To: (Multiple email addresses may be specified by separating them with a comma)
BY Jim Cosgrove
In your Dec. 9-15 article headlined “The Hobbits Are Here: Catholics Hope the Movie Lives up to the Book,” you wrote, “Tolkien, a noted British scholar of myth, wrote the trilogy in part to communicate to his readers the Christian understanding of a fallen creation, where good struggles against evil and ultimately triumphs.”
But Tolkien had no intent of conveying any message at all in his books.
In his introduction to The Fellowsip of the Ring he specifically says, “As for any inner meaning or ‘message’, it has in the intention of the author none. It is neither allegorical nor topical.”
He goes on to say, “Other arrangements could be devised according to the tastes or views of those who like allegory or topical reference. But I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and have always done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I think that many confuse ‘applicability’ with ‘allegory’; but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author.”
I think that in your eagerness to have the trilogy be allegorical and Tolkien be a good Christian author, you extended his intent and achievement a little too far.
This might reinforce the stereotype of a narrow-minded Christian to others who might chance to read that article.
Bravo, Mass Guide
I gladly read the National Catholic Register weekly. The Dec. 2-9 issue has a marvelous catechetical aid on page 18 about the Mass. I teach in a Catholic school and work with 170 junior high students. I look forward to sharing this with my religion classes so they can better understand and appreciate the Mass. Thanks for this, and for your paper as a whole.
BROTHER EDWARD KESLER
The writer is a member of the Brothers of the Poor of St. Francis.
Communion on the Tongue
For years I have heard raves about your paper. I finally received first issue yesterday and agree it's a wonderful resource for faithful Catholics.
I'm writing to bring something to your attention which needs addressing.
On page 18 of the Dec. 2-9 issue is a “How (and Why) to Return to Sunday Mass” guide. I was pleased to see its Quick Tip about how it's proper to “show a sign of respect before receiving Communion” by bowing, as suggested by the bishops.
However, what disappoints me is that the idea of Communion in the hand was promoted as the single way to receive Our Lord. This situation further saddens me, as I know the “norm” — or preferred way — is to receive the host on the tongue, not the hand. Too few Catholics are aware of this, as evidenced by the push in today's average parish to make Communion in the hand the “norm.”
Funny how Martin Luther pushed for this, too, as a way to decrease belief in the True Presence.
What solution do I have? If possible, for future editions of this guide perhaps you could let readers know that, although receiving via both methods is approved by bishops, the Church Herself prefers reception via Communion on the tongue.
San Antonio, Texas
Thanks for Two Thanksgiving Articles
Your Thanksgiving issue (Nov. 18-24) carried two excellent articles that we found very uplifting and inspiring. “How to Explain ‘Spiritual’ Relatives to Kids,” by Jim Fair, hit the nail right on the head.
Yes, it seems popular to say, “I'm a spiritual person, but I don't believe in organized religion.”
Pride came before the fall, and the devil (who is also spiritual) has blinded many nowadays into thinking that it matters not in who, or what, you believe, as long as you believe in something. Jim Fair not only pointed out the stupidity of such nonsense, but pointed to Jesus Christ, who said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). St. Peter, speaking of Jesus, said, “Neither is there salvation in any other” (Acts 4:12).
We hope that Jim Fair continues to write articles i n the future which will draw people to Jesus Christ and his one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, which Jesus established.
The “Inperson” interview “What He's Fighting For” shows Mark MacKenzie's authentic and inspiring Catholic faith and his trust in God as he serves us in the military during these dangerous times.
We were glad to see that Mark MacKenzie believes and promotes tithing, the giving of 10% of one's earnings for the Lord's work.
Unfortunately, this biblical truth is neglected in our Catholic Church, and instead we scandalize many Catholics and other Christians by having bingo, Las Vegas nights, etc., to raise money for our parishes and schools.
Perhaps you will in the future publish articles encouraging Catholics to be more generous financially, supporting ministries in the Church which promote authentic doctrine.
MR. AND MRS. C.N. SANTOS
Children of God
Thank you, Marilyn Boussaid, for calling attention to the often-misused statement “We are all children of God” (Letters, “All God's Children?” Nov. 18-24) when referring to non-Christians. I have actually heard this from the pulpit. In a discussion group, when I attempted to define “children of God,” as stated in Scripture and as you have so eloquently done, I was told to be careful of “exclusivity.”
All Catholics need to know who we are in Christ and the precious gift he has given us. All are called, but not all respond.
SUSAN R. RAMPACEK
The Real First Immaculate Conception Cathedral
Joseph Pronechen's fine article on Albany's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was just a tad wrong in calling it “the first cathedral in the United States dedicated to Mary under her title of the Immaculate Conception.”
The Diocese of Mobile was established in 1829, and the parish church — dedicated to the Immaculate Conception in 1781 — was then officially designated the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. The cornerstone for the present structure was laid in 1839, and it was consecrated for public worship in 1850. Come see us sometime!
(By the way: just now the old building — a minor basilica since 1962 — is receiving what should be, if the plans go as indicated, a great face-lift. That may be a story for you down the line.)
BY Jim Cosgrove
I was saddened by the mixed messages in Mark Lowery's essay “Christian Sex or Sexy Christianity?” (Nov. 25-Dec. 1).
Mr. Lowery praises the truth of Christopher West's facts in his work to bring Pope John Paul II's teachings about marriage and sexuality to the general public. Lowery agrees with West when Lowery states that “to have a full experience of integral sexuality, infused with Trinitarian bliss” is a “trajectory” we should all be on and attempting to present to our children. He criticizes West, however, when he alleges that West puts sex before grace in the “hierarchy of Christian truths.” The article then proceeds to imply that the “capacity to fully experience” this integrated sexuality “may be beyond reach” for the many people who have been injured in the area of sexuality. How sad that Mr. Lowery himself does not seem to trust in the primary role of the grace so generously given by the Divine Physician.
If Mr. Lowery wants to censor someone for proclaiming the truth about marriage and sexuality because it may cause injured people further pain, then he needs to begin by censoring the Holy Father.
When I studied Familiaris Consortio it was painful to realize how little I experienced of the beauty of marriage and sexuality. But this led my husband and me ultimately to have hope. In time, the Lord brought healing to me, which has graced all areas of my marriage. What were the primary provisions given to me (and consequently my husband) that brought about this healing? Excellent Christian counseling, the abundant grace of the confessional, a holy priest as confessor and the gifted work of Christopher West.
My husband and I thank God every day for the gift of John Paul II and his teachings as well as calling forth people such as West to proclaim the Holy Father's anointed message to our world.
As for the allegation that West puts sex before grace: I never heard that from West. Perhaps those who are uncomfortable with frank discussion about the goodness and beauty of our sexuality as created and intended by [God the] Father should trust in God's grace to heal the wounds that are present in all of us, as a result of living in a world which so loudly and frequently tells only lies about sex and marriage.
The Best in West
Regarding “Christian Sex or Sexy Christianity” (Nov. 25-Dec. 1):
It has been my great pleasure to learn about Pope John Paul II's theology of the body. I have listened to cassette tapes and videos of Christopher West's talks on the subject.
In addition, it was my pleasure to attend a Rachel's Vineyard leader's conference at which Christopher West spoke. I have even purchased a copy of The Theology of the Body: Human Love in the Divine Plan, which includes all of the Pope's 129 general-audience teachings that relate to the theology of the body.
What a wonderful and beautiful teaching our Holy Father has put forth! I am so very grateful to Mr. West for spreading this awesome work, which might otherwise have gone unnoticed.
