Ryan and Societal Justice
I appreciated Archbishop Samuel Aquila’s comments concerning Paul Ryan ("Christian Politics," Briefs, Sept. 9 issue).
As Christians, we should seek to discuss in good faith the various ways we can seek justice and serve our neighbors. As a former Democrat, I might have concurred with Ryan’s critics at one time, and so I understand their perspective, while now fervently disagreeing with it.
Paul Ryan is a practicing Catholic who understands and can articulate the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity referred to by the archbishop.
On the same page ("Ryan on Freedom"), Ryan states that he "tries to apply the teachings of his Catholic faith to his work."
I agree with Archbishop Aquila’s observation that by ignoring Ryan’s concerns, "our sentimental affections may cripple the ones Our Lord loves the most, our children."
However, the effects of national bankruptcy will harm not only our children, but all Americans. The debt crisis is here today.
Ryan does not propose slashing the safety net, but projects a long-term budget with the intent of saving such programs as Medicare. In contrast, the present course will truly end Medicare "as we know it."
Government will not be able to help the poor when it is expending the majority of its funds to service its debt, and there are not enough wealthy persons available to avert an economic disaster by simply soaking the rich.
The free enterprise system has produced great economic equality and can be fully consistent with Christian moral teachings. Issues for Christians in the coming election are not only concerns about our responsibilities to others, but how we can ensure a prosperity that benefits society as a whole, rather than trying to manage an economic decline that would bring widespread suffering.
The Good Samaritan not only bound up his neighbor’s wounds, but paid for his stay at the inn and promised to pay for further expenses, showing that he had the means to do so.
Far from being heartless and un-Christian, it seems to me that Paul Ryan seeks to preserve the means to provide a just society and should be respected for bringing his Catholic faith into the public square.
David I. Gedrose
Regarding "Euthanasia on the Ballot in Boston" (page one, Oct. 7 issue):
On Nov. 6, the people of Massachusetts will be voting on whether to legalize assisted suicide or not. If passed, Massachusetts will become the third state, after Oregon and Washington, to have done so, and I can assure you the domino effect will spread to other "progressive" states.
As most practicing Catholics know, the goal of evil is the destruction of our souls. The attack begins when evil makes things falsely appear right and succeeds when we consciously or unconsciously push God out and rely on our wills instead of seeking the will of God in all things.
Deception, a tool of evil, turns abortion into "pro-choice"; homosexual "marriage" becomes "equality in marriage"; contraception becomes "reproductive care"; force becomes "mandate"; and assisted suicide will appear on the ballot as "death with dignity."
So what are we to do? We need to replace our self-centeredness with the heart and mind of Christ. In a book titled Render Unto Caesar by Archbishop Charles Chaput, the question is posed and the answer is given: "What needs to be done by Catholics today for their country? The answer is: Don’t lie. If we say we’re Catholic, we need to prove it. America’s public life needs people willing to stand alone, without apologies, for the truth of the Catholic faith and the common human values it defends."
The book points out that there are many social issues that are important: "Many require our attention. But some issues have more weight than others. Deliberately killing innocent human life, or standing by and allowing it, dwarfs all other social issues" (emphasis added).
Christ’s Church teaches us that one is complicit in promoting intrinsic evil when one supports a political party and its candidates who support the killing of the unborn, who support assisted suicide and who wage attacks against religious freedom.
You can rationalize any way you want, as did Sister Simone Campbell when she spoke at the Democratic National Convention ("Who Speaks for the Catholic Church?" NCRegister.com, Sept. 13), but it will not change the truth.
Remember, evil wants us to push God out of our lives and lead us to think we can "go it alone."
The truth is: Once we think that way and fail to live by the teachings of Christ and his Church, we are no match for the lies and deceit of evil that will lead to the loss of our most important gift from God — our souls.
Donald A. Orrico
Bronx, New York
Regarding your coverage of the presidential elections and having a conscience informed by our Catholic faith:
My Catholic conscience tells me that if I vote Democrat and for what the Democratic platform stands for, then I am contributing and supporting evil.
I honestly feel that I would have to go to confession. As Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., has stated, ("Bishop Paprocki Warns of ‘Intrinsic Evils’ in Democratic Platform," NCRegister.com, Sept. 27), the Democratic platform stands for the reinterpretation of marriage and unfettered access to abortion.
Remember: When you vote, you are not just electing a president. He will be appointing cabinet members and judges — who seem to set the moral compass, telling the country what is right and what is wrong.
Many vote Democrat because of the social issues, always saying more government money is needed to make the programs run. Money bought votes, but not progress. I would like to see churches and other charities — and not the government — run programs with accountability and with tax deductions for contributors.
