To: (Multiple email addresses may be specified by separating them with a comma)
BY Father Kevin Christofferson
Bill O'Reilly Booster
In your May 4-10 issue, you had yet another small but negative report concerning Bill O'Reilly (“O'Reilly Condemns Pope — Again”). You have rightly pointed out many times that the media likes to dwell on the negatives of the Catholic priesthood and, in particular, the sex-abuse scandal, despite the fact that only a tiny percentage of priests have been involved in this evil. Well, I think that you might be doing the same thing with regard to O'Reilly — that is, dwelling on the small percentage of what is negative about him.
Concerning the Pope, O'Reilly has been a disrespectful, crass bully and fails miserably to see the greatness and undoubted holiness of John Paul. Concerning other issues, O'Reilly is far from perfect, and he is sometimes disgracefully hot-tempered. But I believe that overall he has done great work.
There has been in recent years a revolution in the media. The snobby, secularist, rich liberals no longer have all the power. This is due in large part to Fox News in general and Bill O'Reilly in particular. He is a potent voice of ordinary, commonsense values. And he's not playing a role, either; these values are what he really holds. The power people in the media used to be able to ignore or scorn such values, but notice that this is not so easy for them to do anymore.
Through the years he's been on, O'Reilly has taken on or challenged the powerful with great effect: the corrupt Clinton administration, Jessie Jackson, the rap-music industry and other venal corruptors of children, the anti-God fanatics, the anti-Christian artists, the moral relativists, the historical revisionists. And with the pro-choicers he has achieved some real dialogue where there is otherwise hopeless and angry polarization.
Now I do not go to Bill O'Reilly for my theology; he is rather shallow in that regard. But for commonsense, morally decent reporting of the news, who is better? That's not a rhetorical question, either: Please tell me who you think is better at reporting the news in a fair and balanced and fearless manner than O'Reilly? Tell me and I'll seriously consider your suggestion. But I doubt you will be able to give me a name.
Editor's note: The way you've framed your question precludes its being answered in a fair and balanced way. As Bill O'Reilly himself often points out, he does not report the news: He comments on it.
I take issue with Angelo Matera's reference to “… our economy's obsession with cutthroat competition” (“The Pope and St. Joseph on Wall Street,” May 11-17). First, though, let me say that I do so with some reserve. Mr. Matera, as the former chief executive officer of your parent corporation, has done a service to the Church by his work with your excellent Catholic newspaper.
However, is the competition in our economy “cutthroat” — or is it simply the result of consumers being offered choices and those consumers exercising choice according to their preferences? And if so, what's wrong with that? What alternative might he propose?
For example, if the Register grows in circulation and other competitive newspapers diminish in circulation (or even go out of business), is that a “cutthroat” thing, or simply consumers exercising their preference? And isn't that a good thing? Or at least morally neutral? And could not the same thing be said about the holy Roman Catholic Church and, say, Gnosticism? Then again, Wal-Mart and Kmart; Toyota and Edsel?
By no means do I argue that our economy (or the “global economy” for that matter) is perfect. I doubt any economy will ever be perfect on this earth. At the same time, criticizing our economy's competitive nature, albeit one with “winners” and “losers,” seems misguided to me. The focus, at the end of the day, in any economy, needs to be on each individual's decisions and actions vis-‡-vis the economy, his community, his neighbors and his family.
Perhaps I missed Mr. Matera's point. One thing I do know is that I am proud our “economy” or society offers choices and the opportunity for newcomers, who offer a more satisfying product, to succeed.
JOHN RODA, ESQ.
Angelo Matera responds: Honest, hard competition is a good thing. “Ruthless” competition happens when money is placed above God and morality, and the desire to grow or maximize profits becomes an end in itself. This is what got investment and accounting firms, and dot-coms, in trouble during the Internet boom. It's the reason so many large companies use appeals to greed, sex, violence, fear and vanity to sell their products.
Our faith is not a purely private matter. Whether or not you favor more government intervention in the marketplace, all Catholics should speak up about the amorality that dominates American business culture today.
Regarding “Hark! The Herald Daddy Sings” (Family Matters, April 27-May 3):
As a father of six, I used to enjoy singing in church. It seems to me that in the last several years all the songs have been put into a higher key. I'm not a musician, so am not familiar with how one would go about doing that. My suspicion is that it was done deliberately as part of the feminist movement. Even my wife has a hard time getting to the top notes most of the time. I've noticed that some of the leaders have to strain at times. It would be interesting to research this matter to see who made the decision to go this way.
If ever you want men to sing along without rupturing their throats, see if you can get this changed. Thank for your attention and may the good Lord bless you on your way.
Materialism and The Matrix
I read with great interest “Into the Gnostic Wonderland” (April 6-12) by Father Alfonso Aguilar. While I appreciate the teaching on Gnosticism in general, I would stop short of using the movie The Matrix as a vehicle for this particular instruction. The movie is highly deceptive. By this I mean to say that almost any person of any particular religious stripe can read his or her particular religious tradition into it.
I would recommend that, for any serious discussion that has to do with this movie, one really ought to read Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard. Mr. Baudrillard is a contemporary French philosopher whose book was included in the opening scenes of The Matrix. One may remember that Neo took this book from a shelf in the movie and opened it to the last chapter. It was titled: “On Nihilism.”
Simulacra and Simulation is a work that attempts to describe postmodern materialism, and it consists of ponderous observations of the author regarding Western culture. There are quotes from the book that are in the movie itself (i.e., “welcome to the desert of the real”). In very general terms, Jean Baudrillard suggests that much of our culture (which has strong leanings toward a foundation in materialism) is based on simulations of reality that have no foundation in reality itself. He goes on to demonstrate how he believes that the “real” continually rears itself up against such simulations, thus forcing the simulation to reinvent itself over and over again. A very strong theme in The Matrix.
I do not wish to criticize Father Aguilar for the fine work he has done in outlining the system of Gnosticism, but I honestly think that the Matrix movie franchise is simply a dark commentary on a Western culture that is losing its soul to materialism, and nothing more.
FATHER KEVIN CHRISTOFFERSON
The writer is pastor of St. Patrick's Church in Butte, Montana.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Pro-Life Doesn't Mean Anti-Animal
Regarding “The Holocaust, Animal Rights and Abortion: PETA's Latest Display Angers Many” (April 27-May 3):
PETA does not speak for all vegetarians when it says that humans and animals are equal. Killing a human baby is worse than killing an animal. However, I do think those of us who are pro-life need to look at how we treat all of God's creatures. Billions of animals in the factory farms of America have known no other life than one of suffering and pain. All because we like the taste of meat. Meat is not necessary for our health and, according to the American Dietetic Association, can cause many diseases.
I challenge anyone who eats meat to visit the large factories where most meat and poultry comes from, or even a slaughterhouse. You will be shocked at where your dollars go every day. Anyway, vegetables, whole grains, beans, etc., are cheaper. Eat them and send your profits to the pro-life campaign.
While the pain and suffering of what animals are subject to is not on the same level as that of babies who are aborted, this doesn't make the way we are treating animals right.
Long Beach, California
In “Rochester Diocese Hopes to Expand Cathedral” (Media Watch, April 27-May3) was the statement that the Rochester Diocese “said they were unaware of any lay opposition to the [renovation] project” planned for Sacred Heart Cathedral. What a glaring lie!
When parishioners voiced objections at parish-council meetings in fall 2000, they closed the meetings. The Sacred Heart Preservation Committee was formed and gathered more than 7,000 signatures against the renovation. We petitioned the city to give landmark status to the cathedral in order to preserve it and prevent destructive renovation. The diocese opposed landmark status and it was denied. We have appealed that denial and are currently involved in court proceedings over it.