From my studies, the theology of the body is a lot to take in. It has been so helpful to me to have Mr. West put it all into terms that even I can understand.
I can understand why Mr. Lowery would be taken aback by Mr. West saying, “Heaven is the ultimate climax.” I have a feeling that Mr. Lowery took this quote out of context. I have the sense that Mr. West was just trying to convey the idea that Trinitarian love is total self-giving and total unity; total fulfillment and total joy: the life that we hope to share one day in heaven.
Heaven is so beyond our limited understanding that we sometimes use human expressions to describe it; hence, what could be construed as an irreverent remark were the words that describe human love as expressed in self-giving and unity, fulfillment and joy. We do this kind of thing all the time. I use a shamrock to talk about the Trinity as three persons and one God with my students. Never once has any of them thought that I was trying to teach them that God is a shamrock!
In all of my studies of the theology of the body, I never once thought that Christopher West implied that sexuality is the foundation of Christianity. Quite clearly, I recall Mr. West saying that sexuality, as God intended sexuality to be, makes the invisible visible.
That is: Sexuality reveals the truth about Trinitarian love; not that it is the foundation of nor is Trinitarian love.
It takes Trinitarian love, God's grace, to live the theology of the body as Mr. Lowery so rightly points out. And though we may fall short of living the way God intended, I am grateful both to the Holy Father and Mr. West for teaching the whole truth rather than leaving out bits and pieces because it is “beyond reach.” I want to be a saint one day, but there is a really good chance that I may not achieve perfection in this life.
Nevertheless, every day I try. And when I fall, I pick myself up every day (sometimes every minute of every day!) and beg to be transformed. I strive for perfection even if it is beyond reach.
Carthage, North Carolina
The Cross and Common Sense
Regarding “Columbine High Bans Mother's Memorial” (Nov. 25-Dec. 1):
It seems to me that John White-head, lead attorney with the Rutherford Institute, is the only leader mentioned in the article who shows his common sense. The wall of tiles, he reminds everyone, is merely a “forum” for expressions. Marilyn Salzman, however, speaking for the Jefferson County School District, equates the permanency of the tiles with endorsement by the school district.
Returning to Whitehead's comments, the district may exercise its authority to censor expressions deemed violent or obscene.
A member of the Jefferson County School Board, Jon DeStefano, prefaces his opinion with, “I'm a devout, practicing Catholic.” (Read: “Listen to me; I'm in touch with God.”) DeStefano, in fact, probably embarrasses other “devout, practicing Catholics,” who appeal to common sense.
DeStefano says he doesn't want the school to become a “living memorial to April 20, 1999.” Does that mean, for example, that the trophy down the hall, memorializing the 1975 state football championship, the gold plaque, honoring Suzie Miller as the 1987 Athlete of the Year and, in fact, the entire trophy cases recording past events do not render the school a “living memorial”?
We, as a nation, tend to be paranoid about [such] issues: A cross can exist just about anywhere in the private sector without noticeable complaint. But God help us if the cross aspires to go public — especially on a school tile!
WALTER F. STICHART
Time to Un-mix Our Messages?
Congratulations on printing the forthright letter from Charles Marrelli (“Catholic Leadership”) in your Nov. 4–10 issue. He writes, “If the American bishops, as a body, were to excommunicate all Catholics who brazenly claim to be pro-abortion, they would counter years of mixed messages.” Is that not the logical next step to what the bishops wrote in 1998 when they warned, “No public official, especially one claiming to be a faithful and serious Catholic, can responsibly advocate for or actively support direct attacks on innocent human life” (in their document “Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics”)?
Many pro-lifers were heartened when “Living the Gospel of Life” was published — we thought the Holy Spirit had suddenly invigorated the bishops' conference with an infusion of courage. Wow, things are looking up! Be not afraid! But then, the mixed messages again and the letdown: A blurry bishops' document on “faithful citizenship” a year later with the life message buried in verbal snow, photographs of princes of the Church dining with pro-abortion politicians, confusion from Catholic News Service and millions of Catholics voting for the pro-abortion candidates.
Now we learn that the bishops' leadership is urging more pro-life prayer. The great apostle Paul said it some time back, “Pray always.” Of course. But there does come a point, as Mother Teresa demonstrated, when after many hours of prayer one does have to go out in the street and boldly confront reality with action.
Change or Be Changed
Regarding the opinion column “We Give Thanks for America; We Pray God Saves It” by Father M.M. De Cruce (Nov. 18–24):
Today, Christians risk cooperating in a false pluralism. Secular society will allow believers to have whatever moral conviction they please, as long as they keep them on the private preserves of their consciences, in their homes and churches, and out of the public arena.
Democracy is not a substitute for morality, nor a panacea for immorality. Its value stands or falls with the values which it embodies and promotes.
Only tireless promotion of the truth about the human person can infuse democracy with the right values.
This is what Jesus meant when he asked us to be leaven in society. American Christians have long sought to assimilate into our present cultural life.
But, in assimilating, we have too often been digested. We have been changed by our culture too much, and we have changed it not enough. If we are leaven, we must bring to our culture the whole Gospel, which is a Gospel of life and joy. That is our vocation as believers.
There is no better place to start than promoting the beauty and sanctity of human life. Those who would claim to promote the cause of life through violence or the threat of violence contradict this Gospel at its core.
It depends on us. Let us do our part, and pray that God in his infinite mercy may truly bless America — not only during this Christmas season — but also in all seasons and years to come.
JEFFREY T. KARL
Morristown, New Jersey
BY Jim Cosgrove
Yes to Smallpox Vaccines,
No to Fetal Tissue
Thank you for your timely article on the smallpox vaccine ("Government Weighs Producing Anti-Terror Vaccine with Abortion Tissue,” Nov. 25-Dec. 1).
The Catholic Medical Association has in the past expressed its disapproval of the use of aborted fetal tissue and embryonic stem-cell lines to develop vaccines and medical products. Therefore, it is especially disturbing to learn that our government intends to allow this practice once more in the production of the new smallpox vaccine, when moral alternatives are available.
While we agree that protecting U.S. citizens from infectious disease is both good and necessary, we find the intended use of the MRC-5 aborted fetal-cell line to be both utterly immoral and highly unethical, especially since there are other existing, FDA-approved animal-cell substrates available. It is a fact that, after the horrors of the Holocaust, the cell lines developed from the Jewish people who were murdered by the Nazis in Dachau and Auschwitz were subsequently destroyed by the World Health Organization.
I and my fellow physicians are deeply concerned because of the fact that parents are refusing to adequately vaccinate their children because of concerns arising from the use of aborted fetal tissue.
This becomes a special problem, now that there is the threat of bio-terrorism. I would encourage everyone to write Tommy Thompson and urge him to only accept those proposals from the pharmaceutical industry that will not engage in the use of aborted fetal cell lines or from the destruction of human embryos (embryonic stem cell lines).
Why use means that are morally objectionable to a great number of Americans, when moral alternatives are available?
Thank you, also, for providing an address and phone number where people can express their opposition to the government's use of fetal tissue in this way. I would only add Tommy Thompson's name and room number:
The Honorable Tommy Thompson, Department of Health & Human Services, 200 Independence Avenue, S.W. Room 615-F Washington, D.C. 20201
ROBERT J SAXER M.D. Fort Walton Beach, Florida
The writer is president of the National Catholic Medical Association
Archbishop Should Reject Merger
Regarding “Hospital Merger Tests Bishops’ New Rules,” Nov. 18–24:
In the case you describe, Archbishop Rembert Weakland has been given a chance to demonstrate he can assert Catholic doctrine in his diocese (Milwaukee). Weakland should not grant a nihil obstat in regards to the proposed partnership sponsored by Columbia Health System and Ascension Health. This partnership would allow tubal ligations and vasectomies to be performed in an independent facility located within Columbia Hospital, which has been run by Ascension Health since Oct. 1. Ethical and Religious Directive 53 clearly states that “[d]irect sterilization of either men or women … is not permitted in a Catholic health care institution ….”
