It is imperative that we Catholics focus on the upcoming elections and exercise our right to vote as a means of defending our moral principles.
Sadly, many of our elected officials need to be reminded that our rights come from God and not from them.
Our bishops cannot endorse particular candidates and involve the Church in partisan politics, but they can and they do teach us the Church’s positions on public-policy issues such as abortion, same-sex "marriage" and the effort to restore our religious liberty.
It is up to us, as faithful citizens, to become informed of their teachings on these important issues and to prioritize them when making our decisions regarding which candidates merit our votes.
It is more important than ever that we defend the right to life of children in the womb, defend natural marriage and insist that our government restore our religious liberty by rescinding this administration’s Health and Human Services mandate that requires most health plans to cover services which we find objectionable for moral and religious reasons.
These services include sterilization, contraception and abortion-inducing drugs.
This mandate allows only a very narrow exemption for a "religious employer," which it defines as an entity that employs and serves only people of the same faith.
Religious organizations providing education, health care and charitable services to all in need have a one-year delay in enforcement but do not qualify for the exemption. And there is no exemption or delay for individuals or for businesses owned and operated by individuals with moral or religious objections.
Yes, we must pray, but we must also actively work to change the culture. Hopefully, we can accomplish this with our vote.
Jill A. White
Hamilton, New Jersey
‘We Will Not Obey!’
Regarding "What’s a Catholic Employer to Do?" (page one, Aug. 26 issue):
I question the depth of the National Catholic Bioethics Center’s analysis for a key alternative to the insurance mandate: to refuse to pay the fine.
The article noted that "that decision comes with ‘hefty legal risks that could threaten the livelihoods of all involved.’"
Isn’t this the type of excuse that some Christians gave as to why they had to offer incense to Caesar — because to not do so came with "hefty legal risks that could threaten the lives of all involved"?
We are talking here about a law that funds the taking of innocent life. If they knew their taxes went to pay the soldiers who killed Jews, should the German people have reluctantly paid because to not do so came with "hefty legal risks that could threaten the livelihood of all involved"?
Based on the answer to this law, which supports the taking of innocent life, is there any law to which the answer would be: "We will not obey, and we will not pay!"? Or are our livelihoods always more important?
HHS’ War on Women
Pertinent to your ongoing coverage of the Health and Human Services’ contraception mandate:
The mandate is "the war on women" in itself. Contraceptives have huge failure rates that encourage abortion as a backup. That has its own added risks (including death and sterility).
Both abortion and the pill have links to breast cancer and other cancers of the female organs. (The World Health Organization says the pill is a Class 1 carcinogen, like asbestos and cigarette smoke.)
The pill also causes blood clots, which can travel to the brain, heart or lungs, causing strokes, heart attacks or pulmonary embolism. All of these can result in death or severe disability.
Hormone-replacement therapy used the same hormones as the pill, but in much lower strength. Because the damage to women was so great, the experiment had to be canceled prematurely. Since the pill’s hormones are seven times stronger, it figures that the result of this will be at least seven times more deadly.
The illusion of "safe sex" is a lie. A better solution is chastity until marriage. It has no inherent risks and is successful as long as it is kept up.
Our population (without counting immigration) is now below replacement numbers. We do not need these "population control" measures — but we need to see the harm they do to ourselves and our future generations.
The report that "NFP Is Part of Employee Benefits" (page 3, Aug 26 issue) is an encouraging advance against a contraceptive culture and can be of great help to those couples who are in need of it and who qualify for it.
Yet there are limitations on who may use it.
All Catholics should actually read the encyclical Humanae Vitae in order to have a correct understanding of what Pope Paul VI actually wrote. While he teaches that contraception is never permitted (14), he also said, "If, therefore, there are well-grounded reasons for spacing births, arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband and wife, or from external conditions, the Church teaches that married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile, thus controlling birth in a way which does not in the least offend the moral principles" (16).
For Catholics, marriage is a vocation, a calling to serve God by raising a family. It’s not that God wants more people on earth, but he wants more souls in heaven — and one must go through life on earth in order to get there.
The parents of St. Thérèse of Liseux decided to live celibate lives within their marriage. About a year later, they mentioned this to their pastor, who told them to start a family, which is how the world was blessed with St. Thérèse.
Any discussion of NFP, whether in its promotion, the instructions for using it or meetings for marriage preparation, should make clear what the conditions are.
