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BY The Editors
Pray About FOCA
As a pro-life Catholic, I am
disheartened by the reality of the moral decay and prevalent culture of death.
As Karen Berkon noted, President Obama will unleash havoc when he signs FOCA, a
bill that will result in the voiding of all state laws put in place to prevent
abortions (“What FOCA Really Does,” Jan.
11). Among other things, it would allow underage children to obtain an abortion
without parental consent; but in school, they require parental consent to be
given an aspirin.
I am also disappointed to learn that
54% of Catholics voted for someone who openly disregards the teachings of the
Catholic Church. Despite these disappointments and my own shortcomings in
defending life, I know it is important to recognize that God is in charge. We
need to continue to pray and actively support efforts to protect life at every
We need to be “in their faces”
everyday with our pro-life commitments, just as they are constantly “in our
faces” with their culture of death, utilizing all forms of media — magazines,
pornography, same-sex unions, etc.
As we know, evil begets evil;
abortion and its associated sins (i.e. euthanasia, sex before marriage,
contraception and homosexual acts) cry out to heaven. There will be an extreme
need for prayer and solidarity once FOCA is unleashed.
Many cannot march, participate in sidewalk counseling or contribute money, but
everyone can pray and wear a Precious Feet pin to show their faithfulness to
God, who said, “Whatever you do unto the least of my brethren, you do unto me.”
Mendota Heights, Minnesota
Although Karen M. Berkon (“What FOCA
Does,” Jan. 11) has provided some lengthy background and what ifs about the
“Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA), she has failed, like so many people recently,
to provide accurate information to fight FOCA. In her opening paragraph she
states, “Currently, FOCA is out of committee but still awaits passage through
Congress ...”. This is false. Currently, there is no legislation in either the
House of Representatives or the Senate proposing FOCA again. The previous bills
(S.1173 and H.R.1964) never made it out of committee and died with the close of
the last Congress, thanks be to God!
FOCA has been introduced several
times in previous Congresses, always sat in committee, and died with the close
of each Congress.
Are we now reminding the pro-choice
politicians to reintroduce this horrible legislation early in a new Congress?
She also failed to provide any
resources for people to take action against FOCA, such as congressional contact
information and a good, accurate letter for citizens to send.
We can’t let down our guard, but we
certainly must not be fearful, especially based on incomplete and inaccurate
information. The defeat of FOCA requires us to both pray and work: We must pray
as people of life and work in exercising our duties as citizens toward our
Edward Pentin’s interview of Lord
Brian Griffiths (“Who’s to Blame for the 2008 Crash?,” Jan. 4) was a
disappointment. I’ve noticed an irritating tendency among “modern journalists”
to conduct their interviews of public figures more in the guise of opposing
counsel on cross-examination, trying to score ideological points, rather than as
a journalist trying to elicit informative facts. I’m sorry to see this
trend is being copied by the “religious” media, too.
Lord Griffiths obviously knows
worlds more about the global capital markets than I and most of your readers
do, and I wish we all could have learned more about them from this
interview. Griffiths’ answers were instructive in themselves — mostly, it
seemed, due to his own ability to get some of his message out, rather than
the interviewer’s abilities, which seemed to me like an attempt to solicit
expert opinion for his own view that ubiquitous, high-level greed created
a disaster that will harm only “the poor.”
What I wish we could have learned
from buying your periodical is Lord Griffiths’ explanation of what problems he
identified years ago that led him to predict the financial crisis before others
did and why — apparently — nobody
listened to him at the time.
And, since Griffiths is unwilling to
blame a simple cause — like greed — would he please describe the structural or
institutional defects he sees within the market system itself that are the
In any event, the article was not a
total loss. I was able to Google Lord Griffiths to find some better
On the more positive side, I greatly
enjoy your coverage of Pope Benedict and really appreciate the Register
carrying the full text of his weekly addresses on St. Paul. Pope Benedict has a
“voice” that is clearly recognizable, even when one reads on paper
addresses that he delivered orally. I sometimes find that “voice” largely
missing in your published translations.
