Centered on Christ
In "Pope Francis Addresses Marxism Accusations" (Vatican, Dec. 29 issue), the Pope easily explains not economic theory, but human reality: "Magically the glass gets bigger and nothing flows over." He is, of course, speaking of man’s temptation to become selfish, even a miser, a condition that all can understand and know.
The Pope’s reflections are as they should be: Christ-centered. As I recall, the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus also recorded that the Rich Man, instead of being charitable, tore down the old small barn to build a bigger one. The Pope reminds us to keep a close watch on our hearts: Does our Christian love overflow to others?
Dennis Wichterman Sr.
Regarding "Catholic Education’s Core" (In Person, Jan. 26 issue):
This is an open letter to Sister John Mary Fleming. Years ago, the parochial schools in America left the path of wisdom by allowing the secular humanist educational agenda to have an influence on the Catholic schools. While, at first, it may have seemed prudent to integrate Catholic schools with society, it has ended in corrupting what used to be the best education in the land.
Steven Jonathan Rummelsburg
This is in response to the column "Trendies and Traddies" (In Depth, Jan. 12 issue), written by Father Dwight Longenecker: It’s sad that there is division in the Catholic Church. This should never happen, but it’s quite apparent this is the case.
But if all its members had the virtue of faith, as defined by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, this would not happen. The virtue of faith is the "theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has revealed to us and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself" (1814).
So when I read in this column about "trendies," I think of Pope St. Pius X’s encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis, in which he condemned modernism. Father Longenecker defined "trendies" as "Catholics who are caught up in subjective New-Age spirituality combined with politicized agendas. These modern Catholics are only concerned about worldly power, and they believe the mission of the Church is no more than to make the world a better place."
I agree with all that, but would add that today’s modernist Catholics are "cafeteria Catholics" who don’t adhere to all Church doctrines on faith and morals. So do these then have the virtue of faith, as defined by the Catechism? I think not.
As for the "traddies," I’m still trying to figure out what a "radical" traditionalist means. If one adheres to all the Church teaches on faith and morals and loves the Latin Mass, does that make one a "radical"? To be obedient to the Church and follow its rules and teachings is obligatory of all Catholics and doesn’t make one radical, does it?
Let’s face it: If you are a traditional Catholic, you are quite frequently thought of as a radical. I also thought this way before I became a member of a traditional church.
So when we look back on our Church history, with all of its great saints who loved the Latin Mass, would today’s modernists look upon them as radical traditionalists, too? As for those who accuse us of "having it all worked out" and thinking we can get to heaven on our own, are they not guilty of judging us and our motives? We are looked down upon as "holier than thous," after all.
I only knew the Novus Ordo Mass for most of my 44 years of life. I had never attended a Latin Mass until a couple of years ago, and here are some interesting things I’ve noticed: When I used to pull into the parking lot of churches of the Novus Ordo variety, I would see bumper stickers for pro-abortion politicians. But at the Latin Mass, I only see pro-life names on them, as well as many pro-life bumper stickers. At the Latin Mass, there are really large families with many children attending, but this was not the case at the Novus Ordo Masses I attended. So why are traditionalists called radicals when they are trying to live out their faith by voting for pro-life candidates and not using contraception?
This is, sadly, the case, and I compare these modernists’ attacks on traditionalists to how liberal Democrats attack conservatives. It’s often quite divisive and nasty.
Prairie Village, Kansas
Father Longenecker responds: I affirm all the good points of the traditionalist movement that Mr. Rachiele affirms. He asks for a definition of "radical traditionalists." My own definition would be those traditionalists who insist that the Novus Ordo is inferior or invalid, those who combine their Catholic faith with political or ecclesiastical conspiracy theories, those who are sedevacantist, anti-Semitic or racist, condemn all non-Catholic Christians and believe all non-traditionalist Catholics are "not real" Catholics.
Pertinent to your coverage of the annual March for Life in Washington and its related events across the United States:
On Jan. 22, hundreds of thousands of pro-life citizens marched for life across America to advocate for an end to abortion. They have done it every year since Roe v. Wade, and we are no closer to legally protecting the unborn now than we were in 1973. The Catholic bishops could help change that.
To protect the unborn, we need either the Supreme Court to reverse Roe v. Wade or a constitutional amendment to be proposed by Congress and ratified by the states. Elections are the key, and, to date, we have too few pro-life legislators and pro-life voters. The gap between the votes we have and the votes we need could be filled if the bishops would follow the Vatican in two crucial areas.
First, Church teaching indicates that one cannot vote for a candidate who supports abortion unless there are proportionate reasons that outweigh the millions of innocent lives that will be killed by legal abortion (in America, there are now no such reasons). And, second, Scripture, canon law, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the positions of Pope Benedict and Pope Francis all support denying Communion to Catholic legislators who favor abortion rights.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in its voting guide ("Faithful Citizenship Statement," formerly called "Political Responsibility Statement") replaces "proportionate reasons" with other "morally grave reasons" as a basis for voting. "Morally grave reasons" are left undefined, so readers can decide what they are. Reasons not as evil as being killed qualify.
The document provides examples, describing them with the following terminology: "moral imperative," "universally binding on our conscience," "serious moral issues" and "moral obligation." So there is always some morally grave reason to vote for the pro-abortion candidate, despite what the Church says.
Furthermore, by bishops allowing pro-abortion Catholic legislators to receive the Eucharist, a significant number of the laity construe that these legislators’ votes in favor of abortion are morally acceptable and that Catholics can vote for them in good conscience. Regular reception of Communion in the Catholic Church conveys that the person is a practicing Catholic, in the state of grace, in good standing and in communion with the Church.
The voting guide, combined with allowing pro-abortion Catholic legislators to receive the Eucharist, decreases the number of churchgoing Catholics who are voting pro-life — and thus prevents the achievement of sufficient votes to legally protect the unborn.
The bishops’ conference can contribute to the end of the legal killing, now at 56 million, if it teaches that:
Legislators have the moral responsibility to pursue the common good, protecting human life and respecting the human dignity of every person created by God, born and unborn. Those who do not are morally unacceptable for office.
Catholic legislators who support abortion are not in communion with the Church, and they will not be given Communion until they are.
Catholic citizens cannot in good conscience elect legislators who support the killing of the unborn (for there are no proportionate reasons justifying it).
Ocean City, New Jersey