Hindering the Mission

Regarding your coverage of the Health and Human Services abortion mandate: I am so thankful for the letter written by Archbishop Joseph Kurtz and Archbishop Charles Chaput regarding the blatant attempt by the president and Kathleen Sebelius to interfere with the religious freedom of the Catholic Church or any other recognized religion.

The insidious part of their premise, even their “compromise,” is that the administration is trying to separate the liturgy and worship that takes place in the Church (literally, to them, the clergy of the Church) from the biblical mission of the Church upon all the members of the Church, as found in Matthew 25:31-46.

The issue is not birth control or sterilization, but a direct attack on the missionary work of the Gospel in all the hospitals, education institutions, Catholic Charities, Catholic Relief Services, etc.

The Church alone is the largest source of ministering to the poor, the sick and the uneducated in the world. To try to separate the worshipping Church from the missionary Church is the real violation of the First Amendment under the guise of the Church being an employer like other secular employers.

Deacon John M. Edgerton

Tarpon Springs, Florida

The Pill Isn’t Medicine

The use of contraceptives is a lifestyle choice made by those engaging in “love making.” The purchase of contraceptives is not prohibited by any laws, and they are available everywhere.

Why pick on religious hospitals? We all know that contraceptives are not a medicine. They cure no illness; therefore, their use does not require hospital care or clinic health services.

After usage for a prolonged period of time, they can cause health problems, sometimes aggravating a pre-existing medical condition. Setting aside one’s decision to use contraceptives on a regular basis, there remains the question of who should pay for the woman’s “pursuit of happiness” or for the wrecked lives of others who “choose” to ingest destructive chemicals and engage in hazardous lifestyles.

What about AIDS, STDS, smoking, drugs, alcoholism and irresponsible behavior that inflicts bodily harm on those who indulge in them? These problems arise, with few exceptions, from bad “choices.” And now the government wants to pick my pocket to pay for these messed-up lives.

Where is it written in the Constitution that I must pay for self-induced medical problems and the poison that caused them?

Silence is not an answer. Those who are demanding it are thieves and my enemies. If it is upheld I must begin to deal with these persons on that basis. That’s the only “choice” I have left.

As long as the government can order pills to be given away free, why not aspirin? At least it provides relief to some real physical problems.

Joan Solms

Aurora, Illinois

The Common Good

I am most gratified that Cardinal Dolan has been so forthright in his remarks concerning the role of the episcopacy in creating the conditions that make the HHS mandate concerning contraception possible (“Silver Lining to HHS Mandate,” April 22 issue).

He forgets the flip side, however: For decades, it has been the episcopacy pushing for federal provision of medical financing in the name of social justice and mere expediency also that has made this possible. Sister Carol Keehan is a creation of the bishops, the incumbents and especially the immediate two generations of their predecessors, because they have ignored the concept of subsidiarity articulated especially by Pope Pius XI in 1931.

I am given to understand by actuaries that any randomly chosen group of 10,000 or so can mutually insure against medical risk at the so-called “community rate.” It is, therefore, clearly unnecessary that the federal government finance medical care — it could be done by states, counties, cities or even by Catholic dioceses or the Knights of Columbus.

This being the case, the federal government ought not do it (and this is important), regardless of whether these bodies actually are doing it. I realize that most Catholics arguing against federal involvement will argue against state or city involvement as well.

They may argue that coercive authority must never be brought to bear in pursuit of the common good. But this is another teachable moment.

Let us have a great seminar on this topic as well, and let Cardinal Dolan lead it.

Tom Leith

St. Louis, Missouri


Pertinent to your coverage of the HHS mandate: Blessed John Paul II’s theology of the body will explain the reasons why the Catholic Church is so against the HHS mandate, particularly why the Church teaches that sex should stay in marriage and why contraceptives will never be accepted.

Such an opportunity is being missed to educate the masses in Blessed John Paul II’s theology of the body.

I know condensing such a beautiful and extensive work is nearly impossible, but if more people understand, then more Catholics would come home and stop going against Church teachings.

