promote abortion. When Mr. Kerry sees that trying to use the Church for political gain actually loses him votes, he will change. Hopefully, he will repent, but at least he will stop using the Eucharist for political gain.
When other pro-abortion politicians see that the bishops are determined not to let them redefine Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life, they will begin to get the message that you can't be both pro-abortion and Catholic.
This is an easy way for the bishops to keep the promises they made in June to begin teaching the faithful and counsel pro-abortion politicians. If we don't soon see some public action on the part of the bishops to stop Mr. Kerry from making a circus out of the sacrifice of the Mass, we will know for certain the bishops don't take abortion or the Eucharist seriously.
Where is Prayer?
It was quite surprising to read, in “Bishops Will Approach Abortion's Lawmakers Individually” (July 4-10), that prayer was not among the points the bishops listed. The bishops won't accomplish much in the fight to stop the advance of the culture of death without a call to prayer and sacrifice.
I find it incomprehensible that it is standard to attend Mass and rarely hear a supplication for life during the Prayer of the Faithful. Pro-life homilies are also rare. This is the reality despite the millions of killings and injuries in our rapidly declining society.
Without prayer and a call for pro-life homi-lies, the bishops' points look more like a smokescreen to cover up their inaction on the life issues that have followed their past pronouncements.
RICHARD A. RETTA
I just wanted to thank you for the series of articles on the mandatum. I consider myself an active and faithful Catholic. I am frustrated to no end how the American bishops have done everything they can to blunt the effect of the mandatum. I have two kids in college. I have to admit that we did not look very hard at Catholic universities — most of them scared me. I'd rather take my chances in Christian or public schools. At least there the kids will have their defenses up. But if someone feeds them a lot of bad theology in a Catholic school, they will be far more inclined to believe it. As a Catholic parent, I've entrusted the most precious thing I have, my kids, to these schools. I have a right to know if the teaching they receive is consistent with Catholic teachings. This is not a “private agreement.”
Please keep it up! Maybe you can shame a few more bishops into doing the right thing.
After reading Jennifer Roback Morse's column “What We Learned in Massachusetts on May 17” (July 4-10), I was indeed nonplussed as to your motive in publishing it. Discussing homosexual unions being legitimized by recognition of them as marriages belies rationality. What is, is; what is not, is not. In this case, marriage is a union between a man and a woman. A relationship between homosexual men or women is not, and can never be a marriage, discussion of the various pros and cons therefore, or state laws thereto, notwithstanding.
The issue is not whether we want a national policy of marriage as the sexually exclusive union of a man and a woman or a national policy of marriage as the union of any combination of consenting adults with no particular expectation of sexual fidelity, as Morse says, but rather whether we want to retain sanity in the laws that govern this country.
ALBERT C SCHULTZ
San Antonio, Texas
I was surprised by Mr. Joseph A. D'Agostino's statement in your issue of August 15-21 (“ Will Marriage Votes End Senate Careers?” ): “The amendment would write the definition of traditional marriage into the U.S. Constitution, thus forbidding same-sex ‘marriage,’ polygamy and other alternatives to the family.”
It is quite clear from the text of The Federal Marriage Amendment that this amendment would only define marriage.
The Federal Marriage Amendment reads: “Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any State, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.”
It would not prevent in law “other alternatives to the family” such as Vermont-style civil unions, domestic partnerships, and the like and their granted benefits.
The Amendment would simply prevent legislators and courts from labeling these “alternatives” as marriage.
I sure hope that Catholics and others will not be given false hopes after reading Mr. D'Agostino's article that this amendment is a panacea to the “non traditional union” problem in law.
I understand that the U.S. bishops can support this amendment because they can support the language that is used. However, as it is currently written and proposed it falls far short of protecting the family in law.
I notice that the questions mentioned in the Aug. 22-28 front-page article pertain to issues of the platform of the Democrats.
Fifty years ago, no one would have dared denounce God and traditional marriage, approve of the killing of pre-born babies, or argue against U.S. sovereignty, but in recent years Democrats have done all of that (and booed the Boy Scouts besides). Yet some Catholics blindly follow and continue allegiance to that party, and skew the issues, trying to make abortion and “homosexual” marriage seem less important or equal to something like “farm subsidies.”
Is America being judged on its lack of compassion for the helpless pre-born babies? We are in the hands of God now and the upcoming election may tip the scales.
BY Jim Cosgrove
I was especially pleased with the July 11-17 issue of the Register.
First article to praise: you have once again addressed the issue of unjustly accused priests and the painful lack of due process, “In Today's False Climate, Can a Priest Clear His Name?” (July 11-17). I have been embarrassed by our actions because our Church gave in to the media spotlight by reacting in such an unjust manner, expelling priests with only an accusation!
I am privy to the knowledge that priests, like law officers, teachers, and others in authority, are often accused of crimes simply because of who they are and not because of what they have done.
It is an infantile way of retaliation from a perceived wrong such as a bad grade, a correction, jealousy or rejection.
Children today know they have the power to remove a person from their lives with a simple word, “abuse.” There are many who will eagerly use it, even against parents! There are many others who will “cash in” on it, for money, for attention, or for vengeance.
Beyond that there is also the door that has now been opened for those who are looking for ways to destroy the Church and her influence on our society. “Strike the Shepherd and the flock will scatter.” They can make one accusation and remove a priest. It is as effective as murder. And our Church fell for it! Thank God, the bishops seem to be stepping back and taking another look at what they have done.
I agree, applaud and thank Joseph Maher and all who support Opus Bono. I too would like to see real justice — a fair shake.
Second article to praise is the commentary by Renee Schafer Horton — “Careful, Priest: The World Is Watching” (July 11-17); excellent observations about those who “enjoy their job” as priests and how they attract youngsters to the vocation. Translate that to “Filled with the Holy Spirit and using the Gifts.” Amen.
Third article to praise is the very timely article about the “Conversion of ‘Jane Roe’” (July 11-17) since Angel network just aired the Roe v. Wade story and it portrayed the decision as a good thing for “women's rights.” Too bad this article cannot be made an addendum to that documentary, and tell “the rest of the story.”
Most Important Issue
Regarding “Kerry Admits Life Begins at Conception” (July 18-24):
As Catholics, it's our time to stand up and be counted. There's no middle of the road regarding this issue. We must choose our leaders. Either we follow “cafeteria Catholic” leaders such as Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, or we follow our true leaders who are Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa.
Just a brief quote from each to convey a vital message:
Pope John Paul II said: “A nation that kills its own children is a nation without hope.”
Mother Teresa said, “It is poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”
Their message is clear. It's up to us to make the right choice.
Old Forge, Pennsylvania
Abortion and Death Penalty
I am writing in response to Catholics who equate the evil of abortion to capital punishment (“Kerry's Catholicity Quotient” July 4-10). A Catholic can be opposed to abortion and support the use of the death penalty and still be in communion with the Church.
The Church teaching is clear. “No one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2258). Further, “the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion” (CC, 2271). Every direct abortion, without exception, is evil and wrong. A member of the Catholic Church may not support abortion or promote the continuation of its legality.
However, the Church allows for the use of lethal means against an aggressor when it is necessary for the defense of oneself, others, or society as a whole. Legitimate defense is not considered an exception to the fifth commandment, but rather killing an aggressor in defense is an unintended consequence of insisting on respect for life. In fact, “legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another's life, the common good of the family or of the state” (CC, 2265). In addition, “the Church has acknowledged as well-founded the right and duty of legitimate public authority to punish malefactors by means of penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime, not excluding, in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty” (CC, 2266). A member of the Catholic Church may support the use of the death penalty and be in full communion with its teachings.
Capital punishment is not lawful “if bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons” (CC, 2267). However, I would argue that the prison system in the United States has failed to protect public order and the safety of persons from known aggressors. Witness the failure of our prison system to incarcerate convicted killers for life, the failure to protect prison security personnel, and the failure to protect prisoners from each other. Even the United States cannot guarantee that a convicted killer will not strike again.
My point is not that I want everyone to support capital punishment. Obviously, people of good conscience can disagree on the use of the death penalty in the United States. There is no room to disagree on abortion. Catholics must fight to end all abortions and not be distracted by those who wish to focus on the death penalty as an equivalent evil.
Stem Cells Plea
Regarding “Meet the Catholic Voter” in the June 27-July 3 issue.
With all the talk about our country's future it seems as if the abortion issue is squeezing out another that will become as troubling as the abortion issue is. It is the stem cell embryonic research debate. It troubles me greatly because in January of 2002 I was part of a protocol program at the National Institute of Health, involving a stem cell transplant. I underwent a bone marrow transplant that consisted of harvesting my own cells, killing my bone marrow off thru chemo, and restarting my bone marrow thru my stem cells. People need to understand that embryonic stem cell research is the growing of embryos in labs for the sole purpose of killing them to harvest their cells. It amounts to growing people and killing them for medical research.
Adult stem cell research is what our medical community should be focused on. It doesn't require any loss of life and it has proven to be very beneficial in finding breakthroughs to fight diseases like the rare one I had.
If embryonic stem cell research is allowed to expand the way Sen. Kerry wants the progress that has been made on fighting abortion on demand will be lost.
The growing understanding of life beginning at conception will be lost in the name of medical research. I hope this issue will receive the attention this election cycle it deserves.
Lady Macbeth, Catholic?
Catching up on some recent issues of the National Catholic Register, I came across the excellent article by Jennifer Roche, “Did William Shakespeare Die a Papist?” (May 2-8). Roche cites certain facts of his life and quotes from his works that suggests Shakespeare may have harbored Catholic sentiments at a time when such ideas guaranteed his persecution.
However, one important piece of “evidence,” if you will, that was omitted from the article is Lady Macbeth's quote, “Out damn spot, out, I say!” (Act V, scene 1.) This scene is strongly reminiscent of the Lavabo from the Latin Mass, Lavabo inter innocentes manus meas, from the gesture of Pontius Pilate, following his implicit condemnation of Jesus.
Shakespeare would certainly have been familiar with it if he were indeed a secret Catholic.
My thanks to Ms. Roche and to all of your writers for your fine newspaper.
Bishop's Busy Week
I thoroughly enjoyed Father Raymond De Souza's coverage of President Regan's funeral in D.C. (“The Week America Mourned,” June 20-26). Well done!
Curious was his comment about the Episcopal Church's great elan mixing civic religion and Christianity. Fox TV's Brit Hume noted Bishop Chane's probable discomfort in his very brief appearance. The next day Bishop Chane performed a “marriage” ceremony between one of his male priests and male partner in a Maryland church. The bishop was resplendent in gold and white vestments — not so at the funeral.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Watching the Priest Watcher
The essay “Careful, Priest: The World Is Watching” by Renee Schafer Horton (Commentary, July 11-17) has troubled me on several levels.
First, a priest doesn't have a “job” or a “career.” As Mrs. Horton acknowledged, a priest has a calling or vocation. (See No. 1548 in the Catechism.)
Second, we as Catholics don't have “Sunday celebrations.” We have the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that glorious moment when the curtain between heaven and earth is torn away, and we are in the living presence of the eternal God. (See No. 1552.)
Third, I'm not sure what Mrs. Horton means when she refers to “re-examining models of priesthood.” (See Nos. 1577 and 1579.)
Finally, and most important, the Catechism states that “No one has a right to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders. Indeed no one claims this office for himself; he is called to it by God. … Like every grace this sacrament can be received only as an unmerited gift.” (See No. 1578.)
I would like to thank every priest who has answered God's call, and who has sacrificed his time, his personal life and his strength to be a living channel of God's grace for the people he serves. I pray for my parish priests regularly and, after reading Mrs. Horton's article, I will now pray for them daily.
Thank you, especially, to the priests who come as missionaries among us from faraway lands. We need you, you are valued, and I'm sorry you were described in Mrs. Horton's essay as “foreign priests with heavy accents.”
Mercer Island, Washington
Regarding “Don't Judge Politicians” by Father James Conner, OCSO, of the Abbey of Gethsemani in Trappist, Kentucky (May 30-June 5):
How outrageous that he gives an under-handed endorsement to Kerry in his letter. He also makes the false accusation that President Bush's position on abortion is weak, and that Bush will do as little as possible to cater to Catholics.
Bush's nominees for federal judgeships have been rejected by the Senate Democrats because the nominees are seen as pro-life. Bush supported and signed the ban on partial-birth abortion. Bush reinstated the “Mexico Policy,” which stops U.S. tax-payer funds from going to international agencies that support abortion, something begun by Reagan only to be suspended by Clinton -- and destined to be re-suspended should Kerry win.
Bush supported the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, making it a crime if an attacker also injures or kills the unborn baby, and the Child Custody Protection Act, making it a crime to transport a minor over state lines to obtain an abortion with the purpose to elude laws that the minor's parents must be informed/consenting before the minor obtains an abortion.
The bottom line is this: If abortion is a heinous crime, then the bishops should stop those who chronically support abortion from receiving holy Communion. To do otherwise tells the rank and file that abortion is really not so bad, not a grave sin.
Would the bishops dally if the murdering were against, say, African-Americans, Jews or Hispanics instead of the pre-born?
DANIEL J. BARTON
Fayetteville, North Carolina
I would like to comment on your editorial “What Would Reagan Do?” (June 27-July 3).
As a leader in the pro-life movement for 30 years, I have always been very aware of the power of words. Therefore, I come to you with a constructive suggestion.
In that editorial, you state that “research requires destruction of the boy or girl embryo.” In the following paragraph, you speak of “contributing to the destruction of nascent life” and of “without killing an embryo.”
Let me criticize the first two “destructions” and praise the final “killing.” When you use the word destruction, you subtly dehumanize the subject being done in. When you use the word kill, you very abruptly humanize the subject being done in.
Let me suggest that, in the future, you bear this in mind and always use the proper terminology when discussing abortion. Please remember that we destroy things, but we kill people.
J.C. WILKE, M.D. President of Life Issues Institute, Inc. Cincinnati
Regarding “Penitential Plea” (Letters, June 27-July 3):
This letter touched a weak spot inside of me. In asking for Register readers' advice on writing his living will, the writer (whose name was withheld) reminded me how, as a youngster, I would do almost anything to avoid pain. I hated fights, dentists, confrontations, whatever. When I heard mission preacher Father Stephen Barham spend a whole night teaching that the opposite of faith is not really unbelief but fear, he actually scared me. He made me realize that, by avoiding difficult situations, I was really trying to play God.
How can that be, you ask? Well, so did I. The good Father pushed me in the right direction, but it took me years to really learn that God does not allow problems to come our way without giving us the strength to handle them.
Jesus himself is our best example. In the Garden of Gethsemane, he prayed to his Father that, if possible, he would not have to suffer and die for us. Yet he prayed “not my will, but yours” be done.
Being a good Christian takes a lot of humility, because we all know what is best for us. But God changes the subject completely by insisting that we are not our own God. He has better things in store for us than we can imagine, but we have to trust him, because in our earthly viewpoint, damaged by original sin, we just can't see it without grace.
It is unnatural to put our fears in God's hands and trust him, even to natural death. But if we really trust, he will never allow anything to come to us but what is for our good. Trust him, and he sends us his own strength to go through whatever is necessary. And finally: Pray, pray, pray.
What's in a Headline?
Regarding “Democrat Kerry is Most ʻCatholic' in Senate” (June 13-19):
We are appalled to find this article in your paper. One would expect this Democratic spin to appear in publications such as the New York Times. As Catholics and Republicans, we take exception to that description of Mr. Kerry or for any of the claimed to be Catholics mentioned in the article. It is time the Catholic clergy and bishops realize that the Democratic Party has abandoned the principles that we were taught in our 70-plus years as practicing Catholics.
We are seriously considering not renewing our subscription to the National Catholic Register if this is the philosophy of your publication.
BOB AND FRAN LUNDY
Editors' note: The headline reflected not our own editorial position, but the dubious conclusion of Sen. Dick Durbin's report card. The article included remarks critical of the report card from Sen. Rick Santorum, Father Richard John Neuhaus and Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
Thank you for putting the question to Sen. Rick Santorum regarding his support for Sen. Arlen Specter over Rep. Pat Toomey (“Santorum Defends Specter Campaign,” June 20-26). I was as disappointed in Santorum's response as I was in his decision to support Specter.
Santorum says, “I think there are far too many churches, particularly Catholic churches, that are not teaching the faith and integral parts of the faith having to do with abortion.”
I don't know where he's been, but I think the Catholic Church has made it abundantly clear that we have a moral obligation to vote in a manner consistent with our faith. We need to support pro-life candidates over pro-abortion ones.
Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs has even gone so far as to say that Catholics who vote for politicians who support homosexual marriage or abortion are banned from Communion until they have confessed their sin.
So where does that leave Santorum, who presumably voted for Specter and certainly encouraged everyone else to?
The Catholic Church has always taught that “It is not licit, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil so that good may follow there from” (Humanae Vitae). Santorum's reasoning seemed to do just that. His “more sophisticated approach” sounded a lot like political justification for abandoning his principles.
As for changing hearts and minds, I think we give a better witness by remaining steadfast in our convictions rather than hedging our political bets.
Arlen Specter has not gotten my vote in the past, and this year I will write in Pat Toomey.
BY Yuri Maricich
The Mandatum Margin
Regarding the “Mandatum Secrecy” investigative series:
As an orthodox Catholic young person, I was pleased to see the Register run a series on the mandatum among Catholic universities and colleges in the United States. Many Catholic centers of higher education must be challenged to fulfill their mission of offering authentic Catholic theology. Your series not only serves that end but also attempts to be a guide of Catholic character at these universities for parents and future students.
While I applaud this purpose, I am disappointed that you have failed to place the mandatum series in the larger context of each university's character as a whole. Your series, while rightly critical of the mandatum stance, thrusts the mandatum — an important but narrow measure of a school — as the decisive and putatively definitive feature of the Catholic character. There are many indicators of the Catholic character of a university and the potential Catholic education offered to the students than just the mandatum.
We read with great interest “Judge to Doctors: Ignore Ban on Partial-Birth Abortion” (June 13-19). We were amazed to read that, on June 1, a federal district court in San Francisco decided doctors can continue the practice of partial-birth abortion even though the U.S. Congress and President Bush have banned it.
Ironically, just two days earlier, on May 30, my wife went into premature labor on the first day of her 23rd week of pregnancy. We were blessed to welcome into the world our fifth child, Luke Joseph. Luke came into the world perfectly formed but weighing only 1 pound, 2 ounces. We quickly began to admire his fingernails, toenails and even caress the hair on his head. During that time we listened to his soft cry as we loved him as best we could.
Luke was welcomed into eternal life just two hours after he was born. Thank God, we were able to baptize him (holding him in the palm of our hands) within the first 30 seconds of his life.
As we go through our grieving process, it's sad for us to think that the other option we had was, as Dr. Maureen Paul from Planned Parenthood states, “to collapse the skull and bring the fetus out intact.”
Luke's short time on earth has been a blessing for our entire family. He has taught us firsthand about the fragility of human life. More importantly, while we have always been pro-life, he has taught us how to defend life at a time when others are choosing to abort their children so far into their pregnancy.
We're convinced that no parent who witnessed what we did on May 30 would ever defend partial-birth abortion again.
Thank you, Luke Joseph Clossick, for teaching us in two hours' time what some people will never know during their entire lives. We promise you that your memory will live in our hearts forever.
SHARON AND JOE CLOSSICK
Wakefield, Rhode Island
A ‘Strict and Stingy' God?
Regarding “Cardinal Will Meet With Law-makers on Communion” (May 30-June 5), along with the reader responses to “On Receiving Communion” (editorial, May 9-15):
Have we American Catholics confused our country's Constitution with our Church's canon law? My parish priest is not “obligated” to absolve me of a sin for which I do not profess contrition (Canon 978, Section 2).
My parish priest is not “obligated” to marry me to someone else merely because I've decided that my current marriage is no longer a sacrament (Canon 1085, Sections 1 and 2).
Similarly, my parish priest is not “obligated” to offer me the body and blood of Christ if he is aware that I am unrepentantly supporting this nation's abortion “rights” (Canon 227, Canon 915).
Would the 43 million aborted unborn American children consider such an act of denial, born of love and done with great pain, to be in the service of a “strict and stingy” God?
JIM BASS, M.D.
Fruit Cove, Florida
Support for Bishop Sheridan
Regarding “Church-State Separation Group Asks IRS to Investigate Diocese” (June 13-19):
I find it interesting that those who claim to support separation of church and state are more than willing to interfere with the Church. If that group truly valued this separation, they would realize they have no business trying to tell Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs, Colo., how to shepherd his flock. Separation of church and state cannot be one-sided like this.
My prayers are with Bishop Sheridan, and I would like to have his address where I could send a donation. I think Catholics should support him and his decision by helping to compensate for those who are withdrawing money because he has chosen to follow the Gospel values instead of the world's values.
Editor's note: You can write Bishop Michael Sheridan at the Diocese of Colorado Springs, 228 N. Cascade Ave., Colorado Springs, CO 80903.
I am amazed that seemingly intelligent Catholics can write with such authority on Catholic subjects and be so wrong. I refer to the letter of Mark Jameson titled “Communion Rights” (Letters, May 30-June 5).
He says “baptized Christians in good standing with the Church absolutely have the right to receive it [the Eucharist].” First off, any such right applies to a baptized Catholic. A baptized Christian (e.g., Baptist or Methodist) has that right only under certain extraordinary circumstances. This is common teaching of the magisterium and encoded in Canon 844. The writer is also wrong when he says his pastor “has an obligation to give me holy Communion.” Communion can and should be withheld when the serious sin of the recipient is publicly known by a large part of the community (Canon 915).
I personally believe that, where a public figure not only votes for such “hideous crimes” (Vatican II) as partial-birth abortion but also goes the extra mile to promote its legalization in extra-legislative meetings — and persists in such behavior despite admonition from the Church — then it is scandalous for him or her to receive Communion. Scandal demands reparation to the injured in the process for forgiveness. A public statement of a change of heart would be expected.
Having baptized many infants during my 32 years in the deaconate, I was surprised to learn that the baptismal ritual required me to announce to the baptized (or parents) at the end of the ceremony that the baptized has the right to hear the Gospel and receive the sacraments. I do not find such an instruction in my Ritual for Baptizing Infants. The book does expect me to announce the joyful expectation of receiving other sacraments, but expectation is not a right without qualification.
This matter of excluding from Communion is a complicated and judgmental decision in today's society. The responsibility of the bishop or pastor is great and worthy of our prayers. But I would take very seriously the words of St. Justin Martyr, a Father of the Church: “And this food is called among us [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined.”
Does anyone really believe that Christ would tell a politician it is okay to sanction abortion in order to get elected? Would he not say, instead, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and leave your election in the hands of God”?
DEACON JIM AWALT
BY Jim Cosgrove
Kerry's Catholicity Quotient
I read with amusement “Democrat Kerry Is Most ‘Catholic’ in Senate” (June 13-19). Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., devised the test that tracked senators' voting records on issues described as U.S. bishops' legislative priorities. Sen. John Kerry's overall score was 60.9%, the best among Catholic senators. His score on pro-life issues, meanwhile, was only 11%.
Where I went to school, 70% was a passing grade. An 11% score in a core subject meant automatic summer school. A student with an overall average of 60% would have to repeat the grade. Allowing a student to advance with such a learning deficiency would be more harmful to him in the long run than the stigma of being held back. In those days, good teachers made hard and unpopular decisions for the long-term benefit of the student.
Kerry failed the very test designed to prop him up in the minds of Catholics, and he failed miserably in the core curriculum of Catholic morality. And while serious Catholics will dismiss the Durbin survey as election-year politics, the bishops can no longer dismiss Kerry's blatant support for abortion on demand. They must make the hard and unpopular decision to deny him — and other pro-abortion politicians — holy Communion for the long-term good of their souls.
The Durbin survey is not just electionyear politics. It distorts what it means to be Catholic. The nonmoral issues on which senators were surveyed are not defining issues for Catholics. As Catholics, we can disagree on the minimum wage, capital punishment, labor policy and immigration reform. However, we have a duty to oppose abortion and uphold Church teaching on moral and doctrinal matters.
KEN SKUBA Sugarloaf, Pennsylvania
A letter to the editor titled “Don't Judge Politicians” (May 30-June 5) states in its concluding paragraph: “Particularly this year, it is important not to do anything that could be construed as an encouragement to vote for President Bush in November. His position against abortion is very weak in that he will do as little as possible in order to cater to a Catholic vote.”
Abortion promoters have a very different view of Bush. At the recent March for Women's Lives, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the National Organization for Women and other abortion-promoting organizations couldn't stop denigrating Bush as their No. 1 enemy because he has nominated candidates for federal judicial positions who might eventually get on the Supreme Court and overturn Roe v. Wade. Democratic senators are filibustering Bush's judicial candidates who have not expressed publicly their support of Roe v. Wade. This group of senators includes 12 Catholics, and Sen. John Kerry is one of them.
Bush is striking at the lifeblood of the abortion industry — and the industry and its backers are taking him seriously. Ask Ellie Smeal or Kate Michelman if Bush should be trying harder.
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
I respectfully disagree with Father James Conner's comments about judging politicians (“Don't Judge Politicians,” May 30-June 5). Holy Communion is a blessed privilege, not a right.
As Catholics, we have a right, duty and obligation to defend the Church and its teachings. That includes those politicians who call themselves Catholic. The good Father Conner must remember that those very politicians who vote for abortion in any form — or support homosexual rights, euthanasia or any other [agenda] contrary to Catholic teaching — are going against the Church and are subject to the Church for not following Church doctrine. It would appear that those very politicians forgot they were Catholic long before they became politicians.
Father Conner is failing to see the message of the Gospel he is quoting about Mary Magdalene. She came to Jesus as a sinner who was repenting for her sins and seeking Jesus' forgiveness for those sins. It's quite obvious what Mary Magdalene's role was after that. She followed Christ to the cross and spread his message up to the time of her death.
Father Conner cites the Pharisees in his letter, also. We know all too well what the Pharisees wanted done to Jesus and the hand they played in his death. Now it would appear that those politicians who call themselves Catholic are acting just like the Pharisees who helped crucify Jesus!
NEIL BALTAZOR Harrah, Oklahoma
Mocking the Eucharist
In his letter “Don't Judge Politicians” (May 30-June 5), Father James Conner mentions the example of how the Pharisees judged Christ for socializing with Mary Magdalene. Father Conner then draws a parallel to Catholics who advocate denying holy Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians.
In reviewing this passage from holy Scripture, I see two problems with Father's proposed parallel. First, nowhere does Christ excuse or condone Mary Magdalene's sin. In fact, as Father points out, Our Lord said: “Many sins have been forgiven her because she has loved much.” In short, Jesus judged her previous actions to be sinful. He did not excuse her; he forgave her. Thus the Church obviously has the power to judge certain actions as sinful.
Second, both the text and the context of this passage suggest Mary Magdalene acknowledged and recognized her sins for what they were. It was in a spirit of contrition that she approached Our Lord and sought his forgiveness. Have the pro-abortion Catholic politicians being refused holy Communion shown a similar spirit of contrition? On the contrary, when not passing judgment on President Bush's pro-life judicial nominees, we find many of these pro-abortion Catholic politicians publicly boasting about their perfect Planned Barrenhood rating.
Yet, in discussing this issue, let us never forget that what lay in a woman's womb is not just some anonymous blob of cancerous tissue. Rather, it is a human life. Abortion ends that human life. Thus when a Catholic politician campaigns on the slogan “this is my body” to promote the horror of abortion, he or she mocks the very words that make the holy Eucharist so sacred to Catholics.
PETE VERE, JCL Sudbury, Ontario
Counting on Godparents
I appreciated the article on the role of baptismal godparents (“Godparenting With Grace — and Goals,” May 23-29).
Godparenting is an area that is too often overlooked. To those of us who are trying to reclaim a true sense of spiritual service rather than a one-time stand-in by godparents, it was a welcome gift.
I was, however, disappointed in one element present in the photo. The picture and caption mentioned the child, his godmother and godfathers. Canon law does not permit three sponsors, nor does it permit two individuals of the same sex to serve in this capacity. Canon 873 states: “Only one male or one female sponsor or one of each sex is to be employed.”
While I'm sure it was simply an oversight on your part, it is unfortunate that a photo of a priest and a ceremony wherein the Church's instructions are not being followed appeared in the Register. Many people, myself included, trust the orthodoxy of the content of articles in Register, and some might be led by this error to believe that having three sponsors or two godfathers is an acceptable practice. A correction of this mistake would be most helpful.
May God continue to bless you and your fine newspaper!
REV. ANDREW P. CARROZZA, Sacred Heart Church, Suffern, New York
Editor's note: Nice catch, Father. We regret the error and stand corrected. Thank you for your prayers and kind words.
Creighton University might be a mandatum school, according to “Creighton Doesn't Hide Professors' Status” (May 23-29), but it is also a pro-homosexual school. It hosts a chapter of the Gay-Straight Alliance that is sanctioned by the university administration and that favors homosexual “marriage.”
BY Jim Cosgrove
Regarding “Catholic Hospitals to Study Implications of Pope's Words (May 9-15):
The article stated that we would be obliged to follow the Holy Father's position in our living wills. My living will states that I want nothing that would prolong my dying if I am in a vegetative state. That includes intravenous and feeding tubes, etc. I would like to be able to die when God calls me. I am afraid that, if my life is prolonged in suffering, it could lead to despair. I prefer to die a natural death and hope I will be in the state of grace right up to the end.
I have seen many people kept alive even for years because of extraordinary means and it seems to me to be a cruel thing to do to someone unless they themselves want it that way. My doctor recently noted on my chart at my request that, should I ever be diagnosed with cancer, I will do nothing about it. I would like to be able to offer my sufferings up to God for good purposes, especially for my children, and be kept as comfortable as possible until I die.
When I discussed my wishes with the priest in confession, he told me for my penance to write to you and further research the matter. Please help!
Editor's note: Readers?
We Are Winning
I have always enjoyed reading your excellent newspaper from start to finish but was especially taken by your fine editorial of May 23-29, “The Torturers Next Door.” In it you rightfully trace the source of the abuse of the prisoners’ scandal in Iraq to our bankrupt American culture. Respice fontem is the old Latin catchword: find the source.
The sex and violence that seem to be the very warp and woof of our society have, God forbid, made torturers of some of our soldiers. No wonder the Arabic world is loath to adopt our version of democracy, wanting no part of the licenses it tolerates or promotes.
In heartening contrast is the adjoining commentary by Cathy Ruse on “The Value of Life: Karen Hughes Was Right” (May 23-29). Here she presents some encouraging statistics. “In the last 10 years,” she writes, “there has been a seismic shift in public opinion on abortion … Today more Americans call themselves ‘pro-life’ than ‘pro-choice’ — 49% to 45%.” For those under 30 years of age the percentage is even higher: 60% think abortion should never be legal. And we might add — more and more of our bishops are speaking out boldly and forcefully against those who want to exterminate life.
We are winning the fight to reclaim our nation for God! May everyone redouble his and her prayers and sacrifices to see that this beloved land is once again God-fearing and God-obedient.
ARNOLD PAROLINE Montebello, California
It was painful to read the recent letter you published from Trappist Father James Connor (“Don't Judge Politicians,” May 30-June 5).
Father Connor seems to block out the reality of life in the United States. He is concerned that some U.S. bishops have focused on the contradiction of public officials who support abortion but would receive the Eucharist.
Father Connor, it is not that these officials are ignoring the abortion holocaust. That would be a serious offense for them and for us. But the Kennedys, Kerrys and McGreeveys are playing an active role in this unspeakable crime. They are consciously helping to kill innocent children and harm their mothers for life. They are not sitting on the sidelines doing nothing. They are an integral part of this massive evil.
Bless the bishops who have spoken out. May all of our bishops get on the same page with Pope John Paul II and the Church.
J.P. STANTON Jenkintown, Pennsylvania
I want to share my thoughts after reading an article in the May 9-15 issue titled “Invigorated by the Holy Father.”
The article interviewed Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick about the issue of pro-abortion politicians being denied Communion. This article really got me thinking. When he said, “I find it hard to see the Eucharist as a moment of confrontation,” I thought about John 6:22-71 when Jesus gave his Eucharistic discourse to his followers. He confronted them with the teaching on the Eucharist. As a result, “many of his followers withdrew and did not walk with him anymore” (John 6:66). Then he turned to his disciples and asked, “Are you going to leave me, also?” (John 6:67). The Eucharist was a point of confrontation for Christ, yet I believe there's a distinction to be made. It was during his teaching, not during the celebration of the Eucharist.
With this in mind I turned my thoughts to the Last Supper, when Jesus celebrated the Eucharist. During this celebration, Christ shared his body and blood with Judas after “the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas to betray him” (John 13:2). Jesus knew Judas’ intentions: “One of you will betray me” (John 13:21).
Yet there is another distinction I believe needs to be made. Judas’ sin was not yet a public sin. Imagine Judas obstinately persisting in his betrayal of Our Lord after the Resurrection and coming to the disciples to receive Communion. Would the disciples give it to him? Would Our Lord give it to him? I think it would be a contradiction to do so considering the Eucharist is the sacrament that expresses our unity and bond of charity.
I respect Cardinal McCarrick's concern that the Eucharist not become a “political tool,” but I do not think this is what our courageous bishops are doing who stand up for our Communion in faith. We are in the midst of a spiritual battle, good vs. evil, truth vs. deception. We need to stand up for the truth and make it clear.
I would like to see the bishops take advantage of this opportunity and go a step further clarifying the Church's teaching on contraception, considering that the issue of marriage is at the front of the battlefield right now also. I think it would be pastorally unwise to come out and say that those who are practicing contraception should not receive Communion. It would be better to encourage them to receive the sacrament of reconciliation and begin their journey back to full communion with the Church.
DAVID SCHROEDER Ripon, Wisconsin
Thank you for your continuing coverage regarding Catholic politicians and abortion. I have a question for the 46% of Catholics who would vote for a pro-abortion candidate.
If a politician refuses to be faithful to his or her church and the teachings of that church, why should we trust that he or she will be any more faithful to his or her country or the laws of that country?
E. MACKLIN Corpus Christi, Texas
Thank you so much for your article of Jan. 25, “Nun's Program Gives Hope (And Faith) to Addicts.”
My husband and I are the very blessed and grateful parents of a daughter who lives in one of the “houses” of Comunita Cenacolo in Italy. Sister Elvira emphasizes that the journey of the child is truly meant to be the journey of the whole family toward ever-deeper conversion. This is our experience as we continue to grow in our hope and faith — certainly the most important journey of any life. What a gift Sister Elvira gives to the whole Church in her work with us.
Our daughter was not a drug addict but had other issues. She has been in community for a year and a half and I'd like to quote from her last letter to us: “I'm praying for the peace in my heart to forgive … I am beginning to trust in God for everything.”
These are words of a miracle occurring in our very own family. I'd like to encourage any parent who is at a loss with a very troubled teen to go to the website of the community today: http://www.comunitacenacolo it/en.g/index.htm.
Our trip into the community was guided by the Blessed Mother herself, I am sure. She is your mother, too. Ask her about it.
THERESE AND JOHN NOECKER St. Louis
BY Jim Cosgrove
“Cardinal Will Meet With Lawmakers on Communion” (May 30-June 5) mentioned that the Code of Canon Law in No. 915 says those who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Communion.
Some have called the denial of Communion to pro-abortion politicians a sanction. It's really a canonical remedy. The priests are not condemning anyone. They are trying to heal and save souls. They are pointing out the grave seriousness of the situation.
Wouldn't it be a sacrilege for a priest to give the Eucharist to anyone who publicly goes against Church teaching committing a grave sin?