In February 2001 we were filmed delivering a copy of the petition (then bearing 3,000 signatures) to the bishop's residence. At the same time, outside, the media filmed 50 people holding the 120 pages of the petition in a line running along the street. There have been numerous letters to the bishop and to the local papers opposing the project. Your own Judy Roberts even covered the controversy just a few months ago. Local investigative reporters have filed stories on it. Sacred Heart's pastor has tried to prevent the distribution of fliers that occurs after every Sunday Mass. How could anyone from the diocese say they were unaware of opposition after almost three years of battle?
Given that you yourselves covered this, how do you justify reporting the lie without challenging it? Dare we hope you will correct this failure and report the truth – that there has been strong and consistent opposition to the renovation from a majority of local Catholics? The only people who have supported it are those who were hand-picked to be on the renovation committee.
I look forward to seeing a correction in your next edition. After all, this carries national significance because Sacred Heart is the only cathedral ever assigned to Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, who is now being considered for sainthood.
MARY E. ARAMINI, ESQ.
Rochester, New York
The Rochester Diocese Responds
Thank you for the opportunity to clarify a sentiment attributed to the diocese that claims we were not aware of any opposition to our cathedral project. Having attended press conferences and demonstrations staged by a small but very vocal group that opposes any plan to renovate Sacred Heart Cathedral, I am certainly aware of their opposition. The statement I gave to a reporter was in response to his question of whether I was aware of a petition that carried approximately 80 signatures of neighborhood residents opposed to a plan to expand parking. Until the time of our conversation, I was not. I went on to reinforce the fact that the two major neighborhood associations in that area strongly supported the cathedral project, as did the overwhelming majority of parishioners.
Director of Communications Diocese of Rochester
Salvation and the Jews
Regarding “Papal Preacher Weighs in on U.S. Debate about Conversion of Jews” (April 20–26):
As a Jewish convert to the Catholic faith whose eyes were opened not by human testimony but by a dream, I can tell you that some powerful prayers must have been raised to heaven – whether “the Church as a whole” desires Jewish conversions or not.
As far as evangelizing the Jews is concerned, it is risky trying to convince a Jewish person that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. Of those Jews who even believe in an expected Messiah, many see the messiah not as a person but as an event, i.e. the achievement of world peace. And then, how to reach Jews who aren't “religious” and barely believe in God at all? And what about those who, for historic or current reasons, have a low opinion of the Catholic Church or even some anger toward her?
Father Cantalamessa says we need to first love the Jews in order to be able to speak the sometimes harsh-sounding words of Scripture to them. However, in my opinion, prayer is a different matter altogether. Personally, I don't care if whoever prayed for my conversion loved me or hated me, or the Jewish people in general. Perhaps their motive was even not referring to forced conversions or to hostile campaigns targeting Jews for conversions but only to prayer.
In my case, the result was that God gave the grace so that today I have the joy of knowing and serving Jesus as my lord and savior, my friend and my bridegroom, and of being united with him each day at holy Mass.
So I beseech all readers to pray for conversions of Jews, Muslims and people of all faiths or of no faith – simply because the difference between life without Jesus and life with Jesus is like night and day.
Hermosa Beach, California
Graphic Photos Get the Job Done
Susan Wills makes the statement: “I know of no prominent abortionist, clinic owner or abortion activist who was won over by intimidation or bloody fetus photos” (“A Mom's Journey to U.S. Bishops’ Office,” Inperson, April 6–12).
There is controversy over showing the gruesome details of what abortion is all about, brought about mainly by those who want to keep their heads in the sand. To many, abortion is just a word that they want to put into the back of their minds, hoping it will go away. It will not go away until decent people rise up and demand that the politicians, most of whom are being bribed by the abortion industry, vote to outlaw abortion, or they will not get their votes.
While “bloody fetus photos” may not have changed the aforementioned people, they have changed the minds of many young people, especially on college campuses.
Malverne, New York
The Perils of Pagan Economics
On page 9 of the May 11–17 Register, [an oped essay titled “The Pope and St. Joseph on Wall Street"] claims that the Pope has said that a free economy is not consistent with Catholic justice. There are perils of a “culture of consumption” and “idolatry of the market.” But peril is neither failure nor injustice. It is also unclear what the author means by a “free” economy.
An economy is people doing things for each other. There can be many reasons people do things for each other, including carrot, stick, love and divine vocation. Rarely is justice the primary motivation. Justice is a social order, often an ideal social order.
The Bible teaches that only divine justice is sustainable, and it is achievable only in following Christ (e.g., Isaiah 55:8 and 1 Corinthians 4, among many others). Therefore, that economy best suited to justice is one that is most open to people responding to divine vocation and the love of God. To the extent that divine vocation has elements external to interactions solely between humans, an economy best suited to justice must also be open to such elements. I cannot imagine a better definition of a “free economy” than one that is so open.
JOSEPH D. RUDMIN
I was so impressed with the article “The Pope and St. Joseph on Wall Street.” Please put the article on your Web site so I can forward it to my friends. Angelo Matera put into words what I have always felt need to be expressed by our clergy to American Catholics.
Editor's note:It's now available. Click on the “archives” button.
Voice of the Faithful Correction
In our April 20–26 issue, a Media Watch item quoted CatholicCitizens.org's report claiming that Cardinal Francis George of Chicago was planning to meet with Voice of the Faithful. “It is simply false,” Cardinal George said of the report we quoted. He particularly objected to the suggestion that he was supportive of Voice of the Faithful. “I can't support an agenda that seems undefined,” he said. “And until they're willing to say what they're for, why would I meet with them?”
BY Jim Cosgrove
TO: The Register
FROM: A Reader
I was shocked to hear from the American Life League that this newspaper and 11 Catholic diocesan newspapers refused to run the “Deadly Dozen” ad.
I am ashamed that your paper would do such a thing and not give an explanation for your decision to refuse this very important message. Are you starting to be politically correct at the expense of truth? We as Catholics need to hold those who call themselves Catholic accountable for the public acts of immorality and sinfulness against the gospel of life.
It is clear to me that the Register has at this particular instance more respect for political power of fraudulent Catholics. I hope and pray that the morals that this paper holds are not slipping. Because I will not support any paper that will do that.
Please reconsider this decision. God bless!
Editor's Note: We also were shocked when we got the news that shocked you but for a different reason. The following exchange of letters shows the source of the error and both the Register's and American Life League's desire to rise above human mistakes, correct them and push forward investing our energies in the things that really matter.
TO: American Life League
FROM: The Register
Your letter of Jan. 24 acknowledged my written explanation of why the Register would not run the “Deadly Dozen” ad. I also note that the text of the original ad was modified to reflect suggestions from the Register.
Now, however, your signature is on a direct-mail piece received in late March that says: “Speaking of Catholic newspapers, … we were shocked when our ‘Deadly Dozen’ ad was rejected by the National Catholic Register, The (sic) Sunday Visitor and eight of 11 diocesan newspapers!! … And not one of them was willing or able to give us a written explanation for their decisions to refuse to run our message!”
Rather than believe you capable of telling a deliberate lie, I am willing to surmise that there has been some miscommunication between you and your direct-mail department by which you authorized and signed, perhaps inadvertently, a flagrant untruth. It is injurious and extremely unprofessional but, as the Spanish saying goes, these things happen even in the best of families.
American Life League's direct-mail piece continues: “But it's clear they have more respect for the political power of fraudulent Catholics like ‘The Deadly Dozen’ than they do for the spiritual power of Holy Mother Church and the Vicar of Christ, Pope John Paul II!”
I find it hard to accept that you would knowingly approve such a crass and untrue characterization of the Register. And so, also in this case, I am willing to suppose that there was another miscommunication that ended in another unfortunate slur.
