The ‘Real’ Council
Thank you so much for Joseph Pronechen’s interesting and insightful article "John XXIII and the Real Second Vatican Council" (April 20 special section, "Papal Saints for the New Evangelization").
For the record, I admire "Good Pope John’s" great sense of humor. I have only one complaint: I believe he should have brought the modern world into the Church, instead of letting the modern world corrupt the Church.
Radical change and that the main doctrine of our faith was virtually destroyed by the distorters of the Council is my No. 1 concern. I can’t quite believe that I am the only one who has concerns, but for over 50 years, it has not been addressed.
When I entered the Church in 1949, the best evangelist in my lifetime, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, was ruling TV with Life Is Worth Living, which created a peak in evangelization I don’t believe the New Evangelization will ever be able to recover unless the problem I mentioned above is resolved.
Unfortunately, it seems very few actually listened to Pope John when he said the deposit of faith and doctrines should not be changed or that homosexuals should not be ordained as priests.
The explanations of doctrine in a different way seem, in many cases, like at least borderline heresy. Dissidents seem to have had full sway, and ecumenism derailed evangelization for almost three generations after the Council.
Robert A. Rowland
Stating the Obvious
Regarding "The Pope and the President" (page one, April 6 issue):
The lead-in to the article is that President Obama stated that he is a "Great Admirer of the Holy Father." The first point is: What did anyone expect him to say — what he really thinks of the teachings of the Church and the Holy Father?
He has been caught, time after time, in obfuscation and downright lies regarding his programs and his concern for Catholic or Christian persecution in the Middle East, respect for life, respect for marriage and any number of other issues where he has told the U.S. bishops one thing and his minions have done quite another.
If Obama and those who report to him have their way, Catholics will soon be required to perform abortions and conduct same-sex "marriages" or face penalties or imprisonment.
The Register should report stories as they did, but possibly provide editorial context in the editorial section pointing out what Obama has shown by his words, actions and legislation that show anything but respect for the Pope.
The Register is a bastion of disclosure of how the media twists everything the Pope or any Christian or Catholic says and so I feel that this letter is probably pointing out the obvious, but too many Catholics right now are at best confused — and at worst in support of Satanic forces at work to destroy the Church and the family and freedom in America.
I know we have an obligation to do things in a loving way, but we also have an obligation to speak the truth in every way possible, as often as possible, and not leave any doubt as to what is really going on.
The editor replies: The Register has extensively chronicled the administration’s actions and policies that have adversely affected Catholics and people of goodwill in the United States. However, in this instance, by reporting when he compliments the Pope, we don’t think that is confusing to anyone.
In the recent article "Has the Silence Been Broken? Catholic Theological Ethics and Racial Justice" in Theological Studies Journal, Father Bryan Massingale, Ph.D., of Marquette University discusses the theological silence about racism in America.
In his article, Father Massingale uses such words and phrases as "deafening and appalling silence," "embarrassed silence" and "shocking theological silence" regarding racism in the United States. There is no discussion of, nor recognition of, the well-documented racially targeted abortion businesses in the United States.
Minority mothers, especially black and Latino mothers, are purposefully targeted for abortion. Many blacks, and many of them organized, are now publicly trying to combat racially targeted abortion, referring to it as "black genocide."
For several reasons, this silence regarding racially targeted abortions is more shocking than the silence about racism in general. If our social order "treats the bodies of poor women with disdain," as stated in the article, it treats the bodies of poor women’s babies with utter contempt, the contempt shown the Holy Innocents, the contempt Jesus endured on the Way of the Cross and the contempt shown to him when he was crucified on Calvary.
The article refers to white Christians who lynched nearly 5,000 black men and women between 1889 and 1940 and describes lynching as "brutally savage, extrajudicial, sadistic torture" and "killing." No less horrible, and in some cases more horrible, are the painful deaths of minority unborn babies targeted for abortion simply because of their race — and in any given single week in the United States, their number is well in excess of 5,000. And many of those who call themselves "Christian" — as were those in the past who were involved in lynchings — are the abortionists, their nurses, support staff and business employees.
These folks, some of whom also call themselves "Christian," are not only white — they are themselves black, Latino and every other race.
What the Ku Klux Klan and other racists could not achieve — Margaret Sanger’s dream of ridding America of the black, brown and yellow "human undergrowth" — abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood have done and are doing on beyond-holocaust scale.
The article refers to an agenda that includes "a renewed understanding of both conscience and the challenge of conscience formation." How could it be an act of virtue for a Catholic with a well-formed conscience [according to the Church’s understanding of a well-formed conscience, along with having all the factual knowledge that that entails for the well-informed Catholic, including the facts about racially targeted abortions and the politicians and parties who support them] to vote for such a politician?
Isn’t it a sin for a Catholic with a well-formed conscience to vote for someone so that tax dollars will be used to kill minority unborn babies? In the face of such facts, the so-called "seamless garment" argument — used in the past to justify voting for a pro-abortion candidate — ends up in tattered, blood-stained shreds.
The silence of theologians and of many others regarding racially targeted abortions is more "appalling," "shocking" and "deafening" than the silence regarding racism in general. If theologians have been exhorted to break the silence about racism, they should be required to break the silence about racially targeted abortions or forever be silent themselves about anything to do with theology.