In the Catholic News Service article “Life Issues Must Come First for Catholic Voters, Cardinal Says” (May 9-15), Washington, D.C., Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who is leading a group of bishops working to determine the Church's response to politicians who publicly contradict Church teaching — including their reception of the Eucharist — said the group would not complete its work until after the November election. This unfortunately makes the worthy reception of the Eucharist sound tied to electoral politics. The group needs a publicized schedule to complete its work independent of electoral politics.
According to Cardinal McCarrick, the task force is also going to engage in “deep consultation” with U.S. bishops, episcopal conferences all over the world and the Vatican. It sounds as though the group could take a decade or more to finish its tasks. If this group has to spend all this time in consultation, then the canon law regarding the reception of Communion by publicly obstinate sinners must be so vague as to be useless.
This problem has been with us in the United States for more than 31 years since the legalization of abortion, and it has been a problem since St. Paul's time. It is unfathomable that lay people should have to wait so long and see so much money spent to answer what appears to be obvious: Politicians who persist in publicly encouraging the killing of anyone should be denied the Eucharist until they repent.
Letting such politicians receive Communion is letting them define the Catholic faith as a religion that sanctions the killing of the pre-born. Their reception of the Eucharist is a very bad example, especially for young people, and it is very bad for the future of the Church. Lay people deserve better!
FRANCOIS L. QUINSON
Regarding “Pro-Terrorism, But Great on Other Issues!” (April 11-17), Father Frank Pavone's guest editorial:
I just wanted to let your readers know that St. Joseph Radio has recently recorded two talks by Father Pavone regarding the importance of the foundational pro-life issue in the upcoming elections. Father does a great job of explaining how our country was founded on the basis that our nation's laws would not conflict with God's laws.
I think it is a set of talks that everyone needs to listen to before they vote and that they need to share with their pastors and friends.
The tapes can be ordered through St. Joseph Radio by calling (714) 744-0336 or visiting our bebsite, http://www.stjosephradio.com.
La Palma, California
Regarding Trappist Father James Conner's letter “Don't Judge Politicians” (May 30-June 5):
I'm sorry, but I cannot see any similarity between St. Mary Magdalene and Sen. John Kerry. The former recognized the fact that she had sinned grievously against the Lord and committed herself to repentance. The latter refuses to admit he sins in voting for abortion, even partial-birth abortion, which most doctors agree is never “medically necessary.”
Kerry reminds me much more of the Scribes and Pharisees who insist they are righteous and to whom Jesus says, because of the very fact that they believe they are righteous, “Woe to you.” We are insisting that Communion be refused to those who publicly sin and are publicly unrepentant in order to avoid the scandal of seeming to condone a horrible form of sin: making it fully legal for a mother to murder her own child.
Perhaps if President Bush were Catholic, he should be denied the Eucharist, too, but he is not Catholic. And though the wartime activities are horrible, and though he has done other things that do not truly support those who are least among us, he is not fighting to keep laws that are evil. We need to be rid of those immoral laws as a nation — the fact that we have this as a “right” is worse than any war. More American children are killed every year by abortion than Americans killed in all our wars combined.
I ask that Father Conner call to mind what St. Paul said about the man who publicly engaged in incest and refused to repent (1 Corinthians 5).
Regarding “Communion Issue Shows No Sign of Letting Up” (May 23-29):
New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey is being commended because he said he would obey Newark Archbishop John Myers, who said he should not receive Communion. What was left out of your article was that the governor said he would not receive at “public Mass,” intimating that he will receive privately.
We don't expect our bishops to be policemen, standing at the Communion line and rejecting people. However, these are our shepherds and we expect them to lead our confused sheep. We expect them to get their act together.
What good will [Cardinal Theodore McCarrick's task force] be if it won't release its conclusions or plans until after the November election? By then it will all be over and we will get what we deserve.
Brick, New Jersey
I enclose a clipping from your May 30-June 5 edition to ask: Why was there no mention of Pentecost or the Holy Spirit for the great feast of Pentecost?
As you are aware, Easter and Pentecost stand alone as our two great feasts in Christianity. What happened? Suppose we did that to Easter or even Mother's Day?
As the Holy Father said at Vatican II: “No Holy Spirit, no Church.”
Otherwise, I love your paper.
FATHER JOHN RANDALL
North Providence, Rhode Island
Editor's reply: Good catch, Father. We try to include at least one mention, if not some form of dedicated coverage, for every major feast as the liturgical calendar rolls along. Some years, one of the big ones manages to slip past. That's what happened this past Pentecost. Lord willing, we'll make up for the oversight next 50th day after Easter.
Regarding “Raider of Noah's Lost Ark” in the June 6-12 issue:
There were statements in this article implying that Noah was not a physical being, a real historical person. I have heard similar stories regarding Adam and Eve, too.
When I read Genesis 5:3-32, 11:10-26 and Matthew 1:2-19 as well as Luke 3:23-38, these genealogy passages include the names of Adam and Noah. If Adam and Noah did not exist, then guess what? Neither did Jesus.
Some atheists say religion is a man-made means to control the masses. If Adam, Noah and Jesus did not exist, maybe they are correct — in which case our faith is in vain (1 Corinthians 15:14).
If I am understanding this issue incorrectly, please educate me and my six children. Please include documents that exclude my understanding and show it as false.
JOE AND SUE MARINCEL
Flower Mound, Texas
Editor's reply: If Jesus did not exist, our faith is most certainly in vain. The article did not imply that Noah did not exist, just that the account of the ark is not meant to be taken as historical reporting. If you're interested in reading more about genealogy, or any other aspect of Scripture studies, look up the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, founded by Dr. Scott Hahn, at salvationhistory.com.
Restorative Justice in Review
Regarding the Catholic News Service article “Southern Bishops Suggest Restorative Justice Rather Than Imprisonment” (May 23-29):
The article states: “The idea is not to replace the current court system, the bishops said, but to offer, for example, programs such as mediated victim-offender community conferences.”
The last sentence of the article states: “If the parties are unwilling or unable to reach a resolution, the case goes back to regular criminal court.” This sounds as if this system is intended to replace the criminal court system.
I agree that the criminal should have to face his victim and make restitution. He or she must also pay the penalty required by law.
We have seen in the past where such programs lead to the regular release of criminals who repeat the same crime again and again. Remember the murderers who were released from life in prison because they wrote a book and a famous author felt they had repented of their sins and secured their release? They murdered again.
The bishops have also pressed for the lenient treatment of juveniles. I remember a TV interview many years ago with a juvenile who had been arrested for killing a rival gang member. When asked if he would kill after he became an adult, he replied: “Heck no. They can fry you as an adult.”
I hope the bishops will not short-circuit our justice system.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Mostly Silent Shepherds
Our bishops are sending lay people a confusing message in response to the question of whether abortion supporter Sen. John Kerry should receive or be offered the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist (“Faith in the Spotlight,” April 25-May 1).
Several bishops have said he should not receive but they would not withhold Communion from him. Others have just said they would not refuse him Communion. Still others have said they will not offer Communion to him.
The Eucharist is a miraculous gift from God, a stunning example of the depth of his love for us. We must be spiritually prepared to receive the Eucharist and respond to God's love.
Promoters of abortion have caused the painful killing of some 46 million babies, the surreptitious injury of millions of young women told that abortion is a good and safe procedure and the promotion of abortion as a population-control measure — including spending our tax monies for compulsory abortion — in China. Kerry even supports the corruption of our young people through Planned Parenthood's promotion of contraception for teens.
The question of the worthy reception of the Eucharist has been with the Church throughout its history. St. Paul taught on the question in his first letter to the Corinthians. The scandal of pro-abortion Catholic politicians such as Kerry receiving Communion has been with us for 30 years. Catholics, indeed all people, deserve a unified statement and a unified position from the bishops — based on Church teaching and canon law — on whether promoters of the culture of death can be offered Communion.
Silver Spring, Maryland
Equality and Enemies
Regarding “Pornography and Iraq” (editorial, May 16-22):
With pride in America and our Armed Forces, I salute the vast majority of the men and women who serve our country with honor in Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the world. May God bless them and their families.
To allow the few who dishonor our country to become a reflection of our entire nation, and to place the blame for their actions on their commander-in-chief, is a form of treason.
Our soldiers in Iraq are not at war with the people of Iraq. Rather, they are peacemakers who have become victims of revenge and hatred by an unseen enemy who will even kill his own countrymen.
Without our military presence, mobs would rule a country that has lost the desire for peace.
In comparison, allowing a political party responsible for millions of deaths through abortion to resume power at any level of political life is a disgrace to every American who believes in the right to life according to our Constitution — which says we are all created equal.
Scandal is all around us, but the scandal of deliberate, willful abortion is the greatest scandal ever witnessed by any people — civilized or uncivilized.
What will it take for those in charge of priest formation to realize that homosexual orientation in the priesthood is a problem? When reminded of the fact that 80% of the sexual-abuse incidents involved homosexual predation on adolescent males (“NAC Rector: Abuse Scandal Hasn't Stopped Men From ‘Divine Call,’” April 25-May 1), Msgr. Kevin McCoy, rector of the North American College in Rome, urges caution not to jump to conclusions! Seems like 80% is strong evidence to be acted upon rather than a jump to conclusions.
While celibacy is crucial, as Msgr. McCoy indicates, how much more difficult will it be for a homosexual priest to remain celibate while living in close proximity with men? Also, will such a priest not always be an advocate, even unwittingly, for the homosexual lifestyle? Has Pope John Paul II not spoken against ordination of homosexuals as headlined in the Register in the recent past?
The introduction of even a small amount of error in Christ's Church has been likened to the tiny stone crack in a car windshield. It enlarges over time until the entire windshield must be replaced. If the 80% correlation doesn't cause Church leadership to rethink its policy of ordination of homosexuals, I suggest the crack in the windshield is very large, indeed.
Andrew J. Blazewicz Jr.
Having just read “A Man Fully Alive: Father Owen Keenan” (Priest Profile, May 30-June 5) and a few others prior, I must admit that I haven't done enough or been around enough to merit the honor. I was just on retreat last week with other diocesan priests, some of whom have been ordained for more than 60 years and who are still active. They're the type who deserve mention.
Nonetheless, I am happy with the article and am proud to be publicly recognized as a Pope John Paul II priest, which I proudly am!
Father Owen Keenan
St. Ignatius Church Mississauga, Ontario
Editor's Note: We agree that older priests deserve recognition — but we launched the Priest Profile as a way to show that young men are still hearing God's call — and responding to it generously. Readers who know of an exemplary 20- or 30-something priest are invited to nominate him for the Register spotlight by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The editorial concerning the American abuse of Iraqi prisoners (“Pornography and Iraq,” May 16-22) made many valid points, but I believe it was overly simplistic to blame this evil on pornography.
When I was serving in the Navy, the ship I was on crossed the equator in September 1985. A certain traditional hazing occurred on that day, known as “crossing the line” or “wog day.” While taking part in this initiation was not compulsory, not to do so was regarded as dishonorable and made one a target of perpetual contempt.
Those of us who did take part in it were beaten on the buttocks with sawed-off fire hoses till we were literally black and blue, not to mention being subject to other countless and disgusting humiliations that went on for several hours. But the worst offense of the day was being ordered by “shellbacks” (sailors who had already crossed the equator) to simulate every variety of homosexual act upon each other.
Most of the “wogs” went along with such orders, but I refused — and was treated brutally as a result. And make no mistake, most of this was not done in any spirit of fun; it was done in an unmistakable spirit of sadism and even hatred.
Bear in mind, this was sailor against fellow sailor. So how hard is it to imagine what might happen to wartime enemies? I don't believe the abusers in Iraq were ordered to do these wretched things (which still would not excuse them); nor do I think this abuse was directed toward extracting any confessions. The abusers were simply having a “good time,” enjoying themselves the way certain sadists among the human race have always enjoyed doing.
With Pat Madrid, I am not surprised over this scandal in Iraq. But my explanation is somewhat different than his. Pornography? Sure, that could be part of the answer. But when we look at the mind-boggling evil that human beings do to others (including, of course, what Muslim terrorists do to others), explanations involving environment, politics, economics and immorality only partially suffice. A deeper and more meaningful explanation is Satan — who wants nothing more than to degrade and destroy, any way he can, the image of God in man.
The correct phone number for Quo Vadis Theatre (“To Transform Tinseltown,” Letters, June 6-12) is (408) 252-3530.
BY Jim Cosgrove
No Wiggle Room
In “Governor Will Stop Receiving Communion in Public” (News in Brief, May 16-22), we find Gov. James McGreevey of New Jersey stating that, in response to Newark Archbishop John Myers' pastoral letter, he will no longer receive holy Communion publicly. He needs to add “nor privately,” since reverence for the Eucharist is the principal reason for the interdict canon law imposes on public sinners.
In the same issue good Cardinal Adam Maida of Detroit tells us that “the reception of the sacraments must be applied in the context of different cultures and it can be applied in different ways” (“Back to the Church's Roots in Tough Times,” Inperson). In general that is true, but in relation to the Eucharist, canon law is specific, decisive and unequivocal: “Those who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy Communion.” There's no wiggle room here even (and especially, I might add) for Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
As our Holy Father frequently reminds us: We must transform the culture rather than allowing ourselves to be transformed by the culture.
Father Bernardine Hahn, OFM
Abu Ghraib's Porn Link
Regarding “Pornography and Iraq” (Editorial, May 16-22):
We know pornography is the offspring of our culture's obsession with sexual matters over many years. Just looking at many of the movies and Broadway shows of the early ‧30s and even earlier, the female figure — especially in chorus lines — was about erotic as it could get, a gradual seduction that found its way to more and more bodily exposure and sexually explicit dialogue. In short, this whole cultural shift has been a long time in coming.
The self-indulgence that pornography promotes leads to exploitation, cruelty and violence. It depicts women and men as devoid of personhood and frequently weaves violence with sex. A person who no longer guides his life on principles of fidelity treats people any way he wants. Enter sadism.
Many members of our society have had pornography ingrained in their psyche over who knows how many years, a steady diet of porn carrying the sadistic seed. It has now come to pass this sadism component of porn has shown its ugly face to the whole world. The naiveté of persons who just “can't understand” how some American soldiers could conceivably do such a thing blows me away. Where have they been all those years? Do we share the same planet?
Did Isaiah have it right? “With their ears they have been hard of hearing and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they see with their eyes, hear with their ears and understand with their mind” (Isaiah 6:9-11).
Protect Future Communicants
Overall I was deeply puzzled by the response of Washington, D.C., Cardinal Theodore McCarrick regarding Communion and pro-abortion politicians (“Invigorated by the Holy Father,” Inperson, May 9-15).
Christ's teachings clearly give preferential care to the least of our brethren: “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). But Cardinal McCarrick and most Catholic bishops appear to be choosing not to give preferential care to the least of our pre-born brethren where the bishops have most control — that is, at the Communion moment.
Incredibly, as matters are now developing, it appears many bishops are openly choosing to cooperate with the abortion politicians in their supreme, practical, public witness to moral falsity at the Communion moment. How perplexing, since no one can serve two masters, and the objective evidence of a public, notorious, unrepentant, five-time voter against a ban on partial-birth abortion, like Sen. John Kerry, being cooperated with at the Communion moment has to reveal much about a bishop's allegiance and has to be a first-rate scandal.
Thus some of our bishops seem to be giving only lip service to the evils of abortion while their practical actions are giving preferential care to the “important” political procurers of legal abortion.
In sum, while many bishops talk conscience and tolerance for pro-abortion supporters, their practical actions are intolerant of including the possibility for the pre-born abortion victims to ever exercise their conscience and to ever receive the Body and Blood of Christ.
Frank Strelchun, PH.D.
Political vs. Spiritual
With reference to the controversy over whether or not pro-abortion politicians should be given holy Communion (“On Receiving Communion,” May 9-15) and especially the article “Faith in the Spotlight” (April 25-May 1): It seems the bishops are more concerned about the political aspects rather than the spiritual.
Cardinals, bishops and priests were not ordained to be politicians; nor were they ordained to back away from powerful politicians or the state. They were ordained to teach the truth, save souls and protect the innocent. They should not be concerned that any faith-based decisions they make will have any impact on a political situation. If their decisions happen to affect so-called Catholic politicians, especially those who not only vote for pro-abortion legislation but also actually promote abortion, so be it. The truth is that anyone who is not in a state of grace should not receive Communion and to do so is a sacrilege against the Eucharist. Are not those who give Communion to people they know are not worthy to receive it contributing to the sacrilege?
The reports are that the bishops will not decide on what to do with these so-called Catholic politicians until after the elections. If the bishops do not define the Catholic doctrines prior to the elections, especially those concerning abortion, and a so-called Catholic politician gets elected president, the first thing he will do is cancel the Mexico City Policy, which prohibits the use of U.S. tax dollars by organizations that provide for abortions or that lobby for and promote abortion. He will sign every pro-abortion bill, veto every pro-life bill and appoint pro-abortion judges to the Supreme Court.
If the bishops allow this, it will be a much greater scandal than the sex scandal that rocked the Church, for it will mean the murder of millions of additional innocent babies — not only over the next four years but also for years to come.
Gerard P. Mcevoy
Coram, New York
OH, HAPPY ACCIDENT
Just after we went to press with our May 23-29 issue, we received a photo that, had it arrived a few hours earlier, would have accompanied “The Franciscan Four Go to Washington” on the Books & Education page. The article told about four legal-studies students from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, whose diligent research into forced abortions has reached the U.S. Supreme Court via a brief filed by attorney Christopher Sapp for the case Jane Roe II v. Aware Women Center for Choice Inc. Now we've learned that two of the students' names we were given had been misspelled. We know a second chance to run a great photo when we see one. So here's the photo and here, from the bottom looking up — with all names correctly spelled — are students Anne Marie Morris, Shane Haselbarth and Shannon Andreyanova, along with Sapp and Third Order Regular Franciscan Father Terence Henry, president of Franciscan University. Missing from the photo is student Heather McCombs.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Reaping the Whirlwind
Regarding “Pornography and Iraq” (Editorial, May 16-22):
Many Americans of all political persuasions have expressed outrage, dismay and calls for justice over the recent news of abuse of Iraqi detainees at the hands of some American military personnel. Since 1973, American society has promoted the violence of legal abortion as a Supreme Court-mandated right of individual privacy and choice — to the tune of an estimated 43 million abortions. It is ironic that those politicians who cannot even bring themselves to outlaw the procedure known as partial-birth abortion now shout the loudest over the acts against the imprisoned Iraqis.
The issues of abortion and the mistreatment of the prisoners are questions of basic human dignity. Is it really any surprise that these abuses occur at the hands of some members of our modern American culture, which has grown so callous to even the most innocent stage of life? One action we justify as “a woman's choice” while the other is called a crime against humanity. We are simply reaping what we have sown.
STEPHEN ROSCHER, Owings Mills, Maryland
Don't Judge Politicians
I feel your editorial on politicians, abortion and the Eucharist was put in a way that made it into a “black-and-white” issue (“On Receiving Communion,” May 9-15). Even the interview with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick (“Invigorated by the Holy Father,” Inperson, May 9-15) was more nuanced than your editorial.
When I read statements by some today such as the archbishop of St. Louis regarding politicians and Sen. John Kerry in particular, I cannot help but reflect on the incident in the Gospel when Mary Magdalen came to wash the feet of Jesus and dried them with her tears. The Pharisees at table said within themselves: “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman this is who touches him.” But Jesus vindicated her by saying to his host: “Many sins have been forgiven her because she has loved much.” The Pharisees also judged Jesus because he “eats and drinks with publicans and sinners.”
Is the judgment of politicians not running the risk of a similar judgment — and by that fact running the risk of going counter to the role of Jesus Christ as savior?
I think that, as Catholics, we need to be very slow to urge the bishops to use the Eucharist as a sanction or to state publicly that Kerry or any other Catholic politician is not a good Catholic. Particularly this year, it is important not to do anything that could be construed as an encouragement to vote for President Bush in November. His position against abortion is very weak in that he will do as little as possible in order to cater to a Catholic vote. But if we are saddled with four more years of Bush, we may have many other issues besides abortion to contend with — such as war, economy, environment and many other things. For this reason I feel that Catholics need to be very circumspect in judging whether Kerry or any other politician can be voted for.
FATHER JAMES CONNER, OCSO, Abbey of Gethsemani, Trappist, Kentucky
Qualifying for Communion
Regarding “On Receiving Communion” (Editorial, May 9-15):
It has been reported, of late, that Cardinal Francis Arinze, a Vatican official, has called on priests to stop granting Communion to politicians who vote for or advocate abortion. It has also been reported that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has a task force studying whether to sanction Catholic politicians who take stances contrary to Church doctrine.
And what political views shall the Church consider worthy of the sanction of barring from Communion? After more than 100 years of official Church documents on social issues, and as documented by the U.S. bishops' “Pastoral on Civic Responsibility,” it is clear that there are more areas of responsibility than just abortion. The pastoral states that “in accordance with God's plan for human society, we are called to commit ourselves to protect and promote the life and dignity of the human person and the common good of society as a whole. We must always remember God's special concern for the poor and vulnerable and make their needs our first priority in public life. We are concerned about a whole range of social issues: economic issues, labor, rights and responsibilities of every person, option for the poor and vulnerable, dignity of work and the rights of workers, solidarity (global) [and] care for God's creation.” These are the seven themes of Catholic social teaching and the heart of Catholic social tradition.
Abortion, although an important issue, is just one issue within just one of these tenets. Where are the outrage and the calls for sanctions against those politicians and candidates who publicly support the gutting of health-care programs for the most vulnerable groups of people? Where are the Church's efforts to discipline those who enact official governmental policies that destroy the earth and its resources? Will the Church refuse Communion to those who publicly support the expansion of the death penalty? Where is the outrage for those government officials who knowingly lie to justify the abandonment of international peace efforts in a rush to war?
If the Church is going to use access to Communion as a means of endorsing and condemning political candidates or those who publicly oppose any aspect of Catholic teachings, how many could pass [its] test?
MARTHA J. CAMELE, Cincinnati
Regarding your editorial “On Receiving Communion” (May 9-15):
You write, “The Holy Father's words should inspire us with amazement at the great, unde-served gift of the Eucharist — and with horror that we would ever treat it as anyone's right.”
While I think I understand the point you are trying to make, I believe you have wandered (perhaps unintentionally) into troubled waters. Of course the Eucharist is a great, undeserved gift — perhaps the greatest gift God has given us. But to say that it is a gift does not negate the fact that baptized Christians in good standing with the Church absolutely have the right to receive it. This teaching is woven into the fabric of our worship. Near the end of the Rite of Baptism is a provision for the celebrant to state that the person who had just been baptized now enjoys the right to hear the Gospel and to receive the sacraments. So please don't try to remove that right in an overzealous attempt to protect the purity of the Eucharist.
Did we earn this right? Not at all. Can we forfeit this right through sin and willful disobedience? Absolutely. But neither of these truths negates the fact that I have the right to receive — and my pastor has an obligation to give me — Communion.
I for my part would love to be able to dance my way up the aisle on Sunday, amazed at my Father's love and overjoyed that he has invited me to receive his beloved Son in such an intimate way. If some want to shuffle up there, hat in hand like a beggar hoping for just a small morsel from a strict and stingy God, I suppose that this, too, is their right. Just don't tell me that I should be equally glum.
MARK JAMESON, Fruit Cove, Florida
The Voting Faithful
Regarding “Faith in the Spotlight” (April 25-May 1):
It's incredible, but true, that states with the largest Catholic populations also send the highest number of pro-abortion, anti-family politicians to Washington, D.C. Hard to believe? Check the rosters of senators and representatives from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Maryland, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and California. Do Catholic voters knowingly aid and abet politicians who support policies and programs condemned by our Church? I think not.
It's time to end the deafening silence coming from our parish pulpits. Our clergy need to dust off the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Gospel of Life, those marvelous teaching instruments. Laypersons don't need anyone to tell us how to vote. But if we're ever going to build a culture of life in this country, our people need desperately to know exactly what the Church has to say about the great moral issues of our time. That teaching can only come from the clergy.
JOSEPH COSTA, Murrieta, California
BY Jim Cosgrove
“Democrats Try to Score Catholic Votes” (May 2-8) criticizes various organizations for treating all issues as equal when trying to decide how to vote.
The article says, “While Archbishop Chaput stated that abortion, immigration law, the death penalty and housing for the poor were all vitally important issues, he said ‘no amount of calculating can make them equal in gravity.’” What is needed, then, is some guidance that says how to weigh the issues.
Two paragraphs later, the article says, “a 2003 publication, Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility, provides guidance from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.” It turns out that publication is written by the administrative board of the U.S. Catholic Conference, and it does not provide a weighting of the importance of the various issues Archbishop Chaput indicated was necessary.
There is, however, a publication that does provide weighting of the importance of the issues. It was voted out by the entire U.S. bishops' conference in 1998 by an overwhelming vote. It's Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics. Here's what Article 19 says:
“Pope John Paul II elaborates on this responsibility in his 1988 apostolic exhortation Christifideles Laici [The Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World]: ‘The inviolability of the person, which is a reflection of the absolute inviolability of God, finds its primary and fundamental expression in the inviolability of human life. Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights — for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture — is false and illusory if the right to life … is not defended with the most maximum determination. … The human being is entitled to such rights, in every phase of development, from conception until natural death; and in every condition, whether healthy or sick, whole or handicapped, rich or poor … [Moreover, if] indeed, everyone has the mission and responsibility of acknowledging the personal dignity of every human being and of defending the right to life, some lay faithful are given particular title to this task: such as parents, teachers, health workers and the many who hold economic and political power’” (No. 38).
The 1999 version of Faithful Citizenship on Page 13 contained a sentence that followed Article 19 very closely: “Calls to advance human rights are illusions if the right to life itself is subject to attack.” The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Administrative Committee took it out for the 2003 version of Faithful Citizenship.
CLARE K. AND WILLIAM J. RICHTER, Charleston, South Carolina
Why Catholics Don't Sing
As a lover of both the liturgy and the rich musical heritage of the Catholic Church, I am writing in response to “Bishops Plan to Make New Hymn Rules” (March 28-April 3).
It seems that, in many Catholic churches throughout our country, the congregations do not sing. I believe part of the reason lies in the fact that the hymns used in the liturgy are continually changing. Even in the tunes many of us know as Catholics, the lyrics are continually changing. This is particularly painful for me, because lyrics I memorized as a youth and that have a deep spiritual meaning for me have changed.
When I was in Portugal for two years, I observed that many of the hymns contained a small response and the actual scriptural text from the standard Portuguese edition of the Bible. In the United States, the hymns seem to be based loosely on the Scriptures, but the literal scriptural text is not preserved. Wouldn't it be a good idea to actually sing the literal words of Scripture to a common tune in order to help the faithful memorize key passages of Scripture?
Finally, it deeply saddens me that one rarely hears a Marian hymn. We often sing the Easter tune “Lasst uns erfreuen.” The literal German text is “Let us rejoice heartily, for Mary no longer suffers or mourns. Alleluia. Alleluia.” All reference to Mary's participation in the Easter mystery is removed from the English text. Perhaps we as a nation more than others need to re-cultivate our country's consecration to the Immaculate Conception, especially since we seem to have lost our sense of purity and sexual morality as a nation. What better way to begin than ending every sacred liturgy with a hymn and prayer to Mary?
EDWARD WASSELL, Fillmore, California
After reading Cardinal Theodore McCar-rick's responses to interview questions (“Invigorated by the Holy Father,” Inperson, May 9-15), I can't believe he is heading up the bishops' task force on politicians who oppose Church teachings.
The Church position on abortion is the most prominent Church teaching being opposed. And our spiritual leader, Cardinal McCarrick, says he's concerned about “the Eucharist becoming a political tool” and that “once a person in his own heart feels he or she is able [to receive Communion], then, even though we might not agree because of the public things that are happening, I am uncomfortable about using the Eucharist as a point of confrontation.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion since the first century and that this teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable (No. 2271). While the Catechism certainly agrees that a human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience (No. 1790), it also says moral conscience can remain in ignorance and make erroneous judgments (No. 1791) and that education of the conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative teachings (No. 1783).
JOHN OPPIE, Georgetown, Texas
How refreshing to finally see an article embracing the concept of the “new feminism” (“New Feminism' Is Pro-Motherhood, Says ‘Endow,’” May 9-15).
The 1960s version of feminism stated loud and clear that what was keeping women from achieving equality with men and “having it all” was their reproductive faculty. Instead of looking at this as the gift God intended it to be, it was viewed as a curse. Consequently, women bought into the notion of birth control, sterilization and abortion — the sacrificing of their own children — as a way to achieve equality.
I, for one, welcome the advent of the new feminism. As the mother of three children (two daughters and one son), I hope my children are recipients of better opportunities in the workplace than those offered in the last four decades. I sincerely hope the new feminism will afford all of my children opportunities to be able to better balance a fulfilling life outside of the home while raising their children at the same time (and not leaving that all-important job to someone else).
I'd like to see their God-given skills used fully not only in the home but also in the workplace. Perks such as benefits, retirement and even travel would also be nice amenities. Companies might even be surprised by the win-win situation for both sides — more hours for the employee to spend with home and family, and a dedicated worker for the company. The employer might be truly surprised by an employee who is grateful for the opportunity to contribute to a workplace that will let the individual pursue both home and work pursuits without neglecting — or sacrificing — either.
The new feminism — unlike the old feminism — can certainly embrace both home and the workplace, if the workplace becomes more willing to accommodate the changing needs of the family. Until that time, companies will continue to lose out while women such as myself will continue to find other ways of doing both without sacrificing either.
L.A. GRIBLE, Akron, Ohio
The Gift of Suffering
I always read Jennifer Roback Morse's column with interest. Her “Passion and Pain” in the May 9-15 issue, and another column about offering personal suffering in solidarity with Christ and with those suffering in the world (written a year or two ago), address the mystery of suffering with profound insight.
Suffering has always been a stumbling block for the greatest theologians. Avoidance of suffering in our culture accounts for the pervasive and addictive use of drugs, sex and violence to smooth the way into oblivion. Roback Morse's thoughts on suffering affirm my personal experience that, though we fight tooth and nail to be comfortable and secure, when the inevitable pain and difficulties overwhelm us, we dimly perceive suffering to be a gift. Our only recourse is surrender to the mercy of the suffering Christ.
BETSY KLECZKOWSKI, Salt Lake City, Utah
BY Jim Cosgrove
Political Problems Persist
Carlos Briceño's article “Faith in the Spotlight” (April 25-May 1) is an excellent summary of several critical moral issues facing the Roman Catholic Church — specifically abortion, conscience and the duties of public leaders who profess to be Catholics.
Catholics cannot wait for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to “release guidelines about how the Church should treat Catholic politicians who ignore Church teachings.” Canon law and the Catechism of the Catholic Church provide all that is necessary. Clearly there is an element within the bishops' conference that would just as soon wait for the problem to go away, as evidenced by [conference head] Bishop Wilton Gregory's refusal to be interviewed for your article.
Whether because of “analysis paralysis,” cowardice or whatever other reason, the hierarchy's inability or unwillingness to act compounds this scandal the same way it compounded the priest sexual-predator scandal. I believe, with all my heart, that the faithful will rally behind the bishops if they would act to discipline Sen. John Kerry, Frances Kissling and the so-called Catholics for a Free Choice organization, and others who arrogantly disobey Church teachings.
In this Easter season, it is important to emulate Christ, who overcame evil and death not by appeasing it but by taking the battle directly to it and defeating it.
BOB HAUGH, Colonial Heights, Virginia
I am writing this letter to give my support to the use of graphic abortion images that have the potential to save the lives of the unborn and change the hearts and minds of countless people. Since the infamous Roe v. Wade decision of 1973, 40 million unborn children have been murdered in the United States.
The pictures are brutal, disturbing and disgusting, but they convey a necessary message. Abortion, first and foremost, is murder. It is not simply a “choice” but the willful and premeditated ending of a human life. There is no way for an honest person to deny this fact after viewing these photographs.
When I looked at these horrible pictures, I was filled with sorrow on so many different levels — for all of the lost potential, the ruined lives both of these children and also their potential mothers. I struggled with these images, and I came to the conclusion that there is no other way to show the public what abortion truly is. These photographs have the potential to change the hardest of hearts and, in fact, they already have.
A society's values are reflected most clearly in how the most vulnerable and helpless are treated. The sad legacy of abortion must end. We must be resolute in standing up for the dignity of each and every human life, from conception until natural death, as the Roman Catholic faith teaches so beautifully.
I look forward to the day when the tragedy of abortion has ended, and the pictures of aborted children will serve as a memorial to the countless victims, both born and unborn. Until that day, these pictures serve a necessary purpose in the pro-life battle.
I wanted to end this letter with a quote from our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, which has guided me in my own life and my own medical practice. I think it speaks to the mission of Catholic Christians and compels us to accept the challenge of being witnesses for Christ.
“Our commitment to the dignity of all human beings is the reason why the ecclesial community establishes such things as soup kitchens, provides shelters for the homeless and medical care for the poor. The same conviction should compel all of you today to defend the right to life of every human being from conception to natural death, to care for and protect the unborn and all those whom others might deem ‘inconvenient’ or ‘undesirable.’”
We need to build a culture of life!
Glenn Applegate, M.D., Milwaukee
Hellwig's No Help
Your recent article on dissent at Catholic colleges extensively quotes Monica Hell-wig, president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (“Campus Crisis: Report Says Catholic Colleges Promote ‘Culture of Death,’” May 2-8).
Considering her willing and deceitful defense of such obvious anti-Catholic activities as awarding honorary degrees to notorious pro-abortion supporters, supporting pro-abortion clubs, offering internships at local Planned Parenthood offices and hiring pro-abortion politicians as faculty members, it seems clear the problem in Catholic higher education is systemic, not random.
It would be a scandal if she had been appointed to her post only recently and was ignorant of all these problems. Much worse than that, her comments reflect her conviction that such activities actually support Church teaching.
DAVID R. KLUGE, Sheridan, Oregon
Not too long ago the Register interviewed Mark Shields of CNN's “Capital Gang” and, if I remember correctly, your interviews are a complimentary look at Catholics in the public eye and a short review of their positive achievements.
Since you contributed to the credence and notoriety of Shields' Catholicism, I believe you now have a responsibility to report to your readers how Shields performed as a Catholic on the May 1 broadcast of his show, seen by millions across the country. In my opinion, he and Margaret Carlson have scandalized our faith and have added to the confusion of Catholics and others who are in conflict on abortion. When powerful “Catholic” voices sacrifice integrity and betray their faith to maintain power, they must be challenged! We must fight back vigorously. And who can do it better than the Register?
While watching the show, I found it hard to believe my ears; I had to resort to the transcript to confirm what I heard. The comments of these five people and the quoted comments of our cardinals were to me a microcosmic view of the fundamental crisis in the Church today. This group reflected the anti-Catholicism outside the Church in Al Hunt's insulting comment about Archbishop Raymond Burke and his ridiculous comparison of the death penalty with abortion. It showed the conflict among Catholics — two faithful to doctrine and two in dissent. And it revealed that top Church leaders are still unwilling to provide the decisive leadership for which they are responsible.
CHARLES N. MARRELLI, Irvine, California
Editor's note: Mark Shields was never an Inperson interview in the Register. He was spotlighted elsewhere for statements he made against abortion.
The Might of Men
Regarding “I Regret My Abortion: Jennifer White's Horrific Tale of What Abortion Is Really Like” (May 2-8):
Many of us viewed the movie The Passion of the Christ by Mel Gibson. It is a visual testimony of how husbands are to love their wives as taught to us in Ephesians 5:23-33. What woman would not feel cherished, loved and respected if she were loved like Christ loves his bride, the Church, as portrayed in the movie?
Granted, most men will never be scourged or crucified for their beloved — but they will always have the opportunities of total self-giving and self-sacrifice for their beloved, seeking her welfare instead of fame, fortune, excessive sports and unbridled passions.
