‘Diversity of Opinion’

In his essay “Shibboleth Sounds” (Oct. 24), Mark Shea writes “the reality is that the Church has no dogmas about Harry Potter ... no rules about pants ... and no zeal for the death penalty.”

No zeal, but — to quote Section 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty.” As then-Cardinal Ratzinger reminded the U.S. bishops before the 2004 U.S. elections, “There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

And Canon 227 of the Code of Canon Law reminds us that since the laity have “freedom in secular affairs ... they must be on guard, in questions of opinion, against proposing their own view as the teaching of the Church.”

Don Schenk

Allentown, Pennsylvania

The editor responds: Canon 227 applies to all of us, so let’s not forget the rest of Catechism 2267: “If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person. Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities that the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm — without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself — the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity ‘are very rare, if not practically nonexistent’ (John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 56).”

False Impression

In your response to letter writer Terry Hornback (Oct. 24), you quote from Paragraph 2358 of the Catechism that homosexuals “do not choose their homosexual condition.” This quote is only in the 1994 edition. When the revised edition of the Catechism was published in 1997, that statement was removed. That sentence of Paragraph 2358 now reads, “This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial.”

I would hope you can correct this in a future edition, as the 1994 statement gives many the false impression that homosexuality is genetic, when there is no scientific research to document this position. Homosexuality has always been understood as “learned behavior,” albeit “learned” in a variety of ways, e.g., physical abuse or assault, pornography, family dysfunction, etc.

Margo Szews

West Allis, Wisconsin

Restricting Immigration

I have several questions for people like Father Dino Vanin and the position they take on immigration as expressed in his letter of Oct. 24 (“Immigration’s Thorns”). They never seem to have answers for those of us who wish to restrict immigration. They will either evade the issue or go off repeating the same trite “We are not loving enough” for wanting to restrict immigration.

I am sure he is a fine, dedicated man and priest, but is off target to a degree on this topic.

1. Just how many legal or illegal immigrants are the proper number that they think we should accept? If they are not advocating open borders, isn’t the number we accept in this country the question, and not the concept? Why, then, is their quantity better than those who want fewer immigrants?

2. Why are the people from Central America and Mexico more worthy of coming here than others? There are hundreds of millions of people in Asia, Africa and elsewhere far more abused, hungry and needy. I have lived and worked in those areas, and, believe me, they are just as downtrodden, if not more so. Shouldn’t they also be loved and welcomed here by Father Vanin’s and others’ logic?

3. Why don’t those like Father Vanin spend their time addressing the basic problems with those countries from which people are trying to flee? Mexicans, for example, are industrious, have the intelligence, natural resources and personal abilities to provide for their own needs. It is those terrible governments worldwide, be they dictatorships or socialist/communist economic and legal systems, that are the underlying reasons for people trying to leave. You don’t see many fleeing from free-market, open-elections, constitutional democracies like Switzerland or Australia.

Loving our neighbor does not necessarily mean we should let them all into our country. Our Catechism makes that clear. You might note that the United States takes in more legal and, unfortunately, illegal immigrants than the rest of the world combined.

Fred Holzweiss

Englewood, Florida

Increasingly Pro-Life

An article in the Oct. 10 issue of the Register (“Missouri Increases Pressure on Abortion Businesses”) cited that two states — Missouri and South Dakota — have passed laws that recognize that human life begins at conception.

Clearly, an ever-increasing number of individuals are beginning to seriously question the so-called wisdom and morality of legal abortion. For example, a major public opinion poll in July 2009 (Gallup) concluded that pro-lifers had a 9% gain in opposing legal abortion, while there was a drop of support for advocates of legal abortion during that same time.

One may ask the question: Why? Some of the reasons are as follows: The ever-developing modern-day sonograms (4-D) clearly demonstrate the complete humanity of the child in utero. It is now frequently described as “a light on the womb.”

The scientific humanity of the unborn child contains a total of 46 chromosomes from conception, which constitutes the scientific beginning of a new human life from conception to natural death.

We now know that during the mother’s first trimester (of pregnancy) up to 90% of legal abortions are performed in our country. Yet even at that early stage, the heartbeat begins at 18 days post-conception; brain activity coordinates movement at 43 days post-conception. In addition, during the first trimester all internal bodily functions are fully operational.

Thomas E. Dennelly

Sayville, New York

Women’s Ordination

Reader Paul Kokoski commends the Vatican for reaffirming the “attempted” ordination of women as a “grave crime” (“Ordaining Women,” Aug. 15).

What is wrong with this picture?

After Vatican II there was a steady increase of parishioners taking an active role in numerous new ministries for the priesthood of the laity. This was accompanied by a drastic drop in vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. The result today is an aging priesthood and an increasing number of parishes without a full-time priest.

At the same time in secular life, previously male-only jobs, from truck driver to fighter pilot to corporate CEO, have steadily opened up to women. Given this environment, does anyone today find it unusual that some women have felt the Holy Spirit calling them to serve as ordained ministers and to fill an obvious need?

But the hierarchy has rejected these sacerdotal aspirants. John Paul II claimed that the Church has no authority to ordain women because Jesus didn’t ordain any women. In Semitic cultures, females were completely subordinated to males. They would not have been readily accepted as authoritative representatives of the Church.

Today, only Islam and Catholicism cling to the outdated view of women that denies them equal participation in religious life. But the rest of Western society has integrated women into full equality with men, making allowances only for their biological differences and limitations.

Richard Welch

Los Angeles, California

On Israel

Jimmy Akin responded to the letter “It’s Israel’s Land?” (Aug. 15): “To your descendants I give this land” (Genesis 15:18) is an unconditional and unequivocal covenant. One will search in vain to find any magisterial documents supporting Jimmy Akin’s contention, “God made it clear that Israel’s sins could cost it the land (i.e. Israel), at least for periods of time.” Akin refers to “the nuanced nature of such promises.” God does not nuance. He says what he means and means what he says. He leaves the nuancing to apologists and theologians.

Joel Fago

Sierra Vista, Arizona

Jimmy Akin responds: God clearly expresses himself in nuanced ways in Scripture. A reading of St. Paul’s epistles demonstrate that in abundance.

One also will find no magisterial documents saying that Israel retains a right to the land. The current generation of the magisterium has not weighed in on the topic one way or the other.

Scripture is clear about Israel’s ability to forfeit the land at least for periods of time. If God says what he means and means what he says then I assume he meant this: “And I will scatter you among the nations, and I will unsheathe the sword after you; and your land shall be a desolation, and your cities shall be a waste. Then the land shall enjoy its sabbaths as long as it lies desolate, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land shall rest, and enjoy its sabbaths” (Leviticus 26:33-34).

The idea of unconditional covenant promises regarding land is something foreign to historical Catholic thought. It is imported principally from the Dispensational school of conservative Protestantism.

Misleading Headline

I have often accused the mainstream media of misrepresenting an article’s content by writing a misleading headline. Unfortunately, I found the Register doing the same thing in the Oct. 24 issue.

The headline reads “Diocese Supports Ban on Students Wearing Rosaries.” But, that is not what they did. The ban was not on wearing rosaries, but on wearing them outside the shirt as a gang sign. That is a major distinction. There was no ban on students wearing rosaries or religious medals.

I am always upset when articles are misrepresented in headlines and I am surprised the Register would give in to this  deplorable practice that is used mostly  by the mainstream press. Many people scan headlines to get an idea of what is happening. The headline should reflect a summary or main point of the article. The proper headline could have been “Diocese Supports Ban Using (or Wearing) Rosary as a Gang Symbol.”

That reflects the reality of the article.

Charles Eble

Indianapolis, Indiana