It puts American Life League in the ridiculous position of equating an ad with the magisterium of the Church. This position is rendered even sillier by the fact that the very reason the Register rejected the ad was that the language in the ad is not in accord with Vatican guidelines, as I explained in my Jan. 16 letter to you [which said: “To quote from your letter from the Pontifical Council for the Family, there are ‘necessary distinctions … between those who have fallen under the sentence of excommunication and the others who, although they may not have fallen under the sentence, are public defenders of the crime of abortion to whom holy Communion must be denied if they do not make a retraction.’ These distinctions were not made.”]
This has all the elements of a news story and, of course, news is what the Register covers. However, being a Catholic newspaper, we are a part of the Church, which is a communion. The Register's policy is, therefore, to build communion, which is what this letter is trying to do.
We have been contacted by Register readers who have received American Life League's direct-mail piece. Naturally, they have concerns. The Register is placed in the situation of having to give a response. It is not our policy to undermine the good that American Life League does. The Register welcomes American Life League's suggestions as to how we should respond to such inquiries. Out of respect for the life of the unborn, a good that transcends both our organizations and one we both serve, your suggestions will be well received.
As I said, I am willing to trust that your libelous defamation of the Register was inadvertent. Even so, there remain the fact of the defamation, the harm done to the Register's reputation and well-being, and the consequent moral duty of restitution. How this may best be achieved is up to you, and I do not wish to dictate the means. So, I offer the following as suggestions: You may wish to choose these and/or others.
▸ In any future mailing to recipients of the libel, retract the false allegations regarding the Register.
▸ The Register is willing to offer American Life League free space in the paper, including its Web site, within the next two weeks to make appropriate restitution.
▸ In any communication from American Life League that mentions that the Register refused to run the “Deadly Dozen” ad, you include the explanation that was given in my letter to you.
There is, however, another matter: We are aware that American Life League is in the course of preparing a substantial direct-mail drop using the texts under discussion. We expect that American Life League will not deliberately (and from receipt of this letter on, it can only be “deliberately”) defame and libel us with these false claims again.
I look forward to your confirmation that you will refrain from this defamatory and libelous action and expect to receive such confirmation, at the latest, by noon on Thursday, April 3.
As you asked in your letter to me, I do remember your work in my prayers. And my prayer now is that we can together bear witness to the power of Christ, whose grace makes us able to seek the truth in charity.
FATHER OWEN KEARNS
Publisher, National Catholic Register
North Haven, Connecticut
TO: The Register
FROM: American Life League
Since 1979, when I founded American Life League, one of my guiding principles has been to tell the truth, even if it hurts.
That's why, when I received your most recent letter, I put the brakes on this place and made it clear that everyone's No. 1 priority was to find out what the truth of this matter really was.
Several staff members spent virtually the entire day re-creating the paper trail and personnel trail that allowed this misstatement to bypass our usually reliable proofing system. Our two governing mottos are: “When in doubt, don't” and “Double-check and triple-check before we ask for a single check.”
After nearly an entire day of file-searching, phone-calling and fact-checking, the staff investigators had puzzled together the unique set of circumstances that has conspired against our best and most honorable intentions. Here's what they discovered:
The acquisition letter in question was approved and signed by me the first week of January, prior to my receipt of your original letter. The original mailing date of the acquisition letter was to have been in the early part of January.
What I did not know was that the letter's mailing date was postponed, due to a lack of postage. In fact, the entire batch of acquisition letters sat at our printer's for nearly two months. Until yesterday, I had been completely unaware that this delay had taken place. In other words, I had no idea that the opportunity existed to correct the letter because I was under the assumption the letter had been mailed prior to the receipt of your letter.
I must tell you, Father Kearns, that this revelation of our in advertent error has had me on the verge of tears most of the day and I only wish you were here so I could personally deliver my most heartfelt apology.
Furthermore, you may be sure that my staff has been directed to construct a fail-safe plan that will never allow such an event to transpire again. Further, I believe I have no doubt with anyone on our staff that this is the one and only time such a miscue will be tolerated.
Please be sure that the offending text has been completely removed from the referenced letter and will not appear in any future mailings.
Our aim here is to tell the world the truth about the sanctity of innocent human life and in order to do that effectively, we must be doubly careful in ensuring that everything we say is truthful. So, I sincerely thank you for taking the time to write your corrective letter — otherwise we may never have had the opportunity to expunge this erroneous statement from our files.
Sincerely yours in the Lord Who is Life,
President, American Life League
Wanted: Stories and Pictures
The Register is planning a special issue that will be a tribute to Pope John Paul II, and we want you to help. Two features in the special issue will need reader input.
Tell us what he said. We'd like to hear your stories of significant meetings with Pope John Paul II. In telling the story of Pope John Paul II, it's easy to find the big, significant meetings he's had with heads of state and public figures. What gets overlooked, however, is the profound effect he had on ordinary Catholics. Tell us your story, in 500 words or less, as long as it meets these criteria: There was an exchange of words, and they had a significant impact on your life.
Send a picture of your John Paul. In John Paul's many years as Pope, there have been many children named for him. We're interested in publishing pictures of children named after the Pope. Please send yours with baby-mugs style information (see the bottom-right corner of this page for details) and, if your John Paul is old enough, include a quote from him on what he thinks of the Holy Father.
Age of Fasting
In “Spend Holy Week With Christ” (April 13-19), the staff writer states that “Fast binds all over the age of 21…” This is not correct in the United States.
In 1984, the U.S. bishops changed the age of fasting to “the completion of the 18th year.”
For full details, please consult http://www.usccb.org/norms/12521253.htm.
Frankly, I was not surprised to see that the BBC was producing a cartoon-comedy called “Popetown” that would mock the Pope and the Catholic Church (“British Catholics Angry About Papal Parody,” Media Watch, April 6-12).
I deem this an after-effect to the promotion of “respecting” the belief of others. As Catholics, we have downgraded the Church that Christ himself established. We no longer hold out the Catholic Church to be the true, most sacred, only holy body of Christ to the world. We neither defend her nor do we promote her. Our own Pope does not elevate her to her proper place among other “beliefs” and, therefore, plunges her into the pot of religious relativism. It is our own fault.
We (inclusive of the laity, priests and our bishops) do not treat the Church with the respect and awe she deserves. And it begs the question: If we do not respect ourselves as Catholics, why would others respect us? Just a thought.
EXCERPT: The Rise and Fall of the 'Deadly Dozen' Debacle
BY Jim Cosgrove
Regarding “Standing Up (And Not Kneeling) For the Church” (Jan. 26-Feb. 1):
I had been waiting for the publication of the new General Instruction of the Roman Missal with hopeful anticipation. Unfortunately, it appears that rather than restoring elements of our traditional liturgical roots, it continues the process of minimizing the Mass.
Particularly troubling is the prohibition of kneeling for Communion and discouraging genuflecting prior to receiving. I personally do not receive Communion on my knees; however, prohibiting that posture seems to be tainted as a sort of punitive measure against a certain group of conservative Catholics. Ironically, we are told that it is for the sake of unity.
If the concept of “unity” is to be plausible, perhaps the American bishops could mandate Communion on the tongue rather than having Communion in the hand as an option. Also, Vatican II stated that the “Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: Therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.”
This has been repeated many times in other Church documents and by Pope John Paul II. For the sake of unity and obedience, it would seem that Gregorian chant should be mandated to be sung in every American parish.
Black Forest, Colorado
Regarding “Time Running Out for Affirmative Action?” by Scott McDermott (Commentary, Feb. 9-15):
I believe affirmative action has run its course in American society. I would even go so far as to say it has begun a reversal of what the policy was supposed to accomplish. Affirmative action does not embrace true diversity. As Justice Lewis Powell stated, “‘Genuine diversity’ would embrace people of differing ideologies, nationalities, religions and social classes.” Any more, affirmative action has had but one focus. That focus is race. So a strong point in opposition to affirmative action rests in deciphering what is fair and what is equal.