People should take care of others.
John J. Ochman
South Lyon, Michigan
Tuition in Tithing
Relative to "Religious People Give More" (page one, Sept. 9 issue):
On behalf of thousands of Catholic parents, I want to add to all the surveys taken pertaining to religious giving and the reality of Catholic school tuition.
For many, many years, my husband and I gave approximately 30% of our income in support of Catholicism: 10% went to our parish, more went to additional collections for seminarians, St. Vincent de Paul Society, missionaries, etc.
More went to annual collections for the diocese and Catholic Charities. Still more went to help victims of disasters. We did not count the tuition as part of our tithe, although that could be done.
We looked at tuition as our love of Christ and the passing of the baton of faith.
These hardworking parents should be acknowledged. Their untold sacrifices are great.
Pertinent to "Sisters’ Summit Convenes: LCWR Meets Amid Vatican Dialogue" (page one, Aug. 26 issue):
I appreciate the news value in the nuns vs. the Vatican stories. Active nuns pitted against an authoritarian Church hierarchy makes good copy.
When the LCWR leaders speak, the nuns seem to emphasize power, authority, individual autonomy and adaptation to the views of modern society. I seldom hear about humility, personal repentance or docility to the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, their apparent embarrassment regarding certain Catholic beliefs and teachings almost seems palpable.
In light of Scripture and the teachings of Jesus regarding marriage and the dignity of human life, the Church does not have the authority to say that violations of the Fifth Commandment — such as abortion and euthanasia — are okay. Nor can the Church alter the nature or substance of marriage. To expect otherwise is to expect in vain.
If dialogue is the goal, perhaps it’s time to get in "receive" mode and "tune in" to God. Here’s a good place to start: Acknowledge that God is God ... and we’re not.
Sterling Heights, Michigan
I was extremely impressed by the article "Education Boom in Wichita Diocese," (Nation, Sept. 9 issue), especially on the stewardship program.
Parish families are expected to attend Mass every Sunday, participate in religious education, volunteer in parish ministries and make a financial commitment. The program has been phenomenally successful. All 38 diocesan schools, including four Catholic high schools, do not charge tuition.
The Wichita Diocese is following Christ’s mandate, "Make disciples of all nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you."
If many other dioceses follow this example, especially in abolishing high tuition, there will probably be better catechized, strong Catholic adults.
Relative to "Sisters’ Summit Convenes" (page one, Aug. 26 issue):
The sisters of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) are not the same sisters as those who taught me in my 12 Catholic school years.
The LCWR sisters seem to be thinking and mirroring the Planned Parenthood mentality and choose not to follow Jesus Christ’s Church or papal guidance. What are true Catholic doctrines for us everyday "non-religious community Catholics" are also true Catholic doctrines for the "women’s religious-community Catholics."
If only the true Catholic doctrines were more clearly defined and upheld in all the Catholic churches years ago, when the cultural changes began, Catholics would not have fallen.
God Bless EWTN and the National Catholic Register.
Alexandra H. Roy
Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina
Voting and Natural Law
Concerning your continuing coverage on what it means to vote as a Catholic:
Catholics should let their faith fashion their political decisions. Per Jesus Christ, we are to "render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s." What we render unto God is our faith. We can’t forget about the Church’s teachings and the demands of natural law in making our political decisions. We have to make sure, when voting, that officeholders always reflect the moral and religious values found in holy Scripture and in the teachings of our Catholic faith.
The Catholic Church does not tell anyone how to vote. Your individual thoughts and opinions are based on many aspects in your life: tradition, family upbringing, education and employment history, and so on.
However, there are non-negotiable aspects to society, especially for those who have a faith in Catholicism. Opposition to abortion and euthanasia and support for marriage between a man and a woman are non-negotiable tenets of our faith. Violating these aspects of natural law imposes serious consequences on one’s soul! However, other issues are negotiable and can be debated: i.e., the economy, taxes, government spending, immigration, foreign affairs, and even helping the poor and marginalized. All of these negotiable topics are matters for prudential judgment — careful choice, usually not affecting natural law.
We, as humans, are always going to have legitimate differences of opinion over how best to apply the moral principles and teachings within society. Are you saying to God, "Thy will be done" when it really means, "My will be done"?
The former prayer leads toward God, and the later statement turns your back to him.
So, what are we to do when we vote? The choice is yours; this is free will. However, it is important to remember that we ought to think logically and to act upon our thoughts with Jesus Christ and our Catholic faith in mind when voting.
Dan Halley, OSF