Further, Directive 70 states that “Catholic health care organizations are not permitted to engage in immediate material cooperation in actions that are intrinsically immoral, such as … direct sterilization.” The footnote to that directive also warns that “any cooperation institutionally approved or tolerated in actions which are in themselves, that is, by their very nature and condition, directed to a contraceptive end … is absolutely forbidden” (internal citation omitted).
It strains credulity to see how sterilization performed at an “independent” center located within a hospital carrying Catholic affiliation is not immediate material cooperation proscribed by Directive 70. Archbishop Weakland must refuse to grant a nihil obstat.
Faith on Fulton Street
You may be onto something in your editorial “A Catholic Moment” (Oct. 14-20). In light of recent world events — specifically, the happenings of Sept. 11 — it seemed to me to be a marking point. Just as in a horserace, the gun is shot and the race begins.
I recently visited Ground Zero, first to pay my respects to my former boss’ son and to the many heroes who were killed and who passed over that day. I was never more convinced that they had simply passed over, were alive but in a changed form. Because when I walked up the subway stairs at Fulton Street that day and turned my head to the right (yes, I did see the damage caused by extreme evil), but I also felt the presence of those nearly 5,000 souls.
Unfortunately, there was also the ultimate presence of evil down at Ground Zero — the wreckage overwhelmed me with sadness. Yes, one could have even been annoyed by the vendors and cameras flashing, as if we were all tourists. But the evidence of a “heaven on earth” developing was still apparent. Yes, the smell was nauseating, the atmosphere eerie. But what I found were people conversing with each other — in the streets, on the subways and in the stores. And, in most cases, they were outwardly considerate, friendly and, in many cases, openly affectionate. There was good among the evil.
What I am certain of is that, despite the tragedies of recent weeks, miracles are still occurring. Government and religions are coming together. People are coming together. Individuals are taking stock of their lives and, hopefully, are reconciling with God … because we are indeed united.
For those heroes who were taken from us on Sept. 11, we can be assured that they are in a better place. But for those of us who are here on this earth, it is truly an opportunity to create a “heaven” on earth.
JANE E. MCCARTY Harrison, New York
Recognizing Abortion Trauma
Thank you for your editorial “Good News for Life” (Nov. 18-24), referring to post-abortion syndrome and the amendment requesting the National Institutes of Health to “expand and intensify research and related activities … with respect to post-abortion depression and post-abortion psychosis.”
It is extremely important that the trauma of abortion be made known to the general population and the mental-health professions. Up to this point, there has been no acknowledgment of the profound trauma that follows women and men after abortion. There has been no official diagnosis of post-abortion syndrome in the diagnostic manual, and there does not appear to be any consideration of it in the future.
The fact that women are suffering in large numbers from the act of abortion has been kept under the covers for much too long, and it is encouraging to see that maybe this amendment will have the NIH do some active research in the field. As a therapist dealing with post-abortive women and men, I can personally attest to the huge numbers of people suffering psychological, emotional and spiritual scars years later.
MAUREEN VETTER RUSSELL Rockville Centre, New York
The writer is Project Rachel coordinator for the diocese of Rockville Center.
Defending the Indefensible
Regarding “Fed Ruling Might Kill Suicide Laws,” (Nov. 18-24):
Democrat Hardy Myers, who is Oregon's attorney-general and a member of All Saints Parish, claimed [in Portland's diocesan newspaper] that he had to ignore “personal feelings” (Catholic Sentinel, Nov. 16,) in his attack on a federal law forbidding the use of federally controlled drugs for assisted suicide. But religion is not just another “personal feeling.” Religion is a constitutionally protected right.
Hardy Myers had options. He could have admitted there is no legal basis on which to attack the federal law. He could have stepped aside on the case. Better yet, he could have had the foresight to campaign against the Democratic Party when it supported the pro-assisted-suicide campaign in 1994. He could have changed political parties. But he did none of these things. Instead, he chose to defend an indefensible law.
N. GREGORY HAMILTON, M.D. Portland, Oregon
The writer is the president of Physicians for Compassionate Care.
BY Jim Cosgrove
In Defense of Bedford Hills
Our page-one story “The Bedford Hills Witch Project” (Oct. 29-Nov. 4) contained a misstatement. It is not the case that patriotic songs and the American flag are banned on all campuses in the Bedford Hills School District. The Register regrets the error.
In Defense of ‘Magic’
First, my “credentials": I'm an adult convert to Catholicism; my husband is a “cradle Catholic” who returned to the Church about the time I converted. We very rarely miss a Sunday or Holy Day Mass. And, for the past seven years, we've tithed. I'm worried that, based on your Oct. 28-Nov. 3 article about magic cards, parents will forbid their children to play this creative and enjoyable game ('Magic: The Gathering’ Cards Spook the Experts,” Oct. 28-Nov. 3).
“Magic: The Gathering” is probably not appropriate for fourth-graders, and I'm not sure it has a place in any school's math curriculum. That said, I don't believe the game poses any danger to psychologically healthy older children (middle school and above). Yes, some of the illustrations are scary; more are just mysterious, many are humorous, and all are very imaginative. My son has hundreds of the cards, and none shows anything like “Christ as a fat woman on a cross” or “a rape being perpetrated by a monk.” I suspect these cards have been either deliberately or accidentally misrepresented. There are as many “good guys” as “bad guys” in a deck.
“Magic: The Gathering” is a competitive game of skill which appeals mostly to boys—boys of above-average intelligence, those gifted, “nerdy” kids on the honor roll. Magic-players I know include my high school honor-roll nephew and his friends who recently gave up part of their Saturday to help my nephew's family move. My son plays in a middle-school program for gifted kids. His primary playing partners are his dad and his college-senior sister, who both find the game to be great fun. Playing games together as a family is usually counted among the most wholesome of activities for children.
“Magic: The Gathering” is by necessity a social activity—there is no solitaire play. If your son plays the game with friends whom you know and like, gets good grades, and communicates with you, he's not in any danger from a card game. If your child is emotionally fragile, in trouble with the law or at school, involved with alcohol, drugs or sex, then “Magic: The Gathering” is still the least of your worries.
The danger in concentrating on possible occult activities in your kids, is that you may overlook much more likely threats to them. Looking for pentagrams or signs of animal sacrifice in your child's room, while failing to supervise his leisure time or share your values with him, is barking up the wrong tree. It's not that I don't believe Satan is real—it's just that he latches onto more kids by luring them into drinking, sex and excessive materialism, than by witchcraft and New Age practices. We have to remember that a symbol on a piece of cardboard is no threat to believers; Christ is with us.
Purgatory Debt-Reduction Plan
Regarding “Reaching Out to Purgatory—And Avoiding It,” Nov. 4-11:
As the new millennium unfolds and social activists continue to campaign for the cancellation of developing countries’ debts (and rightly so, in reparation for the centuries of exploitation we have inflicted upon them), perhaps we should consider another kind of outstanding debt, quite possibly in arrears.
How often do we pray for our ancestors?
If one considers that the Church is a body, including its deceased members, and that if the body suffers then we all suffer and that our ancestors may be languishing in purgatory, this seems an ideal time to campaign for their early release.
I wonder, if each family or each parish put some serious effort into praying for its dead, what the response would be from our Father.