When judged by race, I do not believe America will be equal anytime in the near future. Not everyone can have the same opportunities in life. I do believe American society can be fair. This means everyone will be judged simply on the merits of their character rather than their race. One way to achieve fairness is to abolish affirmative action. The policy simply combats fairness by promoting racist methods of hiring and admission.
The Pro-What? President
After affirming my absolute and unequivocal belief for the sanctity of life from conception to natural death, I have to say the enthusiastic support of Steve Mosher, John-Henry Westen and Camille De Blasi for President George W. Bush as expressed in the editorial “The Sitting President” (Feb. 16-22) is both puzzling and troubling. He is the man who, as governor of Texas, has signed the most death warrants in the history of the country. He is the man who is taking the country to an unnecessary war that is going to cost hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent lives. Is this a real pro-life stance?
We cannot be cafeteria pro-lifers supporting someone who, so far, has only given lip service to the value of human life. As the editorial says, let's wait and see what he does in the next two years. So far, in my opinion, he only deserves a very negative mark.
Spirituality a Marriage-Saver
I am writing in support of “Couples Need More Awareness of Spiritual Dimension of Marriage, Pope Tells Annulment Tribunal” (Feb. 9-15). In the culture we live in today, it is not uncommon for couples to divorce. Our society has an astonishing number of marriages that end in divorce, resulting in broken families. I believe one main reason is because of the view of culture and media. Too often, media glorifies unfaithfulness and downplays the importance of the covenant of marriage. All over TV and movies, the message of unfaithfulness is blared to everyone who can see. The Pope has addressed the issue by pushing for more spirituality in relationships.
It is the job of the entire society to look at the attitude toward marriage and encourage a more respectful portrayal. Also, parishes must encourage the spiritual and religious bond between couples. This bond can be formed prior to marriage that it may grow and develop as the relationship matures. It should also be promoted within an already formed marriage. Marriage is a sacred bond and should be viewed as such. This article does a great job of bringing this crisis to the awareness of the public. Hopefully, our culture can recognize where changes are needed and promote greater connections between spouses.
Pray for the Pakistanis
I am alarmed at the conditions Pakistani Christians face, as their safety is reported to be in jeopardy because of a possible invasion of Iraq ("Christians Fear Backlash From U.S.-led War on Iraq,” Feb. 9-15).
The issues related to war in Iraq are complex and, while our American bishops and the Vatican doubt that the conditions of the Church's just-war tradition have been met and oppose American military action, some conservative Catholic thinkers like George Weigel and Michael Novak have been making a case that an American strike on Iraq is validated by the tradition.
All Catholics and other Christians should be allowed to carefully weigh the situation without being subject to threats. The fact that Islamic militants targeted Pakistani Christians in attacks because of the American removal of the Afghan Taliban regime — a war that was deemed acceptable by nearly all thinkers in the just-war tradition — is evidence enough that the problem is militant Muslims, not the conduct of Pakistani Christians or the American military.
Pakistani Christians should not feel they have to openly oppose American military action if they have not reached such a genuine, heartfelt conclusion. We should support our Pakistani brothers and sisters in faith, not by reflexively opposing war in Iraq but by demanding that they have the right to carefully consider the issue without intimidation, and that we make the fanaticism of certain Muslims the central, clearly defined and unavoidable issue to be dealt with.
Great Job on Guns and War
Muchas gracias for a great editorial “Anti-War, Not Anti-American” (Feb. 9-15) and a balanced article on gun control and self-defense, “Despite Snipers, Some Still Struggle with Church Teaching on Self-Defense” (Feb. 9-15).
I have circulated the editorial to many people with a note describing it as “a compelling and thorough examination of the Iraqi crisis and threat to world peace,” with an invitation to share reactions with me. The other article represents a first, as I've never seen a fair, accurate and balanced report on the subject of gun control and self-defense in a Catholic newspaper or other print medium.
I expect you will receive many letters on both sides of gun control and self-defense, which is good, and I hope that you can print some of them to help shed further light on the topics.
K. DALE ANDERSON
Just War and the United Nations
Regarding “Anti-War, Not Anti-American” (Editorial, Feb. 9-15):
Well, you were doing pretty good until you hit the 11th paragraph. But first back up a bit. In the eighth paragraph, you stated: “This means [the United States] should only attack Iraq with solid, just-war reasons.” Fair enough. But then you fell into the trap of the Left. In the 11th paragraph, you said: “t would be unjust for us to intervene without their (the United Nations’) consent.”
Now, a war is either just or unjust. If it is just, will the United Nations’ disapproval make it unjust? Conversely, if it is unjust, will the United Nations’ consent make it just?
Remember, this is the same United Nations (mostly Western European secular-ists) that allowed Libya to head the human rights commission and allowed the Sudan to slaughter up to 1 million non-Muslims over the last 10 years. Not a very good moral force to consult with, is it?
MIKE MC GLONE
Laguna Hills, California
Editor's note: A war is just when a national defends itself against an aggressor. Even if the United Nations opposes such a war, it is just. A war can also be just when a nation defends the community of nations against an aggressor. But in this case, a legitimate authority of the community of nations must be consulted. This is the situation in Iraq. The United Nations is consulted as an international body, not as a “moral force.”
BY Jim Cosgrove
Thirty Years Too Many
This month marks the 30th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. It is a gloomy anniversary. What can our nation say about 30 years of abortion on demand? Is there any regret for the 41 million aborted children? How many potential scientists, doctors, lawyers, teachers and priests were aborted? Is there any regret over the countless women wounded, killed and assaulted in the abortion mills?
How should we recognize that horrible day, Jan. 22, 1973? Many will attend the March for Life in Washington, D.C. I hope to attend, to witness to our government the horrors of abortion. To let them know that legalized abortion is unacceptable to a nation founded on certain inalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I wonder if the march will receive any press this year? Every year, the story is rarely talked about in the mainstream media, even though it is one of the biggest marches in Washington. I ask people who have never spoken up before to make the effort to attend. All it takes for evil to succeed is for the good to say nothing.
Will our nation endure another 30 years of slaughtering the innocent? I pray that it will not. How can we continue to sleep at night with 4,000 children dying every day? Many say that abortion is no longer a relevant issue.
Even though this year marks 30 years since Roe v. Wade, abortion is a new tragedy because the babies who die today never died before.
THOMAS MESSE, M.D.
Work of Rosary Art
I am so impressed by your absolutely wonderful “Year of the Rosary” edition (Dec. 29-Jan. 4). I was only able to obtain one copy from a friend—and am unwilling to part with it. It is truly a treasure—a work of art!
I am interested in purchasing additional copies of this edition, as I believe it would be a most effective tool in teaching my CCD class about the rosary and the new mysteries.
How might I purchase additional copies of this issue?
Thank you so much for the “Year of the Rosary” special edition. It is so beautiful and meaningful, and it truly underscores the Holy Father's call to prayer this year.
Your “Guide to the Rosary,” including the pictures and reflections on each of the mysteries, would make a wonderful companion booklet as one prays the rosary each day.
I hope you have plans to separately print and promote this guide broadly. The National Resource Center for Catholic Men would certainly urge its use.
We are very grateful for the National Catholic Register and all you do to support, affirm and encourage our Catholic faith. May God richly bless you all in this new year.
L. KEVIN LYNCH
The writer is president of the National Resource Center for Catholic Men.
Editor's note: Thank you to all of the readers who have contacted us to praise and request copies of our rosary issue. We have printed 10,000 copies of a special reprint issue of that paper; nearly 8,000 have already been sold. To order copies, call (800) 356-9916.
Soft on Cardinal Law?
The sympathetic editorial in the Dec. 22–28 Register, “Farewell Cardinal Law,” sounds like a take-off from The Wizard of Oz. He's not a bad man, just a bad cardinal.
It would be easier to have some sympathy for Cardinal Law if one did not know that for years groups and individuals in the area had been warning, urging and begging him to do something about the problems of various kinds of abuse. The pleas for help were largely ignored. Is that what is called clericalism?