Jesus Christ left all men an example to follow and the promise that he would be with them until the end of time with the Eucharistic graces necessary to truly love their wife and children. No woman would ever resort to the killing of her children through abortion because of feelings of fear, pressure or abandonment if men would be more Christlike in their commitments and responsibilities entrusted to them by God.
In turn, what woman would be foolish enough not to submit to such a Christlike, loving husband?
PATRICIA STRANG, Foley, Minnesota
Singular Passion Experience
In our community, the Franciscans of the Immaculate, we are forbidden to watch TV or go to the movies. Although we utilize these means for evangelization in the spirit of St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe, we do not use them for ourselves because of our vow of poverty, our call to interior contemplation and our need for fraternal interaction (something TV does not promote).
So as we followed the Register's reports about the release of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, we knew we would not ourselves be seeing it … or so we thought. As Providence would have it, on Feb. 19 a friend of our community drove to our isolated friary for no other reason than to implore us to go to the movies with him. He offered to buy the whole community tickets and drive them to the theater to see The Passion. It was a unique request; it is a unique movie. So we asked our regional superior for a unique permission and it was granted.
On Thursday, Feb. 26, after our usual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with rosary and Benediction, our rides came to pick up two Franciscan priests and four brothers in full habit — plus three retreatants who decided to go with us — a diocesan priest in clerics and two nuns in full habit. Off we went to the movies. (For me it had been about 15 years since I last saw a movie in a theater; it had been 17 years for Father Raphael!).
We waited at the entranceway to the theater, waiting for the previous showing to finish. It was simply amazing to see the people coming out of the theater. They were speechless; some were in tears. It was quite the preamble. Then our turn came. We took our seats in the small-town theater, which dated back to 1908. The lights dimmed, the usual previews were skipped (at our benefactors' request) and the movie began.
Well, it was more like going to Calvary with Jesus and Mary than going to the movies. It was as if we were there — Hebrew, Latin and all, watching Good Friday unfold. What a masterpiece! Beyond words. Unlike any other film I had ever seen.
FATHER MAXIMILIAN MARY DE CRUCE, FI, Maine, New York
BY Jim Cosgrove
Fight for Peace
I would like to respond to Leszek Syski's letter to the editor titled “War on Salvation” (April 25-May 1).
Contrary to Syski's assertion, Saddam Hussein was indeed a sponsor of terrorism, as demonstrated by the fact that he gave money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. He also gave safe haven to notorious terrorists Abu Nidal and Abul Abbas, the latter being responsible for the hijacking of the Achille Lauro in 1985, which killed one American. Of course, the greatest victims of Saddam's terror were the Iraqi people themselves, who had to deal with torture chambers and rape rooms.
While no one wants war, people such as Saddam who terrorize citizens worldwide need to be stopped. It is unfortunate, but sometimes we must fight in order to preserve true peace.
SHAWN GRUBBS, Fort Wayne, Indiana
Shakespeare and Henry
I read the article “Did William Shakespeare Die a Papist” (May 2-9) and it hit my suspicions.
Henry VIII asked for permission to divorce Catherine of Aragon because she was his dead brother's wife. Henry VII arranged a political marriage between his son James and Spain. When James died they asked the Pope for a dispensation for Henry to marry Catherine to keep the alliance with Spain alive.
Hamlet's father dies (killed by his uncle) and his uncle assumes the throne and marries his dead brother's wife (Hamlet's mother). I wonder if Shakespeare used this as part of the plot to remind the people of the shakey basis of the Church of England.
BILL DEVLIN, Jasper, Arkansas
Regarding “Faith in the Spotlight” (April 25-May1):
Despite Sen. John Kerry's assertion regarding abortion that the Catholic Church “allows for freedom of conscience for Catholics with respect to these choices,” the Catholic teaching on abortion is not drawn in misty half-truths and evasions, such as the claim to be “personally opposed” to abortion.
It is clear, complete and proudly promulgated. Catholics are obligated at all times to advance a culture of life instead of a culture of death. Pope John Paul II himself reaffirmed this ancient teaching in his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life).
In a November 1998 statement, “Living the Gospel of Life,” the National Conference of Catholic Bishops issued this exhortation to American Catholics in pursuit of the Pope's encyclical: “The gospel of life must be proclaimed, and human life defended, in all places and all times. The arena for moral responsibility includes not only the halls of government but the voting booths as well.”
The Holy Father recently issued the “Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life.” In this document, Catholic laity are instructed that “a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law that contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.” Neither can a well-formed Catholic conscience permit a voter to vote for someone who holds such views.
The Pope reaffirmed to Roman Catholic politicians that when they take positions opposing “the basic right to life from conception to natural death” they are outside the doctrine of faith. Kerry, as an American citizen and politician, is free to hold and express any views he so chooses, but you simply cannot claim to be a faithful Catholic and support pro-abortion laws or a political candidate or party that supports pro-abortion policies. Nor should you receive or be allowed to receive holy Communion if you do. There is no wiggle room.
DANIEL JOHN SOBIESKI, Chicago
The Scandalous Candidate
Regarding “Vatican Warns of Scandal Regarding Kerry” (April 18-24):
Contemplate three hypothetical cases, all involving self-professed Catholics. One is an unrepentant rapist, another is the grand dragon of the Ku Klux Clan and the third is a vocal and ardent neo-Nazi. Would our bishops be silent if any of these three boldly presented themselves, with hands or tongue outstretched, to receive the Body and Blood of Christ? Would not the faithful openly weep and cry out in protest?
We have, at present, self-professed Catholics who boldly and persistently support what is a far more evil crime — the killing of tiny, innocent, defenseless, unborn babies in this country, often painfully and sometimes right up to the moment of birth.
Many bishops, priests and deacons are silent or give us pious platitudes such as, “This is a matter between a person and his God.” This failure to protect the Eucharist from sacrilege must be an abominable crime against the Holy Spirit, as it is aiding and abetting presumption on the part of pro-abortion politicians and sending an unholy message to the faithful.
JOHN F. O'BRIEN, Ocala, Florida
On God's Palms
Why don't Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. John Kerry and all the pro-choicers call their choice by its right name — pro-death?
Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, addressing the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C, on Feb. 3, 1994, very well said as I wish to say: “I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of an innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can even kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?”
God says: “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you. See, upon the palms of my hands I have written your name” (Isaiah 49:15-16).
SISTER MARY MARTIN, SA, Garrison, New York Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement
What the Bishops Said
For an interesting study regarding the majority of bishops' silence with regard to Catholic politicians' pro-abortion stances, perhaps the bishops could reread their own adopted 1998 statement in contrast, “Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics,” specifically paragraphs 24 (elected officials), 25 (Catholics in general), 29 (bishops themselves), 31 (political leaders), 32 (Catholic officials who depart …) and 33 (voters).
I suppose Catholics might question how their diocesan bishops publicly proclaim their own teaching.
FATHER JOHN J. MCCORMACK, Chaplain, Little Sisters of the Poor, Kansas City, Missouri
Let's Make Muscular Catholics
We've had enough of weak Catholicism. Let's make our Catholic faith the driving force in our private, political and social lives, and give full and true Catholic teaching to our children.
Since Catholic schools are fast becoming too expensive for the average Catholic parent, would it be possible to make arrangements with elementary public schools for Catholic teachers to be granted a certain time each day to instruct Catholic students? Or perhaps Catholic instruction could be given in the “after-care” programs? Maybe Catholic parents themselves could get together and share the instructing of their children.
If anyone has a good suggestion on how to improve this bad situation, I'm sure our dedicated Register would be glad to hear it.
CONNIE DERRICK, Nashville, Tennessee
God sent his Son to awaken man, to found a Church and to teach us the laws he established to give natural and spiritual order to the earth. We needed a universal church, a central depository for the spiritual, moral and historical knowledge acquired in 2,000 years. We needed a base for the training of leaders, essential for the continuity of Catholic education dedicated to those beliefs.
Today we are ignoring the teachings of that Church and its saintly Pope. We are allowing our political representatives to pass legislation that overturns our God-given laws of nature. We are killing our own offspring, using the special gifts he gave us for the procreation of the race he created, for nothing but our own pleasure. And now is coming the decimation of the human race.
Maybe The Passion of the Christ will make us think of how it all fits together in a pattern of natural and spiritual law — an orderly plan, a way of living for fathers, mothers and children that he intended us to follow (not the way of judges ignorant of God's real plan for freedom). There is no freedom in sinful behavior — and sinful behavior has no place in civil rights.
DELPHINE MCCLELLAN, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
BY Jim Cosgrove
The One-Issue Party?
Many times I have remarked in years past that I could not vote for certain candidates because they were pro-abortion. I was advised I should not vote on only one issue.
After listening to all Democratic candidates running for president this year, I have observed that the one point they uniformly stress is that they would not put a pro-life person on the Supreme Court. So who has “only one” issue on their minds? (Remember what they did to Robert Bork and tried to do to Clarence Thomas?)
I was in the South Pacific for four years, fighting for what I thought was life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
America, wake up. We have our own holocaust. Every year we pile on another million or more unborn children killed by their mothers. They were denied life, liberty and happiness. Why, what was the reason? We know mothers are suffering today for what they have done to their little ones.
Do we wish to vote for any candidate who wants to continue the killing of future generations?
Deacon Henry Beck, Dayton, Ohio
Heavy Fines Levied
The ongoing, deplorable doublespeak/ duplicity in the Catholic Church is well illustrated by excerpts from the March 21-27 issue of the Register.
“A 1961 Vatican directive … advises exclusion of those who are afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty.”
Pope John Paul II said, “Candidates with deviation in their affections should be barred from seminaries.”
“As for the homosexual priest question, Bishop [Wilton] Gregory left room for the continued ordination of homosexuals.”
With all the above remarkable statements, apparently disregarding the Pope's authority, the Church deserves what is ongoing, i.e., the paying of very heavy fines.
Louis J. Mihalyi, Newland, North Carolina
Cheers for Sister Sara
I just read the article about Sister Sara Butler and her about-face in regard to the ordination of women (“Change of Heart,” April 4-10). She is a modern-day hero. This article enabled me to see that the dissidents who persist in their error are not all malcontents with an agenda to dismantle our Church. Perhaps they actually think their remedies will solve the inadequacies and failures before us.
I had dehumanized dissidents in my mind. Sister Butler showed me there is hope. Many of those who speak the loudest about left-leaning issues are brilliant, articulate and blind. If their blindness could be healed, our Church would have a much more powerful influence in today's world.
Susanne Manocchia, Dover-Foxcroft, Maine
For shame! Now even the Register shows an Irish bartender drawing a Guinness draft beer alongside an Italian lady holding a loaf of St. Joseph's bread (“Saint vs. Saint: St. Patrick Rocks; St. Joseph Rules,” March 14-20). Such stereotyping!
I do love the Register and am happy that I found it (in my 80s!). I routinely leave my copy at the hospital chapel where I attend weekday Masses. Already I found a new friend who has been picking them up and has now switched to the Register from another Catholic weekly. The paper is always gone the next day.
Now that the snow is over (hopefully), I almost took this copy without writing my mini-complaint.
Harriett D. Fox, Mount Sinai, New York
Just a few words to let you know how much our family enjoys reading your newspaper.
You have done an excellent job of promoting Mel Gibson's excellent and inspiring film The Passion of the Christ, which has been attacked by misguided Catholics and the powers of evil. Thank God, Jesus the Light of the World is more powerful than the power of darkness. This marvelous film continues to touch and transform lives.
We live in evil times, yet the fact remains that many souls seek a closer walk with Jesus. How unfortunate and tragic that most Catholic bishops have not encouraged people to view The Passion of the Christ, but rather timid words have come out of their mouths expressing fear that the film many “offend” some.
May the Holy Spirit continue to inspire you at the Register. Your publication is most needed these days, when some misguided Catholic leaders appear to be ashamed of being authentic, orthodox faithful Catholics.
Constantino Santos, Atascadero, California
No Ifs, Ands or Catholic ‘Buts’
In this age when “truth stumbles in the public square” (Isaiah 59:14) and, therefore, this age in which we tend to revel in sharing views and opinions (rather than seeking to know and proclaim the truth), it was indeed more than refreshing to read Bishop Thomas Olmsted's engaging article “Rebutting the ‘Catholic but …’” (April 4-10).
No irrelevant rhetoric, no jargon in this brief, densely packed narrative. With an evident sense of conviction, the bishop writes within the context of a practical realism —providing specific examples of the “I am a Catholic but …” statements — and challenges Catholic Christians to once again root themselves in the person of Christ, who proclaimed himself “the way, the truth and the life.”
In a particularly compelling way, Bishop Olmsted proclaims a dynamic orthodoxy. He pinpoints the issues of “compromise” and “watering down our faith for personal gain” and alerts us to the dangers that ensue when “relativism reigns.” He also provides a welcome note of sanity and substance as he notes the antidote for this slippery “Catholic but …” syndrome: rekindling love for Jesus and reclaiming the need for correct conscience formation.
The marvelous theologian Hans Urs von Balthsar once stated that “truth is symphonic, but it needs a score.” Bishop Olmsted has peppered his text with explicit references to the “score” that is provided by Jesus Christ and his bride, the Church.
Thank you, Bishop Olmsted, for providing a firm foundation that will help truth “walk” again in the public square.
Sister J. Sheila Galligan IHM, Immaculata, Pennsylvania
The writer is chairwoman of the theology department at Immaculata University.
Middle East Peace
Patriarch Michel Sabbah, in his quest for peace in the Middle East, says he puts the brunt of the responsibility for peace on the shoulders of the Israelis (“Patriarch: Peace Up to Israelis,” April 18-24).
I feel truly sorry for the Palestinian Christians. They are between a rock and a hard place. But to start from the false premise that Israel needs to be magnanimous is to ignore the fact that Israel is in a fight for its very survival against Islamic terrorists. If the patriarch really wants peace, he has to get his basic premise right. I believe he has his premise backward.
The Israelis want peace. They are besieged and suffering from terrorist attacks. They want and need to coexist with the Palestinians. Prime Minister Ehud Barak in 1999 offered Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat roughly 95% of everything he had asked for, but Arafat found a way to turn the offer down. Arafat has shown he doesn't want peace. He wants the elimination of Israel, which he says in his speeches in Arabic (but not in his speeches to Western journalists). The Palestinian people may want peace, but they have no power and are used as pawns by their leadership.
Israel's superior military might vis a vis the Palestinians is often mentioned to show the unevenness and unfairness of the struggle. But people should recognize that the only thing that stands between Israel and its extinction is its military superiority.
I think we Americans are beginning to understand better what Israel is up against. We are learning firsthand that terrorists don't want peace. They want victory and our elimination.
Jill Meyer, Friday Harbor, Washington
The April 18-24 issue of the Register was my first exposure to the building plans for Ave Maria University's oratory, and I thank you for the coverage (“The St. Patrick's of South Florida?”). Although the article refers to comments having already been considered, I wish to add mine, late though they may be.
I trust they will name the church for St. Gabriel, the patron of postal workers. Or will it simply be known as God's mailbox?
I had high hopes for Ave Maria in its new location; now I only wonder. What a pity the architects didn't make a field trip to nearby Alabama, where they could have seen, up in Hanceville, a truly inspiring edifice.
Marty Fisher, Chicago
Due to an editing error, an article in our March 28-April 3 Vatican News section stated that Bishop Clemens von Galen of Munster was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1944. Bishop von Galen, who was declared a servant of God last December by Pope John Paul II, was never a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Whither Christian Courage?
Father Matthew Habiger's commentary “Must Catholic Politicians Disown Their Faith?” (Commentary, April 11-17) is deeply appreciated and well thought out. Thank you for it.
I am concerned by the Church in this country taking an almost radical stance against political involvement. After all, most people, Catholic or otherwise, are involved at some level and it is an involvement with a dire need for direction. I think our Holy Father as bishop in Poland in some ways has shown us that political involvement is absolutely necessary to protect the flock from injustice. His involvement with the governments of the world since he became Pope is a similar kind of involvement. He has not hesitated in challenging world leaders and governments to protect people and promote their good.
The important issues facing our political leaders today, as you point out, are issues of deep morality — often far deeper than the teachings of any church. They are rooted in the natural law and I am disturbed that the Church seems to often have this “hands-off” attitude just because something involves politics.
Many will say, “Oh no, the Church has made many pronouncements.” But pronouncements can be most unrelated to the life of the average person where the rubber meets the road.
All we have to do is look at the yearly appeal of pro-lifers who seek to use simple fliers in an attempt to convince their fellow Catholics to support life in the next election. As a participant in those activities for a generation now, I know that most pastors rely on the false “cover” that we must not do things anywhere near their church for fear of offending the powers that be. God forbid we risk losing our tax exemptions.
Last Sunday, Sen. John Kerry boldly proclaimed political messages from Protestant pulpits whose pastors seemed to have no fear of losing their tax exemptions. What is our real problem? Sad to say, there seems to be a strong tendency on the part of our pastors to seek the safest path possible. If we as a Church do not overcome this kind of cowardice, we in a sense deserve to lose every moral battle that comes along.
Lawrenceville, New Jersey
From Death to New Life
Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ is clearly a masterpiece of Christian art, with many layers of carefully-crafted theological and aesthetic meaning. My fourth viewing on Good Friday revealed yet more of the Paschal Mystery to me.
I baptized 12 adults at this year's Easter Vigil. Some of them did not want to go under the water and all of them, once they actually felt the waters closing in over them, found it shocking. As I watched the water close over their faces, I remembered the last scenes of Christ's scourging from the movie. Gibson portrays Christ face up, receiving the lashes from above, eyes closed, and muffles the sound so that we seem to be looking down upon one as under water. In fact, he is truly undergoing that “baptism of blood” he foretells in Luke 12:50. No longer even flinching under the blows, having surrendered himself completely into the Father's hands, Christ appears almost at rest. It is a masterful and profoundly theological depiction in image and sound.
I saw this same image in the faces of those I was baptizing. I saw them ultimately submitting to their own death under the water. Once they had made the decision to enter the font, the sacramental death of baptism swept them up into the life of grace, and they did not resist. They rose from that death newly fashioned in the Father's image. Immersion in water is no longer just a symbolic cleansing, because Jesus was not play-acting during his scourging.
As a pastor of a large parish, seeing many people's lives unfolding around me, I am struck by how closely Gibson's movie portrays the sacramental life of real Christians here and now.
Father Joseph Illo Pastor, St. Joseph's Church
In “Russell Shaw on the Crisis” (April 11-17), Delia Gallagher quotes columnist Shaw saying that the real crisis has been taking place for the last 30 to 40 years in Catholicism in the United States: “What about sexual abuse by clerics in the United States that is not a crime — that does not involve minors but involves consenting adults? It's not against the law, it just happens to be a serious sin. Nobody is discussing that.”
Indeed, no one is discussing serious sin, whether it be with minors or adults, by clerics or laypersons, from most of our pulpits. The only person who mentioned serious sin at the bishops' sex-abuse meeting in Dallas two years ago was Gov. Frank Keating, who said, Let's face it — we're talking about mortal sin! (He didn't last too long on the lay review board after that.)
Since the exposure of the clergy sexual-abuse crisis, we have learned that five bishops were removed because of homosexual acts not only with adolescents but also with adults. This is not being addressed; worse, some are still active not in governing in a diocese but in the dispensing of the sacraments in their own or some other diocese.
Forgiveness yes, always. Penance, yes, always a penitential spirit should be present. In Alcoholics Anonymous, the fourth step is to “make amends, wherever possible, to those you offended.” And what about all those priests who worked in the personnel departments of a diocese, then and now, who are part of the “cover-up”? We truly need to ponder Matthew 18:15-17.
DEACON JOHN M. EDGERTON
Tarpon Springs, Florida
War or Salvation
Contrary to Father James Schall's assertion in “The Real Spanish Disaster” (Commentary, April 4-10), the outcome of the March 13 Spanish election is to be applauded. If democracy is possessed of any virtue, it is the unwillingness of the electorate to tolerate bad judgment by politicians. The Iraq war was hugely unpopular with the Spanish public from the very beginning. The March 11 bombings in Madrid just brought this fact home. The transparent attempt by the Aznar government to pin the blame for the bombings on the Basque separatist group ETA only made things worse.
Before Father Schall presents us with the false dichotomy of supporting President Bush's war or of appeasement, he should reflect — as did the Spanish voters — on the tissue of lies that were presented as America's justification for starting the war. As we should have seen a year ago and as is clear to everyone now, the government of Saddam Hussein had no connection with the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, it did not possess any weapons of mass destruction nor the means of delivery to anywhere near U.S. territory and it posed no danger to anyone but the Iraqis themselves. Even Secretary of State Colin Powell now admits the “mobile biological weapons labs,” the highlight of his U.N. slide show, were no such thing.
Father Schall would have us support “President Bush's policy of finding and destroying terrorist groups wherever they are found” and recognize that “the present governance of the Muslim world itself needs to be changed.”
Well, it is our attempt to change the governance of Iraq that got us into the mess we are in now. Far from destroying the terrorist groups, the war on Iraq is breeding new terrorists and providing new targets of opportunity for them where none existed before.
The only way to crush the Iraqi insurgency is for our military to adopt tactics totally incompatible with Christian principles of just war and antithetical to American ideas of freedom. Iraq — and all of the other countries in the Muslim world — does present us with a choice. We can either serve our empire or save our soul.
Over the Wedge
Terry McAuliffe's assessment that late-term abortions and same-sex marriages are “wedge issues” shows how out of touch he and the Democratic Party are with reality and the American public (“Party Leaders, Both Catholic University Alumni, Spar at D.C. Campus,” April 4-10).
No, abortion is not a “wedge” issue. It is a central issue for those who have not piddled away their moral compass in order to gather votes. Taking away the sacredness of each individual life has huge societal ramifications, many of which we are experiencing right now. Same-sex marriage is also not a “wedge” issue. How could he be so patronizing about it? In what culture would a change so enormous be considered a “wedge” issue by thinking people?
I urge all registered Democrats to leave the Democratic Party, as I did, and register as Independents until the party takes back its soul and re-establishes a modicum of integrity. There is no excuse for a person of faith or intelligence to associate with and vote for people who play so recklessly with the truth.
Terry McAuliffe, you and your party's ability to think has been compromised. There is no excuse for trivializing such important issues for political convenience. Your alma mater must be truly embarrassed.
JOAN LEONARD WERNICK
BY Jim Cosgrove
Religion and Rights
A friend of mine who is a lawyer and a student of the U.S. Constitution sent me this little note. I think it is worthwhile to spread this information and let people have a weapon in an argument about God and country:
“There can be no justification by the Supreme Court to ever determine that the Founding Fathers of this country and each and every state did not acknowledge God. There is no doctrine of constitutional construction that supports a separation of the people of this nation from God. A public recognition of this truth does not violate any so-called separation of church and state. The original decision written by Justice Felix Frankfurter was flawed. The Constitution reads: ‘Congress shall make no law regarding an establishment of religion,’ which is vastly different than his reference to the First Amendment, wherein he wrote that the Constitution read: ‘Congress shall make no law concerning the establishment of religion.’ Changing that one word has created a monster that is being used to shut down our nation from acknowledging God as the source of all our good.”
I am going to try to get as many people as possible to read this bit of wisdom.
JOSEPH M. WAGNER
More Girl Scout Boycotts
In the March 21-27 edition of the Register, you included a caption under Media Watch titled “Girl Scout Boycott Works.” Unfortunately, I have discovered the exact opposite is true.
Though Girl Scouts in Waco, Texas, broke their ties with Planned Parenthood, similar relationships are present nationwide. Perhaps the most disturbing part of this ordeal is the fact that Girl Scouts of America openly acknowledges these relationships.
Our Girl Scout troop has been sponsored by a Catholic parish for 10 years. When we learned about the connection between Planned Parenthood and Girl Scouts in Waco, Texas, from a local newspaper, we decided to research the matter further. We found a statement by Girl Scouts’ chief executive officer Kathy Cloninger, which aired on national television as part of a “Today” show interview.
In response to the boycott in Texas, Cloninger said, “We have relationships with our church communities, with YWCAs and with Planned Parenthood organizations across the country to bring information-based sex education to the girls.” This so-called information-based sex education has been known to include booklets that mention “nine good reasons that women have abortions.”
I realize many Catholic parishes throughout the nation sponsor Girl Scout troops. CYO offers many opportunities for scouts to integrate their Catholic faith into scouting primarily through religious-medal programs. I encourage parishes to research and discuss this matter.
Though our council claims uncertainty of its own ties to Planned Parenthood, we feel that to wear a Girl Scout uniform, recite the Girl Scout Promise and Law and serve in the name of Girl Scouts shows support for a morally corrupt organization. The mane of Girl Scouts intermingled with that of Planned Parenthood blatantly disrespects the values and beliefs pro-life individuals.
After 10 years together, our troop came to the decision that as a group of Catholic young women we could no longer in good conscience participate in Girl Scouts. Perhaps the way for pro-life girls and parents to get their message across would be to boycott membership as well as cookie sales.
CRYSTAL MARINE CRUZ
Open Letter to John Kerry
Dear Sen. Kerry:
I am a lifelong Democrat and a Catholic. I fervently desire an alternative to the destructive domestic and global policies of our current president, and I fear the consequences for our country if he is re-elected. … But I'm disturbed by your position on abortion.
I think it's been a terrible mistake for the Democratic Party to champion what the Pope calls the culture of death. I'm not naïve enough to think that all or even most committed Republicans are pro-life in the true sense; I believe it's politically expedient for them to espouse the pro-life cause, but I doubt they want more poor children, especially black or Latino children, around. After all, Medicaid paid for abortions up until very recently, which pretty much tells the story. Still, it's no less expedient for the Democrats to champion legal abortion. To conflate the willful destruction of human life with women's and human rights is cynical at best. Why isn't our party actively seeking alternatives to abortion?
I'm wondering how you reconcile being Catholic while remaining committed to abortion rights. Abortion is the easy way out of social problems that would take time, money and committed policy study to fix, but isn't it our duty as Catholics to follow the social teachings of the Church and address those issues?
Please understand that I'm not writing to you as a right-wing, one-issue Catholic zealot. I grew up in a progressive, post-Vatican II family. I'm also a woman who has had an abortion. I can tell you firsthand that it is not the solution, and I believe women have been betrayed by the Democratic Party's fervent insistence on a woman's “right to choose.” It has hurt the Democratic Party more than helped it to espouse abortion rights — the proof is in the results of the 2000 and 2002 elections: Most Americans support pro-life candidates. The right to abort is not really a right at all, and it should not be the issue in an election on which so much else rides. What we really need is the right to raise our children without fear of poverty or neglect. I believe it's your responsibility as the de facto Democratic nominee to explore alternatives to abortion on demand.
Is there not some way that you can begin to turn toward the real support of life? I hope you will consider it and address these issues.
New York, New York
In your story “Holy Land Christians Decry Assassination” (April 4-10), you stated that Christians observed the three-day mourning period declared by Yasser Arafat for Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. One deluded Palestinian Christian even stated that Yassin — who planned many massacres — was “not a violent man.”
What are Catholics in North America to think? It is hard for any of us (Americans included) to transcend our national allegiances, but the tacit support by Palestinian Christians for those who use mass murder as a political tool is disturbing.
Given the horrible oppression of Christians under Islamic rule, one wonders if Christians living under the Palestinian Authority are free to disagree with Arafat. If, for instance, the coffee-shop owner you quoted were to point out that only under Israel's control has Jerusalem been open to all three monotheistic faiths, what would happen to him?
Perhaps if the Latin patriarch were not perceived as a good friend of the terrorist Arafat, Palestinian Christians might develop an independent voice.
Catholic Friends of Israel
BY Jim Cosgrove
Movie Gift From God
The Passion of the Christ was a gift from God for our times. It was his way of saying, “It's time to sit up straight and pay attention.” It doesn't take a rocket scientist to look around and see a world that's not far from rock bottom. The only thing he ever asked us to do we're not doing: obey. Noah obeyed. Abraham obeyed. Christ obeyed. But we're not obeying. We've taken the Ten Commandments and the beatitudes to a whole new level. We've rewritten them according to our own watered-down truths.
One truth that is largely ignored in our age is that suffering is not only good but also is to be sought after. To embrace our sufferings with joy as Christ embraced his own cross in the Passion is an act of obedience. “And he said to them all, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Each time we choose to suffer for others as Christ chose to suffer for us, we are allowed by the grace of God to be a part of his passion and to share in his Kingdom. And it is precisely our suffering, our willingness to suffer, that makes us eligible for eternal life. It is not enough simply to tell the world about Christ; we must imitate him. Like it our not, want it or not, believe it or not, we were born to suffer — with him, for him, for each other — and, like him, to “make all things new.”
At creation, God the Father gave us the gift of eternal life. We lost that gift by our disobedience. God the Son, through his death and resurrection, forgave our sin and once again offered eternal life. He even provided a movie to remind us of his offer and the choice it requires. Do we live comfortably and die, or do we suffer and die with Jesus and live? What say you?
CARIN DELANCEY Fort Wayne, Indiana
Who Do We Say He Is?
Christians say “Mel's Christ” is the Messiah, Jews say No and many say that, in any case, the state of Israel moots both the idea of a political messiah of the kind Jews in the movie were expecting as well as the idea of “chosenness” being incompatible with the democratic ideal. That leaves Jews waiting for a messiah of resurrection and redemption, as the Jewish medievalists taught, or no messiah at all.
Intellectual honesty demands that Christians learn the texts of their “older brothers” while Jews consider the Christ in relation to the text as well as subsequent events in Jerusalem, if only to reject him fairly. Certainly, honest inquiry is to be preferred to two millennia of summary dismissal, especially as he is the one Jew who perfectly fulfills the prophetic texts “objectively.” What if he is who he said?
Finally, isn't it time to end the charge of deicide against Jews and of genocide against Gentiles? After all, our common patriarch, Abraham, was neither Jew nor Gentile. In fact, he was from Iraq. How's that for location?
JOSEPH M. MAUCERI, M.D. Kingston, New York
Last Sunday I took my youth group and 50 members of my two Byzantine Catholic parishes to see The Passion of the Christ. After the movie we returned to our St. Michael Church for Sunday evening vespers and a discussion of this monumental movie. Many parishioners were quite overwhelmed by the graphic truth portrayed in the movie. The teens were quite eager to discuss the reality of what Christ did for us. Many were brought to tears by the movie and again recounted the experience. Especially poignant was the clear tie shown in this movie between the sacrifice on Calvary and the sacrifice of the holy Eucharist.
I hope Mel Gibson and others will continue to work on bringing other aspects of the life of Christ and others in the Bible to life on the screen.
May God bless their work.
VERY REV. PROTOPRESBYTER BRYAN R. EYMAN, D. MIN.
Lake County, Ohio Pastor, Byzantine Catholic Churches
Get the Kill Pills Straight
The news brief “Dad: Kill the ‘Morning-After’ Pill” (ProLife Victories, March 14-20) identifies RU-486 as synonymous with the morning-after pill. Both are abortive, but the two are not the same.
To equate the “morning-after pill” (taken in case a woman might be pregnant) with RU-486 (a two-drug regimen chemically aborting the baby of a woman who knows she's pregnant) validates pro-abortion supporters' statements that the “pro-lifers don't know what they're talking about.” We in the pro-life field are knowledgeable and deserve to be regarded as such.
To clarify: The morning-after pill does just what its nickname implies. RU-486, the two-drug regimen, kills the baby as well as injuring or causing the death of the mother. The first drug (mifepristone) is distributed by Danco. Both Danco and the FDA were forced to write letters to physicians who had ordered the drug after earlier deaths and serious complications. Searle, the maker of the second drug (misoprostol), firmly disavows abortion as a legitimate use for its drug and has written stern warnings to physicians about the drug's off-label use to induce abortions.
RITA OTT Downers Grove, Illinois
Thank you for your insightful expositions on The Passion of the Christ in your four-part “Register's Guide to The Passion of the Christ.”
I just wanted to offer an additional insight. The scene during the scourging — in which Mary, the mother of Jesus, is juxtaposed with Satan — has been cited in most Catholic commentaries that I've read as an allusion to Genesis 3:15: “I will put enmity between you (the Serpent/Satan) and the woman.”
The rest of the verse continues: “and [enmity] between your offspring and hers.”
Of course, Catholic teaching has always been that the seed of Satan is sin, and that of “the woman” is Jesus. In pondering the meaning of the strange scene, in which Satan holds a gruesome “child” who laughs mockingly at Jesus, I concluded that (in addition to being a mockery of the Child Jesus, Incarnate) the child represents the seed or offspring of Satan: sin.
Just as the movie dramatically portrays the enmity between Satan and Mary, it also portrays the enmity between the Son of God and sin, by means of an intense visual exchange between the incarnational forms of the two.
Perhaps the above interpretation was not intended by the makers of the movie, but I think that it lends insight into Judas' flight from the ghastly children, who could be seen as visual portrayals of sin. It was not merely Satan (or other demons) who drove Judas to despair and self-destruction, but the torment of his own sinfulness.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
BY Jim Cosgrove
Messing With Marriage
In the past week I have read many critical comments from politicians and columnists arguing that President Bush's support for a federal marriage amendment is divisive, politically motivated and will crush public debate on this issue of societal acceptance of homosexual marriage (“Bush Revs Up Marriage-Amendment Debate,” March 7-13). I believe President Bush is acting on his convictions and is promoting an opportunity for all Americans to participate in the affirmation of change of the traditional definition of marriage.
The proposal of a marriage amendment is done recognizing the right of a free people not to have activist judges and rogue mayors impose a redefinition of marriage without public debate. This amendment proposal does not stop the debate. The very process of pursing a constitutional amendment is the debate. It involves the people through their elected representatives in Congress and the state legislatures. No activist judicial agenda or veto by chief executives can preclude it.
I believe marriage is the union of a man and a woman and is the best way to raise children. This definition has been recognized for 5,000 years by all types of civilizations. I understand the necessity of the unmarried to be able to assign heirs, share title to real property and designate power of medical attorney, among other legal matters. This should be provided for by proper legislation, regardless of sexual orientation or whether a sexual relationship of homosexuals should not be approved.
MIKE MCKAY WAUCONDA, ILLINOIS
California vs. Charity
Regarding “‘Interference’ by Court Could Apply Church-wide” (March 14-20):
The California Supreme Court has ruled that the Catholic organization Catholic Charities is not a “religious employer” and therefore must provide contraception as part of its health care coverage. Failure to do so is considered discrimination against women. The reasoning is fundamentally flawed.
First of all, to label a practice discriminatory against women is to imply that something is being given to men that is not being given to women. Contraception is not being provided to male employees. For the vast majority of women, contraception is an elective medical intervention. It is not medically necessary. It is a lifestyle choice. These women should take personal responsibility for this choice and not expect it to be subsidized by their employer.
The second area of flawed logic is the argument that, because Catholic Charities engages in “secular” activities — such as low-income housing assistance, counseling and immigration services — and because it serves non-Catholic clients, it is the equivalent of a secular business. The court is obviously not aware of the Catholic doctrine regarding corporal works of mercy. This doctrine instructs Catholics to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick and imprisoned, and bury the dead. The work of Catholic Charities is a direct response to this doctrine.
The California ruling threatens the religious freedom of Catholic physicians, nurses, pharmacists and hospitals. If a Catholic physician sees non-Catholic patients, is he obligated to provide them with contraception, abortion services, physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia? Religion is not something reserved for Sunday services and proselytizing. It is the standard by which every aspect of one's life is governed. This court decision is a direct assault on all those who try to faithfully live their religion, not just Catholics.