Would he cancel the debts?
When ‘Clerics’ Preach Terror
Joe Woodard's discussion of just-war thinking in the Oct. 21-28 edition was very instructive and thought-provoking (“Battling by the Book: Just War Makes a Comeback”). One lingering question which remains with me weeks after reading it concerns the strict differentiation of combatants and non-combatants. The problem I see is that the young Arab men who make up the majority of the terrorists in Afghanistan, and throughout the Muslim world, are under the sway, instruction and encouragement of Muslim clerics who are not technically combatants.
Yet it seems to me that those more mature clerics are far more guilty than the young men to whom they have preached a false and murderous theology. It seems both unjust and an inadequate strategy to target only the naive and misled young men without also going after, in some manner, those who have filled the young minds and hearts with hate, and encouraged the terrorist acts. For, as the news reports tell us, the “schools” across the border in Pakistan where many of these clerics teach continue quite deliberately produce the young “soldiers of Allah” who think murdering Americans buys them a quick ticket to [Paradise].
ACLU Jangles the Constitution's Nerves
In your Oct. 21-27 issue there was mentioned how the American Civil Liberties Union is trying to take the name of God out of our civil life (“‘God Bless America’ Jangles ACLU Nerve”). It always upsets me when I see the ACLU trying to do this. What it is really trying to do is to make atheism a substitute for religion, and hence a form of religion. If our founding fathers did not want the state establishing any formal religion as a state religion, they certainly did not want it to establish any substitute for such a religion either.
Atheism has a right to exist in our country like any other religion, but it has no right to be our state religion. I hope our lawyers will see this truth and use it to prove the ACLU to be totally wrong.
FATHER BARTHOLOMEW GOTTEMOLLER
Founding Fatherly Advice
Regarding Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Thanksgiving address (“Thanksgiving in a Time of War,” Nov. 18-24):
One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, George Mason, made a similar statement about how God deals with nations that have done wrong.
“As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, providence punishes national sins by national calamities.”
As soon as our nation goes back to God, positive things will happen and terrorism will be conquered.
The Unjust A-Bomb
As a World War II veteran, I just disagree with the letter of U.S. Air Force Major Sigurd R. Peterson Jr. (Nov. 11-17).
There were many in official capacity who opposed the use of atomic bombs as unnecessary and immoral. Among them were General Dwight Eisenhower and Admiral Ernest King, U.S. Naval Commander-in-Chief, as well as Admiral William Leahy, chief of staff to Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Leahy, a Catholic, stated that America “had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages.”
It is true that there were fanatical groups in Japan who wanted to fight on, but they were in the minority and were no longer in the driver's seat after Tojo's resignation.
Why couldn't peace have been reached earlier? There was a powerful clique led by General George C. Marshall and Secretary of War James Byrnes, plus certain State Department factions, who obdurately went ahead with plans for an invasion of Japan that wasn't necessary and eventually resorted to the atomic bomb. And it is this clique who influenced Truman. Ironically, the eventual surrender terms were similar to what Japanese were willing to accept months earlier.
Some War Department strategists wanted to use poison gas on Japanese troops, particularly at Iwo Jima, but Admiral Chester Nimitz rejected the idea.
The column written by Father Drew Christianson, S.J., (“Roots of their Rage” Oct. 28-Nov. 3) was partly correct.
The rage of the Muslim world against Christians started can actually be found much earlier. For instance, the year 711 A.D., when Spanish Christians were slaughtered by the Muslim Moors from Northern Africa.
In the “Moorish camp, following the battle of Algeciras, a number of Spanish prisoners were seized, dismembered and their flesh boiled in cauldrons in the presence of other prisoners. These latter were then set at liberty to spread the news that Spain had been invaded by cannibals. The terror that followed may account for the flight of many who were relied upon to oppose the Moor.” … That's from page 21 of Blood-Drenched Altars, by Father Francis Clement Kelly.
JOHN DE MAIO
Hoboken, New Jersey
There have been a number of letters recently about the moral strength of America. The attack on America is not only real in physical terms, but it is real in symbolic terms. It represents as President Bush said: an attack on our way of life—our democratic free process. This is something which carries over from our forefathers as they fought for their freedom years ago. It is what keeps us as a light to others.
The fight now is against evil. It is our sense of justice and truth that takes on the evil of a fanatical group.
We will prevail in the long run, no matter what it takes. But will we come to see the log in our own eye, while taking the splinters out of the eyes of foes?
Their flaws are much easier to see, since they use visible means of destruction to try to bring us to our knees. They did bring us to our knees, but not as they hoped. For it has been on our knees that we have sought the higher power which has always led our fight for justice. Now we have come up with that wisdom, and we are ready to move ahead. We will return time and again to our knees, not to surrender but to seek more strength and wisdom.
I know one thing for sure. If we start out each day on our knees, than this evil will soon be destroyed, and then all the other evils in our country will come tumbling down too. First, the overt evil we have all seen, then the covert evil, which disguises itself in many deceitful ways in our own land. We will be a country where all our citizens are free to choose and live—both the born and unborn, both the healthy and the disabled, both the executive and the janitor. We will be one people, indivisible, under God, with liberty and justice for all.
And, if we stay the course to extinguish all evil, God will bless America … again and again, forever … if.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Jabez is Just Alright With Me
After reading “Catholic Critics Question Evangelical ‘Prayer of Jabez’ Phenomenon” (Oct. 28-Nov. 3), I wanted to express my disappointment with the comments made in it because of the superficial examination of the “prosperity/-word of faith” movement that it provides.
It's clear from some of the criticisms that the commentators are very unfamiliar with the people they are so quick to condemn; many objections they raise would be easily dispelled if they actually took the time to give the movement a fair hearing.
I myself have had very good results from this type of teaching: I worked my way out of a homeless shelter almost 10 years ago and have had no more than a few days of unemployment since in spite of all kinds of unpredictable factors. And I didn't understand what I did back then until a few years later when I looked objectively at these teachings and realized I had implemented them without explicit knowledge of what I was doing.
Also, consider what a ray of hope this is for people in other countries where the poverty is so bad that the only alternative is to sell your children into slavery or brothels.
Are you sure the motives for this teaching are as bad as you say? Should only Marilyn Manson have any influence or money in our society? Furthermore, I would suppose it is far easier to criticize the “movement” than to take on the highly disciplined, highly consecrated lifestyle it encourages.
Far from being only about crass materialism, I have not heard such lofty and practical application of the Gospels in any church of any denomination as I have heard come from them. I strongly encourage those on your staff who are open-minded enough to study their teachings on the fruit of the spirit, on love and on prayer for themselves because they're quite good.
Thank you, Ralph Martin, for telling it like it is (“Is a Great Awakening of Conscience at Hand?” Oct. 14-20). How I wish more priests would preach sermons like that on Sunday.
How I wish the people in the pews would go home and think about such sermons instead of turning on the football game. If the World Trade Center disaster didn't trigger mass repentance, revival and prayer, I suspect much worse will happen until we do get on our knees and forsake our idols.
Cheers for Ben Wiker
Just a quick note to say what an excellent column by Benjamin D.
Wiker titled “Neither Patriot Nor Pacifist, I'm Left With: ‘What to Do?’” (Oct. 14-20).
He says so eloquently what I feel and have been unable to express, and so much more.
Thank you for printing such a fine piece.
The Oct. 14-20 column by Benjamin D. Wiker, “Neither Patriot Nor Pacifist, I'm Left With: ‘What do Do?’” impressed me deeply; it touched my soul. It should be required reading — or at least shared, as I intend to do. Then, “out of this evil,” as he writes, “good may come.”