Too many of the Catholic Church's leaders have replaced the wisdom of the Church's teaching of original sin, repentance mortification, penance and sacrifice with dubious psychological treatment from the experts of human behavior.
Now the bishops are again depending on secular experts such as Frank Keating and Kathleen McChesney to help solve their problems.
Rachael Lampa Fan
I am a young girl who very much enjoys your newspaper. I think you guys do a very thorough and interesting job.
My family are not regular subscribers as yet, but occasionally we are able to pick an issue up in the vestibule of our church, and when that happens it just gets read to pieces! Thank you for doing such an excellent job of informing and encouraging Catholics.
I am an enthusiastic fan of Rachael Lampa. I was so excited when informed by a friend that she is Catholic. They said they thought they had seen her interviewed in your “Inperson” column, several issues back.
I was wondering, would it be too much trouble for you to go through your files and find that particular issue and send it, or even just the article, to me?
Enclosed is some money. If this is too much trouble, don' bother, and keep the money as a donation.
Pickens, South Carolina
Editor's note: Thanks. We'll send the issue to you.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Your editorial regarding Michael Rose and his controversial book Goodbye, Good Men makes some cogent points, although I still am inclined to side with Rose (“Goodbye, Bad Blood?” Jan. 5-11).
You rightly assert that “The Church needs Michael Rose.” The Church also needs orthodox publications like the Register, which I applaud for its sound doctrine and its defense of the saintly Pope John Paul II. But do not shy away from taking on (in a charitable fashion, of course) the dissenters—both on the left and the right—who, by their lack of faith, are only pouring salt on the wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ.
MATT C. ABBOTT
The Food-Mood Connection
As a subscriber since 1976 or 1977, I have had the pleasure of seeing the Register become more and more excellent, tackling the toughest issues with great intelligence and realistic adherence to the magisterium. It is a paper I continued to receive while we were ambassadors from Venezuela to the Holy See and now back in my husband's Venezuela. Your paper is extraordinary.
However, I would like to draw your attention to a huge mistake you have made regarding children. It is not regarding the Catholic faith, but could really cause great harm to families.
In the Nov. 10-16 issue, two articles—“Hyperactive or Just Plain Hype?” and “Diet and Defiance”—the idea that diet can affect behavior is scoffed at and dogmatically dismissed. As the mother of a profoundly brain-injured child, whose constant seizures (in spite of every anticonvulsant available to science) were kept completely at bay by careful and intelligent allergy treatments, I have been observing for the past 25 years the discovery of the effects of food, additives and allergies in general on brain performance and following the development of this field. There are several children in our extended family who have had learning and behavioral problems solved quickly and easily with this treatment. This area is absolutely fascinating and there are wonderful people doing extraordinary work.
I would be most grateful if you would make this known to the good families who read the Register. So many “difficult” or “bad” children can be helped and distressed mothers given hope by discovering that it could be the cow's milk, tomatoes, the family cat or something else that is often causing the unexplainable tantrums and unreasonable, depressed or repetitive behavior.
Guns of the Gulf War
There were a couple of [details] missing in J.P. Zmirak's essay about the Gulf War in 1991 (“Into Temptation,” Dec. 8-14). First, the fact is that, on numerous occasions, Iraqi soldiers would “surrender” only to fire on coalition troops as soon as they lowered their guard a little bit. One reason war must only be a last resort is that things get confusing and mistakes are made, resulting in the loss of innocent lives as may have been in that case. This is why certain laws of war exist: to prevent the loss of innocent lives.
During the war with Iraq, we were dealing with an enemy who had a complete disregard for innocent lives. Nobody can forget how Saddam packed a command-and-control bunker with civilians knowing that its configuration, antennae and electronic emissions would identify it as a purely military target and mislead us into attacking it. He sent his people to their deaths in an effort to gain sympathy from the rest of the world. I hope we don't have to go to war, but, more than that, I hope this madman is not allowed to get his hands on the types of weapons he is so desperately seeking.
The second point is that I have no doubt in my mind that Timothy McVeigh and John Mohammed would have committed their barbaric acts regardless of their participation in the Gulf War. Case in point: the current belief that it was not Mohammed but John Lee Malvo who pulled the trigger.
Stop War Before It Starts
As you have pointed out, Pope John Paul II insists that war must and can be avoided in a world made fearful by terrorism. “From the cave in Bethlehem there rises today an urgent appeal to the world not to yield to war,” the Pope beseeched in his Christmas message. John Paul called the world to “extinguish the ominous smoldering of a conflict which, with the joint efforts of all, can be avoided.”
The Pope's comments reflected the Vatican's widely known opposition to U.S. plans to attack Iraq. In contrast to last year's war in Afghanistan, where the Pope said there was a moral right to defend the common good against terrorism, the Vatican has repeatedly said that Catholic teaching does not consider “preventative” war to be justifiable.
There are several things each of us can do to stop the war: Attend the Peace March Jan. 18 in Washington, D.C., or San Francisco. Call or write President Bush and your Congressman. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Ask you parish priest to speak from the pulpit on Sunday on the Catholic concept of just war.
As much as President Bush desires this war, he is first and foremost a politician who will respond to the will of the people. Blessed be the peacemakers.
WILLIAM CLIFFORD ELLERMAN
Silver Spring, Maryland
I take exception to the front-page brief titled “Catholic Governor Barred by Priest” (Jan. 5-11). Msgr. Edward Kavanagh was referred to as a feisty administrator of St. Patrick's Children's Home in Sacramento. This description was unfairly demeaning. The monsignor should have been highly lauded for such action. How inappropriate it would be for Gov. Gray Davis, who has a long record of making a mockery of his Church's pro-life position to have had any part in the Christmas activities in a Catholic children's home.
The government is full of “Catholic” pro-choice politicians who in most cases advocate such a position only for personal gain. It is long overdue that their responsible bishops and priests take them to task. The failure to do so has cased significant damage to our Church and the pro-life movement.
VERN J. SIMON
Editor's note: We intended “feisty” as a compliment.
Congratulations and thanks for the absolutely marvelous Dec. 29 issue of the National Catholic Register. What an effective and complete way of proclaiming the Year of the Rosary. I have read (as I do weekly) the entire issue with all the excellent insights and information, as well as suggestions in praying the rosary. It is an issue that many of us readers will save.
Thanks to your dedication to evangelism via the printed word. May your subscriptions increase week by week! Please extend my sincere admiration and thanks to your entire staff that does such an attractive and readable layout each week. May 2003 be a year of continued growth in the Register family. May the Lord Jesus reward your fidelity.
BISHOP PAUL V. DUDLEY
The writer is retired bishop of Sioux Falls, S.D.
BY Jenny Boudreaux
Pro-Life or Pro-Wordplay?
Pro-life voters are desperately seeking candidates who unequivocally support the right to life of all innocent human beings without exception. Unfortunately, in many contests, neither the Democrat nor the Republican is interested in abolishing abortion. The underlying difficulty is that established pro-life organizations often endorse those who favor some abortions. Examples of such confusion abound.
In a number of congressional and gubernatorial elections, for instance, the Democrat supports child-killing on demand, while the Republican supports only limited restrictions on abortion (e.g., regulating partial-birth abortion and/or permitting abortion in cases of rape, incest or purported threat to the mother's life). The Republican who supports a lesser degree of abortion often earns the National Right to Life stamp of approval and is touted as “pro-life.”
In my humble opinion, a politician who merely wishes to regulate abortion is not pro-life, whether he is Democrat, Republican, third party or independent. Such a candidate does not deserve to be called “pro-life,” and such a candidate does not deserve an iota of support from any pro-life voter. The law can never legitimately tolerate the direct killing of innocent human beings, born or pre-born. If a politician is unwilling to honor this most fundamental duty of law, he is unworthy of even one pro-life endorsement, regardless of his party affiliation.