DENISE J. HUNNELL, MD
“Is it Okay to Diet for Lent?” (Feb. 29-March 6) is correct as far as it goes in distinguishing dieting and fasting, but I think there is more to the story. Dieting is done for one's own benefit, but so is fasting. One is primarily material, the other spiritual. Lent should be a time of intensified penance through prayer, mortification and works of charity. And just as fasting might have beneficial physical “side effects,” temperance in diet for the purpose of health could also bring spiritual benefits, in Lent or any other season.
St. Thérèse of Lisieux points out that every action of daily life, however mundane, can be offered to God with great spiritual benefit. Even getting out of bed in the morning, doing our daily work and being patient with others can be worthy mortifications if offered to God in a penitential spirit. Why not offer also what we do for health — diet, exercise, getting enough sleep — as little crosses?
Human beings rarely do anything with completely pure motives. All of us carry some selfishness into what we do. Perhaps the natural/ supernatural calculus should not be “either/or” but “both/and.” Christ became incarnate and offered his body for us on the cross, redeeming the whole of creation, matter as well as spirit. Maintaining our health is a moral obligation. Why not invite God into our efforts?
Franklin Park, Illinois
Kids Facing Evil
I agree with and appreciate the column “Kids Have the Right to be Rightly Disturbed” by Barbara Nicolosi (March 7-13). I have heard parents discussing the subject before, but no one as of yet has been up front and open about it. There is so much evil, immorality and grotesqueness in the world that we can't possibly shut out all of it.
One of the most important points Nicolosi made was: “Even if you could block out the culture, how is that a Christian response? A better strategy is to parent with the media, not against it. The key is to introduce your child to a kind of evil before the world would introduce it to them. Parents need to get there before Satan does with his tricks and disguises.” The last two sentences are extremely important. Nicolosi has put into words what myself and others would have trouble doing if we attempted it.
A second point Nicolosi made more indirectly is that not all evil appears attractive, even if made to look as such. For example, many viewers of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy have been repulsed by the hideousness of the Orcs. But that shouldn't disturb them the way it seems to have done. (Though young children should not see the Orcs! This kind of evil brings inevitable nightmares until they reach a certain age. But not all movies have to be viewable for all ages in order to be great films.) That's what evil really is: hideous. We have to face it. The Orcs are the epitome of visual evil. And anyway, who wants villains that are laughable?
“Teaching With the Church? Gonzaga Won't Say” (March 14-21) said Gonzaga University trains deacons for the Diocese of Spokane, Wash. This is incorrect. The Spokane Diocese's deacon-formation program is organized and carried out by the directors of deacon formation for the diocese. Most of the classes and formation sessions take place at Bishop White Seminary in Spokane.
BY Jim Cosgrove
The Not-So-Great Communicant
What a pleasant surprise when I pulled my Register from the mailbox and saw, right there on the front page where it can't be missed: “A New Kennedy? A Catholic Candidate From Massachusetts Who Puts Politics Before Faith” (Feb. 15-21).
Tout de suite it was easy to tell this wasn't The New York Times, the Washington Post or the Boston Globe — where, if by a cosmic act of God such a piece were to run, it would be tucked away in some remote section, shrunken to five lines of obfuscation.
These so-called “Catholic” politicos need to be exposed — caught with their pants down, and that's exactly what “A New Kennedy?” does. Embarrassing, yes, therapeutic, yes, needed, yes. Big time!
It's just a fine piece of honest, timely journalism. I am grateful to you and the Register for publishing it.
The separation of Church and state has no relevance to the actions of Catholic politicians (“A New Kennedy? A Catholic Candidate From Massachusetts Who Puts Politics Before Faith,” Feb. 15-21).
There is a difference between voting for a law and enforcing a law. Enforcing a law relates to Christ's teaching “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's.” Voting for a law relates to Christ's teaching “render to God the things that are God's.”
When John Kerry and other Catholic politicians vote for abortion, they should be disciplined.
To regain respect of Catholics and non-Catholics, the Church must punish all offenders of Catholic teaching.
The View From Mars
In the letter titled “Contemplating the Cosmos” (Feb. 15-21), Dominican Father Pierre Conway appears to make three main points. First, he argues that there is no evidence that a transition from nonliving to living matter has ever occurred. It is true that there is no proof such a process ever occurred on Earth or on Mars. That is one of the reasons why we are sending probes to Mars. That is how the scientific process works. Judging by what we know about the composition of Mars and its history, Mars is one of the few places in the solar system where even the possibility of life exists.
If you believe God placed the building blocks of life on Earth as part of his plan to create and sustain life on this planet (or on Mars), then no proof that such a transition occurred is necessary. If we believe in an omnipotent God, we already know that living matter was created from nonliving matter. To argue otherwise is, first, contrary to what we are told in Genesis (where man is created from the dust of the earth) and, second, places an artificial and man-made restraint on the power of God. God is, of course, free to create as he sees fit.
Second, Father Conway suggests the real purpose of the mission may be to distract people from thinking about God. All scientific discoveries can be used to distract people from thinking about God, however. We always have the choice either to lose our faith because of science or to be energized by it.
Third, I agree fully with Father Conway's statement that the beginning of life necessarily requires “postulating a God.” If there is life elsewhere in the universe (not necessarily on Mars but elsewhere, perhaps many, many elsewheres) it is simply one more demonstration of the power, creativity, love and compassion of God.
All major scientific discoveries potentially represent a challenge to faith. If life is discovered in the universe, it will present another such challenge. There can be no conflict between science and faith, however. Both are of God. We have the choice to see these discoveries as proofs of the nonexistence of God or as further manifestations of God's great love for his creation.
Thank you for the commentary “Where Have All the Pro-Life Democrats Gone?” by Mark Stricherz (Feb. 15-21). The political evolution of this party is sad but [undeniable]. Once thought to be the “party of the little guy,” it has become the “party of the radical left” as it champions an agenda for abortion, homosexual rights, secularization and socialism.
However, I beg to differ with Stricherz on his portrayal of Jimmy Carter as “ambiguously in favor of a national law to restrict abortion.” Carter was and is pro-abortion and in my view is far more radical than his Southern Christian charm portrays.
I was a national delegate to the 1976 Democratic Convention and was one of 22 to cast my vote for Ellen McCormack (the beautiful New York lady who challenged the party on its pro-abortion stand) in protest to Carter's support of the party platform, which, for the first time, spelled out its advocacy of abortion on demand.
Stricherz is right about one thing: Many of us gave up on the Democratic Party and jumped ship — just as Ronald Reagan (once a strong Democrat) did. Let us pray for all those candidates running for office and for the return of the Democratic Party to one that Catholics in good conscience can support.
MARY ANN KUHARSKI
BY Jim Cosgrove
Santorum's Mixed Signals
I was happy to read “Let There be Politeness on Earth” in the Feb. 15-21 issue highlighting Karen Santorum's book Everyday Graces: A Child's Book of Good Manners.
Being a Catholic schoolteacher and former home-schooling mom, I appreciate the need for such a book. “Increasing the civility in our culture” is of the utmost importance to me also.
As a lifelong resident of Pennsylvania, I have long admired Mrs. and Sen. [Rick] Santorum. I have worked many times for his re-election, knowing the clear pro-life message he and his wife have stood for both personally and in the public forum at great cost.
With the dawning of this most recent primary season, I was struck speechless when I witnessed, on television, Sen. Santorum endorsing the candidacy of Sen. Arlen Specter over pro-life Congressman Pat Toomey. Specter has one of the clearest pro-abortion voting records of any Republican in the Senate. I believe Sen. and Mrs. Santorum have always worked to achieve civility in our culture. The pro-life community in Pennsylvania, however, is confused by this latest conflicting signal. Confusion breeds a lack of civility.
Karen Santorum states: “The concept of politeness has … enabled civilizations to thrive.” I pray the senator will reconsider his endorsement of Specter and allow more pre-born babies to thrive.
MAUREEN BRETT Roslyn, Pennsylvania
Regarding “Post-Abortive Women Say: ‘Don't Make the Mistake We Made’” (Feb. 8-14):
In a strong effort to increase the use of “emergency contraception,” the makers of the drug Plan B are pressuring the FDA to make their drug available over the counter. They falsely contend that this “wonder drug” will prevent tens of thousands of abortions by preventing pregnancy. Sadly, the fact is that so-called “emergency contraception” will often act to cause a chemical abortion. And legislation introduced this year (Assembly Bill 170) would mandate that all Wisconsin hospitals provide “emergency contraception” to alleged victims of sexual assault upon their request.
Emergency contraception, also known as the morning-after pill, is basically two high doses of the birth-control pill taken within a 72-hour period. It can work in three ways: by inhibiting the movement of sperm, suppressing ovulation and irritating the lining of the uterus so that a newly conceived child is unable to implant in the womb, thus starving and dying. This last action is chemical abortion.
Proponents of emergency contraception contend it does not cause an abortion. They argue that it prevents pregnancy and thereby reduces the need for induced abortion. However, they intentionally (and wrongly) define the term “pregnancy” as implantation of a fertilized egg in the lining of a woman's uterus as opposed to pregnancy beginning at fertilization.
Whether one understands pregnancy as beginning at implantation or fertilization, the heart of the matter is when human life begins. Embryological science has clearly determined that human life begins at fertilization — the fusion of an egg and sperm immediately resulting in a new, genetically distinct human being. This is not a subjective opinion but an objective scientific fact. Accordingly, any artificial action that works to destroy a fertilized egg (human embryo) is abortifacient in nature.
I deeply sympathize with victims of sexual assault. It is very difficult, however, to determine whether or not fertilization has occurred at the time emergency contraception must be taken. The situation can be likened to a hunter who sees something moving in the bushes and holds his fire until he is sure it is not a person. We must act with the same restraint in protecting newly conceived human life. And we should urge our legislators to oppose a bill that would require many religious hospitals to participate in a morally objectionable practice.
CHARMAINE HERBERT Brookfield, Wisconsin
The writer is an executive board member of Pro-Life Wisconsin.
Regarding “Catholic Groups Make Headway in Bible-Study Programs” (Feb. 15-21):
As a lifelong faithful Catholic and 10-year member of Community Bible Study (teaching director of our local class for the past seven years), I am appalled by the charge that nondenominational Bible studies are “leading Catholics away from the Church.” My participation in Community Bible Study has significantly deepened my faith in Jesus Christ and in what the Catholic Church teaches, too. It is unrealistic to expect Catholic dogma to be taught in this venue (neither is Baptist or Methodist, etc.). However, I have found this study invaluable in spurring me to find out what my denomination teaches on a particular issue, why they interpret it as they do and to come up with an intelligible, nonconfrontational way of explaining my beliefs to others.
I can't speak for Bible Study Fellowship, the other group mentioned in the article, but the premise of Community Bible Study — as stated at every orientation session for new members and in print in each person's notebook — is that we know we have differences in some areas but we come together to share how the word of God has spoken to us and to focus on those things we have in common. We do not allow secondary issues to break down the unity that we have on the main issues.
It is unfortunate that Ms. Melanson was reprimanded for sharing her opinion, but it might have been how she said it rather than what she said. The small groups are for sharing our answers “with gentleness and respect,” as St. Peter says in 1 Peter 3:15-16, not for convincing others of the rightness of our opinions. I personally have grown tremendously because of this study, and I think others have a better understanding of what Catholics believe because of my involvement in it.
BARBARA MURPHY Clearwater, Florida
What a thought-provoking column by Jennifer Roback Morse (“When Jobs Are Illegal, Only Illegals Will Have Jobs,” Feb. 8-14).
Morse's question about “how many American teen-agers realistically need their own health benefits or paid parental leave?” — plus her point that “like their European counterparts, California progressives expect employers to solve all the problems of the world, including child care, health care and the tender psyches of transvestites” — certainly demands some attention. Also, surely, the issue of government mandating unsustainable compensation levels has to be seriously considered in addressing our country's ongoing immigration-policy mess.
I'm looking forward to future installments of Morse's occasional series “Clashing Views: The Immigration Debate.”
K. DALE ANDERSON Randallstown, Maryland
Pesky Russian Catholics
Regarding “‘Do Not Think I Am Anti-Catholic’” (Inperson, Feb. 1-7):
The interviewer asked Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexi II: “Why are you so concerned with the Catholics of Ukraine?” He stated that “the Greek-Catholic Church in Ukraine was banned by Stalin, and those who returned to the Orthodox Church as well as those who remained uniates received pastoral care by the Orthodox Church.”
I assume he is implying that these pesky Ukrainian Byzantine Catholics should just be happy with pastoral care in Orthodox churches. Then I would have to ask the same question to him — why do the Orthodox need to build their own churches in the West when they could just be pastored by Eastern Catholic churches?
Further, why haven't the Orthodox Churches returned to Eastern Catholics all the churches stolen from us by the communists and subsequently given to the Orthodox?
DANIEL J. BARTON Fayetteville, North Carolina
(Retired U.S. Army, Byzantine Catholic Christian)
His Blood Is on Us
Regarding “Box Office Passion” (Feb. 22-28): When Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, viewed The Passion of the Christ, he found its portrayal of Jews “painful to watch.” In reading about his reaction, it occurred to me how little he and other nonbelievers understand Christianity.
All human beings are culpable for the death of Christ, and we should all find the movie painful to watch because of that culpability. Every time we sin we become members of the crowd yelling, “Crucify him!”
Any nationality, race or group of human beings was capable of killing Christ, but Christ told the woman at the well that “salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22). And so it was that the Jews were chosen to bring about our salvation in all respects — even in the death of Christ. For any Christian to hate Jews is ridiculous. The proper response is love.
BEVERLY ANN THEWES
BY Jim Cosgrove
One Man's Hero
Thank you to Steven Greydanus and the Register for the thoughtful, balanced coverage of our campaign to rerelease the movie One Man's Hero in American theaters and release it for the first time in Irish theaters. While MGM ultimately did not heed our petition, a great number of Catholics have become acquainted with the movie through our campaign.
I also appreciated Greydanus’ affirming words about the movie, but I respectfully give the film higher marks. Taken as a whole, I think One Man's Hero illustrates well the primary, faith-related motivations that led the San Patricios first to leave the U.S. Army and then defend Catholic Mexico from U.S. invasion.
Most endearing in this regard is the chaste love relationship between Tom Berenger's Sgt. John Riley and Daniela Romo's Marta, a “made-for-the-big-screen” romance that epitomizes the galvanization of Irish and Mexican cultures the movie celebrates. The pair are united in Christ in his Church while appreciating and being drawn further together by their diversity. Both their enduring love and the San Patricios’ indomitable spirit illustrate that Catholic Mexico will live on despite the devastating losses of the war.
There are many other fine performances in the film, including that of the Irish lads who portray the San Patricios as well as James Gammon's Gen. Zachary Taylor and Mark Moses’ Col. Benton Lacey, the latter a “composite” character to teach an important truth. Both of these U.S. leaders are portrayed in a sympathetic fashion.
Finally, Lance Hool is masterful in melding a stirring, haunting soundtrack with great natural sound, appealing visuals and poignant acting. He is truly outstanding in choreographing the movie's three climactic scenes, which I won't spoil but will say are all riveting and edifyingly memorable.
To purchase the movie on DVD, contact Ignatius Press at (800) 651-1531 or online at http://www.ignatius.com To le.arn more about the San Patricios, I recommend Dr. Michael Hogan's The Irish Soldiers of Mexico (available via amazon.com). For an essay defending the San Patricios as heroes, not traitors, visit our Web site: http://www.geocities.com/onemanshero2004.
THOMAS J. NASH
Up With Down People
Thank God for the beautiful article by Danielle Bean, “Lifted Up: The Joys of Raising ‘Down’ Children” (Feb. 1-7). It immediately put me in touch with the joy who is my deceased younger brother, Gerard.
Although limited by the different condition of hydro-cephalous, “Jardi” was certainly the hearth of love in our family. Never judgmental of himself (“I'm a handsome boy”) or others, with great faith in God's goodness (“Jesus loves me this I know …”) and a born peacemaker (“Now you two talk!”), he brought many new, truly loving friends into our family. Why? From my experience of Jardi and so many other special people such as those mentioned in Danielle Bean's article, not only does one experience love in their presence but also holiness. Jardi could be ornery, but he never deliberately hurt anyone.
I almost certainly would not be a Carmelite and a priest today if my “spiritual life” did not begin with the birth of Jardi when I was 5.
Special people are never angels. They are too human for that. Overall, while the surprise and adaptation of their early lives might strain a family, their teen-age years are a comparative breeze, I think, because they do not lose their innocence as long as the home environment remains warm, supportive and caring.
I have often wished the Holy Father would canonize someone with special limitations and gifts. Maybe even some recognition of their collective holiness in the heart of the Church, where the “Little Way” of St. Thérése is a gift from God, natural to them. What a countercultural example this would be, and what a catechesis for the members of the Church and other Christians that we truly do value the life, dignity and instruction of these “special people of God.”
FATHER BRADLEY L. PETERSON, O. CARM.
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Priory
Regarding “Box Office Passion” (Feb. 22-28):
Mel Gibson has always been entertaining, starting with Mad Max. After his initial success he seemed to play around with his roles but never did comedy well. Then he got behind the camera. It seemed [ridiculous] to have Scotsmen in war paint in Braveheart, but the power of the film overshadowed the aberration. So here we are at The Passion of the Christ. Once again Mel breathes new life into an old story.
The fact is, “persecution” is an even older story. Christ's persecution and death would not have been news without [the Gospel's] roots in Judaism. It is Moses and subsequent writers of the Bible who have given universal lessons beyond the usual gossip and small talk of daily living and let us see the bigger picture. Christ is a product of this culture.
In the spectrum of emotion, we are aware of things of this world that so defy logic that we cry out in anger to see a fool try. That fool will fall if he defies our sense of purpose. He will be hunted down and pay with his life. Many have. Many will. We all must come to Christ on the road to Calvary. Go there. Spit on him and stone him. Scream at him. Eventually drink his blood and eat his flesh. He has given everyone that right.
The Jews killed Christ? The Jews made the darkest part of the human heart visible by providing a vehicle in Scripture for Christ to ascend. You cannot be a Christian unless you acknowledge that you killed Christ. You then live in him.
Not having seen the movie, I hope Mel makes that point and thanks God for Judaism.
Grand Junction, Colorado
Mark of the Mandatum
I love your articles on colleges that have publicly accepted the mandatum.
May I suggest that you have a small box on the last page each week listing all the colleges that have informed you that they accept the mandatum? For example: the college, address and phone number with a short statement such as, “Looking for a good Catholic college? Try one of these.”
I don't know the cost to you; maybe someone would pay for the ad. This would certainly put some pressure on those “Catholic” colleges that are afraid to take a stand.
Editor's note: Find our list of mandatum schools at http://www.ncregister.com
Regarding “Catholic Groups Make Headway in Bible-Study Programs” (Feb. 15-21):
The correct phone number for MACH1 Ministries is (218) 236-5396.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Bad Rap on the Rapper
Regarding “Singer Criticizes Church at Vatican Concert” (Media Watch, Jan. 4-10):
I hate to say that I am disappointed in you. While Miss [Lauryn] Hill's remarks were inappropriate and inaccurate, the response by the Catholic League was just childish. It is not the business of Catholics to air the personal problems of others.
If such people wish to do so on their own, then that is their business. But to bring such a thing up as a defense against Miss Hill's remarks is stooping not only to the same level but below it.
This is little better than calumny and by presenting it in the manner done in the article in question, you participated in it.
Don't Just Tell — Show
I am writing you today to implore you to utilize graphic abortion images in your newspaper to further the pro-life movement, as well as in the country and the world.
Although the use of such photos is considered a controversial move on the part of pro-life organizations, I insist that these images are perhaps the most effective means of conveying the message that abortion is no less than the murder of the innocent unborn. Being a small human being does not make a person less of one, nor does it diminish their value and right to life. The fact that the images are so awful to look at is undeniable because the viewer is witnessing evidence of a murder, and it makes them feel responsible to do something about it.
I am a woman who has always believed abortion is wrong. I did not, however, do anything personally to forward the cause of the pro-life movement. I never forced myself to look at graphic abortion images because my thought was, “I already believe abortion is wrong. Why would I want to put myself through the emotional pain of seeing it firsthand? After all, I would never personally have an abortion. It's enough to just have correct beliefs.” I could not have been more wrong.
Recently, I forced myself to look at these images and I was horrified by what I saw. My heart is broken over the fact that where you can clearly see a human body, our country — our world — allows murder of babies to be legal. Abortion is always wrong and always grievous, but the photos of the late-term abortions are so blatantly obvious that even if someone was unsure of the early-term abortions, I don't see how they could possibly conceive that these are not murder. As even the most tame image will show, one can clearly see human body parts and organs developing even in the earlier terms of pregnancy. But what about the images of babies being beheaded and dismembered or those who were burned? The majority of the public has no idea of the barbarism that takes place in this country.
As Catholics, we are responsible by God's command to protect life. We must set the example for the world in this regard by being the most prominent defenders of the unborn and all life. It is not enough to believe abortion is wrong. It is our calling as the Church of Jesus Christ to promote and support pro-life work and to lay down our lives if necessary for these innocents. I urge you to publish graphic abortion images — without apology — in your newspaper to encourage all Catholics to be socially and spiritually responsible in this regard.
Standing Against the Storm
Regarding “Taking an Oath” (Mandatum series, Part 7, Feb. 1-7):
I worked for two years for the Fraternity of Priests, an associate ministry of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, and have a deep respect for the work of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis community and their oneness with the Holy Father on the mandatum.
However, with all due respect for the great unsung heroes, those standing against the storm across the nation are the campus ministries at state universities. The fact is, more than 90% of our Catholic students go to state universities and many attend campus ministries like the one of which I am director.
Like ours, far too many campus ministries are understaffed. Staffs work long hours with little or no backing from their diocese. Nonetheless, these campus ministries year after year turn out many good solid vocations to the priesthood, religious life, single life and the married state. I think the Register can do a great service by highlighting the tremendous stories of our Catholic campus ministries at state universities.
God bless you. I thank the staff of the Register, which has blessed and enriched my vocation to the priesthood.
FATHER DAN COOK
The writer is director of Catholic campus ministry at Northwestern State University and pastor of Holy Cross Church.
Regarding “Jewish Group Calls Gibson's Passion Film ‘Painful’” (Feb. 1-7):
The first paragraph states: “The Anti-Defamation League said Mel Gibson's film, The Passion of the Christ, has the ‘potential to promote anti-Semitism’ through its ‘painful’ portrayal of Jews as being responsible for the death of Jesus.”
I know that this kind of “blame” has often been manifest in past history between Christians and Jews; however, good theology indicates that the truth is otherwise.
In Acts 2, verses 23 and 36, St. Peter would have us know that not just the Jews but all people, being sinners, have culpability in Christ's death. Yes, this fact is “sad and painful,” as the article also states.
But as truth would have it, the good news is that no one really can be legally convicted for killing Jesus quite simply because he is not dead!
Re: “Was Catholic Navy Doctor Ordered to Practice ‘Bad Medicine’?” (Feb. 8-14):
Lt. Cmdr. Messé is to be commended for his courage in standing up for life. He has placed himself on the front lines. Hopefully, he will receive the fullest support from our Catholic chaplains and other Catholic military health care providers.
As a Navy physician assistant, I was in a similar situation, but fortunately I was supported by my non-Catholic superiors. When one non-Catholic physician (who opposed abortion) asked for my reasoning, I gave him my explanation. I also provided him with a copy of Dr. Janet Smith's presentation Contraception: Why Not. The next day he stated, “I think you Catholics are on the right track.”
Others have not been so fortunate. One individual was verbally reprimanded by his supervising physician, who overheard him explaining the abortive aspect of birth-control pills to a “Catholic” sailor who was requesting a refill.
It would be interesting to know how other Catholic military health care providers are interacting with patients seeking contraceptive services. It might make for an interesting study.
ROBERT C. MORASH
More Women, Please
I'm a new subscriber and look forward to receiving your fine paper. It's informative and encouraging in the news it gives about the Church. I appreciate the Canadian content, too.
May I offer some feedback? Personally, I'd like to read more about women in the Church — both lay and religious — but perhaps I've missed articles in previous issues. There have been some women featured in the issues I've read recently. I think I remember lovely, bright, young women's faces in the article about the Theology of the Body International Alliance.
You had a brief item about a young woman joining the community of Our Lady of the Trinity in the last issue — a “teaser.” A longer article would be great. What about a series featuring various communities? Maybe you've already done that. Also, what resources are there for pro-life moms with many little ones? What is the role of women in parishes? I loved the articles focusing on individual priests — what about sisters?
These are just suggestions. Thanks for a fine paper.
Regarding “A New Kennedy? A Catholic Candidate from Massachusetts Who Puts Politics Before Faith” (Feb. 15-21):
Sen. John Kerry, who is one of the major candidates for president of the Untied States, claims to be a Catholic — but says he has “some differences with the Church.”
The senator has also revealed that his first act as president will be to issue an executive order allowing U.S. taxpayer funding of population-control centers abroad that advocate abortion.
Human life is one of the areas where Kerry departs from Church teachings. The issue for voters is whether it is moral to cast a ballot for a candidate who says he is Catholic and pro-abortion or an incumbent president who is Protestant and pro-life.
These Jan. 24 comments by John Kerry were televised on C-Span from New Hampshire.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Of Might and Right
Regarding “Still More on the War” (Letters, Feb. 1-7):
I question the philosophy from Mary Lou Peterson. In her letter, she justifies the war with the “we're bigger and stronger and they are the bad guys” philosophy. Whom does she put in our military cross hairs next: North Korea?
Virginia Beach, Virginia
BY Jim Cosgrove
‘Monks’ R Us
Regarding “Irish Treasures That Dispelled the Darkness” (Travel, Jan. 25-31):
I thoroughly enjoyed Marie Whitla O'reilly's article on her day trip to Dublin. Although a “cradle Catholic,” I have only recently been learning of our beautiful Catholic culture as expressed in paintings, music, sculpture and architecture.
(My great-great grandfather was Augustus Welby Pugin, a Catholic convert who designed the neo-Gothic cathedrals in England in addition to hundreds of ecclesiastical pieces, furnishings, wallpaper, etc.)
The article affirmed my reasons for home schooling four of our eight children. Like the Irish monks I, too, am attempting to preserve and pass on our Catholic culture in an effort to thwart the invading secularism that has permeated our parish schools.
Dear bishops, take note: Today's home-schooling families are the “Irish monks” of the 21st century.
Thank you for a beautiful article and for the Register! May God bless all your staff for your fine publication.
Diane Thunder Schlosser
Elm Grove, Wisconsin
More Mass for America
I hope I am not too late to bring John Naughton's wonderful idea to the forefront and encourage all readers to do what he suggested (“Mass for America,” Letters, Jan. 11-17): Pray for unity and offer daily Mass and holy Communion up to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, that they will protect and bless our country.
I am a daily communicant and was thinking along these same lines for quite some time. I would even go so far as to add that we, in union with one another, offer and consecrate our country to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Patroness of the Americas, in light of the promises she made at Fatima and the great role she plays in world history.
Whoever has the time could add the daily rosary. It would be wonderful if our bishops would make this call to all Catholics, but we cannot wait and rely on them. Let's start with a small group. You, the editor, could invite others through your paper to join and keep this idea alive.
May America become a beacon for pro-life and Christ's teaching in the world. I am sure our country will be blessed and prosper.
Agnes H. Pilot
Thanks for Franciscan
I am writing in response to Tim Drake's article on the mandatum and Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio (“Taking an Oath,” Feb. 1-7). I have one daughter who graduated last year (Ellie), and a son, Lucas, who is currently a junior at the university.
Orientation Weekend for the freshmen is when the faculty takes the oath of fidelity to the magisterium of the Church. We have attended three orientation Masses at Franciscan University. These Masses have convinced us that we have made the right decision.
As parents we are so impressed with Steubenville's focus on the truth that we make the huge financial sacrifice to send our kids there. Last year, we spent one-third of our pre-tax income in tuition and room and board for two students. We passed up “Catholic” colleges in our area that would have cost us much less because we could not trust them to strengthen our children's faith. They could have lead our children away from the faith and asked us to pay for the privilege.
We thank you for highlighting Steubenville and the great gift they are to our country.
Our Kennedy in Washington
Regarding “Bringing the Rosary to Capitol Hill” (Inperson, Dec. 14-20):
Tim Drake's interview with U.S. Rep. Mark Kennedy, the Minnesota Republican who lives the Catholic faith without shame or hesitation and with much courage, was simply extraordinary.
This interview was enough to make me feel very proud to be Irish — and to feel overwhelmed with the four-generation history of this particular Kennedy family.
I am a recent convert to the Catholic faith — so recent, in fact, that I am not yet confirmed. Upon reading some of the letters and articles in the Register, I am eternally grateful that we started at the parish we did, St. Isidore's in Grand Rapids, Mich. It is an old Polish church. In physical beauty and in many other ways, St. Isidore's is a very orthodox parish.
For Mr. Skuba, who laments that many priests seem afraid to mention God's justice along with his mercy, there is Father Don. He is not afraid to give a good, old-fashioned homily.
More than once he has asked the congregation when we are going to put Christ at the head of our lives.
For Mr. Aiello, who fears that the issues are not being addressed, well, I can't remember a specific homily, but I am quite certain that those issues have been addressed and addressed well. I certainly don't feel as though I have a lack of knowledge about many issues facing the Church.
And as for the renewal, our RCIA director has told us that she has never had as big a group as us in 15 years. That seems to me a good sign.
I realize parishes like those described by Mr. Skuba and Mr. Aiello do exist. I've been to a few, and it is depressing. I would even agree that some priests are afraid of emptying the pews, which are already sparsely populated. They needn't worry. At St. Isidore's, the most traditional and orthodox parish I've been to (the only one in the area that might still perform the Latin Mass), the pews are packed at virtually every Mass.
Preach the truth and the people will listen. I certainly did.
Grave Family Matters
I write in response to the Family Matters column in the Jan. 25-31 issue titled “Sneaky Conceptions?”
I find the case for the use of natural family planning by many Catholics today to be less than virtuous or substantially grounded in the Church's teaching on such. What I have very often found presented as legitimate grounds for regulating births boils down to a rather self-centered, anti-child mentality — much the same as that of the contraceptive user.
Anyone who has a basic understanding of marriage from the Catholic standpoint recognizes the purpose is twofold: union and procreation. To enter into the marriage covenant without full openness to the child component “right now” indicates that the couple isn't ready for marriage unless, of course, one of the grave reasons listed in Humanae Vitae is truly present. To say, however, that as a newlywed couple you prayed about having children and “felt God was asking you to wait” because of graduate studies and high rent boggles the mind as to the gravity of the situation and is very misleading. Perhaps it is marriage that should have waited until the couple could fully embrace its rights and responsibilities.
While nobody can judge the motives behind a couple's choice for the use of natural family planning, accountability to the guidelines established by the Church must go beyond the legalism of its objective morality and truly weigh the gravity issue seriously. A couple in poverty or under a one-child regime as in China or dealing with serious health issues can necessitate NFP use. But the ultimate question at hand is: Has the couple truly surrendered to God's will for marriage or is there a conscious or unconscious clinging to one's own will instead? Natural family planning isn't meant to be the Catholic version of birth control in the negative sense but rather a resource for exceptional situations that warrant its use.
South Brunswick, New Jersey
BY Jim Cosgrove
Care for the Conceived
Lori Murphy's letter in the Jan. 11-17 issue (“The Fate of Frozen Embryos”) interpreted that Donum Vitae's statement, “The fidelity of the spouses’ unity of marriage involves the reciprocal respect of their right to become father and mother only through each other” to mean that embryo adoption is not licit. That quote is referring to the teaching of the Church that it is not permissible to utilize invitro methods to conceive a child. Embryo adoption is not a method to conceive a child; the child is already conceived.
The document states that the human being must be respected and protected from the very instant of his existence, stating that it is not in conformity with the moral law to deliberately expose to death human embryos obtained in vitro. Implantation is the only option for a child to have the opportunity to be born/have a life. Without willing parents to provide the environment the child needs to grow, the child will die.
What does the Church give as an option to children conceived and “unwanted”? Adoption. Although the Church has not made a definitive statement on embryo adoption, I seriously doubt the Church would only bless adoption of those already born and discriminate against those who are, because of their young age, termed “embryos.”
Donum Vitae says: “Physical sterility in fact can be for spouses the occasion for other important services in the life of the human person, for example adoption.”
If Lori's thinking were true, that the Church intends to say one cannot become a parent in a marriage except through conceiving through their own conjugal act — how would one then view the Holy Family?
Janet B. Cook
Lori Murphy quotes Donum Vitae in a statement she says “bears on the licitness of embryo adoption (“The Fate of Frozen Embryos,” Letters, Jan. 11-17):
“The fidelity of the spouses in the unity of marriage involves reciprocal respect of their right to become father and mother only through each other.” This right of each spouse to become a parent only through the other cannot be violated.
Really? Then does this passage not also illegitimize conventional adoption, in which spouses by common consent become father and mother not through one another? I find it hard to understand why embryo adoption is any less acceptable than conventional adoption of a born child (given, of course, that in either case the spouses must agree to this form of becoming parents so that disunity between them will not imperil their marriage).
I also find it hard to believe that the Holy Father meant to imply by this passage in Donum Vitae that adoption of a born child, especially in the case where the parents are incapable of becoming parents through one another because of infertility, is morally unacceptable. Am I missing something here?
Motivate the Mediocre
I assumed many would respond regarding George Sim Johnston's clarion call to Catholics in the column “Catholic Institutions and the Sadness of Mediocrity” (Jan. 11-17). Guess my response is due.
Yes, it is a serious problem — this fear of appearing too much a Catholic, be it in our schools, colleges, hospitals, corporate works of mercy … or in our very homes and churches. I know of a parishioner who was stalked after Mass and berated by a priest for being a “fanatic.” She (perhaps foolishly) attempted defense by stating that yes, she is a fanatic, that a fanatic is one who is devoted to the Divinity (root definition of “fanaticus”), that Jesus was a fanatic as he had a single-minded purpose with the Father and that she herself intended to follow Jesus — gloriously fanatic as it may be to do so.
That there is no more unhappy a person than a mediocre Catholic priest is evidenced in the lack of fervor — the lack of “holy fanaticism” — that we suffer in so many clergy. This unhappiness and mediocrity also oozes from men and women religious. And truly, bucketfuls of doleful, lukewarm souls are spewed out over all Catholicdom (sic) in laity who likewise choose to be “balanced” by the scales of the secular world rather than by those scales of Christ and his Church that weigh the convictions and faith of all souls for eternity.
Thankfully, some joyous priests, religious and laity of all ages shine like stars in the universe. They consciously choose to desire, pray for and practice sacrifice, obedience, fidelity and humility. They dare offer themselves as blazing realities of the Catholic faith. They are as ones possessed — possessed with zeal and fervor for souls — and will eagerly follow in the footsteps of Jesus, whose joy is incomparable because he feared not to be “too Catholic.”
It Takes Two
I was dismayed to read Tom and Caroline McDonald's response to the woman who wants another baby but whose husband insists on continuing to use natural family planning to avoid pregnancy (“Sneaky Conceptions?” Family Matters, Jan. 25-31).
The McDonalds fail to mention that the use of natural family planning is only morally licit with the consent of both spouses. Marriage is a contract in which spouses give each other full and exclusive rights over each other's body, including their life-giving faculties. It is gravely sinful to deny one's spouse this right. Although the woman's temptation to trick her husband into impregnating her would not be honest, and demanding one's rights in marriage is not always wise, at least this woman should know her rights and lovingly inform her husband — who may not realize he is sinning gravely against her.
St. Paul sums all this up: “The wife hath not power of her own body but the husband. And in like manner, the husband also hath no power of his own body but the wife. Defraud not one another, except, by consent, for a time, that you may give yourselves to prayer; and return together again” (1 Corinthians 7:4-5).