New York, New York
Praising Pius XII
Despite your two-part series on "The Myth of ‘Hitler’s Pope’" (Vatican page, Aug. 26 and Sept. 9 issues), sadly, Pope Pius XII continues to be publicly chastised for his so-called silence during the Nazi Holocaust. Listed below are just a few references that demonstrate how unfounded these ongoing charges truly are.
On the occasion of Pope Pius XII’s death in October 1958, for example, a number of prominent Jewish leaders lavished praise on the late Pope for his efforts on behalf of European Jews during the Holocaust. (Their names and statements were published in The New York Times the day following Pius’ death.)
Moreover, the Israeli scholar Pinchas Lapide thoroughly assessed Pius XII’s wartime role on the Holocaust in his book entitled The Last Three Popes and the Jews and concluded the following: "The Catholic Church, under the pontificate of Pius XII, was instrumental in saving the lives of 860,000 Jews from certain death at Nazi hands. This figure far exceeds those saved by all other churches and rescue operations combined."
Interestingly, one of the most powerful eulogies on the occasion of Pius XII’s death was expressed by then-Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, who said: "During the 10 years of Nazi terror, when our people went through the horrors of martyrdom, the Pope raised his voice to condemn the persecutors and to commiserate with their victims."
Having been a history teacher for 32 years before retiring, I’ve written and lectured about the Nazi Holocaust. I know of what I speak.
There is absolutely no historical justification for the ongoing maligning of Pius XII. But some anti-Catholic individuals and groups will resurface this issue — without one iota of proof — when it serves their purposes to do so.
It is a classic example of revisionist history.
Thomas E. Dennelly
Sayville, New York
I would like to thank Donna Bethell for her fine column "Bishop Leonard Blair Takes on the LCWR" (In Depth, Aug. 12 issue).
I completely agree with her.
Economics’ Moral Basis
This letter is in response to the opinion piece "The Paul Ryan-Ayn Rand Connection: What’s a Catholic to Think?" (NCRegister.com, Aug. 18).
Economics and government are vehicles by which the human person is enabled to be virtuous, not coerced to be so. It is important to remember that the Church does not endorse any specific economic system or form of government. However, the Church does affirm that any economic system or form of government must have the dignity of the human person at heart.
It is dangerous, therefore, when Paul Ryan and Ayn Rand bandy about remarks regarding the "moral basis" for capitalism and the free market, and even more so when citizens begin to buy those claims lock, stock and default-swap. The only moral basis any economic policy or government has is that it encourages and promotes virtue and, most importantly, charity.
Thus, if the policy passes that test, the next step is to discuss implementation and then to examine the results.
So, what is a Catholic to think? We should be much more concerned with whether or not a policy is true, good and beautiful — and not whether historical contexts have labeled it "conservative," "liberal," or what have you.
Truth in Christ is certainly eternal, but the supply- and demand-side economists are certainly ephemeral.
"Great White North’s Wake-Up Call on Religious Liberty" (NCRegister.com, June 8) does an exemplary job in regard to showing us how the Catholic Church’s attempts to maintain its moral teachings looks in today’s modern-day society.
Author Steve Weatherbe illustrates the hostility that the Church faces across the continent (and essentially across the world) for putting up a fight towards the legislation of countries that wish to force upon them practices and regulations that are contrary to their belief.
However, the article brings up a larger and more compelling topic. It shows us how society is flustered that the Church "can’t keep up with the times." The last phrase, which can be heard on many secular radio stations, tends to cast this dark cloud over our religious institution. It depicts it as a rigid and feudal system rather than the loving, reasonable and compassionate establishment that it really is.
Unfortunately, it is this bias that makes people, usually those who are ill-informed on both sides of the issue, swing towards the side that opposes the Church.
What contemporary society must understand is that the Church cannot "keep up with the times," because in order to do that it must change Scripture, an action that, as we all know, is impossible because to change Scripture is to change the Word of God.
Furthermore, it should be understood that the Catholic Church is not a theology or one-man-show, but rather an infrastructure that is rooted in the cooperation of people from a variety of sectors; monks and nuns, priests and pastors, bishops and cardinals, common churchgoers and senior church workers working together for the betterment of their community and the rest of the world.
Hopefully, through understanding this, people will be able to see that resistance towards legislation that forces religious organizations to act in a way that is contrary to their belief isn’t to wage a "war on woman" or to gain votes for the GOP, but rather to fight for their basic right of religious freedom and to be able to keep alive the two-millennia-old teachings of the Church.
Otto R. Tielemans