While National Right to Life Committee and others maintain that it is critical to support the more restrictive pro-abortion candidate in order to chip away at the culture of death, history contradicts that proposition. If there is one lesson we have learned from the last 30 years, it's that compromise of fundamental principle enables the death peddlers to chip away at us while continuing to slaughter our most vulnerable brothers and sisters.
It's time to put to rest the flawed concept of voting for the lesser of two evils. There's no such thing when dealing with acts of murder. Abortion is intrinsically evil. No one should admit to the admissibility of even one act of abortion. To do so is to contradict what is clearly an absolute value: the personhood of the human being. Pursuing the so-called lesser-evil option is not acceptable.
Pro-life Americans must insist that political candidates, in order to claim the pro-life mantel, must honor their moral obligation as legislators to defend and protect all innocent human beings from the moment of conception. Organizations that purport to represent pro-life philosophy must stop settling for politicians whose support for a little abortion violates the most fundamental purpose of civil law. The alternative is to squander another 30, 50 or 100 years to sanctioned child killing.
The writer is president of the American Life League (http://www.all.org).
Editor's note:A “catechism for voters” appears on our back page.
Palestinians and Prosperity
Father Guido Gockel and the Catholic Near East Welfare Association are to be commended for their important humanitarian work in Jerusalem (“Caught in the Middle in the Holy Land,” Oct. 13-19). Both Palestinians and Israelis are suffering horribly, and creating jobs is important in restoring human dignity that all persons created in the image of God deserve.
Father Gockel should be more careful in his politics and historical statements, however. Ariel Sharon never talked of or advocated “transfer” of non-Jewish people out of Israel. The position of every Israeli prime minister since Yitzchak Rabin—including Sharon—is for territorial compromise and a two-state solution to the conflict. Sharon has said frequently that he advocates a Palestinian state that is consistent with Israel's legitimate security needs.
“Transfer” is the idea of a small extreme group in Israel that has never determined Israeli policy. Israeli governmental policy is pragmatic and open to concessions—unlike Palestinian policy, which rejected a peaceful solution at Camp David and to this day is determined by extremist groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad that practice terror and refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist.
When Palestinian policy becomes pragmatic and substitutes realistic compromise for terror and violence, Palestinians will be on the road to restoring the human dignity and prosperity that all deserve.
Dr. Eugene Korn
New York City
The writer is director of interfaith affairs for the Anti-Defamation League.
No More War
By way of introduction, I'm a U.S. veteran who loves this country very much.
At the time of the Gulf War, the Defense Department estimated that 100,000 Iraqis were killed. Now we are contemplating another war in that same country. Many more people will be killed, not only Iraqis but also Americans.
We say we abhor violence and tell our children to settle conflicts peacefully while at the same time applauding wars that cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of human beings and that maim many more.
Following two world wars and 100 million deaths, many (including army generals like Eisenhower and MacArthur) became convinced that war is obsolete. Yet, how many millions more have been killed since 1945? How many more millions will be killed? How many more wars will we start? How many more children will lose a father, mother, son, daughter, wife or husband?
When will we start viewing the concept of the “just war” in light of the fact that, in the history of mankind, the “greatest inhumanities have been perpetrated in the name of‘humanity,'‘civilization,'‘progress,'‘freedom,'‘my country' and, of course,‘God'” (Thomas Merton)?
When will we come to grips with the fact that every one of us is violent whenever we make the other different and declare ourselves the norm and center of human behavior? When will we put a stop to this cycle of violence and revenge, this culture of war? When will we start singing with Schiller and Beethoven (Ninth Symphony), May all people become brothers and sisters, all people sisters and brothers?
Joseph G. Vandenheuvel
Albuquerque, New Mexico
God Bless Parish Schools
I was glad to see Lynn Bete's letter “To Each His Own School” (Oct. 13-19) in response to Daria Sockey's article “Musings of a Home-Schooling Mom” (Sept. 22-28). Mrs. Bete articulated many of the things I felt after reading Mrs. Sockey's article.
After much prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, my husband and I discerned that God was calling us to send our kindergarten-age daughter to our parish's school this year. This was not an easy decision. In fact, it terrified me because I do so fear the influence of the world and the peer pressure that exists even in a parish school as good as our own. Yet with all my soul I have felt that God is asking this of us and calling us to trust him with our most precious treasure, our children. And yet, when I explain my decision to home-schooling moms, I often get the sense that they don't totally believe me. The impression is given that obviously we haven't prayed hard enough about it or are not willing to make the necessary sacrifices to home school.
I love the idea of home schooling and I support my friends 100% in their decisions. And I am glad they feel so confident that this is the path God has chosen for them. But God is not boxed, and home schooling may not be what he has chosen for every single Catholic child.
I very much appreciate and support the National Catholic Register's many articles in support of home schooling and do not wish in any way for the Register to scale them back. But it would be helpful to see articles by parents of children in parochial and/or public schools who share their experience and wisdom in raising their children to live in the world, but not be of the world.
May God bless all of our children and our efforts to keep them safe, pure and holy.
BY Jim Cosgrove
Plaudits From Father Pavone
I wish to thank the Register for the article “Meeting Pro-Life Standards Gets Harder for Candidates” (Sept. 29-Oct. 5). The moral question of working for “imperfect legislation,” which stops some but not all abortions, comes up constantly in my work with Priests for Life, as it did when I worked at the Vatican.
There are actually two questions here that often get confused. One is moral and the other is strategic. The moral question is, “May we work for legislation that protects some but not all babies?” The answer is, “Yes, under certain circumstances.” Those circumstances include [the times when] the legislative proposal is actually advancing protection for the unborn to the maximum degree possible at the time. If, when all abortions are already legal, we do everything possible to make as many of them as possible illegal, the ones that remain legal do not remain legal because of us. They remain legal because of those who made them legal in the first place. But, for us, to reduce an evil is, in fact, a good.
The strategic question is different. It asks, “Is an incremental approach the best way to reach our ultimate goal?” That question can only be answered with experience and should be discussed with a healthy respect between those who disagree. What we need to keep in mind as we work it out is that different answers to that question do not make anyone less “pro-life” than anyone else.
FATHER FRANK PAVONE
Staten Island, New York
The writer is director of Priests for Life.
‘Exceptions’: Strategic Disaster
Your discussion on the morality of “exceptions” in pro-life legislative efforts (“Meeting Pro-Life Standards Gets Harder for Candidates,” Sept. 29-Oct. 5), deserves further comment.
First, the section commonly cited in Evangelium Vitae that apparently supports the use of exceptions must be read in the context of the sentence that immediately precedes it: “In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to … vote for it” (73.2). Laws containing exceptions for cases of rape, incest or allegedly to save the mother's life are “intrinsically unjust” because they explicitly “permit abortion.” When can we vote for them? “Never.” Therefore, when the Holy Father later refers to the permissibility of “proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law,” he does not mean these intrinsically unjust exceptions.
Second, though the author of your piece cites cardinals O'Connor and Gagnon to defend the moral permissibility of supporting exceptions in legislation, cardinals Krol, Manning, Cody and Medeiros were of the opposite opinion when testifying before a Senate subcommittee in 1974. All four declined to endorse a constitutional amendment recognizing the personhood of all children from the moment of conception that contained a life of the mother exception. Speaking on their behalf, Cardinal Medeiros stated that they “could not endorse any wording that would allow for direct abortion”; and that “the Catholic Conference does not endorse such an approach in principle and could not conscientiously support it.”
Third, in his book The Winning Side, professor Charles Rice shows logically and statistically how support for exceptions in legislation and for politicians who support them has been gravely detrimental to the pro-life cause. When the common definition of “pro-life” is diluted to mean support for the legal killing of some pre-born boys and girls (rape, incest, etc.), Rice shows how these policies have reinforced “the trend toward public acceptance of legalized abortion.” Support for exceptions is not a position “just short of perfection,” but one that is fundamentally flawed. If the law can tolerate the direct killing of some innocents, then it can tolerate the killing of many.