Long Beach, NY
Editor's note: For those who have access to the Internet, Ben Wiker's Oct. 14-20 column — and much of our coverage of the war on terrorism — is available on our Web site, http://www.ncregister.com.
In these tragic days, would it not be an even greater tragedy if the next baby aborted is the one who was destined to bring an end to the carnage in the world today?
All God's Children?
In the interview with Chiara Lubich (“Is There Something No Attack Can Destroy?”, Oct. 14-20), I noticed a statement that seems to be popular nowadays with interfaith dialoguers: “We are all children of God.”
Such a declaration makes a mockery of the teachings of the Church on baptism (see the Catechism, Nos. 1265 and 1271, etc.). While any reasonable person would certainly support efforts to be charitable and at peace with those of other religions, nevertheless our bond with non-Christians remains that of God's human creatures created in his image and likeness. Only when we are baptized into Christ do we become adopted children of God, with the privilege of calling Jesus our brother and God our Father. Do we appreciate the magnitude of this gift?
I am a convert from a Jewish family. I was received into the Catholic Church 10 years ago.
Redondo Beach, California
I do not think David Quinn's criticism of the Republic of Ireland is justified (“Ireland Shares America's Hurt, But Offers Little” Oct. 28-Nov. 3). Ireland has done as much for the United States and Canada as they have for Ireland.
President Woodrow Wilson did nothing when Ireland was fighting for its freedom; Canada's seizing control of its foreign affairs and expanding “Dominion Status” to independence did the same for the Irish Free State. Prime Minister W.L. Mackenzie King of Canada did that in 1922 and 1923 in several bouts with British Cabinet Minister Winston Churchill.
Over the years and decades Ireland has contributed troops to U.N. peacekeeping missions and had some 16 killed in Lebanon. The last I read on Irish missions, their troops relieved Canadians of their esteemed Royal 22nd (“Van Doo Can Do”) Regiment in East Timor — protecting Timorese Catholics from terrorism and genocide by Indonesian Muslim extremists. A PBS “Out of Ireland” program reported via RTE News that the Irish foreign minister was opening seaports and airports of the republic to “U.S. forces.”
A Time For Healing
Thank you for including Rachel's Vineyard retreats for healing after abortion in your notices of upcoming Catholic retreats (Catholic Planner, Oct. 28-Nov.3). I volunteer with this wonderful organization, and am myself post-abortive.
In the United States, 43% of women, by the time they reach age 45, will have had one or more abortions. We see many women, and couples, on our retreats who have been walking faithfully with God for years, but who carry with them a deep sorrow from one or more abortions in their past.
Knowing of no way to acknowledge and experience their grief, for many people the only way to carry a connection to that lost son or daughter is through lingering feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame and anger. Often, they express that they feel tentative about entering into a full, loving bond with their current children because of a sense that they are defective as parents. Also, the chronic low-level depression that may result from an abortion can keep a mother from fully entering into the role of active, engaged nurturance of her family that she so desires, or a father from feeling adequate as his family's protector.
On the other hand, one of the most common responses experienced as a result of attending a Rachel's Vineyard weekend retreat, or seeking other support, is a new-found peace and confidence in one's role as a parent, and blessedly deeper family ties.
Sometimes those who have experienced an abortion reject the idea of seeking spiritual and psychological healing because they feel that their negative emotions are simply their cross to bear in this life. They reject the idea of experiencing healing, peace, self-forgiveness and a joyful reconciliation with God about an action they have come to believe was gravely wrong.
The retreat weekend is a way to experience God's will, not our own, about how to carry this cross.
I encourage any of your readers who are post-abortive to seek healing. The Web address of Rachel's Vineyard is http://www.rachelsvineyard.org; their toll-free number is 1-877-HOPE-4-ME. The Rachel's Vineyard Web site has a page listing the retreat locations and times around the country. Another source for post-abortion reconciliation is Project Rachel, at http://www.mu.edu/rachel-/projectrachels.html.
Spring Green, Wisconsin
Stations of Conversion
Regarding “New Stations of the Cross Catch On” (Nov. 4-10):
I fully agree that the approach of Pope John Paul II can be applied with spiritual benefit to the faithful. The effort on the part of artists and composers of prayers or meditations to be “biblically correct” is laudable.
One hopes that attention would be paid as well to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and the Holy See with regard to the Jewish people. Otherwise, some may generalize from the involvement of “Temple police” and the Sanhedrin in the arrest and trial of Jesus.
“What happened in Jesus' passion cannot be attributed without distinction to all Jews then alive, nor to Jews today” (Nostra Aetate, No. 4). As the Roman Catechism of 1566 advised, recalling Hebrews 6:6: Any reflection on the Passion should focus on our need for conversion.
FATHER LAWRENCE E. FRIZZELL
South Orange, New Jersey
The writer is director of the Institute of Judaeo-Christian Studies at Seton Hall University.
BY Jim Cosgrove
A Comeback? Just War Never Left!
Regarding “Battling by the Book: Just War Makes a Comeback,” Oct. 21-28:
While almost always I find the Register to be the most insightful of all daily or weekly news sources, I was greatly disturbed by several unchallenged assertions made by individuals quoted in your article on just war and the war in Afghanistan.
To begin with, while Britain's Royal Air Force did target German residential areas at night, the American 8th Air Force practiced daylight precision bombing, targeting factories. While the precision of the time was far from precise, the Air Force did its best within the limits of technology to hit only military targets.
Furthermore, to argue that the Allies’ insistence on unconditional surrender was morally unjustified because it prolonged the war ignores that a conditional surrender would have left the fascist leaders in control of Germany and Japan. Besides setting the stage for another war, it would have let the Nazis continue to slaughter the Jews and others within Germany. Conditional surrender certainly would have shortened World War II, but greatly increased the death and destruction in the long run.
The same is true with the atomic bombing of Japan. As we learned after the war, the military government in control of Japan intended on fighting to the last, causing an estimated one million Japanese and 100,000 American casualties. Even after the blockade and atomic attacks, it took the personal intervention of the Japanese emperor to force the government to surrender.
Finally, I wonder about the reliability of the entire article, given the confusion the author seems to have between the 16th century and the 1600s. The article states that the traditional Christian rules on warfare were largely abandoned during the religious wars of the “16th century,” but then were returned to in the 17th and 18th century. The 17th century unquestionably saw the greatest period of religious wars and abandonment of Christian warfare. This period included the Thirty Years War (1618-48), the English Civil War and the subsequent holy wars of Oliver Cromwell (died 1658). While these all occurred in the 1600s, that makes it the 17th century, since the 1st century A.D. covers the period 0-99 A.D.
(Please note: These opinions are my own and not those of the Air Force.)
SIGURD R. PETERSON JR.
The writer is a major in the U.S. Air Force.
A Comeback? Just War Absent Still!
With regret I disagree with the statement in your editorial “Just War Returns” (Oct 21-28): “So what the U.S. is doing instead — so far — is to target the Taliban regime and take pains to keep civilian casualties as low as possible.”
It would appear that the hundreds of thousands fleeing to Pakistan are victims of “terrorism,” in a sense. As you pointed out, massive destruction by our country is not new.
Patriotic Like the Pope
Two recent items in the Register (“Neither Patriot Nor Pacifist, I'm Left With: ‘What to Do?’” by Benjamin Wiker (Oct. 14-20) and David Kluge's letter in the Oct. 21-27 issue come close to asserting that Catholics are not Americans. Mr. Wiker states that this is necessarily so because, at baptism, he assumed a “higher allegiance.” Patriotism is therefore beside the point. Mr. Kluge might have pledged allegiance to the American flag of 1789, but our country's fall from its Christian origins has left him little or nothing that is worthy of honor.
