No Compromise With China

Regarding the recent illicit Chinese ordination of bishops (“China Watching in the Vatican,”, July 14):

You can’t bargain with the devil. This should be clearly understood by Vatican officials who persist in establishing, at all costs, improved relations with communist China. The Chinese government will never openly accept the Catholic Church. It will never recognize anything other than state-backed churches with bishops sympathetic to the communist regime. Essentially, the true Catholic Church must remain an underground institution in China.

Chinese Catholics have been recently encouraged by some Vatican officials to seek government recognition as members of the “official” or “open” church, a step that would require them to join the government-run Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. This has emboldened authorities in Beijing to appoint bishops without papal approval and has managed to sway many Chinese Catholics to the government’s side. This strategy of compromise is of a piece with the old Ostpolitik — Pope Paul VI’s controversial policy of accommodating communist governments in an attempt to obtain better conditions for Catholics behind the Iron Curtain during the 1960s and ’70s. This policy of compromise failed in Russia — just as it is failing today in China.

The Church is called to evangelize, and so it must try to work with the world’s governments and with various peoples and those of different faiths. Nonetheless, Pope John Paul II reminds us: “In matters of faith, compromise is in contradiction with God who is Truth” (Ut Unum Sint). In Evangelium Vitae, he further states: “In the proclamation of this Gospel, we must not fear hostility or unpopularity, and we must refuse any compromise or ambiguity which might conform us to the world’s way of thinking (Romans 12:2).”

Paul Kokoski

Hamilton, Ontario

Twin Specters

Regarding “New York Legalizes Same-Sex ‘Marriage’” (July 17):

To paraphrase Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in the Communist Manifesto, twin specters are haunting America — the specters of moral relativism and secular humanism. They have entered our courts, our legislatures and our popular culture. More alarmingly, they have penetrated our educational system. One of their important achievements has been to instill — in our society, through our government schools — an acceptance of homoerotic behavior. Thus, we find increasing acceptance of same-sex “marriage” among our youth.

What really matters is that the homosexual movement — a manifestation of the two specters — is succeeding in its efforts to indoctrinate our young. For historical examples of this danger, recall the following quotations:

“Give me four years to teach the children, and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.” — Vladimir Lenin

“When an opponent declares, ‘I will not come over to your side,’ I calmly say, ‘Your child belongs to us already.’” — Adolph Hitler

This immutable truth remains: A legitimate marriage exists only between one man and one woman. To suggest otherwise to our schoolchildren is an unspeakable act and a violation of their parents’ rights.

Roger W. Smith

Waterloo, Iowa

‘Catholic’ Politicians

Your front-page article (July 17) on the passage of the “gay marriage” bill in New York spoke of the bishops and Catholics being ignored in the debate.

The article failed to mention that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is Catholic, at least pointing out that he acknowledges that when it suits him. Cuomo was the major push for the bill.

State Sen. Mark Grisanti, a Republican representing parts of Erie and Niagara counties, cast a swing “Yes” vote after previously promising opposition in his election campaign. Grisanti also likes to mention being a Catholic, per a Buffalo News article dated June 17, 2011, several days before the “gay marriage” vote. In the article, Grisanti was asked how often he went to Mass. His response: “As often as I can. St. Rose at 10:30 Sunday. Unless if I gotta cut the grass, [then] I gotta miss it.”

Perhaps if some bishops and priests were less concerned with rubbing elbows with Catholic politicians and more concerned with faith and belief, the Church would be in better shape.

Gregory Schuler

Lockport, New York

(Thomas) More Is More

Regarding “Andrew Cuomo and Thomas More” (Editorial, July 17):

You wrote, “Perhaps now is the time for the U.S. bishops to reassess their policy of administering Communion to politicians who identify themselves as Catholic and publicly dissent from Church teaching. Currently, it varies from diocese to diocese. The bishops of New York have signaled their discomfort with this approach.”

That brought to mind the book St. Thomas More wrote titled The Sadness of Christ. On page 46 he writes: “See now, when Christ comes back to his apostles for the third time, there they are, buried in sleep, though he commanded them to bear up with him and to stay awake and pray because of the impending danger; but Judas the traitor at the same time was so wide awake and intent on betraying the Lord that the very idea of sleep never entered his mind.

“Does not this contrast between the traitor and the apostles present to us a clear and sharp mirror image (as it were), a sad and terrible view of what has happened through the ages from those times even to our own?”

As in the time of St. Thomas More, our bishops are still sleeping.

Thecla McCarthy

Tucson, Arizona

Lying and Forgiveness

If I could make a comment in relation to Janet Smith’s column “Are All Falsehoods Lies?” (In Depth, July 17): A lie consists in signifying externally to someone else — by speech, writing or some other means of signification — what one knows, to the best of one’s knowledge, to be out of accord with the truth, as one’s conscience, internally, judges it to be. A lie is always an intrinsically disordered action, since it always involves a willed discrepancy between internal knowledge and external signification. Thus, it is always immoral, regardless of accidental factors (e.g., lying for a good intention, as in order to save someone’s life; lying when under severe physical and/or psychological pressure; lying to someone who may not have a right to true information or may use it to harm someone).

This is, perhaps, why the qualifier in the definition of lying in the earlier edition of the Catholic Catechism — “to someone who has the right to know the truth” — was omitted in the revised edition. This was to avoid the possible misunderstanding that lying may be considered to be morally acceptable in reference to someone who does not have a right to the truth.

Lying always involves a violation of the judgment of one’s conscience and is an affront and insult to God, Eternal Truth himself, in whose presence we always live and act and speak. He commands us, by the Eighth Commandment, to avoid all those outward significations that are not in harmony with one’s internal knowledge. Knowledge of truth and speech are gifts that are meant to be used in perfect agreement, if we speak at all. At times it may behoove us to remain silent. This is not the same as lying.

It is not difficult to understand, however, why God would easily forgive a lie committed for a good intention — e.g., to save a life or to safeguard an innocent person’s reputation. This forgiveness must not be interpreted as God’s condoning the sin of lying, but of readily forgiving the guilt and overlooking the weakness by which a person may lapse into a lie, as long as the conditions for receiving forgiveness are present [i.e., admission of guilt vs. rationalizing away the sin; sorrow for the sin; willingness to do all in one’s power, with God’s grace, not to fall into the sin again; etc.].

Sins of lying not completely repented of and atoned for in this world remain as fuel for the purifying fires of purgatory (or worse).

Joseph M. Christianson

San Antonio, Texas

Editor’s note: Joseph M. Christianson, Ph.D., is ethics instructor at NW Vista College in San Antonio.