It is practically indisputable that this strategy of permitting the killing of some “exceptional” babies has been a disaster over the last 30 years. When pro-lifers take the time to look closer, they will find that supporting the lie of exceptions can never lead to a cultural affirmation of truth.
The writer is assistant director of public policy at American Life League.
To Each His Own School
Daria Sockey's “Musings of a Home Schooling Mom” (Sept. 22-28) implies that there is a fundamental divide between those who home school and those who don't. This is a divide that doesn't have to exist.
I choose to send my children to a parochial school while my best friend in another state home schools her two youngest children. Each of us sees the advantages and disadvantages of both methods. If she lived here, she would probably send her kids to parochial school, and if I lived there I would most likely be home schooling, too.
My friend isn't “a bore” because she's constantly obsessing over her children's curriculum, and I am not constantly worrying about my kids' “souls and psyches.” We both wonder why our otherwise-intelligent second-graders cannot seem to remember that 8 plus 5 equals 13. We compare notes on how we're preparing our daughters for first Communion. We obsess over whether our sons should start kindergarten this year or next year. She sees the way my son has come out of his shell since he started school and wishes it for her son. I see the way her daughter zips through two years of phonics in one year and wish it for my daughter. But we both realize that, in time, they will end up in the same place.
I am surprised that anyone would think that I am “delegating the precious task of passing on the Catholic faith” by sending my kids to parochial school. I don't expect any school to pass on the faith to them; I expect their school to reinforce and supplement what we are doing at home. Pope John Paul II's “Letter to Families” is often quoted as an argument for home schooling because it states that parents are to be the primary educators of their children. The same letter also tells us that “parents by themselves are not capable of satisfying every requirement of the whole process of raising children, especially in matters concerning their schooling.”
Of course my husband and I are the first and most important educators of our children, but that does not mean we have to be the ones teaching them long division. I'll readily admit that we have delegated that not-so-precious task.
I don't see my children's friendships at school as “relentless peer influence,” and I'm not worried about teachers who occasionally teach things I don't agree with. It gives me an opportunity to teach my children to think through issues based on their own faith and morals. I am confident that the foundation they've received at home will allow them to counter any outside influence.
Catholic parents have many options for educating their children. I fully respect and support those who home school, and I hope they respect my decision as well. We should all work together to raise a generation of faith-filled Catholics.
BY Jim Cosgrove
The Best of Honest Abe
Back in November, we printed what we believed to be President Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863. Since then, a number of readers have written us to challenge the authenticity of the transcript.
Well, we've done a little research on the matter — and found out that our readers are one sharp bunch.
It turns out that what we printed as the “Thanksgiving Proclamation” is actually two Lincoln works edited into one by someone other than Lincoln. The individual sentences are all verbatim from the 16th president — it's just that some are from the 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation and others are from Lincoln's 1863 National Fast Day Proclamation (delivered the previous spring).
Our thanks to the several readers who spotted the inaccuracy and helped us crack the case.
Here, for the record, is the correct text of Lincoln's 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation:
The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watching providence of Almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and provoke their aggressions, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict, while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore.
Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out, these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.
And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.
President of the United States of America October 3, 1863
Let's Put Abortion Under the Lights
The anniversary of the Roe v. Wade court case (“Youth Contingent Evident Everywhere at 2002 March for Life,” Feb. 3-9) provided fodder for editorialists and radio talk show hosts. However, it seems that every discussion came to the same conclusion — neither side of the debate will compromise and there is no solution. One can watch copulation on cable TV. One can watch a heart surgery or see real police officers being shot to death. One can even watch jetliners crash into skyscrapers. Yet the most controversial issue in our nation's history is not shown on television.
How are citizens supposed to make informed choices about abortion without being able to see exactly what is being aborted and how abortions are performed? Abortions could be shown at each stage of pregnancy without commentary to bias the viewers. From the disposal of fertilized eggs to a late-term procedure, every viewer would have the unprecedented opportunity to make a truly informed decision.
The program would generate discussion and careful thought about an issue that divides our nation. Those who are confident they are on the correct side of the issue should be thrilled that others will be able to finally see the truth of the matter. But, in the words of a popular country song, “that would be too demanding.”
Why bother? Who needs to think when we have politicians who will do it for us?
SHELLEY MOSLEY STANZEL Dallas
Choice Words for “Free-Choice” Catholics
Your editorial “Don't they Care?” (Jan. 13-19) outlines valid reasons why promoting condoms does grave injustice to all women, and especially our vulnerable youth, by promoting sexual activity at very early ages — and the fact that condoms do not protect against STDs, with one of the chief supporters of condoms being so-called “Catholics for a Free Choice.”
Since our bishops have repudiated Catholics for a Free Choice, it would seem logical and prudent that the Church could and should sue this group for using the name “Catholic,” which they are certainly not.
I, for one, would gladly support a “second collection” for just this purpose.
MRS. R.E. KERN Tulsa, Oklahoma
Purity, Priests and Parents
The latest round of scandals surrounding priests (“The Abuse Crisis,” editorial, Jan. 20-26) is a wake-up call from God to American Catholics that should ring as loudly and clearly as 9/11 did.
Yes, these priests are responsible before God for terrible things, but laymen should not forget their own responsibility.
Our bishops who have turned a blind eye can be likened to parents who put up with immodest behavior from their children instead of correcting it. Although, of course, there is a huge difference in responsibility, should we not acknowledge a similar fault when we allow our children to view R-rated movies? When we allow teenage girls to dress immodestly? When posters of half-naked women are on our boys’ walls? When we don't supervise properly to guard them against premarital sex?
God is offended by each individual immodest glance. We are as responsible before God for our children's purity as our bishops are for their priests’ and flocks’. Some priests have done terrible things to children's purity by commission, but have we not neglected our own children's purity by omission?
We all know that the majority of Catholics are practicing artificial contraception against the continuous teaching of the Church, which speaks the Word of God. While we should expect our priests to obey their vows of celibacy, we also have the obligation to keep our own vows of marital chastity.
American Catholics need to do their own examination of conscience. This in no way diminishes the responsibility of those priests and bishops. But each one of us should do what he can in his own state of life to live up to his call to holiness. Through the communion of saints, each individual action either raises up or brings down the entire Church. When our priests fail, our prayers and sacrifices can help them be more holy.
LISA GUTRO North Reading, Massachusetts
Steve Weidenkopf, Director, Office of Marriage & Family Life in the Archdiocese of Denver, points out that the “New Marriage Preparation Norms Get Old-Style Results” by Wayne Laugesen (Jan 27-Feb.2 2002) makes two significant factual errors.
The recent survey by Rutgers University's National Marriage Project indicated the percentage of marriages that end in divorce for society as a whole is 45 - 50% — the study was not broken down by religious affiliation, as the article says.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops minimum norms for marriage preparation do not include a required six months of preparation, as the article implies.
For a corrected copy of the story, visit: http://www.ncregister.com
BY Jim Cosgrove
I read your book review of William J. Bennett's Our Sacred Honor ("Help for Politicians in Need of Moral Mettle,” March 1—7). The review brought to mind a discussion Bennett once had with a group of pro—life leaders wherein he roundly castigated those of us who believe that there can be no exceptions to abortion. He told us that our position was politically unrealistic.
He was even less encouraging on the topic of the contraceptive mentality, and more specifically, our expectation that men and women in elected office who call themselves pro—life would be totally opposed to any chemical or device that even had the minute possibility of killing an innocent human being from fertilization.
Why do I bring it up in the context of his newest book? Well, among the most noteworthy of the cardinal virtues is fortitude or courage; I did not see either word in the review you printed. Was there a reason?