I find it frustrating that no one is taking the opportunity to talk about that which I firmly believe would gain us more support with the faithful and those of other faiths as well.

Angela Ploran

Lafayette, Colorado  

Paul Ryan Budget

Regarding In Depth lead column by Rep. Paul Ryan about his House budget in May 20 issue: I want to defend the Paul Ryan budget.

Our current federal budget has been so mismanaged, along with debt obligations and overregulation by the Obama administration and the Democratic Party.

We are now on an unsustainable path. The engine of growth has been stalled. This hurts the poor more than anything else. As a DAV Vietnam veteran, I understand the importance of veterans’ benefits. In the state of California, they are talking about building a high-speed rail project that could cost over a billion dollars. If Amtrak is having trouble, attracting customers should be a warning to those who think this is a good idea.

You need only look at the country of Greece, which is in a financial mess. The United States is going that same path.

I grew up poor. I’m not rich. But I understand the importance of a job. It means I have money to pay my bills plus money to donate to my local church. Who are now able to help others? Paul Ryan is a good man.

Bill Butler via email

Threat to Liberty

Back in February, President Obama announced that his administration had reached a compromise to the controversial Health and Human Services ruling that had forced religious institutions to include contraceptive and abortion drugs in their health-care plans.

Before this revision, Catholic organizations, such as hospitals and charities, had been forced to provide this coverage that they consider to be sinful and a violation of their religious liberties.

The new ruling requires insurance companies to provide the same drugs free of charge. Though the president has backtracked in an effort to redeem himself, the very idea that he would be willing to violate these sacredly held beliefs should raise an alarm for anyone.

Consider this: President Obama was willing to make this decision during an election year, a decision he knew violated a sacred, constitutionally guaranteed freedom. If he gets re-elected, just what radical moves will he be willing to make if he knows that he never again will have to face the voters?

There will be no incentive to keep him from imposing his moral standards on the people. This controversy goes way beyond just birth control and abortion.

This threat to First Amendment rights may mark the beginning of additional attacks on numerous other freedoms if the president is granted a second term.

Valerius Poplicola

Littleton, Massachusetts

Concise Compliment

I’ll make this short and sweet: National Catholic Register is the best! I love it!  

Chris Ahrens

Lewisville, Texas

Loaded Words

Pertinent to your coverage on the culture’s redefinition of marriage: The culture of death, now led by the occupants of the highest offices in the United States, is making a full effort to legalize marriage between practitioners of homosexual acts.

This would raise to the level of the most sacred human relationship an act which, until Lawrence v. Texas, was illegal in most jurisdictions and which remains a deed best described as sexual abuse.

In response, I see many commentators calling for a defense of “traditional” marriage. As I have noted in a national publication before, this word is not helping our cause.

Things that are traditional come under assault all the time. In fact, the opposite in common usage is the word “fashionable.” And it certainly has become fashionable in so-called progressive circles to defend homosexual unions from “discrimination.”

Let me strongly suggest that we change our language immediately. What we are defending — since we are arguing in the public square — is “natural” marriage. That is the best description of the union, even for secular ears.

Natural marriage, even before Christ, is exclusive, oriented toward union and procreation and permanent. Sacramental marriage is built on this mature covenant between man and woman.

“Natural” marriage is built on the principles of natural law, defended so ably in the past by Augustine and Aquinas and in our day by philosophers such as J. Budziszewski and Robert George.

We abandoned those arguments to our peril in the middle of the sexual revolt and cannot succeed unless we return to them. The first step is to use the proper language.

Deacon W. Patrick Cunningham

San Antonio, Texas

Sad History of Dissent

Thank you for Father Greg Markey’s article on Humanae Vitae in the May 6 issue (“Humanae Vitae, the Priest and the HHS Mandate,” In Depth).

He states correctly and succinctly the sad history of dissent in Catholic priests and their laity. I have lived through it, and he is completely accurate.

It is indeed heartbreaking, but not the end of the story. “My soul is in my hand. I have no fear. In his dear might prepared for weal and woe.” — Blessed John Henry Newman

Terry Ianora

Eugene, Oregon