San Antonio, Texas
With regard to "Priests Battle the Pouring Dark of Loneliness" (NCRegister.com, April 4):
It is such a blessing to read this article. I have met or am friends with many priests who could use an oratory. I have one priest friend who has two parishes in a rural area; no one wants to volunteer to help him at all. When we visit, my son serves, and we try to do little things to help — while in our present parish, it’s so big and there are so many people that our help is not needed.
God bless you abundantly for publicizing this need.
Paula (last name withheld by request)
Watertown, New York
I recently saw Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, sandwiched between reading Steven Greydanus’ interview with the director and his review, "Rocking the Boat" (Arts, April 6 issue), which generally praises the movie, and I am left wondering if we saw the same flick.
For me, Noah exemplified what G.K. Chesterton famously said: "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly."
I could have accepted (and even enjoyed) the fallen angels-turned-rock giants if they had been done well, but, in my opinion, they were not — and, in fact, totally unnecessary, because animals (done well à la Life of Pi) could have fulfilled the same function in the story, such as helping to build the ark (as beasts of burden) and defending Noah’s family from the bloodthirsty men. As I said to my wife (who liked the first half of the movie), it’s like "bad Lord of the Rings meets the Book of Genesis."
But even that faux pas could have been forgiven if the movie’s moral sensibilities were somewhere in the theological ballpark. And here’s where I see the movie’s major flaw: Aronofsky is severely limited by his pro-environmentalist attitudes — exemplified when Noah tells one of his sons that the reason God wants to save the animals and not the humans is because, and I paraphrase, "They are still innocent, like in the Garden of Eden."
Come again? Animals are instinctive creatures, neither innocent nor guilty. Which, come to think of it, is probably why Aronofsky felt compelled to have rock giants defend Noah’s family instead of, say, man-eating tigers dispatching the bad guys. Heaven forbid we show their true animal nature, red tooth and claw. This leads vegetarian Noah to remind his wife that she herself would kill to defend her children — therefore, "We’re no better than them" (the humans who will perish in the flood).
I greatly enjoy Mr. Greydanus’ thoughtful movie reviews, but I have come to the realization that sometimes movie enjoyment is a matter of taste.
The editor responds: The last part of your last sentence says it all. There is subjective beauty as well as objective beauty in art. There was vigorous discussion among Catholics over Noah, and in his review, Greydanus wrote about "notable shortcomings." But, ultimately, he liked the movie.
In answer to "Where Is Marriage’s Definition Headed?" (page one, March 9 issue):
Nowhere! The definition of marriage should remain unchanged.
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the bishops’ conference, stated in an interview that "the time-honored gift of marriage as the union of a man and a woman open to life built into our nature is not a gift that we need to change."
The definition of marriage given by all reputable dictionaries is always the same and in agreement with the words of Archbishop Kurtz. Therefore, as Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco has stated, "Every just effort to stand for the unique meaning of marriage is worthy of support."
Legally recognized homosexual unions lack a critical element of marriage: They do not have the potential to generate new life.
The word "matrimony" (i.e., marriage) derives from the Latin word mater (mother). The only way that we could have biological motherhood in homosexual couples would require the participation of a third party of the opposite sex. Therefore, homosexual unions cannot be called matrimony or marriage.
The homosexual community should select an acceptable name for their unions and, through their advocacy groups, promote legislation that will make it official and secure all legitimate rights to which they may be entitled under the law.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Several comments on your excellent issue of March 23:
First, thank you so much for printing Damian O’Connor’s beautiful letter on the sacrament of reconciliation ("I Was Invited"). As someone who tends to think of confession in terms of my semi-annual visit to the dentist, I found his account encouraging and inspiring.
Second, William Stimson’s paean to the Latin Mass ("Extraordinary Beauty," Letters to the Editor) evoked rather different feelings. As a baby boomer who started going to Mass in the 1950s, I found the old liturgy mostly incomprehensible; even though I was a good reader, the priest recited the Latin prayers too fast for me to follow in my missal.
I remember being taught Latin hymns in confirmation class, but never being given a translation — making me feel that no one cared whether we understood or not. The "contemplative" ambiance Mr. Stimson describes was undoubtedly present in convent cloisters, but in our parish, a lot of people seemed to be contemplating the Rosary instead of the Mass.
It was only in the early 1960s, when I attended Catholic high school, learned some Latin and was introduced to the dialogue of the Mass that I had a sense of participation — which led me to enthusiastically welcome Novus Ordo as a college student.
So, while I’m glad Mr. Stimson is so moved by the extraordinary form, he might want to rethink his description of vocal participation by us "laity" as "interruptions or competition" and consider the idea that it was the reforms of Vatican II that made possible the revitalization of the "traditional" Latin Mass.
Finally, those who want to follow Irene DiSanto’s advice ("How Much Are You Worth?" In Depth) regarding compassion for the dying will find a great role model in Calvary Hospital in New York. Their care for dying patients of all faiths is truly amazing — and not covered by most insurance, so they do most of it pro bono. As Mrs. DiSanto says, this is a wonderful area for volunteer ministry — and now that a utilitarian ethic seems to have taken over so much of medicine, every Catholic can use her suggestions to promote the culture of life.
Anne G. Burns
Cos Cob, Connecticut