These views may be motivated by a desire to love God, but they are clearly wrong. First, they support the old libel that Catholics cannot be true Americans. Second, they are totally at odds with the approach of our Holy Father to faith and culture. John Paul II on his visits to the United States continually exhorts Americans to live up to what is best in our culture and heritage. This is, of course, his approach to the faithful in every country. The Pope himself is just as much a Polish patriot now as ever. Neither his election in 1978 nor any present difficulties in his homeland have changed this one bit, as all can see.
There is much to love in America. All Catholics should happily sing “God Bless America,” which, after all, is a prayer that God will bless our country.
DONALD P. BOYLE JR.
Clash or Dialogue of Civilizations?
Why is Father Richard John Neuhaus fighting his Pope? His “Just War Is an Obligation of Charity” (Perspective, Oct. 7-13) urges us to “appreciate” Samuel Huntington's “clash of civilizations” arguments. On the contrary, it is the implementation of such ideas that is destroying our civilization.
In the 1970s and 80s, our pathetic geopoliticians (like Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski) implemented Huntington's ideas by sponsoring and supporting the Afghanis, especially against the Soviet invasion of 1979. We had much help (you could even say “direction”) from especially British, but also French, intelligence circles, who have played the “Great Game” on the southern borders of Russia for centuries. We now have “terrorists for hire,” connected to the drug- and warlords of the area, who have been promoted by, and still may be influenced by, leading agents of the “Christian West.”
Such are the fruits of the “clash of civilizations.”
Pope John Paul II has tirelessly opposed such geopolitics by encouraging a “dialogue among civilizations” and by promoting a profound ecumenism between especially Christians, Muslims and Jews. These efforts [reflect] Pope Paul VI's formulation [in his 1967 encyclical Populorum Progressio]:“Development is the new name for peace.”
Father Neuhaus responds:
I am afraid that Mr. Smedberg conflates and confuses at least three distinct questions. As to whether the U.S. response to terrorist acts of war constitutes a just war as defined by Catholic social doctrine, I wrote that I believe the answer is Yes. As to his polemic against Messrs. Kissinger and Brzezinski, and whether their actions were based on Samuel Huntington's thesis regarding a clash of civilizations, I believe his judgments are excessively harsh and, meaning no offense, simplistic. As to the Church's irrevocable commitment to Christian unity and interreligious understanding, and to development as the basis of peace, there can be no question. Nor did anything I wrote suggest otherwise.
Excommunicating Politicians 101
Abortion is the most flagrant and widespread offense against the basic right to life of all human persons in the United States. A country that “legally” kills over a million of its children each year is fundamentally disordered and, despite any material or technological successes, cannot be considered peaceful or just, let alone a moral authority in world affairs.
Cardinal Cipriani's recent canonical action against Catholic politicians in Peru (“Peru Cardinal Puts Lawmakers on the Spot” and “U.S. Drive Wants the Same, But Critics Raise Questions,” Oct. 14-20) brings into a clearer light a specific dimension of this problem: the complicity of Catholics. There currently are dozens of Catholics in Congress who consider themselves “pro-choice.” What can be done to reverse this negative Catholic witness?
Last April, Catholics United for the Faith issued a position paper that addresses this controversial topic. It reviews magisterial teaching on the subject, examines the particular situation in the United States and the U.S. bishops’ response, examines specific issues raised by the Ashcroft hearings and offers practical, constructive steps for lay people to take in addressing these serious concerns.
To request a copy of this position paper, contact
827 North Fourth St.
Steubenville, OH 43952
LEON J. SUPRENANT
The writer is president of Catholics United for the Faith.
Due to an editing error, the first name of the president of Syria was misspelled in Gabriel Meyer's Oct. 21-27 op-ed, “Mao as Important as Mohammed to Terrorists.” The president's name, correctly spelled: Bashar Assad. We regret the error.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Cheer for Teens
The Oct. 21-27 “Facts of Life” panel contained the September finding of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. The campaign found that 83% of teens “say religion is important in their lives and guides their decisions, even in the area of sexuality.”
When you add to that the campaign's April finding that more than 93% of teens said they want “a strong message from society that they should abstain from sex until they are at least out of high school”—and the fact that an August Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that only 25% of teens are “sexually active,” i.e., had sex in the last three months, and the fact that sex is so prevalent in our culture—we have to stand up and cheer for teens.
The Kaiser survey belies the Planned Parenthood deception that “everybody is doing it” and all teens must be taught to use contraceptives, which, for teens, have high failure rates resulting in out of wedlock pregnancy and other problems. According to the Physicians Consortium, the highest rate of teen pregnancy is among contraceptive users.
Despite TV, movies, music, magazines, advertisements and Internet sites competing to see which can include more sex and corrupt and injure teens with the promotion of teen contraception, the vast majority of teens reject permissive sex.
We need to provide more support for teens in the war on their values. Parents, the first line of defense for teens, must be vigilant in discussing love, marriage and sex in a positive way with their teens, because teens whose parents do so are the least likely to engage in sexual activity.
Also, teen-chastity programs such as those featured in the Register (like Jason Evert's) should be an integral part of teens’ education, not just a once-a-year event.
Finally, teens need an appealing Internet site that provides the Church's teaching on love, marriage, sex, families, contraception and the problems flowing from contraception and pre-marital sex—abortion, STDs, undermining the family, etc.
Silver Spring, Maryland
Mark LaPointe makes an excellent point in his Oct. 14-20 letter, noting that one cannot be possessed by the Holy Spirit and an evil spirit at the same time (“Possessed by Whom?”). Scripture and Sacred Tradition hold that truth unequivocally.
But he leaves out any discussion of satanic activity short of possession. I find this remarkable, since each Christian deals with this area on a daily basis. Satan and his minions’ attacks are not limited to possession. Remember Jesus’ own session with temptation by Satan after his 40 days’ fast? Jesus was tempted even though there was no way he could ever be possessed. The lesson is that we can also be tempted, but Jesus will come to our aid with divine power if we call upon him. One of the reasons this incident is in the Gospel is to demonstrate Jesus’ power over Satan and his evil ways, which (among other things), he came to conquer.
Without Jesus’ help, we are just like weak humanity before they knew they could call on him, that is, trying to fight spiritual enemies on our own without spiritual power. (Devils are fallen angels and, as such, have powers far beyond mere unaided human power. Without Christ, we would be overmatched.)
In Mother Teresa's case, it appears she was being tested with some type of temptation or harassment while she was ill. Of course, the danger of her being possessed was remote indeed. She was not fighting satanic power on her own. She had God's help through his indwelling. Her illness weakened her, so her archbishop (ex-officio led by the Spirit) had an exorcist pray with her for deliverance from the vexation and she was delivered—not from possession but from the devil's testing, whatever it was.
A good spiritual director once told us students that if we are in a state of grace a devil could not possess us, but he can sure whisper in our ears. Anyone who has been seriously tempted should be aware of that. The Cure of Ars now has a plaque on his bedroom wall to commemorate the many nights he wrestled with the evil one who would not let him sleep.
That power of Satan to harass and tempt, short of possession, is left out of the letter as well as the editor's comment. Coping with this kind of satanic activity is basic everyday Catholic spirituality. Omitting this area is, I believe, symptomatic of the crisis of faith we currently experience. In C.S. Lewis’ great book The Screwtape Letters, a senior devil tells his student devil Wormwood that the best way to advance the triumph of the kingdom of darkness is to convince humans that devils do not exist. The success of this strategy is seen everywhere.