Today's contraceptive society tends to see all obstacles to having children as insurmountable, so this woman's courage in desiring to rise above such obstacles should be encouraged. That the McDonalds failed to do so should astonish any reader, especially in view of the “Culture of Life” logo printed at the top of the page.
Agnes M. Penny
I just wanted to add to the discussion about big families, “The Family as a Sign of Contradiction” (Commentary & Opinion, Oct. 19-25).
Before I became Catholic, I'd had two children, the second being born a month after my mother died. I went into a spiritual and emotional tailspin and chose to have a tubal ligation when my second child was only 7 months old. I had lots of fears and no faith. I had no idea what kind of horrible thing I'd done. I was only 27 years old.
I subsequently became Catholic within a couple years of this decision and have regretted the “mutilation” to my reproductive organs ever since. Unfortunately, having reversal surgery is not only very expensive, but it is also a risk to my health, and there's a risk of frequent ectopic pregnancies with no guarantee of carrying a baby to term.
I just wanted people to know this who assume that the small family is one decided on out of ignorance or a blatant, active, ongoing contraceptive mentality.
Just know that many of us carry this particular cross daily.
Cinematic Bait and Switch
Regarding “Family Friendly Movies Sell Better than R-Rated Ones” (Nov. 2-8):
Here are two facts: 1) Hollywood has known for a long time that movies with an R rating make, on average, less money than movies with a less-objectionable rating. 2) Since 1985, the number of R-rated movies has decreased from 81% to 42%.
There are two possible interpretations of these facts. The first is that Hollywood, in order to make more money, has simply changed the labeling of its movies so movies that previously would have been rated R are now rated (less objectionably) PG-13. The other is that Hollywood, out of a sense of morality, has changed the content of its movies so that over the years they have become more “family friendly.”
The Register article, without giving evidence, adopts the second interpretation — naïvely so, in my opinion. Parents who have kept an eye on the content of movies will think that the first interpretation is correct. The label PG-13 looks to have been a successful marketing ploy for selling very “family unfriendly” movies to adolescents.
Pray for Priests
May I share what could be a good intention for the new year? I believe we should pray for our unjustly accused priests. They are carrying a cross none of us would want to carry.
Let us also remember their accusers, as Jesus did.
What a difference a decimal makes. In “Bush Addresses Catholic Educators at White House, Pushing Vouchers” (Jan. 25-31), we misquoted President Bush as saying 99% of the “26 million” children in Catholic schools will graduate and go on to college. Head count for Catholic schools is approximately 2.6 million.
Into the Great Wide Open
President Bush's decision to send astronauts to explore the [feasibility of using the] moon as a way station to Mars sheds new light on the alleged “population crisis.” I've always had a problem with the bogus concern about world overpopulation and nonsensical scare tactics, such as people being forced to live in narrow cubicles because space has run out.
The earth has a huge amount of empty space — just drive out of the city. Technology and free-market economics have multiplied food production and created prosperity unprecedented in past ages. The fact that some people have great abundance while others are dying of hunger is a statement about the human moral and spiritual condition rather than population growth.
The late economist Julian Simon pointed out that people aren't just consumers of resources — useless eaters, as some would have it — but also thinkers who can advance human progress. “The most important benefit of population size and growth is the increase it brings to the stock of useful knowledge,” he argues. “Minds matter economically as much as, or more than, hands or mouths.”
It's this ingenuity that has created the real possibility of someday colonizing the moon, Mars and beyond — which opens up a far greater frontier than the old American West. This is something Thomas Malthus, the 19th-century prophet of population doom, would never have conceived of.
Only selfishness and violence can block or delay this bright future.
Rotterdam, New York
BY Jim Cosgrove
Still More on the War
Regarding the Register symposium “Did the War in Iraq Secure the Peace?” (Jan. 4-10):
If we stick to the facts of the Iraqi war — that Saddam Hussein used weapons of mass destruction on his own people, that the United Nations failed miserably with 17 resolutions trying to get him to comply with U.N. directives, that the connection with Saddam and al-Qaida is being made, and that Saddam killed tens or hundreds of thousands of his own people — then “liberating” the Iraqi people would seem to be a very good thing.
The threat to the United States in Bosnia and Kosovo was not imminent, and yet we went in and are still there. That is a good thing, too.
If the American people, as well as the world, had been informed by our international news sources — the BBC, CNN, Reuters, The New York Times and others — that Saddam was butchering, raping, torturing and mass-murdering his own people, then the world and the United States would have gone in like we have in the former Yugoslavia. Or how about Rwanda or the Sudan, where millions have been killed? Does this not fit perfectly into the just-war theory?
But the world doesn't seem to care. If the threat isn't “imminent,” then let the butchering continue.
The United States sent a message to the Middle East and the world that wanton and random acts of mass murder will not be tolerated. (And isn't President Bush bound by the Constitution to protect the American people?)
This may not satisfy the proponents of just-war theory, but it will certainly satisfy the inhabitants living in these countries.
Port Angeles, Washington
You presented a variety of views in your symposium on the war in Iraq. This balanced approach was unusual for a Catholic publication, and more should adopt it.
However, the authors (especially Mark Shea) failed to consider all of the teachings of the Church. I specially point out St. Bernard of Clairvaux's De Laude Novae Militae, in which he lays out when Christian warriors may “smite” the enemy. As St. Bernard wrote before the final, foolish and sad division between the Western and Eastern (Orthodox) Churches — and long before the Reformation — it is assumed that he wrote for the entire Church of God. His status as a doctor of the Church gives great weight to his positions.
St. Bernard warns against killing on the basis of wrath, vengeance, pride and other like weaknesses, as such make the killer a murderer and a sinner.
However, he does encourage the use of force, including deadly force, against the enemies of Christ, for the punishment of evildoers, for the protection of the holy places and that which is within them, for the elimination of nations that “love war” and against other like offenses and offenders. St. Bernard strongly approves the “smiting” of such persons, albeit without the weaknesses noted above.
Also, your writers failed to note (as too many persons nowadays do) that the present and chief external enemy of the Church and of civilization is [militant] Islam — especially in nations ruled by such monsters as Saddam Hussein or in smaller associations led by such servants of the evil one as Osama bin Laden.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may be considered as the beginning of an “object lesson” to such external enemies that there is still and again a force of just and righteous knights in this world who will inflict justice on evildoers, without the sins noted by St. Bernard, which order of knights is composed by the armed forces of the United States, Poland, the United Kingdom and a few other nations.
West Allis, Wisconsin
This letter pertains to the Register symposium, along with Rich Beckman's letter (“Premature Symposium?” Jan. 11-17) and the editor's note concerning that letter.
We are faithful readers of the Register; however, we have to agree with Mr. Beckman that your assessment of the Iraqi war was premature. Maybe the war won't alleviate all the problems in the Middle East, but maybe it will help turn things around. There is evidence that this is happening.
Our greatest worry about your symposium, however, is the influence it might have on voters who are wavering on their decision to vote pro-life. They might reason that starting this war is just as bad as abortion. Whether you believe that starting this war was the right decision or not, you must admit that the number of deaths caused by this war is relatively small compared with the more than 4,000 deaths every day caused by abortion.
Our current president has taken a stand for life in so many ways, but we are worried that articles like this might convince Catholics to vote in a way that would take away our chance to secure good pro-life legislation.
I applaud three letters to the editor in your Jan. 18-24 edition. Two of these letters are under the headline, “Two Thumbs Up on War” and the other is headlined “Bias in the Register?”
In my mind, a large country with a powerful military force has a duty to topple the cruel and sadistic regime of a small nation such as Iraq.
However, the aftermath of this war has also led to much suffering. One hopes, with the help of God in prayer, peace will eventually come to this area.
Mary Lou Petersen
Woe Is Roe
Regarding “Roe v. Wade + 31: Partial-Birth Ban Heads for Court” (Jan. 18-24):
On Jan. 22, 1973, the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that a woman had the right to kill a child in her womb. The information on which the court based its decision was provided in large part by Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a highly respected gynecologist, and Norma McCorvey, alias “Jane Roe.” Sad but true, at a later date, Nathanson and McCorvey both admitted they had lied.
Sarah Weddington, the attorney for “Roe,” was a young and frightened lawyer with little experience who thought her cause was so important that it gave her permission to trump the very foundation of our legal system, which is truth and justice. In a classic example of “the ends justifying the means,” Weddington allowed the perjured testimony of her key witnesses to be presented to the court.
From a legal standpoint, her win-at-all-costs approach to the abortion issue was a serious breach of ethics — but for the more than 40 million pre-born babies who have been aborted since then, it was a death sentence.
DONALD F. GERNE
New Canaan, Connecticut
Powerless Preaching Prevails
In “The ‘New’ Liturgy at Age 40: What Happened to the Vatican II Mass?” (Dec. 7-13), Capuchin Father Edward Foley maintains that preaching 40 years ago could have been about something “on somebody's moral agenda, it could have been on a current dogma, it could have been catechetical; it didn't have to have any connection with the liturgy.”
It seems to me that Father Foley's concept of “liturgy” is much too narrow. Liturgy includes all that the Catholic Church stands for. And what does he mean by “somebody's moral agenda” and by a “current” dogma?
He says, “By and large preaching in the Catholic Church today is scripturally based.” Really? For the past 15 to 20 years, I have heard at our Cardinal Newman Center (and in other Catholic churches) hardly any challenging, Scripture-based sermons. Almost without exception, our students receive highly personal testimonials (about the priest's father, mother, grandmother or aunt), up to 25 minutes in duration, even on high holidays.
Twenty years ago, my students still knew the basic tenets (and even more) about their Catholic faith. Students would engage in substantial discussions. Today? They are in matters of belief illiterate and can, as I have observed, either lose their faith altogether or join other denominations, especially the ones that impart a well-defined “credo.”
In one way I do understand Father Foley's predicament: A number of priests I know have “burned out” from informative doctrinal sermons; they long to work off emotional tensions, etc.
Father Foley received a solid, well-defined and detailed catechetical education in his youth. He can now afford the luxury of “scripturally based” preaching. Our young people do not get a full catechetical exposure. They will eventually get tired of hearing personal testimonials, lose their faith or join other denominations. They need the type of preaching that was done 40 years ago.
The writer is a professor of languages and literature at Arizona State University.
State of the Church's Soul
Has anything really changed in the Catholic Church in the United States? Are bishops looking outward (policy changes, audits, new procedures) rather than inward (the spiritual state of their soul) for solutions to problems in today's Church?
Is the setting up of lay committees to investigate sexual-abuse claims good for the priesthood? Can we no longer trust other priests to investigate these matters? Does this not cast a dark shadow on all priests — even the good ones who truly love the Church?
The very fact that policy changes became necessary — along with the fact that audits are necessary to see that these policies are being followed in each diocese — shows that something is very wrong with the spirituality of bishops in the United States (and elsewhere). Is it therefore truthful to call them “good shepherds”?
How many good priests have already been falsely accused — and taken from the community they served and loved — while awaiting the completion of an investigation that may or may not prove their innocence?
Is it not also a great scandal — and another sign that something is seriously wrong in the priesthood — when investigative committees within a diocese, made up of lay people, become a necessity? Have they not become necessary because bishops have not followed God's holy will in the past, and they are not trusted to follow his holy will in the future in these types of matters?
If bishops are unable to discern the state of the soul of an innocent or guilty priest, how can they be trusted to discern the state of the souls of others in their care? Is not spiritual lukewarmness in the priesthood, which has contaminated many bishops (and priests), the greatest scandal in today's Church?
BY Jim Cosgrove
The Worth of Saddam's Soul
Regarding “Death Penalty Clarification Needed” by Father Raymond J. de Souza (Commentary, Jan. 4-10):
As Christians, we are called by God to hate evil. But attach a human face to that evil and you've got a problem. Christians are obligated to rise above evil and conquer it with the power of good. We are to hate evil actions but not the person committing them. In other words, we must hate the sin but love the sinner. Christ was very emphatic about this when he said, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
We have just seen the capture and arrest of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Millions of people around the world are calling for his death, including many Christians. Fighting evil with more evil can never produce anything good. Instead, we should be praying for the soul of this man, that he might experience a conversion before it's too late for him. By doing so, not only will we be assisting a needy soul, but we will also be comforting Our Lord, who said to St. Faustina, “The loss of each soul plunges me into mortal sadness. You always console me when you pray for sinners. The prayer most pleasing to me is prayer for the conversion of sinners” (Diary of St. Faustina, No. 1397).
We all know of Saddam's atrocities. But what some might not know is that Saddam was born into a difficult life as an unwanted child whose own mother tried to abort him herself before his birth. His stepfather also abused him emotionally and physically.
But if none of this makes it easier to care about what happens to Saddam, perhaps this will: Our Lord said to St. Faustina, “the greater the misery of a soul, the greater its right to my mercy … On the cross, the fountain of my mercy was opened wide by the lance for all souls — no one have I excluded” (Diary, No. 1182).
So how much is Saddam Hussein's soul worth? The price of Christ's blood. No human soul is worth less.
Janine E. Schutt Bremerton, Washington
Regarding “The New Year's First Saints: The Vatican Clears Path for Four (Jan. 4-10): I have some corrections to offer regarding Augustus Czartoryski, Eusebia Palomino and Alessandrina da Costa.
Augustus Czartoryski: Please note the correct spelling of his first name. He was a Polish prince, the son of Princess Maria Ampara of Spain. He was born Aug. 2, 1858, and died April 9, 1893. He attempted to enter the Salesian Society four times and three times he was refused by Don Bosco, who thought a prince would have a hard time adjusting to the austerity of the Salesian life. The fourth time he applied, he was finally accepted by Don Bosco after having recourse to Pope Leo XIII, who told him to tell the founder the Pope said he was to become a Salesian. Embracing the poverty of the Salesian Society with all his heart, he was a model novice and avoided discussing his life prior to entering. He was ordained April 2, 1892. Shortly after his ordination, he began to show signs of tuberculosis and was nursed by Venerable Andrew Beltrami (another holy Salesian). His last words were, “Jesus Christ, my master.”
Eusebia Palomino: She did not belong to the “Institute of the Daughters of Mary of Perpetual Help” but the Institute of the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians, founded by St. John Bosco and St. Mary Mazzarello.
Alessandrina da Costa: She was not a “lay member of the Union of Salesian Co-Workers” but a member of the society of apostolic Life, which at the time was called the Pious Union of Salesian Cooperators (it is now known as the Association of Salesian Cooperators).
The main work of Salesian cooperators is geared toward the young and the poor. A number of the more recent popes were Salesian cooperators, among them Pope Pius XII and Blessed John XXIII.
Thank you for publishing such an excellent paper. I read it cover to cover every week.
Brittany Marie Harrison Lake Villa, Illinois
Courageously Counter Contraception
Talk about the moral dilemma involved in the inducing of labor (“Induction Procedures Raise Moral Dilemma,” Oct. 19-25).
There is a greater dilemma pro-life activists have to face concerning Catholic Hospitals.
Here are the pro-life activists picketing against abortion and all attacks on life while Catholic hospitals are involved in distributing contraceptives.
One of the bishops at the recent bishops’ meeting actually called contraceptives the “silent killer,” which is a perfect name for contraceptives.
We are told, “It's the law of the land!“
Let us pray for our bishops to have the courage of St. Peter, who responded to the Sanhedrin when told not to preach about Jesus: “We must obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29).
Bias in the Register?
I was very disappointed to see the article “Vatican's War Warnings Confirmed” by John Thavis of Catholic News Service in your Dec. 7-13 issue.
This is the kind of biased article I would expect of The New York Times. The Iraqi infrastructure is not destroyed, it is being rebuilt by the United States. The hardships on civilians have not increased; the overwhelming majority of the people are glad we are there. And most importantly, Iraqi men, women and children no longer have to worry about being taken away in the middle of the night to face torture or execution.
While the minority of those who are engaged in terrorism get all of the attention, I would hope the journalists at the Register would give a more balanced presentation and include all of the facts. The country is much better off without a murderous psychopath as dictator.
Fort Wayne, Indiana
On Holidays in Europe
Your news brief “France to Cancel Pentecost Holiday” (Media Watch, Dec. 7-13) says the feast is still marked in Britain by various traditional celebrations. Alas, this is not really so.
Whitsunday, as it was known here, ceased to be an official holiday some years ago. We now have the “Late Spring Bank Holiday,” which sometimes coincides with Pentecost and sometimes not, and we also have a holiday on May 1, but the Whitsun weekend has officially disappeared and you will not see it mentioned in a diary or calendar. There are local rural traditions, such as you mention, but the big events such as Manchester's “Whit Walks” are a thing of the past, and the name Whitsun is fast disappearing as it is no longer associated with a holiday weekend.
The irony is that we are always being told that we should standardize life across Europe, and one of the useful things we have in common is the calendar, centered on the traditional round of Christian seasons. Britain abolished many holidays at the Reformation while much of Europe kept them. Now, just when it would make sense for us all to enjoy them together, separate countries are abolishing various Christian feast days one by one — while inventing new secular ones.
Here in Britain there is talk of our having “Trafalgar Day” to give us an extra holiday so the number of our holidays keeps up with the rest of Europe! It is hardly likely to foster friendship with the French.
New Malden, Surrey
BY Jim Cosgrove
Thank you for the truly inspiring interview with Jim Caviezel (“How The Passion Changed Him,” Inperson, Dec. 21-Jan. 3).
Recounting his physical suffering playing Jesus in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ would have been enough to move anyone deeply. But the way he humbly expressed his determination to attend daily Mass and receive Communion reflected well Our Lord's parable about the leaven.
He said, “It always comes down to that — what does the Lord want?” Perhaps we can see a prophecy of the magnificent results of this film in the months to come.
Be Not Afraid of Galileo
Regarding “Excommunicated for Scientific Beliefs” by Dermott Mullan (Commentary, Nov. 30-Dec. 6):
Galileo, or at least his followers, were wrong. Why has no one said so? Oh, I don't mean on the astronomical point of the Earth revolving around the sun. I'm referring to the far-greater issue of the Earth being the center of the universe.
Nor do I need to rely on what is obvious only to Catholics, that the Earth is central because it was and is home to Christ, for whom the universe was created, and was home to Mary, his mother, Queen of the Cosmos. Is there a Catholic ready to say there is another Christ or another Queen of the Cosmos?
Instead, I will point out for believers and unbelievers alike the obvious fact that creation, or, if you will, evolution, reaches its zenith in complexity, not simplicity. The stars, from largest to smallest, are little more than clusters of hydrogen atoms.
If one of those stars had a carrot growing on it, it would be quantum leaps ahead of all the others, evolutionarily. The Earth has far more. It has man, an intelligent, free-willed and eternal creature — the most complex in God's creation.
There's more. As the center of creation and evolution, the Earth and its inhabitants came to be only because the remainder of the universe unfolded exactly as it did. The chance for life as we know it was so remote that had there been a shimmer of some star a trillion light years away, a trillion years ago, Earth would likely not have been. The universe had to develop exactly as it did in order for man to show up. In that sense, the entire universe has its meaning in setting the stage for the emergence of life on Earth.
Yes, Galileo was right — but only regarding an astronomical detail. The Church was wrong, but only insofar as she, like the Apostles during the storm on Lake Galilee, panicked, in this case thinking that the truth of the Earth's centrality was threatened. It was not. The Holy Spirit is still with us. Earth and man are central and will remain so. Let's not be afraid to say so.
Hugh McGrath Jr.
Deliverers of Death
It is a tragedy that Charles Cullen, the “Angel of Death,” has admitted to killing 40 or so patients who were under his care (“Killer Compassion,” Jan. 4-10). Cullen became a nurse to help people, not kill them.
As tragic as this is, Cullen is a piker compared to the doctors who are sworn to do no harm yet kill millions of innocent, unborn babies through abortion.
Gerard P. McEvoy
Coram, New York
In “Catholic Relief Services' 'Coffee Project' Strives for Global Justice in Every Cup” (Dec. 14-20), you admitted the overproduction of low-grade coffee was what had driven down coffee prices.
Given that, would it not make more sense to help farmers get out of coffee and into something that offers better prices?
Julie A. Robichaud
San Antonio, Texas
Silence vs. Salacious Stories
Regarding “Christmas Means 'Skin' at Abercrombie & Fitch” (Dec. 14-20):
I am disappointed with the Register's article. Since the underlying premise is that Abercrombie & Fitch thrives on the bad publicity from their scandalous catalogs, why is the Register giving front-page coverage and a free advertisement — one-third of page 10 — to this commercial purveyor of immorality?
The vivid descriptions are not necessary to promote a boycott. One does not have to visit Abercrombie & Fitch or page thorough its magazine to get a full sense of the naked truth — one can read all about it in the Register! Was there nothing more newsworthy?
My sons (10, 12 and 15) grab the Register before I have time to peruse it. Their first comment was “yuck.” Please be more careful about the content. Reading those descriptions in a national Catholic publication can be far more damaging to your readers than you realize.
Mass for America
To all daily communicants in the Roman Catholic faith:
You read in the paper today about what is going on in America and the world. Things are very scary and I have often thought about what could be done. This thought came into my head the other day.
I am a daily Mass-goer and communicant. There must be millions of Catholics attending Mass and receiving holy Communion daily and I wondered if we could become of one heart and one mind.
For instance: Before Mass, offer the Mass and holy Communion up to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary for this great country, America. For one thing, pray that we remain “one nation, under God.”
We could pray for an increase for priestly vocations and then include our personal intentions.
Can you imagine the millions of Masses being offered up daily in the country? We will be of one heart and one mind!
If we do this to protect this country, you will see the results in the national elections in 2004. Copy this letter and send it to your bishop.
John L. Naughton
Brick, New Jersey
While admirable in its intent, I found your symposium (“Did The War In Iraq Secure The Peace?” Jan. 4-10), entirely premature and below the journalistic standards I have come to expect from the Register.
Conferring a symposium of any sort on whether peace has been secured in Iraq in less than one year ignores the abundance of historical evidence that meaningful impact (and equally meaningful assessments) in “similar” global conflicts take years, not months. Thus, devoid of any reasonable quantity of facts, you left your authors in a position to merely speculate and add excessive interpretive reasoning to substantiate their positions.
This less-than-desirable approach was especially evident with the anti-war authors, each of whom left out material facts in an effort to appear more resolute in their conclusions. As we stare at the next decade of battling this new breed of foe, it will be increasingly important to examine just-war theories, international peacekeeping effectiveness and the principles we apply to assure we strike the right balance between prudent precaution and excessive aggression.
I can only hope that, in the future, the Register allows sufficient time for the collection of meaningful facts before attempting this type of analysis.
Editor's Note: Certainly, once all the facts are out about Iraq, it will be much easier to assess the war. But we don't think it's a good idea for Catholics to hold off their discussion of important national questions until the discussion has passed into the history books. Yes, waiting would prevent Catholics from saying the wrong thing — but it would also prevent them from saying anything at all until it is too late.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Regarding “The ‘New’ Liturgy at Age 40: What Happened to the Vatican II Mass?” (Dec. 7-13):
I was perplexed by comments made by Capuchin Father Edward Foley of Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, regarding sermons 40 years ago compared to today. He said, “Back then they gave sermons, so it could be on somebody'd moral agenda, it could have been on a current dogma, it could have been catechetical; it didn't have to have any connection with the liturgy. That'd radically different.”
Father Foley is absolutely correct when he'd says it'd “radically different.” However, his implication is that it is radically better. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The argument is that the Novus Ordo Mass — with its greater emphasis on homiletic connections to Scripture — has been an improvement. I'm afraid Catholics today, by and large, do not understand Sacred Scripture any more than they did 40 years ago, and I would argue they understand less. Why? Because the thousands of poorly formed priests in our sanctuaries today are more likely to misinterpret the Mass readings than give us a true account of their meaning. This is compounded by the problem of poor translations.
Sermons 40 years ago could have been about “somebody'd moral agenda,” but that agenda was the moral teaching of the Church. That is radically different than the immoral agenda pushed by numerous dissenting priests who use the pulpit to sow dissent from Catholic teaching and disciplinary practices.
As a revert (I returned to the Church six years ago) I was someone who wanted desperately to learn the faith, doctrinally and morally. Before long, I was discouraged by the complete absence of any discussion of the beautiful doctrinal and moral truths of our Holy Catholic Church. I had to re-learn my faith from publishers, and that is a minefield requiring guidance by an orthodox spiritual director.
I long to hear good sermons. I long to hear dynamic and forceful preachers teach the faith from the pulpit. I long to hear one priest, just one, mention the possibility that some of us may end up in hell because we will die with unrepented mortal sin on our souls.
Even if Father Foley were correct that today Catholics are more “biblically conversant” than 40 years ago, there is little evidence that Catholics today have a greater knowledge of Church teachings and a desire to grow in holiness. I think the opposite is true. We are dumber and weaker in our faith today precisely because no one is teaching us. Give me dogmatic sermons over poor interpretations of Sacred Scripture any day.
Ken Skuba Sugarloaf, Pennsylvania
Old Mass, New Mass
I thoroughly enjoy every edition of the Register. I read each one cover to cover!
With respect to “The ‘New’ Liturgy at Age 40: What Happened to the Vatican II Mass?” by Ellen Rossini (Dec. 7-13), I am concerned about the implication that one Mass is qualitatively better than the other. I fear this conclusion is all too frequently the product of selective memory or historical revisionism. My life spans both the pre-Vatican II and the post-Vatican II eras, and I would like to offer the following observations.
I could be wrong, but I suspect the reason the priest had his back turned to the people was that, in those days, there was a greater sensitivity to the real presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Because the tabernacle was located at the center of the altar, the priest was necessarily put in the position of either turning his back to the people or turning his back to Jesus.
To suggest Roman Catholics went to Mass for centuries without ever understanding what was happening is just plain silly. Virtually every Catholic carried a missal, which had the Latin on one side of the page and the English translation on the other side.
One obvious advantage of the Latin Mass seems to be continually overlooked. For those of us who travel, Latin made it possible for us to participate in the prayers of the Mass anywhere in the world. Now we must speak the vernacular (local language) or be sidelined, unable to participate. I know this might come as a surprise to many in the “American rite,” but there are actually places in the world where English is not the local language.
While I do not necessarily advocate returning to the Latin Mass, I think the Second Vatican Council had sound reasons for retaining some Latin.
Jerome R. Bishop
Voice of the What?
The three priests who issued a letter to their parish might have suspicions about the Voice of the Faithful movement based mainly on the movement's doctrinal ambiguity, but there is an even greater danger in its aim to completely “restructure” the Church (“‘A Pastoral Letter From Your Priests,’” Commentary, Dec. 7-13).
Voice of the Faithful would arrogate to themselves the privilege of interviewing candidates for bishoprics and approving their appointments outside the norms of canon law, seemingly usurping the traditional roles of the congregations in Rome and of the Pope himself. In other words, the Voice of the Faithful would be running the Church in this country. Its animus against bishops is based on exaggerated generalizations and unwarranted accusations that would be hard to prove even under civil law. It even claims some sort of gnostic insight to what Christ's will would be insofar as restructuring the Church.
All this might very well be academic as the bishops themselves move forward in establishing policy and lay-review boards to prevent future occurrences of abuse. So much media attention was given to the problem that I dare say cases will be very rare in the future. The Voice of the Faithful movement, like reactionary movements of the past, might already be growing in irrelevancy, as I believe most Catholics by now want to put all this behind us.
Lawrence Petrus Rocky River, Ohio
Your editorial “The Renewal Is Under Way” (Dec. 7-13) focuses on an optimistic view of the direction of the Church in America. Although you speak admirably concerning the laity, you fail to mention a serious obstacle to renewal: the lack of Catholic education of the laity through the homily concerning critical topics of birth control, abortion, homosexuality and chastity before marriage.
We live in a culture of death. We are daily bombarded by the media with a lifestyle contrary to Catholic teachings. Yet the laity is at the mercy of the media because the majority of bishops and priests do not preach about these topics. Having lived in four dioceses in 15 years and never hearing a homily on any of these issues during Sunday Mass, I can understand why the Catholic laity are silent on these issues, why as many Catholics as Protestants choose abortion, why the vast majority of Catholic spouses contracept and why many [couples] live together outside of marriage.
It is troubling to see our religious leaders speak out so bravely on a national level when they do nothing on the local level to promote true Catholic identity. Is it any wonder public opinion is not with our bishops and priests on these issues? Perhaps some dissent from Catholic teaching and others fear the pews will be emptied once the faithful hear the true message.
But to really change the culture of death, our religious leaders are going to have to fulfill the true calling of their vocation and become the leaders of Catholic renewal. Anything less spells disaster.
Michael Aiello, M.D. Canton, Ohio
The writer is a past president of the Catholic Medical Association.
The looming possibility of women being able to buy the “morning-after pill” over the counter rather than by prescription is just another example of the hostility of our culture toward life, especially the most vulnerable of all life, the unborn.
One of the ways the Plan B pill works is by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting to the wall of the uterus. If human life does not begin at the moment of conception, when all of the DNA needed to create a complete human being is fully present and beginning to work, when does it begin? Women need to know that when taking the “morning-after pill,” one of the possibilities of the way it works is by preventing their newly created child from thriving by not allowing it to implant properly in the uterus.
Andrew Achziger Greeley, Colorado
At last, good news! The National Organization for Women and the “abortion-rights” people have finally given up on being “pro-choice.” The U.S. Senate, the House of Representatives and the president have chosen. They chose to outlaw partial-birth abortion — the killing of partially born children. Now the pro-choice people are against that choice.
To choose is a transitive verb, meaning it carries an object. It is idiotic to be pro-choice unless one says what is being chosen or chosen against. I (we) must be pro-choice something. When it comes to the unborn child, one is either pro-choice life or pro-choice death.
Consider this family situation: The father is an alcoholic, the mother is syphilitic. One child is deaf, one child mentally retarded, another child is deaf and one child is born dead. The mother with syphilis is pregnant again. Question: Should she have an abortion? Choose life or death. If you choose the abortion, then you have just aborted Beethoven.
Father Patrick J. O'Doherty Queen of Peace Church Ocala, Florida
A quotation in Thomas Szyskiewicz's article about Archbishop-designate Raymond Burke of St. Louis in the Dec. 21-28 issue was wrongly attributed to the archbishop. It said Archbishop Burke, when he was bishop of LaCrosse, Wis., told Wisconsin state Sen. Julie Lassa, who supports legal abortion, that she could not call herself Catholic and to refrain from receiving the Eucharist. Bishop Burke did not make this statement. The Register and author apologize for the error.
BY Jim Cosgrove
We write about the coverage of the abortion/breast cancer, which you published on page one of your Nov. 23-29 edition (“A First: Abortion Pay-out over Breast Cancer”). Andrew Walther did an excellent job and we also applaud the placement on page one.
The Register continues its excellent work year after year. It is a blessing for our nation and the Church.
Mr. Walther did not mention the name of the lawyer who carried on for four long years: his name is Joseph Stanton, and he was assisted in the last days by a new graduate from Ave Maria Law School, Adam Frey. Stanton is a single practitioner and a member of the Pro-Life Union and a longtime “lawyer for life.” In this matter, he was opposed by two large law firms. He deserves our thanks and recognition!
The writer is President of the Pro-Life Union of Southeast Pennsylvania.
Just a note in response to Peter Wolfgang's commentary “Attention, Peter Stein-fels: You Got It Wrong” (Nov. 23-29).
I petition: How much more subjective could Mr. Wolfgang be while appraising the general pulse and health of the Church within a given region (Connecticut)? As he speaks of various charismatic renewal projects and other renewal venues such as Regnum Christi, noting that a large proportion of such participation is that of young adult Catholics, I still question, out of all baptized and confirmed young adults within the Catholic population, just how many partake in such movements? I will submit to you that, of all Catholics under age 30, it is probably well under 10% and is hardly representative of a new trend.
And how does Mr. Wolfgang explain this phenomenon? In a 2000 survey of all 173 American dioceses, on the basis of their ratio of recent ordinandi and seminarians to total Catholic population within the respective diocese, Connecticut's Metropolitan See, the Archdiocese of Hartford, achieved a ratio of 1:371,479 — a rank of 173, that is, dead last of all of the nation's dioceses. By contrast, the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., with a ratio of 1 new priest or seminarian for every 2,173 Catholics, ranks second among all U.S. dioceses, while the Diocese of Fargo, N.D., with 1 new priest or seminarian for every 2,025 Catholics, ranks first.
For certain, the vibrancy of Catholic culture is very aptly measured by young-adult participation in religious vocations, and the overall receptivity to and promotion of the priestly calling by a local hierarchy. Furthermore, none of the Catholic colleges of the state has accepted the mandatum. If Connecticut is anything, it is once again missionary territory, where Sunday-morning participation at the state's popular Native American gaming casinos by far outdoes that at Mass. While I credit Mr. Wolfgang for his own personal conversion to Catholic orthodoxy, as well as his willingness to publicly take on a legend of dissent such as Peter Steinfels — with his latest exercise in triteness in this new book of his — such an endeavor is hardly achieved with success with a chronicle of rose-colored embellishments.
Keep in mind that Steinfels' conduit, Father Richard McBrien at the University of Notre Dame, is and always was a “native son” and remains a priest in “good standing” of the Archdiocese of Hartford. His imprint upon the local Church, as well as this nation, continues to be unmistakable. For him to witness dissent, all Mr. Wolfgang need do is look again into his backyard — though hopefully next time, he will address it head on.
JEFFREY R. JACKSON
Peter Wolfgang responds: Like Steinfels, Jeffrey Jackson cites irrefutable facts to support conclusions that, upon closer inspection, do not necessarily follow. Yes, only a minority of Connecticut Catholics “under the age of 30” are involved in renewal movements. But that fact does not take into account someone like me, a dissenter for most of my 20s who, even after embracing the fullness of the faith, still is not affiliated with any “renewal movement.” In its recent editorial “Dissent's Demise” (Sept. 21-27), the Register made reference to young Catholics who “had all left the Church to one degree or another after taking doctrine-free CCD classes as children. They returned after discovering the beauty and truth of the faith on their own.” That's me. And there's a lot more where I came from.
Yes, Father Richard McBrien is, alas, a priest in good standing with the Archdiocese of Hartford. But our archdiocesan newspaper ceased syndication of his column about a decade ago and left him scrambling to find another distributor. This decision was applauded by Catholics my age and lamented by my parents' generation.
Yes, a recent survey showed that Hartford would eventually be dead last in the nation's priest-to-layman ratio — if present trends continue. Many of us who grew up with those “doctrine-free CCD classes” returned to the Church after we were married but with a lot of children in tow. Stay tuned.
Yes, the Catholic colleges of Connecticut have yet to accept the mandatum. But that fact does not take into account the young former students (and current teachers) I've spoken to at those schools who are scandalized by this. The editorial, again: Dissent “has no future because hypocrisy and dishonesty are the sins the new generation of Catholics most disdain. The younger generation will either leave the faith definitively or embrace it robustly — they won't attempt to do both.”
In his recent interview with Raymond Arroyo, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger reminded us that the Holy Spirit usually shapes history through minorities, not mass movements. The current minority status of young, faithful Catholics is no impediment to the pivotal role we could play in helping to bring about a new springtime for the Church.
New Evangelization in the Mall
You had two articles in recent months reporting on the success people have been having with shopping-mall evangelization. Groups would get permission from the mall owners and then set up tables with local parish bulletins, Mass schedules, contact information for priests and so on. Both articles commented on the number of people who approached their tables looking for information. Their success seems to come from going out in the community and providing the truth in a non-threatening manner.
We have all read about Mel Gibson's forthcoming film The Passion of Christ, which will be released on Ash Wednesday. With all the pre-publicity the film has generated, large numbers of people will be seeing it. Whether they love it or hate it, many will exit the film with questions, comments, doubts and reactions. What a great time for those moviegoers to encounter a table full of Catholic information!