Catholic men of high visibility like Mr. Bennett are constantly in our prayers. We ask the Lord to fill them with the spirit of truth so that they are able to articulate without apology the total and absolute defense of all innocent human beings, without exception, and regardless of the price required for such fidelity to the word of God.
It is my prayer that the cardinal virtue of fortitude or courage was merely overlooked by John Prizer, the reviewer.
American Life League
Clinton & Communion
The purpose of this letter is to clarify why President Clinton and his wife should not have received Holy Communion ("South African Bishops Say Priest Erred Giving Clinton Communion,” April 12—18) during their recent visit to Africa.
Not only was this regrettable act an affront and an insult to practicing Catholics, but it was also a direct offense against God himself by the unworthy reception of the body and blood of Christ.
We Catholics believe this sacrament is literally and truly the body and blood of Christ.
For worthy reception of this sacrament, a person must believe that the Eucharist is the body and blood of Jesus Christ. His soul must also be free of serious mortal sin. If a Catholic has committed a serious sin, he must first go to confession to receive forgiveness.
An additional requirement is that he must fast from food and beverages except water for at least one hour before receiving Communion.
But why is what the Clintons did so serious? This question is best answered by St. Paul in the Bible: “Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup … in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.”
President and Mrs. Clinton would be well—advised to repent for the transgression against both God and their Catholic countrymen. In the meantime, we should all pray that God will forgive them and that they will never again offend others in a sacrilegious manner.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
BY Jim Cosgrove
I just want to say that I think your paper is excellent. I really enjoy the Pro-life Profile features, the Culture of Life section, and The Catholic Traveler. Please continue with your excellent coverage. I really love the depth of the articles especially the historical aspect of major events such as upcoming synods and past synods, the upcoming jubilee, the article on the doctors of the Church when St. Thérèse was elevated (Nov. 2-8, 1997), the review of past World Youth Days, conferences on the family, and the articles that your reporters look into with extra effort.
I am hoping you might be able to provide equally good background information on the upcoming meeting of the lay apostolate movements and the Pontifical Council on the Laity to convene May 30, 1998. Please keep up the excellent work.
Jewish Holy Land
I've noted with interest that, like much of the popular media, your fine Middle East Correspondent, Michele Chabin, has been caught up of late in the increasingly widespread journalistic error of referring to the eastern portion of Israel's capital as “predominantly Palestinian East Jerusalem”—as most recently demonstrated in the cover story, “Can U.N. Solidify Peace in Holy Land?” (March 8-14). Common variations of the above-mentioned misbegotten expression currently include such media-favored locations as “historically Palestinian East Jerusalem,” “traditionally Arab East Jerusalem,” and the like.
The unstated, though clearly intended—and thoroughly pernicious—inference that we are supposed to draw from these frequent constructions is, of course, that there are in fact two Jerusalems: an Arab one and a Jewish one. But such a conclusion would not only be manifestly false; it would also just happen to be prime grist for the agenda mill of those whose vision of the city of peace is apparently something on the order of Beirut, Belfast, or Cold War Berlin. (God forbid that their contrivances should meet with success!)
In the interests of clarity, permit me to make the requisite corrections:
(1) The eastern sector of Jerusalem is not “predominantly Palestinian.” On the contrary, it is a part of the city whose demographic complexion is very evenly balanced by equal numbers of Arabs and Jews, and in which neither ethnicity truly predominates. (For the past several years the relative percentages have fluctuated within a very narrow range: 51% to 49% and vice versa, from one census to the next.)
(2) Neither is eastern Jerusalem “historically” or “traditionally” Arab either. To be sure, it was homogeneously Arab for the 19 years between 1948—when King Abdullab of Jordan illegally seized it during Israel's War of Independence, and 1967—when King Hussein (Abdullah's grandson and successor) tried to use it as a springboard to again invade the tiny Jewish State during the Six Day War (and thereby lost control of the territory when he, along with his Syrian and Egyptian allies, was repulsed and defeated by the Israelis). But 19 isolated years of illicit possession do not a “tradition” or “history” make.
During those years of Arab rule over eastern Jerusalem, the Jordanians killed or expelled all the Jews who had resided there, and, in an effort to erase the centuries-long Jewish presence, destroyed every single one of the 58 synagogues in that part of Jerusalem, and desecrated its Jewish cemeteries by using the headstones to pave latrines. This glorious and charming 19 year “tradition” and “history” of an exclusively Arab, thoroughly judenrein “East Jerusalem” ended (as abruptly as it had begun) some 31 years ago this June.
(3) Within eastern Jerusalem is the entire old city, which contains the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, and the “Jewish Quarter.” Note that also within eastern Jerusalem are Hebrew University (built 1925), Hadassah Hospital on Mt. Scopus (built 1938), and the Jewish National and University Library (built 1930).
No knowledgeable person seriously disputes these facts. Don't be taken in: Anybody who is suggesting to you that some portion of Jerusalem isn't Jewish is either ignorant or malicious.
Rohnert Park, California
BY Jim Cosgrove
As the author of a recently published book on the subject of Holy Land pilgrimage, Jerusalem and the Holy Land: The First Ecumenical Pilgrim's Guide, I read your interview with Rabbi David Rosen ("Holy Land Pilgrims, ‘Living’ Judaism and Christian-Jewish Dialogue,” Aug. 3-9) with special interest.
Rabbi Rosen is certainly correct in asserting that most Americans go on pilgrimage to visit the holy places “where Jesus walked,” and arrive in Israel with a lack of interest in, or even a disdain for, Jewish religious practice as it exists there today. Therefore, incorporating visits with Jewish groups in recognition of their “elder brothers” status is a wonderful idea, which I encourage in my book.
Amodern pilgrimage should be more than a time-warp visit to the ancient past. A Christian visiting the cave in Bethlehem, the childhood home in Nazareth, the sites of the miracle at Cana, the raising of Lazarus, the Last Supper, the agony in Gethsemane, the carrying of the cross, Calvary and the empty tomb, to list just the most awesome holy places, should also extend the hand of Christian friendship to the Jews, Muslims, and Christians who live there today.
Opportunities can be provided for our people to learn firsthand the aspirations and needs of these good people, especially the “living stones” (a common term for the Arabic-speaking Christians whose communities are mostly Catholic or Orthodox) who have clung to Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nazareth, and the Galilee since the days of the early Church.
Traverse City, Michigan
Daily, in the public media, we are barraged with liberal propaganda. I was surprised to be assaulted yet again by the letter of Jerome Downs, Esq., in the Aug. 10-16 issue of the Register.
The Supreme Court, like all civil authorities, is bound by the same moral absolutes as we, the individual citizens, are. In each of the cases mentioned in the “We Hold These Truths” article (Register, July 20-26), the Court acted outside those boundaries.
It is true, as Mr. Downs states that morality cannot be legislated; morality existed before any instrument of legislation ever came into being. However, it should also be noted that the Supreme Court does not legislate; legislatures legislate.
When the Supreme Court makes a patently immoral decision, it is, contrary to Mr. Downs's belief, not only the right, but also the responsibility of the Church and its members to inform the Court of the fallacy of its decision. Even the Court has recognized this right and has permitted both federal and state legislatures to enact laws recognizing it. That is why abortions are not performed in Catholic hospitals.
Mr. Downs states that the 13th and 14th amendments had “their genesis in the public's view of what was right and fair.” That is true but it is also true that the public's view of what is right and fair has its genesis in the immutable moral law established by God before all time, and all courts, and all liberals.
San Antonio, Texas
The phone number for the Carmelite 24-hour prayer line “Teresian Carmelites Offer a Potent Prayer Line”) printed in the Aug. 17-23 Register was incorrect. The correct number is (508) 756-1086. We regret the error and any inconvenience it caused our readers.