The need for awareness of Satan and how he deceives us has never been greater. The Holy Father has asked that bishops arrange classes on exorcism so that every diocese could have at least one priest qualified to assume the office of exorcist. I'm afraid to ask how many dioceses do not have an exorcist. I believe the answer would likely be frightening.
JOSEPH B. CALLAGHER
Your editorial titled “A Catholic Moment” (Oct. 14-20) is a telling and timely message that should be read and re-read. It is a lesson of understanding and recognition of what makes America great—the ordinary American who is willing to risk his life for the love of others.
Your editorial accompanies two front-page stories on the drive to excommunicate pro-abortion politicians. This irony generates in me a vision of another burning tower where innocent life is being consumed daily, and those flames have been raging for almost 30 years. This devastation of innocent unborn human life is also a great evil. So why does it continue to burn after so many years? The answer is: We haven't done enough.
You are right when you say lay Catholics need to follow the example of our newest American heroes. But, in my opinion, it's more important now that our religious leaders follow their example. Yes, our religious leaders have tried to douse the flames of abortion by their pronouncements and activities, but if our country achieves greatness through the heroism of ordinary people, what does that fact demand of our leaders when abortion continues to consume millions of innocent lives?
If the American bishops, as a body, were to excommunicate all Catholics who brazenly claim to be pro-abortion, they would counter years of mixed messages. We have, in effect, perpetuated confusion and conflict among Catholics, and have encouraged the pro-abortion politicians to continue their betrayal of the unborn (and the Church) because they know they'll still get elected. Isn't that a gauntlet thrown down to the bishops?
The American bishops have the power and the responsibility to excommunicate—as prescribed by Church law. This bold act would certainly get America's attention and the media's tendency to want to embarrass the Catholic Church would result in the widespread repetition of the message people need to hear. And the great majority will see it as a major effort to clarify and resolve the confusion. Catholics and others will understand and know in their hearts and minds, that they can't be “pro-choice” and be Catholic!
And then, if the Holy Spirit helps us spread that truth, we won't have to listen to a “Catholic” politician like Governor Gray Davis say, as he did repeatedly during his election campaign, that he was for a woman's right to choose—a sentence he was careful not to finish so he could avoid the hideous imagery of a baby's extermination.
When Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton are reversed we will admit our shame, but then society will look at today's generation to search for a scapegoat, similar to the Pius XII fiasco, where shameless liars are trying to defame an historic figure. These scapegoat hunters, and society at large, will ask some serious questions. Did the American Catholic Church do enough? What action could they have taken to stop the barbarism sooner? And why didn't they?
CHARLES N. MARRELLI
Deny the Double-Dealers
There has to be some outcry when politicians repeatedly use the Catholic Church as a voting constituency yet ridicule its hardest teachings—especially when it comes to abortion (“Excommunicating Pro-Abortion Politicians,” Oct. 14-20). Here in New Jersey we have a gubernatorial race involving a Catholic, Jim McGreevey, who says things like, “My mother prays the rosary for the economy.” And has twice used the steps of a church to issue press releases on his commitment to himself—to his campaign. “Here on the steps where I was baptized …”
He has the endorsement of every major abortion-advocacy group, and he supported partial-birth abortion against the will of his own people.
We in New Jersey ask for prayers for the non-Catholic pro-life candidate Bret Schundler. The open way the pro-abortion candidate, Jim McGreevey, has flaunted and courted the millions of Catholics in New Jersey brings shame to us all. Furthering the shame is the fact that there has been no condemnation from any diocese in the state. If we cannot excommunicate Mr. McGreevey, we can hope at least to disen-franchise this kind of political/religious double dealing.
Morristown, New Jersey
BY Jim Cosgrove
St. Maria Goretti, martyred for her purity, forgave her murderer before she died, and appeared to him from heaven while he was in prison telling him he would be in heaven with her too. Pope John Paul II went to prison to forgive his assailant as well. Michael Ross, no. 127404, death row inmate of the Northern Correctional Institution, Somers, Conn., convicted for the murder and rape of eight women and various other crimes, seeks reconciliation (“Death Row,” see Letters, Nov. 3-9).
The Sacrament of Reconciliation in the Catholic Church will give him pardon and peace. Jesus Christ, the ultimate victim, will forgive his sins and he is the only one who can speak for the murdered victims. No one else can. I can forgive your crime against me, I cannot forgive your crime against my neighbor.
Mary De Voe
South River, New Jersey
I resent being fed the English government line by Ben Kobus in London. He writes of “the potential resurgence of the Northern Ireland crisis” (“For Retiring Irish Primate, Peace Hinges on Faith,” Oct. 20). The Northern Ireland “crisis” has been ongoing every minute of every day since 1920. It is the result of a grave injustice foisted upon Ulster's Protestants. They had fought “home rule” but got it anyway. They had envisioned no partition of Ireland but Ulster itself was divided, and tens of thousands of Ulster Protestants were trapped in what to them was a foreign state.
Two of Northern Ireland's six counties had Catholic majorities; 40 percent of the population was Catholic. There were 100,000 Catholics in Belfast and 60 percent of Londonderry's people were Catholics. Obviously, Northern Ireland was not going to remain both a civilized, democratic state and a “Protestant” one. The English knew that when they set it up. Elsewhere they set Jew against Arab, Hindu against Moslem, Greek against Turk, New France against New England, etc. The record of British rule in India, North America, Cyprus, Palestine clearly shows that “divide the conquered” was the preferred policy.
In Northern Ireland, Catholics were to be denied the vote, a job (in either the private or public sector), and public housing in a concerted effort to encourage their emigration. Irish Catholics are engaged in a constant struggle for dignity and rights in a fascist police/army state. Think of Dr. Martin Luther King and the civil rights struggle— there was a constant story of injustice, while flareups were just the tip.
Why doesn't Kobus go to Londonderry and report the real story?
South River, New Jersey
Eat and Run
During the summer months, I am often a guest in different Catholic parishes. I're grown to love the many differences between the churches; architecture, music, the priests, and my brothers and sisters in Christ. One thing many have in common, however, is an apparent lack of reverence for Holy Communion. I am shocked at so many communicants' exodus immediately after reception of the Eucharist.
It seems that the banquet of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus has become just another fast food experience for busy Catholics. One morning as I arrived, I bumped into a lady running down the church steps busily chewing the Blessed Sacrament. So many people were leaving church I thought I had arrived just in time for the next Mass. Once inside, I was surprised to see parishioners still in line to receive while others were exiting the church without stopping to give Jesus any acknowledgment or reverence.
Many Catholics appear to take Jesus' presence for granted, no longer savoring the holy food. Don't eat and run when it comes to Christ!
New Orleans, Louisiana
Your correspondence regarding the Register,its features and Catholic issues are welcome. Submissions should be typed doublespace, and sent to: Letters to the Editor, National Catholic Register, 33 Rossotto Drive, Hamden, CT 06514; or faxed to: (203) 288- 5157; or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
BY Robert Phelan Belmar
The Oct. 27 article on Ethiopian Christians (“Queen of Sheba's Visit to King Solomon Sparked Centuries of Pilgrimage to Jerusalem”) claims that they “do not believe in the Trinity.”This is untrue. When we read that comment to a friend, a Coptic Catholic, he confirmed that the Ethiopian Orthodox believe in the Trinity.
James and Rosemarie Scott Queens, New York
I would like to respond to the letter “School of the Americas”(Sept. 29) from Capt. Kevin McIver. I am a Jesuit priest serving a four-month federal sentence for demonstrating against the School of the Americas (SOA). I am presently incarcerated at the prison camp at Sheridan, Ore; 12 of my companions were also given prison sentences.