New Market, Maryland
Editor's note: Some materials that might be good to pass out: The guides we have printed on our back page throughout Advent. Print out multiple copies by downloading them at: http://www.ncregister.com Click. on “How to Be a Catholic: Guides for Catholic Living.”
BY Jim Cosgrove
Want Priests? Have Kids
Several recent letters have dealt with the subject of large families. Perhaps one of the major reasons for a shortage of vocations to the priesthood and the religious life is a shortage of young Catholic men and women. It is a fact that most young couples today are limiting themselves to one or two children. This will not even replace the population. Perhaps there is an element of selfishness in this trend, even greed.
The United States' population is growing mainly due to immigration.
God, who is never outdone in generosity, will certainly bless young couples who trust him to provide all they will need.
FATHER LEO SLATTERIE
Islam and Its Infidels
Regarding “Catholic Expert: Islam Is a Religion of Violence, Not One of Peace” (Nov. 30-Dec. 6):
Robert Spencer describes Islam as “unique among the world's religions in having a broad and highly developed theology, law and tradition mandating violence against nonbelievers.” This frank description surely terrifies some and is written off as prejudiced falsity by others. However, given the author's credentials and the serious nature of the issue, further consideration and analysis of the issue and its validity are certainly prudent.
What does history have to say about Islam? By what means has Islam grown since its inception? What are the common characteristics of societies and nations that are mainly Islam? The greatest testimony to the Catholic faith is a saint, because a saint lives the Church's teachings. Who are the “saints” of Islam and what are they like? In general, what kind of fruit has Islam produced?
If the answers to these questions testify to Spencer's claim, then we must take it seriously and begin to prepare for the possibility of Islam spreading or attempting to spread throughout Europe. In doing this, I think it is important to remember that one of the few nonbelievers Muslims have respected and perhaps the only nonbeliever they have admired is St. Francis of Assisi.
I applaud the Register for printing this article on Islam and hope it continues such research in the future.
It was nice to read that the bishops have resolved to establish guidelines on how to respond to Catholic politicians who mock the teachings of the Church on great moral issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage (“Bishops' Plan: Engage Public Pro-Abortion Catholics,” Nov. 23-29).
Nice, until we're told their resolution will not be ready by the 2004 election. Why will it take a year for the bishops to make a moral decision?
In their 1998 declaration “Living the Gospel of Life,” the bishops made a brave statement: The gospel of life cannot be lived simply as a private belief but must be lived “vigorously and publicly.” They singled out as “seriously mistaken” Catholic public officials who claim they are personally opposed to evils such as abortion but cannot impose their beliefs on others. But when it comes to acting upon that statement five years later, [the bishops] seem timid and uncertain.
ERNEST J. AMENT
Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan
I read with interest Cardinal Walter Kasper's comments in which he stated, “There can be an Anglican rite, but this would presuppose that a whole province or diocese comes to the Catholic Church” (“Anglican and Episcopalian Unrest Follows Bishop's Consecration,” Nov. 16-22).
According to the Web site of the Catholic Information Network, Pope John Paul II granted a pastoral provision in 1980 for the establishment of parishes composed of former Episcopalians permitting them to use a modified liturgy from the Book of Common Prayer.
There are a number of Anglican-use parishes in the United States, and several have Web sites. Our Lady of the Atonement has a particularly good site at http://www.atonementonline.com These. parishes apparently use a book of divine worship that has received an imprimatur and is based upon the Book of Common Prayer.
I wish there was an active parish in my area, but they are apparently clustered in the south-central United States.
Woe to Curay-Cramer
Michele Curay-Cramer, the teacher at Ursuline Academy in Delaware who signed a pro-abortion ad in a newspaper, should be ashamed of herself (“Free Speech for Teachers vs. School's Freedom of Religion,” Nov. 30-Dec. 6).
High-school girls are very impressionable and are influenced by the opinions and beliefs of their teachers. She has quite possibly, by her example, led girls away from the Catholic Church's teaching on this issue. She has potentially put not only her own soul but also the souls of the girls she teaches in jeopardy.
Our Lord addresses the danger of scandalizing children quite clearly: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of things that cause sin! Such things must come, but woe to the one through whom they come” (Matthew 18:6-7).
I pray for Michele Curay-Cramer's soul and those of her students. As for her claims of sexual discrimination, I think she needs to look up the meaning of the word in the dictionary. She should accept her termination and not put the school and diocese through a court battle. She was wrong, needs to accept responsibility for her actions and should print a retraction to her original support in the newspaper.
It is a sad statement of our society when a schoolteacher so flagrantly shirks her responsibility as a moral example to her students.
BETH A. MARTIN, M.D.
Coeur D'Alene, Idaho
Finally you had an article on one of the most beautiful churches in our nation and in the world: Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna, N.Y. (“A Basilica to Give Thanks For,” Nov. 23-29).
I'm so glad you finally featured the basilica and just had to thank you. I was born and raised in the parish, made my first confession and Communion, and received the sacrament of confirmation there. I still visit the church at least two or three times a year when I return to visit my family. I never tire of its beauty.
Your paper is one of my favorite publications. Keep up the good work.
FATHER EDWARD SZYMANSKI
Sacred Heart of Mary Church
From Altar to Priesthood
I was pleased to see an article regarding altar servers (“Boys Only? Vatican Rumors and American Doubts Surround Altar Servers,” Nov. 9-15). I do believe that having all-male altar servers will foster more vocations.
I belong to Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Sterling Heights, Mich. In this parish of about 650 families, we have 111 altar boys. Within the last two years, six young men have entered the seminary and one man was ordained to the priesthood this past June.
I believe this vocational success comes from prayer and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as well as a pastor who is completely faithful to the magisterium and all that our Holy Mother Church teaches. But I also believe that promoting the priesthood through the altar-boy program has had a great influence in fostering vocations.
There is nothing discriminatory about doing everything possible to promote the priesthood. And with the success we have been blessed with in our parish, I would hate to see anything changed. As a matter of fact, I would like to see more parishes following suit.
West Bloomfield, Michigan
Take Back the University
The series of articles in the Register concerning the 1990 apostolic constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae (From the Heart of the Church) is very informative; however, it is difficult to understand the issues until you actually attend a resisting university.
In my case, my son, my wife and I all attend the same university, which makes a concerted effort to mitigate the Catholic faith. Homosexuality is supported openly through the distribution of homosexual newspapers found in the library foyers and student gathering points to “gay pride” flags and stickers adorning professor's offices to “coming out” parties in the dorms. We found out the hard way that low morals follow weak academic standards. Relativism is the religion of this university.
The question is what can be done if an archbishop refuses to do anything. One could stand outside the grounds and carry a sign in protest, but without a sizable crowd, nothing will come of it.
Nevertheless, an area that concerns universities more than anything else is their coffers. If the Catholic laity started to withhold money and actively worked to discourage donations and admissions, universities might start concerning themselves with the will of the faithful.
We all can do something no matter how close to a university we might live. E-mail alumni groups. All universities post the e-mail addresses of alumni and chapters in various locations. For example, look in alumni magazines and on university Web pages. Let the alumni know about the issue and ask them to write the university.
Recommend withholding contributions until compliance transpires and tell them the faith is more important than football or basketball. Also, find out who the big donors are and write to them.
Write the Knights of Columbus and tell the grand knight that you want the Knights to give scholarships only to universities that have signed the mandatum. Every year the Knights of Columbus gives thousands of dollars to universities that are actively subverting our faith. Why should the Knights of Columbus support universities that are in opposition to the Holy Father and the faith? This should stop.
Hopefully, this will curb the number of Catholic children applying and will help those universities that are faithful. Once a month gather the Knights from the local council and anyone else willing to help and protest in front of the university. Find out when parents weekend and high school spring vacation are and target those dates. This is normally the time when the university gets the most external exposure.
Lastly, talk to the kids outside the university and evangelize. It is amazing how little these kids understand the faith.
The weird thing about these tactics is that it sounds like the same tactics used in protest of abortion clinics. Maybe there is a connection.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Regarding Dwight Longenecker's article, “Why They're in This Mess” in the November 16-22 issue: It is with interest that I read all articles on the acceptance of the practicing homosexual bishop by the Episcopal Church and how it impacts the Christian world. Certainly, this activity is newsworthy and has created a crisis in the Episcopal/Anglican Church as well as a roadblock to ecumenical dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church. My objection to the article was not the text but the undignified photo of V. Gene Robinson. As Catholics, we are called to treat each individual with dignity and love—this silly photo did not meet that standard.
Granite Falls, Minn.
Regarding “Why They're in This Mess” (Commentary&Opinion, Nov. 16-22), about Rev. Gene Robinson's elevation as an Episcopal bishop:
I must confess that I found your choice of photograph (pages 1 and 9) highly offensive and insulting, not only to Episcopalians but also to your own image as an objective, responsible publication.
In an age of disturbing polarization between Christians of different denominations, why did you choose to run a photo that does nothing but feed people's already ingrained and unjustified contempt for “the other side”? Or, more to the point, in an age when the Catholic Church in America has become so polarized, why did you run a photo that does nothing but feed your critics' view of your publication as one-sided, anti-ecumenical and shallow?
Normally, I would let little slips like this go by because I myself work in the publishing world and know how even one poorly chosen word can give the wrong impression. But this offense seemed too deliberate. Surely there was a vast array of photographs from which you could have chosen. Why choose this one?
Say what you like about his religious convictions or his moral choices, but Bishop Robinson remains a human being deeply loved by God. You may disapprove of his election and mourn the state of the Episcopal Church, but this man still deserves to be treated with dignity and respect—if for no other reason than because he is a human being.
I believe you owe Bishop Robinson, and your readers, an apology.
Fruit Cove, Florida
Editor's note: Point taken. We thought a humorous photo would serve as an apt visual lead-in to the commentary, which questioned the seriousness of the ordination. In hindsight, the photo was inappropriate. Our sincere apologies to all who were offended.
Girls on the Altar
Regarding “Altar Boys and Girls” (Letters, Nov. 23-29):
Christopher Pasquale writes, “Most disturbing was the theory … that girls serving along with boys will dilute the significance of the boys' role and the chances of priestly ordination. Does this even sound a little ridiculous to anyone?”
No, Mr. Pasquale, it doesn't sound ridiculous to me. My son has a good friend who served as an altar boy both before and after his church allowed girls to become altar servers. The young man told us that, when it was just boys, the altar servers focused on the Mass. Once girls became altar servers, the boys focused on the girls instead.
From the time the oldest of my four sons was very young, I sensed that he may have a priestly vocation. Therefore when he came of age to serve on the altar, I switched parishes in order to belong to one that didn't allow altar girls. I wasn't going to take any chances with his possible vocation.
I must say that I was surprised to see that the reply was written by a man. I myself am a woman, and I can attest that, in all of my 44 years, I never once felt cheated by not being able to serve with the boys on the altar. As a matter of fact, I have never even known of another female who has felt that way, be it my daughter, nieces, friends or anyone else. I think that, unfortunately, the feminists have thrown Mr. Pasquale a line, and he has believed it.
Carl's Jr. Crash
Thank you for producing the extremely valuable Register, which I read front to back every week. Relative to “Thomas Aquinas vs. Hugh Hefner” (Inbrief, Nov. 30-Dec. 6), I thought you'd like to see the letter that I sent to the parent company of the Carl's Jr. Restaurants to protest its using Hugh Hefner as a corporate spokesman. The letter was signed by 20 detention-ministry volunteers. This letter may be of some use to your readers in view of Thomas Aquinas College asking the chief executive officer of CKE Restaurants (which operates Carl's Jr.) to resign from the school's board of directors:
“Our purpose in writing this letter is to express shock and dismay that Carl's Jr. would use an individual with the character and reputation of Hugh Hefner as a corporate spokesman in its advertising campaign.
”We are members of St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church in Westlake Village. We serve as volunteers in the Los Angeles Archdiocese Detention Ministry and minister to the young men at Camp Vernon Kilpatrick, a Los Angeles County probation facility located in Malibu, Calif., in the Santa Monica Mountains. For the past 15 years, we, a group of detention ministry volunteers numbering from five to 20 individuals, have been patronizing the Carl's Jr. restaurant located on Kanan Road in Agoura Hills, Calif., for lunch on Saturday after we complete our detention ministry duties at Camp Kilpatrick.
“Since Carl's Jr. has decided to use Hugh Hefner as a corporate spokesperson, we will no longer patronize any Carl's Jr. restaurant and will encourage our friends, relatives and associates to do likewise.”
JAMES P. GRAHAM
Agoura Hills, California
Factor This: Prayers for Bill
I must admit that whenever Bill O'Reilly starts talking about “things Catholic” on his show, I cringe. He is clearly misinformed (at best) about the full meaning of the Catholic faith. In this, unfortunately, he is not unlike the majority of American Catholics today. In fact, his views on the faith are about where mine were some years ago.
But he does do some good with his show, and he has a huge audience. He also needs our prayers as much as anybody, more than he needs our criticism. Imagine the possibilities if this outspoken journalist had a real conversion.
Let's all commit to praying for him, and for other Catholics in the public eye, who are not in full communion with the Church. Our God is an awesome God!
Ethical Erosion in Health Care
As a Catholic obstetrician, I am concerned with the ever-increasing erosion of morality and ethics occurring within Catholic hospitals worldwide (“Induction Procedures Raise Moral Dilemma,” Oct. 19-25).
There is not a moral dilemma with early induction of labor for fetuses with anomalies incompatible with life. The desired intent is to terminate the pregnancy. To do so prior to 24 weeks' gestation (the clinical “time of viability”) is clearly abortion. To do so immediately afterward has the same evil intent and is merely a thinly veiled attempt to sidestep the “Ethical and Religious Directives” of the Providence Health System.
The morally correct procedure in these tragic instances would be to allow labor to occur on its own or induce once the child is overdue (as one would with any other pregnancy), unless other intervening conditions occur (i.e. pre-eclampsia or premature rupture of membranes).
MICHAEL SHANNON, MD
“Bishops' Plan: Engage Public Pro-Abortion Catholics” (Nov. 23-29) was very disturbing and prompted this commentary. The Nov. 10-13 meeting of the U.S. Catholic bishops was cut short by one day (one out of four!) but could not decide on guidelines to confront pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians. The guidelines are not expected to be in final form until after the 2004 elections. This is outrageous. Moral leadership is needed now.
The legalization of murder of the innocent has been going on since 1973. Thirty years and 40 million murders: How many more babies will be murdered by waiting another year? Answer: 1.3 million. This is equivalent to the Sept. 11 attacks every day for the next 365 days. The time for moral leadership is long overdue.
The protection of the innocent souls must take top priority on the bishops' schedule. A special meeting of the U.S. Catholic bishops should be scheduled now.
ROLAND H. FREDETTE
Bishops: More on War
Regarding “Bishops Hear Debate on Just-War Letter,” (Inbrief, Nov. 16-22):
May I suggest that we Catholics, the laity, hear more about it than that? Don't we deserve to understand the nuances of this topic in light of terrorism, guerilla warfare, weapons of mass destruction, etc.? Why is this kept from the rest of our Church? What are the proposed guidelines in light of the 21st century warfare?
BY Jim Cosgrove
The mess in Massachusetts reminds me of your recent editorial “Homosexuality, in Your Face” (Aug. 17-23).
It couldn't be more timely or welcome to the readership the Register serves so well. In it you incisively identify a myriad of issues and consequences the “gay rights” apologists are trying to steamroller past the American public.
This extremely small, well-organized group has been wildly successful in its efforts to promote the homosexual agenda. One of its major tactics is to cynically and falsely portray anyone who opposes this juggernaut as being homophobic. This approach has been devastatingly effective, in particular, with getting weak-kneed politicians to endorse virtually all of its legislative initiatives. These initiatives are being passed at such a rapid pace, in many locales, that the average person isn't even aware of them until it is too late to do anything about them. Thus, we are losing the homosexual-agenda battle by default.
Your articles and editorials serve to arm your readers with ammunition that can be used by them to refute the pressure tactics of the homosexual-agenda crowd. The operative word is “used.”
I urge my fellow Catholics to come off the sidelines and join the fray against these homosexual-special-privilege legislative efforts that are tearing the moral fiber of our society to pieces. The nuclear family is the bedrock foundation of our society; isn't it worth fighting for?
Rockville Centre, New York
This is in response to “Religious Lawyers Weigh Possible Impact of Pledge of Allegiance Case” (Nov. 16-22) and your other coverage of the Pledge of Allegiance and the “under God” clause.
In all of the continuing controversy relating to this upcoming decision, everyone, including our supposedly learned legal experts, has forgotten a very important aspect of the law regarding this question — the doctrine of precedence.
This doctrine clearly states that a law or ruling that's been in effect for a number of years and has become common usage can't be changed simply because someone objects to it on constitutional grounds at a later date.
So, if the words “under God” are objectionable, they should have been declared so in 1954, when they were added, and should not be challengeable 50 years later.
It follows then that the pledge should remain as it is, for the benefit of millions of loyal and God-fearing Americans, regardless of the delicate feelings of a handful.
Nashua, New Hampshire
Regarding “Vatican Holds Firm Against Condom Use” (Oct. 19-27). Bravo for the Vatican. Now what about the White House?
President Bush's $15 billion program “to fight AIDS” isn't designed to fight AIDS at all. It will help those already affected (sick, dying, orphaned), and that is good.
But it won't slow the spread of the disease by possible “7 million new infections” when only a paltry 6% of the money is earmarked for abstinence education and twice that amount goes to Planned Parenthood-style “prevention” (i.e. condoms, sterilization, abortion and birth control) not even mentioned in the feed from Catholic News Service.
Rather than standing up for Catholic moral principles, it seems we are to be thankful for the 6% and the “conscience clause” that guarantees Catholic relief organizations will get a share of the prevention money and “not be discriminated against on the basis of their moral or religious convictions.” Assuming we still have any.
I have often noticed in the Register and other publications that a cardinal is referred to as, for example, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Cardinal Francis Arinze and Cardinal John O'Connor.
This is incorrect. A cardinal is addressed as Angelo Cardinal Sodano, etc.
PATRICIA L. STULTS
Editor's note: Your letter gives us an opportunity to explain this rule. In formal correspondence, it is acceptable to address a cardinal as you say. But guidelines released by the U.S. bishops and by news services instruct that written material should refer to cardinals in the way you noticed it is done in the Register and in L'Osservatore Romano … As it happens, even the Pope uses this form. We searched the Vatican Web site for references he has made to cardinals and found this one from a December 2001 letter: “I recall your esteemed predecessor, the late Cardinal Ugo Poletti, who accompanied me in the first part of this pilgrimage ..”
Better Late Than Never
Since discovering the Register a year and a half ago (at age 82!), I have read Father Andrew McNair's commentary with great interest and usually great agreement.
However, his column titled “Is the International Criminal Court a Step Forward?” (July 27-Aug. 9) makes me take pause.
Without specifics, the court is made to sound like a panacea to solve, or at least defend, human rights. The devil is in the details, however.
The court would have unlimited power to arrest and judge American citizens, destroying our sovereignty. It would have foreign judges who don't even know English. More ominous is the fact that the leadership at the United Nations often falls upon countries notorious for human-rights violations themselves.
Who can they be expected to prosecute — leaders of regimes known to violate rights or even commit genocide, or a U.S. serviceman performing his military duty?
Mount Sinai, New York
Tim Drake's Inperson interview with Mary-Louise Kurey (“The Beauty of Abstinence,” Sept. 21-27) was quite inspiring. I'm making a copy available for our nine children.
The Register is a breath of fresh air each week. Thank you for supporting Pope John Paul II and the traditions of Catholic teaching in the secular world that surrounds us.
Long Time Coming
Many years ago in Glasgow, Scotland — in the “BT” (before television) era — I listened as a child to many wonderful plays on the BBC.
One evening they broadcast a play about a man who, when making a visit to a Catholic church, was accosted by the devil, who tried desperately to persuade the man to extinguish the sanctuary lamp. During this great drama, unfortunately, our radio station broke down and I was never able to hear a rebroadcast.
I have asked a number of priests if they could identify the story, but to no avail. Can anyone help with the title or author? This story has been haunting me for years.
ANNE ROONEY NOBLE
Editor's note: Surely there's a Register reader who can help solve this mystery. Anyone?
The Tabernacle Testifies
Official Catholic documents authorize situating the tabernacle in a prominent place in the church. But some Catholics argue that, when the tabernacle is in front of us during Mass, it distracts from our fully appreciating the act of consecration.
Jesus himself was the central focus at the Last Supper. He was present among his apostles while he changed the bread and wine into his body and blood.
I believe that seeing our Lord's tabernacle in front of us inspires us to give him loving homage and reminds us that it is Jesus himself, acting through the priest, who performs the great miracle of consecration.
MRS. BILL DERRICK
Wobbly Web Site
I am a subscriber to the Register and am extremely impressed with the structure of the paper. Although I am retired, I have a hard time finishing the paper each week before the next paper arrives. I am quite thorough regarding fully understanding what is written and it takes time.
I regularly want to pass on some of the articles to my children who all have young families, but, judging by the difficulty I have reading through the entire paper, it would be impossible for them. This leads me to want to send them articles that you present so they can read it and be aware of our faith and the complexities that surround it.
I am not a very astute computer person; no matter how hard I try, it just doesn't seem to click. I am not able to access most of [your online] articles, except for the three or four on the main-page heading, and find that some articles are available in the Recent Archive heading but some are not. Is it possible that I am not doing something completely to access the other articles? I believe that, if I were able to pass on select articles, others may also become subscribers.
Editor's note: Our Web site as it exists is very limited. We have long been planning to redesign it and make it a better tool for subscribers.
In fact, while we're thinking of it: Anyone who can contribute funds to move the Register into the 21st century, Internet-wise, can contact Michael Lambert, our development director, at (203) 230-3805 or mlambert@circle media.com.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Mostly Right O'Reilly
Hundreds of people could write a “get-even” article with more logic and Christian charity than the one written by Patrick Coffin (“The All-Spin Zone? Catholicism According to Bill O'Reilly,” Nov. 9-15). I am surprised and disappointed that you published it.
While Bill O'Reilly is controversial and some of his ideas are questionable, the general tone of his views support a high standard of morality
In light of recent scandals in the Church, it seems that any help with a high moral standard from someone in the media would be appreciated.
Regarding “The All-Spin Zone? Catholicism According to Bill O'Reilly” (Nov. 9-15):
Someone should write a book with a cover picture of an embryo on one side and a “No-Spin” coffee mug on the other, with the title “WhO's Looking Out for What? — Will the Real Bill O'Reilly Please Stand Up?”
I believe you are correct in your speculation that Mr. O'Reilly's position on abortion is really all about doormats — of every kind.
Sizing up Families
I am prompted to reply to Tim Drake's column on big families (“The Family as a Sign of Contradiction,” Oct. 19-25), and some of the letters published afterwards, because of a disturbing trend I see.
As a preface, I'd like it known that my husband and I teach Natural Family Planning, have five living children (one miscarried), and very much appreciate the beauty and truth of the Church's teachings on God's plan for human sexuality and the family. The Holy Father's “Theology of the Body” is a work whose beauty is unparalleled, in my mind.
That said, I see a growing trend among Catholics to judge and presume about those with small families, or those who comment about family size. I have several friends and family members who would love to have a large family, but are plagued with infertility. Added to that heavy and sad cross are the frequent judgmental looks and comments of Catholics who see themselves as “Real Catholics, open to life, and faithful to the Church's teachings on marriage and the family.”
Comments like “Large families are truly happier families,” by one of your letter-writers, distances our suffering brothers and sisters even more. Does that imply that if God blesses you with one child in the midst of the infertility, you can't be as happy as those who have been blessed with six? The Holy Family had three members (one child) — and who could be happier than they?
What really needs to happen is that we all need to stop judging and presuming we know what goes on in the souls of men. Those with large families need to just bear joyful witness to the gift they've received, and open the circle of that joy to bring in those less fortunate. If well-meaning but uninformed people comment or question, be a light, without judgment. Why get angry when people comment? You are a sign of contradiction. Be grateful for that, and for the opportunity to evangelize. If ill-meaning, uninformed people comment, accept it with humility. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for my sake …”
Time to Clean Campus
In the Campus Watch column of Oct. 26-Nov. 1, one item gives hope for the future of the Church and one shows what has to be corrected
In “True Reform,” Catholics interviewed not only back Pope John Paul II's apostolic constitution on Catholic universities, but also say the Holy Father is too lenient toward “internal dissent.”
Meanwhile “Arm's Length” is about a gathering of the lay organization Voice of the Faithful at Fordham University. Voice of the Faithful has been banned in many dioceses, including Rockville Centre, N.Y., because of their attempts to change the doctrines of the Church. According to the university, the arrangement is a conference-services agreement, nothing more. However, the university is giving scandal not only to those who are going to attend the gathering, some of whom have stated that the fact that Fordham is hosting the gathering is a gentle sign of support, but also to all Catholics as well. I wonder if the learned professors and theologians at Fordham would invite a fox into a henhouse so the hens could learn the fox's side of the story.
The sex scandal by the clergy is nothing compared to the scandal being perpetrated by the so-called Catholic universities that ignore directives from the Pope and the Vatican, and that teach against the doctrines of the Church. It is time for the cardinals and bishops to clean house at the universities, starting with the clergy who are guilty.
GERARD P. MCEVOY
Coram, New York
Regarding “Prime Time Fiasco: ABC Takes on ‘Jesus, Mary and Da Vinci’” (Nov. 16-22):
What was ABC thinking? Various enthusiasts say that the tales of the Holy Grail are really about their favorite thing, but they all fail to take into account the fact that these stories first appear in the 13th century (about 500 years after the Merovingians fell out of power.) The 13th was a time of increased Eucharistic devotion (for instance, the feast of Corpus Christi was added to the universal calendar in 1264), so it makes the most sense to see the tales of the Holy Grail as fairy-stories that sprung from that increased devotion (in the same way our stories of Superman come out of American hopes and dreams but not any occult knowledge).
As for the claim that the Gnostics valued the spiritual gifts of women more than the Church did, even Elaine Pagels admitted, in her book The Gnostic Gospels, that the Gnostic gospels spoke poorly of the spiritual capacity of women. The only way she could point to a Gnostic feminist was by claiming that St. Clement of Alexandria was really a Gnostic.
And don't get me started on the notion that the Apostle John in Da Vinci's The Last Supper is really a woman because he looks like a young Howard Stern. While “Jesus, Mary and Da Vinci” did reject the more bizarre claims that the conspiracy theorists it interviewed made, it still left us with the notion that the Church has oppressed women, scientists and all lovers of the truth through the ages. It was a Jack Chick comic for liberals.
Like many, I have come to rely on the National Catholic Register for fidelity and accuracy not only in ecclesial matters, but also more broadly. Accordingly, you can perhaps understand how aghast I was when I opened the Nov. 9-15 issue. On page 3, a headline reads: “Bishops to Consider Statement on Principles for Agricultural Policy.”
Accompanying the article is a photo showing one Ryan Weaver who, the cutline says, “tills the land on his LaPorte County, Ind., farm.” Ryan Weaver is obviously sitting in the cab of a combine, and he is probably harvesting wheat.
While my Webster's Dictionary acknowledges that “to till” may include the broad meaning “to … raise crops from,” the main definition of “till” is: “To plow and prepare for seed.” One doesn't till with a combine; one gathers, reaps or harvests with a combine. Tilling is the very first stage of preparation of the land: breaking up the soil to make it receptive to rain and seed. Harvesting is the last stage.
If the Lord Himself can take the time to distinguish sowing and reaping (Luke 19: 22), His followers should do likewise.
JOHN R. TRAFFAS
BY Jim Cosgrove
The Whole Culture Is R-Rated
When I saw the [indication] that R-rated movies are on the decline, I couldn't help but laugh (“Family-Friendly Movies Sell Better Than R-Rated Ones,” Nov. 2-8). Do you know that there is nothing in R-rated movies that you don't see and hear on television?
Recently, the Federal Communications Commission has announced the allowance of the “F” word on TV. Keeping kids and Christians out of movie theaters that show R-rated movies (and PG-13 is just as bad, only more kids get to see them) is fine. But what happens when they turn the TV on? It used to be just prime time. Then the talk shows got filthier and the soaps are like mini-porno movies, and even the cartoon shows are nothing but smut.
With satellite TV, people all over the world can see our lack of morals and values in this country. These are countries that still have values and dignity. No wonder they hate us. Kids just learning to talk use all sorts of four-letter words because that's all they hear. It seems that folks can't express themselves any other way. Keeping the TV and videos off until the kids are in bed isn't going to do it. Christians have to keep the TV and videos off period for it to sink in. When we stop watching, buying products that sponsor this filth, stop buying videos and paying for tickets to the movies, we'll send Hollywood a message.
The writer is host of the Web site:
Regarding “Bill Promotes Adult Stem Cells” (In Brief, Nov. 2-8, 2003):
During the birth of our sixth child recently, we collected the baby's cord blood and donated it to Cryobanks International. Cryobanks sent us the collection kit free of charge with detailed instructions and made it very easy to follow through with the collection. They even sent a carrier to the hospital hours after birth to take the package on its way. Afterward they sent a confirmation that they have received the cord-blood sample and a letter of thanks for building up their donation registry.
I wish more women knew about this possibility of helping save lives and proving that harvesting stem cells from aborted babies is not necessary when stem cells are so readily available from cord blood obtained from live births.
You can contact Cryobanks International by calling (800) 869-8333 or visiting http://www.cryo-intl.com on the Internet. They are located in Altamonte Springs, Fla.
Home School Critics
Regarding “Home School Groups Cry Foul After CBS News ‘Hatchet Job’” (Nov.2-8):
Rob Reich, the assistant professor at Stanford who argues that home schooling threatens to “disable children and render them unable to engage in democratic citizenship,” tries to sound even-handed by extending his concern not only to the home-schooled children of Christians but to the children of New Agers, left-wingers, etc. However, he omits mention of the Amish, who only educate their children to the eighth grade, and the Orthodox Jews, many of whom indeed “isolate children while indoctrinating them with a single set of values.” Reich realizes, of course, that the state is never going to get these devout groups to expose their children to the “competing ideologies” he feels our children must hear about (and good for them!).
By never including these communities in their worries about the isolation of children, these critics expose their own agenda. Unlike the communities of Orthodox Jews or of the Amish, the general home-schooling movement signals social change — in a direction the critics don't like. They object to our children being moved out of reach of their social engineering. When they start trying to curtail the “virtually unlimited authority” of the parents of Jewish children living in closed communities in New York or of the parents of Amish farm children in Pennsylvania, I'll take them at their word that they just want what's best for the children.
Cheese With That Whine, Sir?
As a parent of five, I would like to add my own sentiments to “The Family as a Sign of Contradiction” (Commentary & Opinion, Oct. 19-25).
Have you ever heard the expression “would you like a little cheese with that whine?” Anybody who is a little different is usually going to get comments. I can tell you that I know that I've said unthinking, stupid things to other people and I certainly didn't realize it until it was too late. All I could do was apologize and wish I could melt into the woodwork. I bet we've all made comments we wish we wouldn't have.
How about forgiving people for not being as enlightened about having a large family (only by today's standards) as you are and maybe, while you're at it, you could show them what they're missing? I remember standing at a candy counter with my first four boys and my sister's two and explaining to the clerk that only four were mine and then chuckling to myself later about how absurd that must have sounded to the uninitiated.
My suggestions to the writer of the commentary: Smile a lot. Make sure the children are behaving in a reasonable manner according to their age. Don't drag 'em out when they're tired and/or crabby. Refer to the list of responses in the Register's sister publication, Faith & Family magazine; my favorite one is about my husband and I having a really good gene pool and that we owed it to the world to have as many children as possible! Research your next vacation and go where you feel welcome. We used to take the kids camping or to cabins where us doing what we do doesn't interfere with someone else's tranquility. And, finally: Lighten up! God bless you and your family.
Sharon E. Coyle
Men, Work and Family Life
Regarding “Bring Work Home” (Family Matters, Nov. 2-8):
You make it sound so easy! Don't work so hard! Have you any idea the pressure they put on you to work long hours of usually unpaid overtime? The trips they insist you go on? The sales quotas they impose? They put you in a position where your job, or more likely, the jobs of a lot of other people, are on the line. Especially these days, companies are on the verge of going under unless they get a certain contract or meet a certain deadline.
As for talking about work, it's easy for a mother to find interesting things to talk about: the cute things the children have done, ways to make the home more attractive, vacation plans and such. But what about the husband? Our jobs are usually boring as all get-out. Moreover, sometimes the work is too technical to explain in anything less than a year of full-time training, or the work is secret, or involves trying to head off some disaster that you don't want your wife and kids to worry about because you hope it can be averted.
Did it ever occur to you that the campaign to abolish family and community ties that we have been subjected to for more than a generation has been heavily funded by captains of industry like the Rockefellers and their ilk? Why do they, through their foundations, spend billions to weaken family life? Because they want the working class to spend all our time and energy working in their mills and shopping in their malls! It's not just the Devil that's behind the campaign to corrupt our children's morals, encourage divorce, glorify greed and encourage perversion. He gets financial help from the captains of industry. This is the culture war that we are engaged in, and it is more serious than the Cold War. And we are not winning.
The Catholic press could be a powerful force in this struggle, and the Register is actually one of the few publications that is engaged in the fight at all.
Regarding “Calcutta Celebrates Beatification of a Nun Who Was ‘Mother to All’” (Nov. 2-8):
I suspect that those women leading the march in Calcutta are not Missionaries of Charities, as your story and photo caption claim. Check the sari. Look at the two thick stripes, then look at the three-striped sari of Mother Teresa in the photo the marchers carry. Unless the habit has changed recently, it is not the habit-sari of either Mother or the Missionaries of Charity Sisters — whom I was blessed to serve with 22 years.
M.C. Sisters throughout the world celebrated Mother's beatification not by parades, but in going out to feed the poor.
DREW DE COURSEY
Morristown, New Jersey
BY Jim Cosgrove
Big Family Brouhaha
We enjoyed Tim Drake's column on large families ("The Family as a Sign of Contradiction,” Commentary & Opinion, Oct. 19-25).
We were blessed with five sons and three daughters who now range in age between 26 and 41. Our son Mike told me that, when he relates that he is one of eight siblings, he usually hears, “You must be Catholic!” ("Fortunately, yes,” would be a good response.)
We are contributing to society: one career U.S. Army West Point graduate, one electrical engineer, two teachers, one registered nurse, a computer expert, a human-resources manager and a second-year medical-school student. All this and 11 grandchildren, too (so far).
When my husband was confronted by a fellow carpenter who told him that it was people like us who were a drain on society — he said it cost him money to educate our children — my husband let the fellow worker know how wrong he was. “Our children are educated in Catholic schools,” he told him. Meanwhile we were supporting, through our payment of real-estate taxes, the fellow worker's children's education.
We thank God for the blessing of children.
CONSTANCE L. EARL Lombard, Illinois
The Other Side of Family Size
In regards to Tim Drake's commentary on “The Family as a Sign of Contradiction” (Oct 19-25) and the letters that followed, I could also be rich if I had a dollar for all the times I've heard Catholics comment on my one child. God and I know the reason why I have only one, but I repeatedly see an attitude in our Church that having a large family somehow makes you holier. Or the attitude that, as long as you're still young, you should be having more children.
There are many reasons why people don't have children, why they have one or two, or why they have many. The secular society may have its ideas about family size, but Catholics also exhibit some hard-line attitudes. This is a lesson to everyone to be careful about comments made one way or the other.
And, Tim, God bless you and your family.
SANDY WESSELMAN Little Falls, Minnesota
Fox News: Fair on Life?
