To: (Multiple email addresses may be specified by separating them with a comma)
BY John Lilly
Volunteer Choirs Rate
have to disagree with Webster Young’s implication in “Silence Surely Beats
Sacred Muzak” (April 8) and in his response to a letter to the editor, “Hunger
for Sacred Music” (May 6) on the subject that paying for live musicians will
enhance the quality of music at Mass. I have sung with both professional and
volunteer church choirs, and the volunteer choirs have done as much to feed the
congregation’s hunger for great sacred music as the professional ones.
I learned in Dartington, England, from the great early music singer Emma
Kirkby, repertoire choice provides nine-tenths of the audience’s
enjoyment, because at least you can always say, “What a lovely piece of music,”
even if the performance was less than perfect.
need only listen to paid cantors sing bad music badly week after week at Mass
to conclude that paying money for music does not make it sacred or even any
good at all. There is no reason why volunteer choirs cannot learn to sing Gregorian
chants, which are simple unison melodies without very high or very low notes.
with the assistance of an organ, volunteer choirs can tackle relatively complex
sacred anthems. All it takes is the courage of music directors and pastors to
stress the beautiful over the familiar.
Garden City, New York
Church Supersedes Desire
“Ordaining Relativism” in the May 13 issue of the Register:
could not agree more with Father Dwight Longenecker’s convincing thesis that
neither women nor homosexuals should be ordained to the priesthood.
relativism, political correctness and victimhood aside, in 1994, Pope
John Paul II proclaimed in Ordinatio
Sacerdotalis (Reserving Priestly
Ordination to Men Alone) that the Catholic Church did not have the
authority to ordain women. Since the male priest stands in persona Christi (in the person of Christ), with the Church as his bride (paralleling the
male-female bond in marriage), to ordain women or homosexuals to the
priesthood would in no way “fit,” for lack of a better term.
more important tragedy is that in this age of relativism, political
correctness, and victimhood, if a woman “feels” called to the priesthood,
a consensus exists among some that this should be sufficient reason for her to
be allowed to study for and be granted holy orders. Many Catholics still
just don’t “get it.”
issues like the teaching authority of the magisterium given to the Church by
Christ himself don’t seem crucial to the discussion. “I will give you the keys
of the Kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in
heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in
heaven” (Matthew 16:19).
some Catholics’ desire for the priesthood is more important to them than these
foundational words of Christ himself given to the apostles when he
established his Church.
Silence Speaks Volumes
the article by Christine Williams (May 6), “Mass Should Be Less Rushed,
Cardinal Danneels Says” on Cardinal Godfried Danneels’ lecture at Boston
College, the cardinal is said to have remarked that “The current length of the
Mass makes the liturgy an ‘unstoppable succession of words’ with little time
Mass, our reflection should be on the miracle that is there taking place. We
are miraculously made present on Calvary as Our Lord offers himself in
sacrifice for our redemption. The Mass is the same sacrifice as that of the
cross. It is not a “representation” of that sacrifice, but a “re-presentation.” The past and the
present become one. We are there at the foot of the cross. As we are taught in
the Catechism (No. 1104): “Christian liturgy not only recalls the events that
saved us but actualizes them, makes them present. The Paschal mystery is
celebrated, not repeated.”
would be good if at certain moments during the Mass we could have pauses,
silence, for reflection. I hope that this can be brought to happen.
Charles J. Scheve
Theologian Fell Short
“Origen: An Exemplary Witness to Christian Faith” (May 6):
this paean to an otherwise prominent theologian of the early
Church left out one very important aspect of Origen’s theological career. The heresy of apokatastasis is attributed
to Origen based upon his theological work, De Principiis. It is
perhaps the reason why he is not called “Saint” Origen.
a complex heterodox doctrine of the early Church, is known today as
the doctrine of universal salvation, a heterodox belief to which many
people, including too many Catholics, adhere in this post-modernist world.
James B. Coffey
Albuquerque, New Mexico
It’s Called Catholicism
to “Politicians and Communion” (May 20):
magazine, Giuliani has “decided that the reign of social conservatives is
coming to an end. ‘He understands that
there are a lot of Republicans out there who are sick of everyone kowtowing to
the single-issue extremists,’ said one veteran Republican
observer in Washington. ‘He’s breaking from the pack.’”
might mean the end of the pro-life plank in the Republican Party platform,
leaving pro-lifers no one to vote for in national elections.
I am proud to be a Catholic single-issue pro-life
I would be one of those single-issue extremists if I were in Germany in the time of the Nazis,
when priests, Jews, Gypsies, Polish people, homosexuals and the handicapped
were deemed, “life unworthy of life,” and sent to the gas chambers.
I would be a single issue extremist if I lived during the mid-1800s when the Supreme
Court handed down the Dred Scott Decision stating that blacks were property and
called respect for human life, Rudy. It’s called Catholicism.
East Moriches, New York
“Venerating Pius XII” (May 20):
May 8, 2007, members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints voted
unanimously to recommend that Pope Benedict XVI formerly declare Pope Pius XII
“Venerable.” Hopefully this recognition that Pope Pius XII lived the Christian
virtues in a heroic manner will bring an end to the controversy over whether he
did enough in defense of the Jews and other victims of the Nazis. The 30
cardinals and bishops — from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Japan and the
United States — studied six volumes of documents comprising more than 3,000
soon after the announcement, Abraham Foxman, National Anti-Defamation League
director and a Holocaust survivor, urged Pope Benedict XVI to suspend the
action taken by the Vatican Congregation regarding Pius XII’s “heroic virtues”
until all Pius XII documents in the Vatican Archives are made available.
Ever since the death of Pope Pius
XII in 1958, every pope, from John XXIII to Benedict XVI, noted his sanctity.
In fact, in his first Christmas message, John XXIII said his predecessor was
worthy of canonization and called him, “Supreme doctor, light of holy mother
Church, lover of the divine law.” Pope John Paul II, at the start of his 1987
visit to the United States, defended Pius XII during a meeting with Jewish
leaders, recalling “how deeply he felt about the tragedy of the Jewish people,
and how hard and effectively he worked to assist them during the Second World
It was Pope Pius XII who authorized false baptismal certificates to save
Jewish lives. He also distributed visas for Jews to enter other countries, and
ordered the superiors of convents and monasteries to open their doors and hide
Jews and other victims of the Nazis and fascists. Angelo Roncalli (Pope
John XXIII) who also distributed many certificates, stated that all he was
doing was following the Pope’s directives.
Almost 50 years have passed since Roncalli, then
apostolic nuncio in Istanbul, wrote in his Diary about an audience
with Pius XII on Oct. 10, 1941. He declared that the Pope’s statements were
is interesting to note that when news of Pius XII’s death on Oct. 9,
1958, was flashed around the world, an editorial, “Fighter for Peace,” in
the Los Angeles
Examiner expressed the sentiments
of Catholics and non-Catholics, and declared that this “fighter for peace was
the pope of peace.” Of those mourning the Pope’s death,
Jews — who credited him with being one of their greatest benefactors — were in
Did Pope Pius XII help the Jews? Indeed he did.
Nor can one claim he was “silent.” Rather one must speak of his “prudence.” In his Christmas radio messages of ‘41, ‘42, and
‘43 following this audience, Pope Pius XII denounced theories that attribute
rights to “a particular race.” He revealed that “hundreds of thousands of
people, through no fault of theirs, sometimes only because of nationality or
race, were destined to die.”
Religious Teachers Filippini
Morristown, New Jersey
Editor’s note: Sister Margherita is the author of several books on Pope Pius XII,
including Did Pope Pius XII
Help the Jews? (Paulist Press,