The U.N. Truth Commission investigated the activities in the El Salvador war (1979-91) in which our government supported the military dictatorship there with supplies, military training, and the use of U.S. troops. The commission indicted 60 of the highest ranking military officers for human rights abuses. Of these officers, 49 were SOA graduates. Their victims included Archbishop Oscar Romero, four Religious women, six Jesuits, a housekeeper and daughter, 900 inhabitants of El Mazote, and countless others. The deadly Atalactl Battalion, responsible for many of the atrocities, trained at the SOA.
What is true of El Salvador is true of most other Latin America countries. Through the years there have been 10 SOA-trained military dictators in various Latin America countries who were involved in terrible slaughters of their own people.
Amnesty International notes that Columbia has had the worst human rights record in the western hemisphere in the last few years. SOA graduates from Columbia, using the excuse of drug interdiction efforts, are using their counter-insurgency tactics against their own people. The course in human rights that has been introduced into curriculum as a result of public protest “is a laugh,”says retired Major Joseph Blair, who was an instructor at the SOA. He simply says, “the school should be closed.”The government has admitted the existence of a manual of torture that was put out by the SOA as part of the training program.
This has not been, as the government claims, the “work of a few bad apples.”The opposite is true.
For our government and its representatives to say that the SOA is necessary to introduce democracy into Latin America is tantamount to placing the fox in charge of the chicken house. We need to accept responsibility for allowing the SOA to remain open. Working together to close the SOA will be a way for us to gain our souls and our freedom and help the people of Central America gain theirs.
Father Bill Bichsel, S.J. Federal inmate no. 86275-020 Tacoma, Washington
In an otherwise excellent article on Cardinal Cahal Daly (“For Retiring Irish Primate, Peace Hinges on Faith,”Oct. 20), Ben Kobus writes of íthe potential resurgence of the Northern Ireland crisis.î
The “Northern Ireland crisis”—which is as old as Northern Ireland—will persist so long as Northern Ireland exists. The English set up two Irelands: in the “south,”a state 90 percent Roman Catholic, which brought the best out of the Catholics—peace, equality, civil and religious freedom, power-sharing with Jews and Protestants etc.; in the “north,”a monstrosity! Ulster was divided; tens of thousands of Ulster Protestants trapped in the Republic. Nearly 1 million Protestants locked into a state with 600,000 Roman Catholics who expected in 1920 an end to four centuries of Protestant abuse!
Northern Ireland's second city, Derry, had a 68 percent Roman Catholic majority and a Catholic lord mayor. Counties Fermanagh and Tyrone had Roman Catholic majorities. Most of the countryside was in the hands of Roman Catholics and 100,000 of them lived in Belfast. Today only 50.6 percent of the people identify themselves as Protestants (1991 census). The end is in sight.
If Ben Kobus covered the story from Londonderry instead of London he would have seen the struggle for votes, jobs, and housing and an end to repression as an everyday affair.
Robert Phelan Belmar, New Jersey
BY Jim Cosgrove
I noted the somewhat negative review of my book, The Saints Show Us Christ (“Role Models and Friends in Heaven,” May 12), in your pages. Unfortunately the reviewer missed the whole point. The book is not for monks and scholars, but the people in the pews. Imagine him counting the number of entries of each saint, or being disturbed that the one entry of St. Paul was not on the feast of St. Paul. The people say “Who cares?”
The people love this book; the hardworking, family people—the backbone of the Church—who have been confused so much in recent years by the scholars. Many proud writers in the Church have all but done away with the saints. The people are glad they are back, and are presented in daily readings for inspiration each day. How do I know this? Because for more than 45 years I have worked in the parish, with the people, laughing and crying with them, talking with them. They are the neglected people of the Church but they are “the salt of the earth.” Let us not begrudge a book written for them.
To complain that a book for the people is not a scholarly tome is quite beside the point altogether.
Father Rawley Myers Colorado Springs, Colorado
With all due respect to the American Life League, I feel that the approach that they are using to argue against RU-486 is not effectual in prevention (“RU- 486 Foes Use Risk Factor in PR Campaign,” Aug. 11).
I do not feel that a woman in a desperate situation will care at all about the risk she is taking with her body, considering that she took the chance on pregnancy in the first place.
The argument with RU-486 is best applied when its consequences to society as a whole is perceived.
Was human life meant to be flushed down a toilet? Can our society, so threatened with violence and apathy, afford to allow human life to become so disposable? Can we allow this pill to enter our materialistic society when the poor are being so oppressed?
Most people are appalled at partial-birth abortion, an obvious massacre of human life. Yet the implications and inevitable effects of the RU-486 pill on society are, in a sense, much more damaging. Not only will this pill destroy human life, but it will allow our nation to subliminally target and destroy our nation's poor as it threatens the sanctity of the remaining survivors.
Valerie Terzi Manhattan, Kansas
Capital punishment, euthanasia, voluntary abortion— that they are logically, reasonably, and justifiably wrong is a certainty, therefore an absolute.
The acceptance, notoriety, glorification, and publicity these wrongs receive, need to be stopped. Yet many high courts, legislative bodies, educators, politicians, media and news representatives, some religious leaders, and large percentages of society do not reject, but accept and even support these monstrosities. Why no presidential candidate has enough fortitude to publicly reject these collective wrongs is a disgrace.
With this blatant disregard for the absolute, how can we expect to prevent wars, stop terrorism, reduce crime, or lessen social problems. Human dignity, legitimate self-defense, justice, and common sense have been made a mockery of by the acceptance of these wrongs.
Hopefully with work, sensibility, and prayer, our local, state, national, and world leaders, along with society, will reject these wrongs, and honor and abide by the absolute.
I believe future historians, when they review and analyze the past, will in retrospect say, “Surely they must have known.”
Zeno Boehmer Nacogdoches, Texas
Allow me to make two corrections to David Finnigan's story on the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels to be designed by JosÈ Rafael Moneo for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles (“L.A. Picks Design for Cathedral of the Year 2000,” Aug. 11).
The archdiocese never intended to incorporate the old cathedral of St. Vibiana into the new Cathedral Square project, although the original plan was to build anew on the same site. The old cathedral suffered more than $20 million in earthquake damage and there is neither the money nor the desire to repair it, especially since it was so woefully inadequate.
(Indeed, Pope St. Pius X authorized its demolition in 1904 in favor of a new cathedral that would be better able to serve the thriving community of Los Angeles. When St. Vibiana's was dedicated in 1876, there were about 10,000 people in all of Los Angeles; today, the Archdiocese numbers about 4.5 million Catholics!)
Second, the Los Angeles City Council took the old cathedral off the list of historic places on July 17, 1996. The archdiocese removed all significant historic, religious and liturgical items from the old building so that they will be available for the new Cathedral Square complex. It has always been the intention of the archdiocese to “memorialize” the old cathedral in the new. The mortal remains of St. Vibiana, virgin and martyr, will rest in a prominent devotional chapel in the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
Father Gregory Coiro, O.F.M. Cap. Director of Media Relations Archdiocese of Los Angeles
While iconography is a treasured and valued asset in the Eastern Church, the West often seems to misunderstand or misinterpret it. In the Aug. 4 issue on page 5, in a description of an icon of the Last Supper stating “the beardless figure of Jesus blesses the chalice….”
The figure of Jesus is actually on the left side of the table. In iconography, Christ is depicted with a halo containing a cross and the Greek “0 WN” (the one who is).
Edmund Gronkiewicz Chicago, Illinois
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