In an Oct. 12-18 letter, “Unfair and Unbalanced?,” Francois Quinson cited Fox News Channel commentators Mara Liasson and Morton Kondracke for their unprofessional statements that the Supreme Court legalized abortion for only the first three months of pregnancy. They made these remarks during a broadcast of the “Special Report” newscast on Jan. 22, 2003.
These commentators have heard a good deal since (including Mr. Quinson's letter) proving the Supreme Court legalized abortion for the entire term of pregnancy and there was no way a competent commentator would say such a thing 30 years after the fact.
On Oct.21, during a discussion of the partial-birth abortion bill, Mr. Kondracke changed his position and correctly stated that abortion is legal even after the baby is viable. Ms. Liasson, although not explicitly saying so, seemed to agree. Of course, they would have sounded foolish if they restated their January position during a discussion about late-term abortions.
Fox News says it is “fair and balanced,” but not all its journalists are. Alan Colmes maintains that the pre-born are not human and that science proves it, although he offers no proof. Bill O'Reilly claims that the pre-born are only “potentially human.”
Throughout history when one group is targeted for killing or subservience, their humanity is denigrated or denied. The Nazis called the Jews unter menchen (subhuman):
“The Jews are undoubtedly a race, but not human” (Adolph Hitler, 1923).
“A parasite in the body of other peoples” (Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf, 1925).
“The sub-human, that biologically seemingly complete creation of nature with hands, feet and a kind of brain, with eyes and mouth, is nevertheless a completely different, dreadful creature. He is only a rough copy of a human being, with human-like facial traits but nonetheless morally and mentally lower than any animal ... For all that bear a human face are not equal” (From the German Race and Settlement Main Office, 1942).
Colmes and O'Reilly may not realize they are treating the pre-born as the Nazis did Jews, but in truth they are. They are certainly being unprofessional by misinforming viewers. Their ignorance of the life of the pre-born, however, is culpable, certainly not “fair and balanced.”
CAROLYN NAUGHTON Silver Spring, Maryland
BY Jim Cosgrove
I would like to thank Marge Fenelon for her wonderful article on Molly Fitzpatrick and her 800 SAT score and, in particular, St. Peter Academy (“Catholic School Generates Perfect SAT Score,” Sept. 28-Oct. 4).
I have two daughters attending the school (kindergarten and second grade). We enjoy the family atmosphere at the school. An 800 SAT score is very impressive, but I was more impressed with Molly's comments. My wife knows her and says she is a very nice young lady. The school is very proud of her.
I know how hard many people work for the success of the school. Sr. Barbara, Sr. Jean and Teresa Donohue (HSA) don't ask for pats on the back, but is nice to see them get some compliments. Sr. Barbara, the principal, knows each child by name.
It is an uphill battle to keep Catholic schools in business. This article boosts the spirits of everyone involved with the school.
JOHN P. MCGURN
River Edge, New Jersey
Who Let the Cardinal In?
What happened? How did he get in? I just read about the newly appointed Cardinal Keith O'Brien of Scotland, who has called for “full and open discussion” about Church teaching on birth control and a reconsideration of the requirement for clerics in the Latin rite to be celibate (”Scots Cardinal Professes Loyalty to Church,” Oct. 26-Nov. 1).
I can't believe that our dear Holy Father knowingly selected such a man, but I guess mistakes do happen. Now it's up to the “good folks” like Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow, who has issued a letter to be read aloud at all Masses in his diocese reaffirming Church teaching on sexuality.
God bless him! (Do you suppose someone got the dioceses mixed up and he was the one who was supposed to be made a Cardinal?
Hmmm. Let's say a whole lot of prayers for Cardinal O'Brien. I think he needs them.
Editors Note: As a later Media Watch noted, the Cardinal says his remarks were misconstrued.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Thank you for your weekly efforts in communicating the good news with faith and love for God and the Church.
I write to point out a factual error in Tim Drake's article “John Paul the Saint-Maker” in the Oct. 13-18 issue. The diocesan priest who founded Opus Dei on Oct. 2, 1928, Father Josemaria Escriva, was canonized, not beatified, last year by the Pope. He was beatified 10 years before, in May of 1992.
Further information on the life and works of this 20th century “saint of the ordinary life” can be found on the Web at http://www.escriva-works.org www.j,osemariaescriva.info and http://www.opusdei.org.
FATHER JACK SOLARSKI, Houston, Texas
Where Angels Fear to Spell
I want to thank you and compliment you on the fine article you wrote on the archangels, “Where Do Archangels Fear to Tread? Nowhere,” Sept. 28-Oct. 4.
I am happy how well you reflected my comments on St. Michael the Archangel. I was disappointed, however, that my last name was misspelled.
Oh well, most people who commented on the article to me didn't even notice!
FATHER MICHAEL SKLUZACEK, Church of St. Michael Stillwater, Minnesota
I am wondering why, when you wrote the heading, “Just Another Pro-Abortion Catholic?” (Oct. 19-25), you included a question mark? Is this an “everything is relative, I'm trying to find myself, who can be sure about anything” question?
For the love of God, and the fellowship of man, please, help me with this. Arnold Schwarzenegger is just another pro-abortion Catholic. He said so!
I hope Arnold calls me so I can tell him to pick on someone his own size, and to stop picking on babies in the womb. A big man like Arnold needs to stop hiding behind Maria Shriver. If Arnold is a Catholic, he needs to start living like one.
You show a picture of Gray Davis receiving Communion. What is the difference between Arnold and Gray? That is where the question mark belongs.
JOHN BEDARD, Springfield, Tennessee
Editor's note: We had written the headline as “Just Another Pro-Abortion Catholic: Pro-Lifers Assess Arnold” when an editor pointed out that three pro-lifers quoted in the article say they are working closely with him on the question and that he has pro-life Catholics working for him. One even told us he was “cautiously optimistic” that Schwarzenegger would change. So we added the question mark to reflect the assessments of the pro-lifers we interviewed. This was a news story about their opinions, not ours.
John Paul, Confirmed
Long live Pope John Paul II. I am writing because I just loved the feature in the Register about babies who were named John Paul for our Holy Father (“25 John Pauls,” Oct. 12-18).
My son Brett chose the name John Paul as his confirmation name five years ago with great pride and confidence that he was giving honor to a great Pope and that to bear his name would be a privilege. I wonder how many other young men have done the same.
I attached a picture of my son. I couldn't figure out how to detach it from the other picture, but Brett Anthony John Paul DeClemente is the young man with the glasses and his friend is Sal Benedict Nuzzo (after St. Benedict).
Keep up the good work of spreading the truth. We need you.
ALICE DECLEMENTE, Cape Coral, Florida
Witnesses to Mercy
A reader who wrote the Register recently is to be commended for her courage in confessing that she underwent an abortion (“Legitimate Grief,” Letters, Oct. 12-18). Even though I am a male, I understand her feelings of guilt and the difficulty she might have in forgiving herself.
I, too, have been guilt-ridden because I left the Church when my children were very young and missed the critical period in their faith formation. None are practicing Catholics today. Each time over the past 20 years or more when I hear the Gospels regarding “causing little ones to sin,” that “it's better that a millstone were hanged about his neck …” (Matthew18:6), my guilt resurfaces. Using the writer's suggestion that we soften our words regarding our sins, should we change Christ's harsh words about scandal so that we can feel better about ourselves? I am sure she does not mean that.
With the merciful counseling of a wonderful confessor and spiritual advisor, I learned to curtail my self-debasement because of past serious sins by focusing on Christ's Divine Mercy. Through God's infinite mercy and forgiveness, we can forgive ourselves. Or, more correctly, we must forgive ourselves as much as we must forgive our enemies. Aren't we too often our own worst enemies?
Finally, we must not soften our words regarding mortal sins, but emphasize their seriousness, because they offend God. We must also keep in mind Christ's teaching that forgiveness is available to us as long as we have a “firm purpose of amendment” and accept God's Divine Mercy. Lay our sins at the feet of Christ and accept his love in return.
My prayers include the intentions of ending abortion for all women who suffer because of abortions, and that they receive the grace to forgive themselves.
E.L. BEASLEY, Melbourne, Florida
Include All Iraqis
I am responding to the article from the Sept. 28-Oct. 4 issue, “Chaldean Bishops Say Iraqi Christians Shut Out of Civil Structures.” It seems to me that it is hypocritical to claim that we are trying to get the various groups in Iraq to cooperate for a better future in Iraq while we exclude Iraq's Christian minority from the civil structures involved in the building of a better Iraq.
Paul Bremer, the United States-appointed civil administrator in Iraq, is not doing his job as best he can and also is perpetuating the image that Americans don't care about the Iraqis. He should publicly apologize to this group for his dereliction of duty. In our country such an exclusion of a group from influencing the rule of our nation would not be tolerated.
President Bush should also apologize to this group of Chaldean Christians because it will show the world that he does care about the future of Iraq.
If Bremer wants to appear to be a good leader, he should take the responsibility for his actions and rectify the situation. It might even help him keep his job. And if President Bush were to make such an apology, Americans would see him as a more accountable leader, which might help him get re-elected.
LUCAS BEDIA, Mobile, Alabama
BY Jim Cosgrove
Ignore Bad Movies
I recently picked up the Register and was dismayed to see so many immoral movies being reviewed — most of them with nudity, profanity, sexual seductions and violence.
By receiving these movies you are indirectly recommending them.
Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota
Editor's note: We never recommend films with offensive content. On the contrary, one of our aims in reviewing popular movies is to advise our readers of the ones that present serious problems for Christians. Our reviews should not be confused with our Weekly Video/DVD Picks, which synopsize movies we can recommend (though sometimes with minor reservations, which are always noted).
I smiled when I read the article “Detroit Catholics Call Foul” (Oct. 5-11). Tim Drake was describing an underground women's Eucharist group that celebrates Mass without “an ordained male priest.” I hope there is no other kind of priest that celebrates Mass.
Perhaps the descriptor is taken directly from the group's promotional material, but it does seem odd to use that wording. Are we all getting dulled to today's language?
Since 1991, when my son chose to attend Notre Dame University, I have been intensely concerned about the content of theological studies there. I remembered Bishop Fulton Sheen's advice that parents should send their children to secular campuses where they would learn to fight for their faith rather than send them to Catholic colleges where they would have their faith systematically undermined. His words certainly applied to Notre Dame, following the Land O' Lakes conference, and with Father Richard McBrien as head of the theology department.
But what about today? We all yearn for the “New Springtime” the Holy Father foresees in the Church. Yet its wheels of change turn slowly. Tim Drake reported in the July 6-12 Register feature “Notre Dame to Parents: We Won't Tell” that the mandatum for teachers of theology has been required by canon law since 1983, yet the U.S. bishops did not begin requiring it until 18 years later, in 2001.
I have done some investigation on my own and discovered that 35 of the 45 theology professors at Notre Dame have the mandatum and that, following the leadership of Professor John Cavadini, theology department chairman, newly recruited theologians are highly inclined to seek it. The school is not perfect, but surely buds of life are there, welcome signs of springtime in the Catholic Church.
I hope that readers of the Register will take a careful look at Notre Dame and that faithful Catholic students will consider this school, while remaining cautious and discerning. They can certainly ask theology professors whether or not they have a mandatum from the bishop. Those who have it will be glad to say so.
Fort Myers, Florida
My mother Dorothy and I are some of the Register's most ardent readers. I was delighted to read the article on staying near the Sacre Cour in France (“Paris When it Spiritually Sizzles,” Travel, Aug. 31-Sept. 6).
We usually stack our Registers to give them to other readers once we're done. Recently I went to check on them and found that issues have “gone missing.” Help! Could you give us the contact info for the convent or can I get a copy of the article or another copy of that issue? I'm hoping to go to Paris in a few months and this would be a big help.
Editor's note: The convent's guesthouse, Maison d'Accueil Ephrem, can be reached via its Web site: sacre-coeur-montmartre.com. For extra copies of a back issue of the Register, call Vivian at (800) 356-9916.
Contraception in the Cafeteria
Kudos! Finally, info about natural-family planning that the people can read about on the front page (“Natural Family Planning Still Missing From Marriage Prep,” Sept. 21-27). I call that progress!
However, the writer, the bishops and priests refuse to put into print the most important part of the message. We are not getting it from the pulpit. Contraception is not allowed in the Roman Catholic Church, according to the final authority, the magisterium. For any diocese to “see what they think is right” is way off base.
Now, so many years after Humanae Vitae (On Human Life, 1968), it is finally brought to the forefront that the wrongness of contraception must be presented to the people honestly and completely, with no reservations. So what if couples will not be prepared for such “foreign teaching”? What are they, reluctant to ask “too much” of couples? It was not too much to ask Jesus to suffer. Why the kid gloves? Yes, it does take nerve and involve risks. Yes, the whole congregation might leave a parish. So what? Trust in Jesus.
We are asking our politicians, pharmacists and doctors to take big risks, but they cannot do it without the absolute backing of the Church. Father Moreau has it right when he states: “We have given couples what they need, not what makes us popular.” The popularity and monetary comfort of a diocese, bishop or priest is irrelevant. They will be held responsible for the salvation of each and every soul they are in charge of. They must take a stand, not wait for “directives.”
If the Catholic bishops and priests continue to be cafeteria Catholics, then it goes without saying that the people will feel very comfortable about being cafeteria Catholics, too.
THERESA KULICK Waterford, Michigan
Your front-page story on Galileo could stand more precision on the topic of Galileo and the threat of torture (“Man of the Church: Challenging the Galileo Myth,” Sept. 21-27).
First of all, the threat was made by Pope UrbanVIII himself, not by “the Church” as such. Secondly, the occasion was not in connection with his recanting, as one might gather from your story, but he did hold to the Copernicus theory. How did this arise? It was because Galileo, from the beginning of his trial, steadfastly refused to admit that he ever held to the Copernicus theory after the initial warning of Cardinal St. Robert Bellarmine in 1609. (Consequently the document supposedly dating to that era is not essentially important.)
The commission in 1633 concluded that, in his dialogue, Galielo did hold to the Copernicus theory with a moving earth. But he refused to admit it, despite his text.
Hence the final adjunction of Urban VIII: Threaten him with torture and, if he continues to refuse to admit, then go ahead with his abjuration. He would have had to abjure as a heretic, had he admitted; because he would not, he was convicted as “suspect of heresy.”
FATHER PIERCE CONWAY Washington, D.C.
BY Jim Cosgrove
The Bible Is Mum on Astronomy
I read with interest “Man of the Church: Challenging the Galileo Myth” (Sept. 21-27). There is another myth associated with Galileo that I have yet to see challenged, one that seems to have less substantiation, yet meets with almost universal acceptance — and one that may be even more damaging to the Church. [I am speaking of the myth] that, as your article mentions, “certain passages of Scripture seemed to agree” with the geocentric theory, and that, therefore, the Church might have to “reinterpret Scripture accordingly.”
I have read the Bible cover to cover five times and have yet to discover these supposed passages that lend support to the geocentric theory (or the heliocentric theory, or any theory for that matter). What are these passages? Is it that the sun “moves” across the sky? Do not our poets yet speak of the sun's course across the sky? And should the American Meteorological Society be held to task for day in and day out permitting its weathermen to speak authoritatively of the time the sun “rises” and “sets”?
A measure of common sense the size of a mustard seed would tell us that, if by some miracle the sun were to reach its apex at midday over New York City and then remain there for however many hours (as it did for Joshua to complete his battle), the morning papers would invariably report that “the sun stopped in the sky.” This is how we speak of the sun in relation to ourselves, and this is how we will always speak of the sun's movement and time's passing in relation to ourselves (whatever the prevailing theory of science might be), and so this is the way Scripture speaks of it.
The word of God is truth itself, and so it is absolute absurdity to enter into question of its truth; in a word, it rises well above the level of science and cannot be judged by its limited terms. Man cannot judge the God who has made him. Yet license for such “scholarly” work is repeatedly justified by pointing to Galileo and the inconsequential theory of a heliocentric universe.
Please, let us put this other myth to rest. The Bible is not geocentric or heliocentric. It is Christocentric and speaks authoritatively (as he has and does) on all matters under the sun.
On a separate note, as a monk-like, never-been-married forty-something, I just wanted to say how engaging I find Danielle Bean's descriptions of a mother's life. I should like to read a book-length account, say, “A Year in the Life of a Mother,” wherein she could offer short diary entries for each day of a particular year….
While I'm at it, let me also say that I find Don DeMarco's writing consistently of the best quality.
JAMES KURT Jersey City, New Jersey
Chinese Martyrs Clarified
A clarification is needed on the icon of the Chinese martyrs pictured for Tim Drake's Inperson interview with Debra Wang, “China Is Still Missionary Territory” (Aug. 31-Sept. 6).
The image shown is not an icon of the 120 Chinese Catholic martyrs who were canonized by Pope John Paul II on Oct. 1, 2000. It is actually an icon of 222 Chinese Eastern Orthodox martyrs who were killed during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. These Chinese Orthodox martyrs were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1902. Their feast day on the Orthodox liturgical calendar is June 11.
An Orthodox church is depicted on the upper-left-hand side of the icon. One of the martyrs, St. Mitrophan Tsi-Chung, depicted at the front of the icon, is dressed in the liturgical vestments of an Orthodox priest.
GUSTAVO LOPEZ Oxnard, California
‘No Easy Answers’ on Married Priests
Regarding “In Media Letter, Priests Call for Optional Celibacy” (Aug. 31-Sept. 6):
Several things need to be noted. Popes were married for how long? What caused the rift between the eastern and western Church? Celibacy? Right! It is a practice that is now beyond its time to be reconsidered.
In the eastern Church, celibacy is optional and adheres to canon laws requiring a cleric to remain in his state at the times of the bestowal of holy orders. Most are married men. There are a few sex scandals. No one would even attempt to hide them from public view but would throw the bum out and call the police, say our prayers and get one with the work of the Church.
Men do not go into a vocation because the work is very hard and we live in a society that no longer values hard work and long hours. Giving oneself to Jesus or to the fellow man does not work well in capitalism. There is your correlation with low entrance to the priesthood.
For years I was a married Orthodox priest. Sixteen hours a day were normal. Getting up at odd hours to hold the hand of one dying happened often. My wife tired of the work and its moving from parish to parish. We retired from pastoral ministry and joined the Roman [Catholic] Church without seeking faculties.
Celibacy is often good for the work and destructive on marriages. It appears a married priest has fewer occasions of sin. On the other hand, it costs the parish to house, feed, clothe and insure a family. There are no easy answers to this question.
Beyond celibacy is the arena of vows. When I see God I know my vows have been kept. To the celibate priest I would wish the same.
REV. WILLIAM SCHILLEREFF Salt Lake City, Utah
Thank You Times Two
Abundant thanks for two recent items in your superb publication: the article “Grieving Parents' Morning Light” (Prolife Profile, Sept. 14-20) and the column “Prayers for Jacinta” (Spirit & Life, Sept. 21-27).
I was thrilled to read about the Morning Light Ministry since I, too, had little support after the stillbirth of our son Loren in 1999, due to anencephaly. I started a pro-life Internet support group, Anencephaly Blessings from Above, groups.yahoo.com/group/anencephalybless-ingsfromabove, which now has more than 200 members. In time, it became apparent that many moms who aborted their anencephalic babies and deeply regretted it needed unique support of their own, so I started another group called Anencephaly Support groups.yahoo.com/group/Anencephaly_ Support, particular to their needs. I eventually handed the reins over to new list leaders and both groups continue to thrive while providing information, encouragement and support to bereaved parents.
Another site worth visiting for those whose baby has received a fatal diagnosis pre-natally is Carrying to Term at http://www.geoci ties.com/tabris02. This site is for those who are preparing to carry their child to term and answers questions such as “how do we tell people?” or “can we plan the funeral now?” and what to do at the birth, as well as grief recovery and memorializing your baby.
Meanwhile, “Prayers for Jacinta” could not have been more timely for me as I read it on the fourth anniversary of Loren's stillbirth, Sept. 20. The writing touched my heart and I rejoiced in the months I carried Loren within me and for the hours we had with him after his birth.
I thank you sincerely for these articles and your very fine publication.
ANN MARIE HENNINGER Sequim, Washington
Mourning Our Own Aborted
I sure hope that Ginalynne Mielko from Georgia (” Stop the Spin on Sin,” Letters, Sept. 7-13) never considers becoming a post-abortion counselor, because she would sure do a lousy job in getting any woman suffering from an abortion to go back to the sacrament of reconciliation.
I, too, “must sound off” on a particular way in viewing those of us who have had an abortion. I had an abortion when I was 17 years old, not because I said, “You know what, it seems like a great day to kill my child.” No, I was alone, desperate, very, very young and uneducated.
Yes, I was the one who walked into the clinic and let them murder my child, and it is a decision that I have to live with for the rest of my life. We're not stupid. But because I've had an abortion means that I have to walk around being called “murderer”? What ever happened to “whoever is without sin cast the first stone?”
Just because someone refers to their child who has been aborted as “losing” that child to abortion does not lessen the sin any more. I would give the Church more credit than that.
I'm sure these women are well aware of what they've done without someone constantly reminding them of what a horrible and terrible sinner they are. Christ forgives and wants these women to come back to him so they can be mothers to their children in heaven. I'll tell you one thing, if I read a Catholic article that referenced “unable to forgive herself for the role in the murder of her baby …” I would have never come back to the Church for fear of being chastised forever.
Please, have a heart and stop worrying so much about how magazines are grammatically referring to women having abortions and go out and see what you can do to help these women before they have one.
Thank you, Register, for allowing those of us suffering from abortion to mourn our children with dignity.
JENNIFER HIGDON New Market, Maryland
BY Jim Cosgrove
Harry and the Archbishop
In “On Potter, Politics, The Passion … and Everything” (Inperson, Sept. 14-20), Archbishop Charles Chaput was asked: “You recently defended the Harry Potter books against censorship, arguing that the problem isn't magic and sorcery in the books but how the culture alienates us from responding to them in an appropriate way.” He answered, “Any excessive focus on witchcraft or sorcery is bad, but I think the Harry Potter books and films can be enjoyed as a children's fantasy. Nothing in either attacks the Christian faith, and good does win out over evil.”
In an article Archbishop Chaput wrote in January 2002, this is what he said: “So what's the verdict on Harry Potter? That's a matter for parents, not bishops, to decide. I think Harry Potter can be happily enjoyed as a children's fantasy movie. Nothing in the movie attacks the Christian faith, and good does win out over evil. At the same time, unfortunately, characters in the Potter books do sometimes accomplish good things by doing bad things, like lying.” The article is posted on http://www.catholic family.org.
The last time I looked, the end never justifies the means! The fact that good things are accomplished by doing bad things, like lying, does indeed attack the Christian faith.
I would like to know what the bishop did in the way of study regarding the Harry Potter phenomenon. There is a ton of information exposing the many dangers of Harry Potter available from very reliable sources. I am sorry, but I'm just so tired of hearing relativist statements about “Little Harry.”
I am also tired of fighting the clergy in the course of trying to carry out my duties as a parent. Knowing how controversial the Harry Potter series is, I expected more than this.
I think Archbishop Chaput is an awesome bishop. I would, however, ask him to use a pen name when doing movie reviews.
JOHN BEDARD Springfield, Tennessee
No ‘Father Dads’
Regarding “In Media Letter, Priests Call for Optional Celibacy” (Aug. 31-Sept. 6):
Years before the current sex scandal, I was having a conversation with my more liberal cousin and a priest about whether the Church would ever allow priests to marry as a norm rather than an exception. What I told them is what I usually tell anyone who starts this conversation. “I don't know about you, but I'm pretty selfish in my spiritual needs, and I want my priest to be there in the hospital giving me last rites rather than down in the delivery room helping his wife give birth to a child!”
We also have some friends who were told, when the husband was looking into the deaconate, that they needed to wait until their own family was older and less demanding. (They are expecting No. 5). So why would it be easier for a priest with small children?
And finally, as a former Army wife, I saw the hardships our family had to go through while my husband was caring for one of his soldiers' family's needs. As a leader in the military, especially overseas, he was not only responsible for the soldiers but also their families. Priests, especially parish priests, are responsible for the spiritual needs of all the members in their respective parishes, and thus their own families would suffer.
If the Catholic Church ever went “democratic,” I would vote No to priestly marriage. Luckily, the Holy Spirit is guiding us and “the gates of hell will not prevail” against us.
El Paso, Texas
Show Your Commandments
Thank you for “Monumental Battle: Judge Moore Stands by Ten Commandments” (Aug. 31-Sept. 6).
The recent aggressive removal of Christian symbols from public view should be frankly frightening to every Christian regardless of denomination. Are we headed for a United States devoid of any reference to God? I spent a few years in Poland before the fall of communism and remember the active public persecution of the Church. Is that where we are going?
Already free speech regarding God is being curtailed. Soon more Christian symbols will be removed from public display. How soon will the practice of our Christian faith become illegal because its moral tenets insult certain groups? Ladies and gentlemen, we are sliding fast on the slippery slope to state-sponsored atheism. (Isn't that a sort of religion?) We have got to do something.
Then you ran a follow-up, “As Monument Comes Down, Project Moses Heats Up,” (Sept. 7-13) and some hope was restored. But we must do much more if we want our country to retain its Christian heritage. Along with our evangelical-Protestant brothers and sisters, we need to launch a counterattack.
Let's all display the Ten Commandments — millions of us. Signs on our lawns, posters in our car windows, fliers, bumper stickers — wherever people can see them. Show the liberals that they've finally pushed us too far. Now we're going to push back, and we're not going to stop until our Judeo-Christian tradition is restored to its proper place in the public square, as the very foundation of our national existence. God who has created us gave us our rights. No state has the authority to take them away.
Can a few tyrannical judges stop millions of ordinary people from displaying the Ten Commandments? “Thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates,” says the Lord (Deuteronomy 11:20). Let's do it and see what happens.
KATHRYN SKUZA, M.D.
Union, New Jersey
Rosary Guide, Umbert and You
The response to the Register Guide to the Rosary has been very positive. We have distributed all tens of thousands of copies that you donated to the Archdiocese for the Military Services. Rosary guides are on ships, aircraft and armored vehicles and in rucksacks around the world with our military men and women. They are treasured by both Catholic and Protestant service personnel.
Now, Gary Cangemi, the author of Umbert the Unborn, has given us permission to print a collection of Umbert cartoon strips in book format. This will be a wonderful tool for parents, grandparents and godparents to teach young people about the truth of pro-life issues that will confront them when they reach adulthood. There will be 84 pages of cartoons and commentary in this beautiful full-color soft-cover book. We need your help to begin publishing this so that it will be available for Christmas.
If you can help us raise the $16,000 we need for this vital project, or have any suggestions for marketing, let me know.
And don't forget — please join Father Owen Kearns, LC, in New York City on the evening of Oct. 2 at the Waldorf Astoria. Contact me for further information about this exciting event.
Register Development Director
BY Jim Cosgrove
Nasty Nuns on Film
I really appreciated Steven Greydanus' review of The Magdalene Sisters (“Beware Psycho Sisters Bearing Laundry,” Aug. 31-Sept. 6).
Ever since I saw the insipid movie Monsignor more than 20 years ago when I was in college, I have been aware that some people in Hollywood have no problem skewing the truth and portraying the Church as evil and corrupt.
I totally agree with you, Steven, when you say that the Sisters of Mercy were probably pretty much like anybody else, with some bad apples, some good ones and most somewhere in the middle. I was exposed to two different orders of sisters, first in grade school and then in college. Quite frankly, I think a few of them were frustrated and a couple were probably a little nuts, but, for the most part, they were truly beautiful, caring human beings.
In contrast to the movie you reviewed, I have a much greater appreciation for the scene in Heaven Help Us where Donald Sutherland's character removes the abusive brother, saying “I don't want you around the kids anymore.” Like you, I just can't believe that the sickness of a society would permeate a religious order to the extent shown in The Magdalene Sisters. Even the vast majority of nuns in Nazi Germany didn't get sucked into Hitler's insidious ideological frenzy.
I also appreciated the fact that you stated, “Not all films critical of Catholic clergy or religious are guilty of this sort of thing.” Some Catholic reviewers and critics will condemn a movie if the priests don't bear a striking resemblance to Barry Fitzgerald or if the nuns don't behave like Mother Teresa. I think it's also interesting to note that some of these same reviewers will condemn a movie if it shows an intelligent, productive teen-ager taking a hit off a joint or includes a homosexual who is introspective and benevolent. Some reviewers just don't understand that it's not a writer's job to advance their agenda.
Thank you for giving the average Catholic a little credit, and also for showing respect to writers of fiction. As one of my writing professors once said, “It doesn't have to be real, but it does have to be true.”
Regarding “Monumental Battle: Judge Moore Stands by Ten Commandments” (Aug. 31-Sept. 6):
If not for Judge Roy Moore's stand, many would still go about talking about “commandments” without really knowing what they were talking about. It took Moore to help us have a second look at the Ten Commandments and have a better understanding of their role in our lives. Constitutions, and judges to uphold those constitutions, are there because of the existence of commandments.
Our very nature is governed by laws. In turn for us living by those laws, we have sets of commandments. Laws are part and parcel of any limited existence. Thus as long as one is within the confines of that given law, the concerned existence prevails. As a matter of fact, when the observance of that given law stops, the very existence terminates.
It is not so with the commandments. God spoke and wrote the commandments on tablets. Laws are learned, while the commandments are part of our very existence.
Without the Ten Commandments, the Constitution has no meaning, and the very judgeship has no explanation for its very existence.
The base line is this: Our very existence is founded on laws and, in order to stay that existence, the Ten Commandments are a necessity. Many a dynasty has come and gone depending on how they followed the Ten Commandments.
FATHER MATTHIAA KIBUKA
Niagara Falls, New York
Thank you for the article “Bishops' Quandary: How to Handle Vatican Note On Politicians?” (Aug. 31-Sept. 6).
May I comment of some of Father William Maestri's comments? As you noted, he is communications director of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Specifically, he said that excommunication is unlikely to work because today's style of episcopal leadership is more collegial and pastoral than it was 40 years ago. The bishop has to consider the effect an excommunication would have on the public so it won't cause further turmoil in the community.
Some 45 years ago, as a new college graduate, I moved from Virginia to the New Orleans Archdiocese. I was hungering for God and soon committed my life to Christ in the faith of my forebears, Anglicanism. Soon thereafter, I got serious with a Catholic girl and told her I didn't believe in marriage. I asked that we investigate each other's faith and discern together which we'd choose.
She said, “No way.” I thought her arrogant but took instructions. Halfway through it, we broke up—but I knew where God wanted me and entered the Church in 1960.
A few years before that, the archbishop of New Orleans had excommunicated a local politician who was defying the Church regarding racial segregation in the schools.
Through I was just a hungering pagan at the time, I recall thinking that it seemed to be the reasonable thing to do if the archbishop's faith meant anything to him. His action seemed to say: “My faith isn't just a Sunday thing; it's for Monday through Saturday also.”
What part did Archbishop Joseph Rummel's courageous action play in my conversion? Only God knows, but to me his action was an example of the New Evangelization the Holy Father begs God for. But it must come from us, his Church. We might get persecuted for it? Boo hoo! Does not Scripture say that's a time for rejoicing?
Let's pray for our bishops. It's not an easy job—but then Our Lord never said it would be.
Green Village, New Jersey
Abortion and Mercy
Regarding “Stop the Spin on Sin” (Letters, Sept. 7-13), which was critical of the gentle verbiage in “The Other Church Abortion Teaching: Mercy” (Aug. 24-30):
As a new creature in Christ who happens to have had two abortions, I would like to assert that the desire to rub the nose of the woman in her past abortion sounds more like “the accuser of the brethren” than the spirit of Christ, whose greatest attribute—mercy—is above even his justice. It is exactly this type of attitude that I hope my suffering sisters do not come in contact with when they give up their defenses and begin their journey to healing in Jesus. I would much prefer those women to visit http://www.rachelsvineyard.org to hear about truly authentic Catholic teaching on post-abortion healing. (Even Mother Teresa thought so!)
Maybe Ginalynne Mielko could learn something from our Holy Father, who says to the post-abortive woman in The Gospel of Life: “The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the sacrament of reconciliation. You will come to understand that nothing is definitively lost, and you will also be able to ask forgiveness from your child who is now living in the Lord. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of … life.”
Register Associates Correction
If you've joined our Register Associates program by donating to the Register, mark your calendar. There's an opportunity for Register Associates to meet Father Owen Kearns and attend a dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York on Thursday, Oct. 2. The date was misprinted in last week's issue.
Call Mike Lambert at (203) 230 - 3805 or e-mail him at email@example.com for details.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Stop the Spin on Sin
I must sound off about your article “The Other Church Abortion Teaching: Mercy” (Culture of Life, Aug. 24-30).
We must stop putting the spin in sin. The article states, “Unable to forgive herself for her role in the loss of her baby's life …” Aren't we allowing a misuse of words to pad what truly is? Abortion is not “loss.” I lose my keys. Abortion is murder. That is the truth. That is the sin without the spin or play on words. This woman did not “lose” her child, she murdered it. The article should read, “Unable to forgive herself for her role in the murder of her baby …” And that role was the major role. Let's not fool ourselves.
When are we, as a Church and as a community, going to stop spinning (even to ourselves), the severity and nature of abortion? I was disappointed to see that wording in the Register, but I hope that after this letter you will be more aware of it.
To repent of a sin one must understand the meaning of a sin and the severity of the sin. We must not lessen the severity of this sin — not even in articles that speak of mercy.
World Court = World State?
I question the wisdom of supporting the International Criminal Court, as Legionary Father Andrew McNair urged in his column, “Is the International Criminal Court a Step Forward?” (July 27-Aug. 9).
In support of his argument, Father McNair quoted Pope John Paul II, who favors the idea. “An offense against human rights is an offense against humanity itself,” the Pope wrote. “The duty of protecting these rights therefore extends beyond the geographical and political borders within which they are violated.”
This statement of the Holy Father, which represents a prudential judgment on his part and is therefore not binding upon Catholics, seems to run contrary to the ancient wisdom that man's best hope for justice in this world is representative, small-scale governments that grow up organically within geographical and political — and I would add religious and cultural — boundaries.
A call for a world court amounts to a call for a world state, and Aristotle warned, as did the Fathers of the Church, that a universal political state would result in universal tyranny. G.K. Chesterton took this warning quite to heart, and when asked how many people would make up a properly governed society, he answered, “About as many as are in this room.” His answer was a bit hyperbolic, perhaps, but implied ever so much more human proportions than does a single world government.
VIVIAN W. DUDRO
No to Marriage Amendment!
Editor's note: In a previous issue, we inadvertently cut a major point from this letter. We apologize and reprint the entire letter here.
Regarding your July 20 editorial (“Massachusetts' Marriage Mess”): I am in complete sympathy with the intentions of the Federal Marriage Amendment, but I question the strategy for various reasons.
In principle, the constitutional amendment strategy cedes too much to Justice Anthony Kennedy and his allies. It says, in effect, “Your interpretation of the Constitution is legally correct; we can overcome it only by amending the defect.”
The amendment strategy also allows legislators to wash their hands of leadership on the issue, saying they “support an amendment,” but meanwhile dithering perpetually over language (ask pro-lifers about the 30-year-old Human Life Amendment if you doubt this). Any congressman saying his strategy for opposing homosexual marriage is to support a constitutional amendment is telegraphing, “I won't be doing much about this issue.”
Furthermore, our Constitution was designed to be difficult to amend — that's how Phyllis Schlafly blocked the ERA. Theoretically, as few as 2% of the population, strategically placed, can block the will of a 98% majority. Does anyone doubt the incredibly mobilized “gay lobby” can muster the small margin of resistance necessary to defeat an amendment?
Your editorial is right that the question of homosexual marriage must be put to votes. But a better strategy would be to take the debate directly from the people through Congress to the courts using legislative measures. Two examples: In the 1800s, Americans vehemently opposed polygamy, yet constitutional amendments failed repeatedly to make it out of Congress. A series of federal laws — culminating in the Mann Act — succeeded in banning it. In that case, the Supreme Court was on the moral side.