State of Catholic Schools
You note that the issue of school
vouchers is still pending (“School Choice Still on Hold,” Jan. 11). But what
about the state of Catholic schools? Most of us are familiar with the
disturbing statistics that illustrate the decline of Catholic schools — from an
enrollment high of 5.6 million students in 1965, the total has dropped to just
over 2 million, with further decreases continuing every year.
As the parent of three Catholic
school students, I experience firsthand the bitter cycle of declining
enrollment and rising tuition.
Either we are going to passively
accept the eventual disappearance of the Catholic school system or we will have
to address this issue in a serious fashion.
Unfortunately, many feel Catholic
schools are for the wealthy, which is erroneous. If that misconception was not
so prevalent, the problem could be solved with simply an annual special
collection — or two. However, many may not contribute to what they feel is the
luxury of a few.
To counter that resistance with
self-interest, why not have diocese-wide lotteries to benefit Catholic schools?
Some parishes are already using lotteries to benefit their own particular
school, but expanding the pool to include the many parishes without schools
would greatly increase the financial impact.
I am not sure of every legal or
logistical hurdle that would have to be overcome in implementing this, but I am
certain that if we delay taking substantive action much longer, we may have
little left to save of a critically important part of American Catholicism.
The Catholic Choice
Your article “School Choice Still on
Hold” (Jan. 11) discussed the issue of parental choice in education, an issue
clearly supported by Church teaching. The article mentioned that school choice
serves the dual objective of promoting educational quality through competition
and allowing parents to select the academic environment most supportive of
their views on key moral issues.
Both are valid reasons for
advocating choice in education. But there’s another key reason, as well. All
school choice or scholarship/voucher programs I’m aware of, and they are
growing in number, provide scholarship aid in amounts well below the cost of an
equivalent public school education. In New York, the difference is enormous.
Our average public school education now costs $15,000 per pupil, while an
equivalent Catholic school education costs only $6,000, and this cost includes
state aid for transportation, special education and books.
New York, like many states, is
facing a monumental fiscal crisis next year with a $15 billion deficit. Based
on a N.Y. Senate study done in 1991, our state would save $4 billion each year
with a full parental-choice system. Today, that saving would exceed $8 billion
per year. The only reason state legislators fail to move is fear of the public
school teacher unions. This failure to act, in fear of the unions, severely
penalizes all students, parents and taxpayers. What a shame!
J. Russo Jr.
Washington, New York
I’m a fan of Mark Shea’s writing. I
like his down-to-earth approach and the way that he orders his arguments.
But no one is perfect, least of all
myself. I may be wrong here, but I think that in “Treebeard in Rome” (Dec. 21),
Mr. Shea placed a quote in the wrong context. The issue was not the French
Revolution but the American Revolution.
The year was 1976 and the nation was
celebrating, and boasting, its bicentennial. I watched an interview on TV in
which Ambassador Chou En Lai was asked whether he thought the American
Revolution had been successful. He reflected for a moment, then
answered, “It’s too soon to tell.”
In the ensuing years, I’ve often
recalled that interview and Chou’s answer. At the time, it seemed a humorous
response, reflecting what we often think of as Chinese conservatism. However, I
am increasingly beginning to believe that he was correct. Perhaps the next
eight years will be revealing.
Shea’s response: I stand corrected.
In the article “Maryknoll Priest
‘Excommunicated’” (Dec. 21) the photo is inaccurately labeled. It states that
“Father Roy Bourgeois shown above protesting at the School of the Americas at
the Pentagon …”
The School of the Americas (now long
closed) was located at Fort Benning south of Columbus, Georgia, not in
Washington, D.C., near the Pentagon. What the picture caption should have said
was that Bourgeois was protesting at the Pentagon. (The issue that he was
likely protesting was the school, although Bourgeois has a long history of
protesting many issues.)
I served at Fort Benning as an Army
chaplain and am very familiar with Bourgeois’ misguided protest movement.