But when it overreaches its authority, the Supreme Court can be effectively opposed. FDR's Congress understood this. As often as the Supreme Court struck down New Deal legislation, Congress — rather than succumbing to “robed masters” — passed successive pieces of legislation until it became clear to the court and the country that the will of the people was being thwarted.
Roosevelt refused to propose an amendment to allow the New Deal, saying, “Even if an amendment were passed, and even if in the years to come it were to be ratified, its meaning would depend upon the kind of justices who would be sitting on the Supreme Court bench. For an amendment, like the rest of the Constitution, is what the justices say it is rather than what its framers or you might hope it is.” The court had to back down or the people, acting through Congress, would have diluted judicial power through FDR's threatened court packing.
By design, constitutional amendments are the last step in the dialogue, not the first. To win a consensus on the issue, we need to put our efforts into a series of legislative steps defending marriage at the federal and state levels — and insist that our elected officials provide determined leadership. If we focus our energies on an amendment that will likely fail, we will give homosexual activists the claim they need to lock “gay marriage” into the Constitution forever.
Two Stories of Marriage
Regarding your “Marriage Symposium” (Aug. 24-30) and recent articles in the Register on legalizing same-sex unions:
For the last 40 years we have been witnessing a struggle between two concepts of marriage, two stories. The true idea is that marriage is an institution for procreation and rearing of children. Marriage is the beginning of a story about a family.
The other concept, an error about marriage, is an erotic fantasy known as “finding one's soul mate.” Marriage is mistakenly viewed as the end of a journey seeking the perfect sexual partner who will make one deliriously joyful. For soul mates, the wedding day is the end of a fairy tale.
As a result, cohabitation and hookups are all necessary stops on this fantasy journey. Children are the enemy of the cautious searcher. Therefore, the most important tools in the backpacks of wandering soul mates are contraception, abortion and a culture where abandoning children is at least tacitly accepted.
Same-sex marriage is a logical outcome. After all, how can we keep soul mates apart? How can we deny any soul mates their happy ending? The fact that same-sex couples will never procreate with each other will establish the disordered purposes of modern marriage.
As a society accepts same-sex marriage, the understanding of the traditional concept of marriage will become increasingly difficult. Finding that perfect soul mate can be an endless search. Cohabitation will be the norm. As women lose hope of finding a soul mate, single parenting will increase. Marriage will be set aside for religious fanatics and hopeless romantics (of all sexual orientations).
THERON C. BOWERS
Loving the Register
Our family loves the Register. Our teenagers (ages 13, 14 and 16) frequently read various articles after they've checked out Umbert and Baby Mugs.
Recently, you reported on Wal-Mart's terrible decision to include homosexuals as a group that cannot be “discriminated against”
in the store's hiring policy. Also, the employee will be required to take “sensitivity training.” The day after I read this, I called the manager of my local Wal-Mart store. She was completely unaware of her company's decision. A few days later, it was apparently made public by the secular media.
Congratulations and thank you for your upto-the-minute reporting.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Behind Closed Doors
Ellen Rossini's front-page report about an “off-the-record” meeting in Washington, D.C., (“Dissenters’ Secret Bishops Meeting,” July 27-Aug. 9) brought to mind another closed meeting also held in Washington some years ago and reported in the Washington Times (May 28, 1999).
This year's secret meeting was on “the future of the Church in America,” while the 1999 secret meeting was on the “moral dimension of environmental issues.”
So, presumably, for example, you might not be a good Catholic if you didn't support the Kyoto Treaty. And as early as the 1960s, secret meetings involving influential dissenting Catholic theologians, funded by the pro-contraception Ford Foundation, eventually resulted in inestimable damage to Pope Paul IV's encyclical Humanae Vitae. Catholics who would like to start taking back this part of their history would do well to start with the book John Cardinal Krol and the Cultural Revolution by E. Michael Jones.
By the very nature of these get-togethers, we know little about them because the participants agree not to divulge what goes on. Yet they evidently touch on issues central to our day.
The main point being raised here is just how many of these secret meetings, involving influential Catholic hierarchy or their representatives, have been going on?
Neither dissenters nor environmentalists can be expected to have at heart the teachings of Christ through the Church he founded.
Questions and Answers
“Dissenters’ Secret Bishops Meeting” (July 27-Aug. 9) raises many questions and explains much at the same time.
First, doesn't this add some fuel to the fire some bishops are trying to build to convene a special plenary meeting of all U.S. bishops? The last I heard just a few (eight or so bishops) were asking to convene the first such conference to be held in 100 years or more.
Secondly, don't our bishops realize the Church is on fire? Many lay people do. It should not be necessary for the sheep to point out to the shepherd the fire that is so obvious either from the heat of the flames or the smoke filtering through the sanctuary.
Is this secret meeting another attempt to organize an “American Catholic Church?”
We heard about this a few years ago and then it died down. Sounds to me like another attempt to revive it. The lay “moneybags” who attended add credibility to this thought.
How did attendees Bishops Gregory and Skylstad ever get appointed to such high posts in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops? Isn't anyone out there minding the watch-tower?
What this explains is how a person like Leon Panetta was appointed to the commission monitoring child abuse. It also explains the problems some dioceses seem to be causing the committee.
It is time for our good pastors (read bishops) … to stand up and get the show on the road. It seems the opposition has been preparing for years.
Why is it necessary to wait until the fire has destroyed the roof of the church before we can organize a council to begin fighting it? If we take 10 years to organize an opposition, the dissenters will have used the present crisis to complete the schism.
Maybe it is time for the aware lay people who love the Church to call the attention of our bishops to the urgent need to promptly and forcefully address this issue.
Future of the Church?
In “Dissenters’ Secret Bishops Meeting” (July 27-Aug. 9), it was reported that Kathleen Kennedy Townsend attended the secret meeting of bishops planning the future of the Church in the United States, which was arranged by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C.
Townsend served as lieutenant governor of Maryland. She had the task of managing the state's juvenile judicial system. During that time the system was riddled with scandals and investigations. Juveniles were brutalized and sued Maryland, winning millions of dollars in retribution.
Townsend served in an administration that gave a football team more than $600 million to move to Baltimore while schools in Baltimore were overcrowded and falling apart. During her tenure overspending was rampant — the state budget increased by 60% — leaving the new leadership with a billion-dollar shortfall for the next fiscal year.
Townsend was the Democratic candidate for governor in 2002. She started the race with what appeared to be an insurmountable lead in the polls. Instead of selecting one of many capable and deserving black Democrats as her running mates, she picked a white Republican political neophyte, an unknown. This move left seasoned political observers with drooping jaws, as they felt the selection of a black running mate would have ensured her victory.
Townsend was endorsed by all the pro-abortion groups; they contributed heavily to her campaign. Whenever she was asked any question about abortion, she would say, “I trust women”: Do you support partial-birth abortion? “I trust women.” Do you support notifying parents of minors before they have an abortion?“I trust women.” Do you support informing women about fetal development and the risks of abortion? “I trust women.”
There is no reason to trust Townsend or the bishops who would seek her counsel to plan the future of the Church.
Silver Spring, Maryland
Worth 1,000 Words?
Today, I am writing to encourage you not to be afraid to publish photos of aborted babies. From my own perspective, I was at first afraid to look at the photos that are available on many pro-life Web sites. I was afraid because I did not want to look at what I knew were such ugly sights.
When I realized that I was being called to return to school to study nursing, however, I decided that I had to get over my squeamishness. Seeing these photos did not make me sick to my stomach — they made me sick at heart. I could not see the blood, or the blackened, dead tissue.
All I could see were the babies — babies torn to pieces by human beings calling themselves “doctors,” babies torn to pieces because someone thinks that this is a constitutional right.
As I wept — for a long time — I realized that I may have had a glimpse of the pain that Christ must have felt on Calvary. Since my first visit on June 24, I have returned to look at these photos many times because I think it is necessary not to forget. I believe in my heart that if every adult in America looked at these photos, abortion would end by popular consensus the next day.
Why should every adult in America look at these photos? Because they would quickly realize that these are not photos of “tissue.” These are photos of the remains of human babies. The liberal press screams at us daily about “dignity.” They obviously have not looked at the torn-up remains of a human baby, nor have they considered the indelible wound given to the mother. These are true assaults on human dignity.
No, it is definitely not pretty, but neither were the photos of the emaciated remains of the Jews killed by the Nazi's; neither were the photos of the acts of genocide in Bosnia or Rwanda.
As Christians we must be concerned with what is happening in the world outside of the United States, but we must also be concerned with what is happening in our own neighborhoods.
Before we can tell our brother of the mote in his eye, we must remove the beam from our own.
We must strike out against the candy-coated voice that tells us that it is okay to kill. We are allowing the murder of innocent human babies to continue unabated in staggering numbers.
We must speak out — logically, compassionately, and with these photos.
KELLY F. CALKINS
Sodomy Laws Then and Now
It's amazing how laws change over time (“Encouraging Sodomy,” June 6-13,), as I discovered when I visited an old prison, now a museum, and had chance to view case histories.
One man caught in the act of sodomy was sentenced to seven years in the penal colony in Australia.
By today's standards the sentence probably seems severe to the more liberal-minded, but it does strike me that it may have been mild by comparison, in severity and duration, to the possible eternal consequences of persistence in that area of sin.
The pendulum has swung full arch now and as the laws of the state stray further and further away from God's laws, the people do, too, and sadly in the case of the Episcopalians in America the church, too, is being evangelized by the world instead of the other way round.
Whether the force of law was a deterrent or not in the past, one can only guess but with this week seeing another “Celebration of Diversity” or Mardi Gras in Manchester (UK) attracting thousands of- people, will there be anyone to speak the truth?
BY Jim Cosgrove
Ecological Baby Feeding
In the June 29-July 5 Letters section, the discussion about the decision to postpone or avoid pregnancy continued (“Couples Open to Life”). I would like to point out an alternative to charting or “having as many babies as possible”: ecological breastfeeding.
Strongly advocated by the largest teacher of Natural Family Planning, ecological breast-feeding involves mothering babies the way women always and everywhere have, until our last, technology-loving, century.
Convinced that scientists are smarter than perhaps even God, we have embraced bottles, cribs, pacifiers, infant strollers, regular babysitters, etc. These things are not evil, but they do have a consequence, which is a quicker return of fertility.
If, instead, a mother commits to mothering her child naturally, she typically experiences a spacing of 2_ to 3_ years between each child, which secular scientists have independently found is the ideal spacing for mother, the nursing baby, and the subsequent baby. I have personally experienced 29 months and 23 months (and counting) of lactational infertility following the births of my children, following the Seven Standards of Natural Mothering as laid out by the Couple-to-Couple League on their website (http://www.ccli org) .and in the book Breastfeeding & Natural Childspacing. The most important of these standards appears to be nursing one's baby while sleeping with him.
To do this, I had to let go of my society-formed ideas of what having a child is like, but once I accepted the sacrifices I would have to make, I have never regretted it. In fact, I contend my life is much easier, since I never have a sleepless night up feeding a newborn, my baby can go anywhere with me and be fed in a sling with no one ever knowing, and I'm not ever concerned about discerning when it's been long enough to conceive again. I just follow God's built-in plan and leave it totally up to him.
Praise God for building this system into our bodies. It's only too unfortunate that not enough people, including faithful Catholics, have been taught this information.
JOSELYN SCHUTZ Alpharetta, Georgia
It was shocking to read that Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, president of the USCCB, along with other bishops and Cardinal McCarrick of Washington, D.C., met in secret with dissenters from Church teaching in a daylong, highly-structured meeting designed to plan the future of the Church in the United States (“Dissenters' Secret Bishops Meeting,” July 26-Aug. 9).
The bishops should explain why this was a secret meeting and why pro-abortionists were in attendance, but lay people noted for their fidelity to church teaching were not included. If they don't have an explanation consistent with their office to proclaim the Gospel and protect the true faith, then they have betrayed the faithful laity and should resign.
We have had too many episcopal cover-ups already.
JAMES FRITZ Great Cacapon, West Virginia
Holding on to Hispanics
In “Cardinal McCarrick Appeals for More Efforts to Evangelize Hispanics” (July 20-26), Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., suggested radio, TV, street preaching and newspapers to reach the people. Another suggestion is to show Hispanics that the Church is interested in their welfare and in combating discrimination against them.
There is a detestable discrimination that has been continuing for over two years against an outstanding Hispanic — Miguel Estrada — who was nominated by President Bush to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals in May, 2001. Mr. Estrada has not received a vote of his confirmation because pro-abortion Democrat senators are filibustering.
If Cardinal McCarrick and other bishops would rally the laity to object to this situation, that would demonstrate to Hispanics that the Church will not let them be discriminated against. A letter to be read at all Masses telling people that it is intolerable to treat a person in such a despicable manner would go a long way to bolstering the faith among Hispanics.
RICHARD A. RETTA Rockville, Maryland
The Mandatum Mess
Regarding “Mandatum 4: Loyola: Parents Take Nothing for Granted” (July 20-26):
It is amazing to learn that the neither the theology chairman nor the president of Loyola University in Chicago responded when asked whether their professors of religion, Scripture, theology, liturgy and history have the mandatum. It is clearly stated in the Code of Canon Law, Canon 812, that “it is necessary that those who teach theological disciplines in any institute of higher studies have a mandate from the competent ecclesiastic authority.”- What is the problem? Insubordination?
Practitioners of other professions are required to get some kind of permission in order to practice. Physicians must have a license, issued by the pertinent state and based on examination. Physicians without a license cannot diagnose or treat patients in the hospital or have a private practice. The physician's license to practice medicine is not a “private document”; it is checked yearly by the hospital administration.
It is not conceivable that some university professors lecturing on religion have no “permit” or “mandate” — and that university officials, deans and presidents tolerate the lack … and … do not disclose whether their professors have such mandate or not.
Do they know about the Canon 812 of the Code of Canon Law? I feel the bishop, with his authority, surely has a list of those professors with a mandate. Those without it should not teach; they should be suspended until they obtain it. Such list should be available to requesters.
NICHOLAS KUTKA, M.D. Houston, Texas
Regarding your July 20-26 editorial, “Massachusetts' Marriage Mess”:
I am in complete sympathy with the intentions of the Federal Marriage Amendment, but question the strategy for various reasons.
In principle, the constitutional-amendment strategy cedes too much to Justice Kennedy and his allies. It says, in effect, “Your interpretation of the Constitution is-legally correct; we can overcome it only by amending the defect.”
The amendment strategy also allows legislators to wash their hands of leadership on the issue, saying they “support an amendment,” but meanwhile dithering perpetually over language (ask pro-lifers about the 30-year-old Human Life Amendment if you doubt this). Any Congressman saying his strategy for opposing homosexual marriage is to support a constitutional amendment is telegraphing, “I won't be doing-much about this issue.”
Furthermore, our Constitution was designed to be difficult to amend — that's how Phyllis Schlafly blocked the Equal Rights Amendment. Theoretically as few as 2% of the population, strategically placed, can block the will of a 98% majority. Does anyone doubt the incredibly mobilized “gay lobby” can muster the small margin of resistance necessary to defeat an amendment?
Your editorial is right that the question of homosexual marriage must be put to votes. But a better strategy would be to take the debate directly from the people through Congress to the courts using-legislative measures. Two examples: In the 1800s, Americans vehemently opposed polygamy, yet constitutional amendments failed repeatedly to make it out of Congress. A series of federal laws, culminating in the Mann Act, succeeded in banning it. In that case, the Supreme Court was on the moral side.
But when it overreaches its authority, the Supreme Court can be effectively opposed.
By design, constitutional amendments are the last step in the dialogue, not the first. To win a consensus on the issue, we need to put our efforts into a series of legislative steps defending marriage at the federal and state levels — and insist that our elected officials provide determined leadership. If we focus our energies on an amendment that will likely fail, we will give homosexual activists the claim they need to lock “gay marriage” into the Constitution forever.
REBECCA TETI Hyattsville, Maryland
BY Jim Cosgrove
The Content of Our Catechesis
The editorial “A Year After Dallas” (June 29-July 5) discussed the implementation of national sex-abuse policy by the U.S. bishops. The editorial stated that “In St. Louis the bishops discussed three questions a plenary council would address: the need for catechesis, the role of laity and the spiritual life of priests and bishops.” The item then goes on to say that these topics “go to the heart of the crisis”—presumably the sex-abuse crisis.
From the point of view of this layman, there is one issue even more fundamental than these three topics: the ignoring of Humanae Vitae by the bishops and priests in our country.
There is a profound schizophrenia in the U.S. Catholic Church over the issue of sexual morality that stems from the-semi-rejection of Humanae Vitae by bishops and priests. Why do we have an organization known as Priests for Life? Are not all priests for life? Well, no, many are for artificial contraception and abortion. Is there any wonder we are having a sex-abuse crisis?
The embarrassed silence on this issue on the part of bishops and priests speaks volumes to the faithful. Before catechesis we need to address the content of the catechesis. Even the role of the laity and the spiritual life of priests and bishops is mere tinkering around the edges unless and until the bishops themselves demonstrate their obedience to the vicar of Christ.
How will the faithful know that their bishops and priests embrace Humanae Vitae? By hearing-it proudly proclaimed by-their shepherds.
May we address the real problem in the sex abuse crisis and end this-tragic episode in the history of the American Church.
Nothing Doing at Notre Dame
Thanks to Tim Drake for addressing Notre Dame's dirty little secret (“Notre Dame to Parents: We Won't Tell,” July 6-12).
The article barely scrapes the tip of the iceberg of the increasingly lax attitude toward Church mandates within the Notre Dame community. I graduated from Notre Dame's sister school, St. Mary's College, in '99, and was often dismayed at the non-Catholicism of the theology department. I did take one course “across the street” in Mariology at my brother school, and fortunately found the professor (a Jesuit priest whom I never, ever-saw in a Roman collar) mostly in line with the teachings of the Church. However, rumblings in the conservative community regarding the non-Catholicism-of the theology department increased throughout my time there.
My faith did grow as a member of the Notre Dame family, as I became a member of the Ladies of Columbus and served as an acolyte at Basilica Masses. These activities, however, were detached from the theology department and were decidedly extracurricular. A student attending St. Mary's or Notre Dame can find some wonderful fostering there regarding their Catholic faith, but they're going to have to look pretty darn hard.
Keep up the great work.
MARY BETH ELLIS
Embryo Adoption Again
Well, a letter on the subject of embryo adoption has finally appeared (“Embryo Adoption,” Letters, July 13-19).
There are three things to answer in Kitty Cleveland's letter. First is the notion that surrogacy is defined by what happens after birth. This is the position of the advocates of embryo adoption, i.e., that unless the woman who is carrying another woman's child surrenders the child she is carrying to the genetic mother, then no surrogacy is involved. This is completely erroneous. The evil of surrogacy consists in the pregnancy (one woman carrying another woman's child) and not in what happens after birth.
The second thing to answer is whether the quote from Donum Vitae is taken out of context. Yes, it is taken out of its original context but that does not mean that the concept it embodies could not be applied to another context. And the words in the document that the spare embryos are exposed to an absurd fate—i.e., that they have no place to go is a statement of fact, independent of context. Were the authors of this document not aware of the possibility of embryo adoption to solve this dilemma?
The third thing to answer is the implication that Msgr. William Smith has no other basis to oppose this notion. However, in the original article, he speaks of embryo adoption as an additional trespass to the one incurred with in vitro fertilization. This is where he hits the nail on the head, in my view. Embryo adoption merely expands the original evil intent of the scientist who practices in vitro fertilization. The act of implantation of the embryo into the womb of the genetic mother is evil and hence so is the act of implantation into the womb of a surrogate. Orthodox Catholics should know that the ends do not justify-the means. To borrow Msgr. Smith's term, embryo adoption is an additional trespass on the procreative design of the Creator. And it is he, not creatures, who determines who shall live or die. Who are these advocates of embryo adoption to play God, anyway?
Spare embryos are in the same boat as aborted fetuses. They've reached the end of their earthly sojourn. They are victims of the evil design of men. They may be seen as martyrs to the moral law and hence receive an implicit baptism of blood. These human creatures who have no personal sin are more precious in the eyes of God than any of us who have lived and sinned on the earth. Let them go to the arms of God.
PAUL A. TROUVE
Montague, New Jersey
Pray for Gregory Peck
Local Catholic papers printed a long eulogy on Gregory Peck from the Catholic News Service saying what a great man he was and an exemplary Catholic, but the article failed to mention that he was a strong outspoken proponent for the killing of 4,000-plus pre-born babies a day in abortion. I hope he repented before he died. (The Register noted the actor's death in “Memorial Service Held for Gregory Peck,” Media Watch, June 29-July 5).
According to Gerri Pare, director of the U.S. bishops' New York-based Office for Film and Broadcasting, Peck “embodied both in his personal and professional character a strong moral presence …”
However, when the pro-life Robert Bork was nominated to the Supreme Court, Peck became the radio voice for the People for the American Way announcements used to distort Bork's record and mobilize public opinion against him. Peck helped mightily to defeat Bork, and what a difference that has made in our society where even the barbaric, medically unnecessary and high-risk procedure known as partial-birth abortion was sanctioned by a Bork-less Supreme Court.
If Bork had been confirmed, the moral standards of the country would be much higher now.
WILLIAM J. HOGAN, M.D.
BY Jim Cosgrove
New Age Pitfalls
I read with interest the interview with Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone (“‘Do-it-Yourself’ Salvation?,” Sept. 27-Oct. 3). While the interview focused on the writings of Father Anthony de Mello, Archbishop Bertone's comments rightly connected Father de Mello's works with the New Age movement. Because Father de Mello wrote as a Catholic priest, many Catholics accepted his ideas as examples of acceptable spirituality.
Another Catholic priest whose writings have led Catholics to the errors of the New Age is Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. In 1962, the Holy Office declared that his writings “contain … such grave errors as to offend against Catholic doctrine.”
Because the errors of the New Age are prevalent in our country, Catholics United for the Faith (CUF) has written a “Faith Fact” exposing these errors. The “Faith Fact,” which CUF distributes through a toll-free number, addresses the writings of both priests and offers suggestions on how to present the truth to those involved in the New Age.
Philip C. L. Gray Director of Information Services
Catholics United for the Faith
I would like to congratulate the Register for its recent coverage on the horrendous Proposition B of Michigan. I also want to add a little more. Under Proposition B, people terminated that have a serious illness, will be listed as having died of that illness in the death certificate.
The fact that they were terminated is covered up.
One thing will be for sure: in the statistics, there will be a sudden jump in deaths from terminal illnesses.
Please pray that this Proposition B does not come to pass. Thank you, for your extensive reporting.
Thomas M. Hagen
BY Jim Cosgrove
In your June 7-13 issue, you report that Frei Betto, a prominent figure in Liberation Theology circles, acknowledges the ascent of Opus Dei, Focolare, Communion and Liberation, and other lay movements and the decline of base communities in Latin America that were influenced by liberation theology (In Brief).
While noting that fact, Betto says he doesn't share the growing popularity of these new Christian communities' “support for the Vatican line.” The idea of a “Vatican line” makes it sound as if these groups are some kind of apologists for a government administration in power for a limited time. But under this Pope, the Vatican line cannot be interpreted to mean anything less than subscribing to 2,000 years of the fullness of our Church's tradition. You can bet these “new” groups will continue to grow as liberation theology fades to a footnote in Church history. Why? Because the philosophy and actions of groups such as Communion and Liberation and the Neocatechumenal Way are situated well within the truth of Catholic tradition—2,000 years' worth.
Whatever noble motives might have given rise to liberation theology, it didn't take long for it to take on a life of its own, spinning outside the wise confines of authentic Catholicism. The 280,000 adherents of the “new” movements who gathered in Rome recently heard Pope John Paul II's praise that they had “reached a stage of maturity.” I understand that to mean that the groups generally had resisted the temptation to “outgrow” the Church and fall prey to the belief that they were wiser than the institution from which they'd sprung.
The Pope referred to the groups as “an answer” to the secular culture, sent by the Holy Spirit. The Marxist-influenced liberation theology, even at its high point, never saw beyond improving the temporal situation of men. In placing physical needs—liberation of the body—above the more important spiritual needs, liberation theology was bound to fail from the start. That human need goes well beyond achieving material equality in society is visible in the preponderance of those of us in the West who, despite having our physical needs more than adequately met, remain thirsty for something more.
If, Frei Betto, committing to a community that puts the physical and spiritual needs into their proper order means following the “Vatican line,” count me in.
Exciting New Read
I have been reading the Register for years, but I have never enjoyed it as much as I do now. You cover so much, and so completely. I can't wait to get my hands on it each week.
Father Bernardine Hahn OFM
BY Jim Cosgrove
ëBridges of Understandingí
May I commend the Register, March 29-April 4 highly for your excellent and comprehensive coverage of the Vatican commission's statement on the Holocaust ("Holocaust Document Falls Short of Jewish Expectations"). Also the interview with Dr. Eugene Fisher of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops was most incisive and informative ("Catholics & Jews: Sorting Out a Tormented History").
As the founder and chairman of the American Forum for Jewish and Christian Cooperation, I have long labored to build “bridges of understanding” between the Jewish and Christian communities. Much misunderstanding and distrust is still all too prevalent. Dr. Fisher's analysis plus the Vatican statement needs to be reprinted in pamphlet form and made available to every rabbi, Jewish professional, the Jewish press worldwide, and all lay leadership. We are ready to assist in this endeavor. Again, my gratitude to the Register for its coverage.
Rabbi David Ben-Ami
Breaking the Silence
At last! Through the crucible of the bloodiest century in the history of humankind, two great religions break their silence and attempt to deal with the magnitude of the crimes in the Shoah of 6 million Jews and the Holocaust of the untold millions of aborted babies through the world ("Holocaust Document Falls Short of Jewish Expectations,” and “Rabbis Join Outcry Against Partial-Birth Abortion,” March 29-April 4). The Vatican, taking its “first step” in a commitment to seek out truth in the Church's historical role during World War II, and 64 rabbis, in a public declaration, joining the Christian outcry against partial-birth abortion. I would liken these two events to the tearing down of the Berlin Wall.
However, there will be those who will say, “Not enough! The Church still has sins to confess!” And the pro-life movement will ask, “Where have the rabbis been in the past 25 years?” The old adage “silence gives approbation to evil” could be applied here in equal measure. The question remains: Are the silenced voices of the victims satisfied?
South Barrington, Illinois
Defending Pius XII
Thank you for your fine editorial, “The Black Legend of Pius XII” (March 29-April 4). I am a World War II veteran and also go back to the time when Bishop Noll pioneered speaking the truth through Catholic journalism in an anti-Catholic climate.
Your editorial seems to be one of the few presentations of truth to the American public about the Black Legend. Some of the editorials and syndicated columns in the secular press, one of which was written by a Catholic, leads one to suspect their credentials. If secular journalists do not know world history, what credibility do they have in other subjects?
Thank you for presenting the truth about what really happened during World War II. Pope Pius XII was not only not silent during World War II, but in the eyes of its veterans, the slander against this saintly man is refuted by the secular history of the war itself.
You are making a great contribution to the faithful in upholding their sacred Catholic heritage.
Albany, New York
BY Henry Honigfort
Regarding the article concerning the Canadian judge who decided the possession of child pornography should not be a crime (Register, Jan. 31 -Feb. 6): There were a lot of conflicting opinions about the relationship between child pornography and the possible resulting sexual aggression against children. While the opponents of this ruling very rightfully aired their serious concerns about the connection, only Archbishop Adam Exner and the quotations from the Holy Father really touched upon another danger, one whose connection with this ruling is direct and not subject to debate — exploitation.
Consider the simple law of supply and demand. Now that Judge Shaw has okayed its possession, the creators of child pornography are in a much more comfortable position, and, knowing their customers can now live without fear of legal repercussion, the supply must be increased to meet the new demand this ruling is likely to spawn. That means more children are going to be lured, coerced, or deceived into this pit.
Someone should question the judge about his stance on that practice. If he is against it, why has he chosen to directly encourage it? If even one more child is exploited in this way because of his ruling, directly or indirectly, Judge Shaw should be held criminally accountable.
Daniel Benson Roswell, Georgia
‘Safe, Legal, and Rare’?
Lies, euphemisms, deceit, fraud, etc. On January 22, 1973, Norma McCorvey became known as Jane Roe and [later] Sandra Cano became known as Mary Doe. There are markers at the National Monument for the Unborn which state in part: “I publicly recant my involvement in the tragedy of abortion ... Norma McCorvey"; and “The Doe v. Bolton case is based on deceit and fraud ... Sandra Cano.”
Abortion has never been found in the Constitution. Justice Douglas claims a right to privacy is in the emanations (vapors) from the penumbra (shadow) of the 14th Amendment. Millions of deaths are caused by illusions the Justices found lurking in the shadows. The shadows are not the Constitution. A shadow is a distortion of the object casting the shadow. Let's put light on the Constitution and get rid of these deadly shadows.
ProChoice is a euphemism and doublespeak. It is a way to claim that they are against abortion yet stridently work for the right to kill children in their mother's womb. They are dishonest with themselves.
We have a President who claims abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” By its definition, intent, and purpose abortion is never safe for the youngest involved. It is not safe for the mother either. Should intentional killing of our posterity be legal? Are millions of intentional deaths annually “rare”?
Henry Honigfort Chesterfield, Missouri
BY Jim Cosgrove
Peter Feuerherd's article (“Pro-lifers Still Reading Election Tea Leaves”) in the Dec. 22-28, 1996 Register extensively cites positions of Catholics for a Free Choice as if it is were a legitimate voice of Roman Catholics in the United States on the issue of abortion. The reporter should have known better.
Frances Kissling, the president of Catholics for a Free Choice, has repeatedly and publicly expressed contempt for the Magisterium of the Church. Given this stance, and her admission that she never attends Mass, calls her Catholicism into question.
Indeed, it is questionable whether she is even president of a recognizable organization: Catholics for a Free Choice is not a membership organization in the sense of the National Right to Life organization. It has virtually no members, merely serving as a useful front organization through which money and press releases can be funneled from pro-abortion organizations and other enemies of orthodox Christianity. And the secular press in America seems willing to quote any self-proclaimed Catholic leader to make a pro-abortion position seem reasonable even to Roman Catholics.
Owings Mills, Maryland
Christmas Minus Christ
How can we possibly restore morality to this country if the television network writers continue to vilify and ridicule religion?
A recent NBC Tuesday evening sitcom offered a good example of how television and movies have encouraged people to look at church-going as “not cool.” In a scene between husband and wife, the wife asked: “Honey, with the kids away for the holidays, we ought to do something meaningful for Christmas.” The husband, looking puzzled, replied: “You mean you want to drag me to church.” “No,” replied the wife, “I meant that perhaps we could take Mr. So-and-so on a buggy ride around the park.” To the writers of sitcoms, a ride around the park is “meaningful.” Going to church is not.
La Canada Flintridge, California
It is unfortunate that most Christians, including most Catholics, don't have the advantage of balanced articles such as Gabriel Meyer's on the work of biblicists such as the Jesus seminar and Q project (“Jesus Seminar, Q Scholars True to Holiday Form,” Dec. 29, 1996). That puts them at the mercy of our culture, which automatically elevates scientists and scholars to authority figures, and of the major media, such as Time and Newsweek, that never miss a chance to publicize anything that sheds doubt on traditional Christianity. They get the drumbeat of dissonance between the Church's Magisterium of Revelation and the new, popularized competition—the magisterium of historical scholarship.
In the long run, the Church has nothing to fear from honest scholarship and science. Truth is one. Ultimately what is believed from those who handed it on and what is known through scholarly digging will converge. In the short run, the table is tilted toward the trumpeted findings of dishonest scholarship. Honest biblical scholarship must be bound by the creeds and open to the possibility that the evangelists portrayed Jesus accurately and that the Church is what she has always claimed to be. Judging from Meyer's article, it appears clear that the Jesus Seminar and Q guys don't seem to meet that test. Yet they go about “just doing their jobs,” eroding beliefs because they start from the premises that Christ could not be God, or the Bible inspired. Time and Newsweek trumpet every innovative hypothesis. And the little ones—that's most of us—caught between who to believe, grow more confused. On the brighter side, if the Q guys are right, we'll be able to whip through the Creed in nothing flat.
Star of the Nativity by Joseph Brodsky (Dec. 22- 28) was a beautiful gift to your readers. Apromise of more poetry to come, I hope.
Kathleen Gunton Deal
BY Jim Cosgrove
Legislator's Other Side
The Oct. 27 edition of the Register carried an article stating that Rep. Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.) recently made a lot of noise at a rally in Washington, protesting the treatment of immigrants (“Latino Marchers Push for Protection of Rights”). Pastor's concern for immigrants is limited only to those who are already born. He consistently votes against any proposed legislation destined to protect the unborn. His most recent action of this nature was a vote to sustain President Clinton's veto of the Partial-birth Abortion Ban Act.
We were overjoyed to see, once again, the Sunday Mass commentary (Next Sunday at Mass) by Father Peter John Cameron in the Register.
We take this opportunity to thank him for enriching our faith, not only by his commentaries but also through his many writings, especially those pertaining to the Blessed Mother. May God continue to bless him in all his endeavors. We are ever so grateful for his love of Jesus, Mary and Holy Mother Church.
Mr. and Mrs. Richard Deja
New York, New York
Bridges for Democracy
What a wonderful editorial (“Bridge to the 21st Century”) in the Nov. 3-9 Register. Yes the Catholic wisdom so prevalent in years past in France and Germany must build the bridge if our democracy is to last.
Your summary and analysis of the talk by Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, the Archbishop of Paris, were lucid and right on target. His theme of the motto of the French Revolution—liberty, equality and fraternity—is what we need. Any two of these can degenerate into slavery without the third being active and present.
Thanks again for your newspaper and your intrepid editorials.
This letter is in response to the article entitled “Pontifical Science Academy Banks on Stellar Cast” by Gabriel Meyer in the Dec. 1-7 Register.
The article boasts of the four U.S. appointees to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, listing their educational and professional research backgrounds, but unfortunately little or no evidence is cited to lend support to the Pope's recent statement on evolutionary theories that supposedly account for the biological origins of life.
The closest the report comes to any kind of explanation regarding evolution is the quotation from Dr. Paul Berg: “If you look at the whole picture, there are versions of organisms that are inefficient, these fall away, and we do move finally in a kind of stepwise process.” Is the man talking about macro-evolution, changing from one species to another (which has never yet been proven), or is he talking about small lateral variation changes within a species (micro-evolution)? The other three scientists lend no support toward the theory in this article.
Then there is the statement by Dr. Joseph Murray who does not say anything supporting or refuting evolution but instead comments on the disappointment he has about the Church's teaching on artificial insemination. He said: “Some Church leaders will come down hard on artificial insemination as if we scientists are playing God. We aren't. We're just working with the tools God gave us.” What kind of logic is this? I wonder if some abortionists say the same thing about their tools of the trade. At any rate, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that artificial insemination is morally wrong.
In summary, the whole article is heavy on personality backgrounds but very light on any kind of hard scientific substance. We need to hear some good solid claims supporting the Pope's statement on evolution.
Redwood Falls, Minnesota
I read with interest Father Robert Imbelli's plea for “Common Ground” (“‘Common Ground’ as Communion—A Witness for the Defense,” Dec. 22- 28). It heartens me to learn that this pastoral initiative invites participants to center more deeply on Christ, the Church and divine worship. What his essay lacks, however, is any reference to “the living Magisterium of the Church” (Donum Veritatis, 21). It's grace, we are told, “seeks to ensure that the people of God remain in the truth which sets free” (DV, 20).
Romanus Cessario OP
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