Less Hysteria, Please

The scientific discoveries discussed in the article “Contracepting the Environment” (July 15) were widely reported more than a decade ago in the chemical literature and found to be much ado about nothing. The metabolites of various drugs that end up in the sewer system are eventually degraded and are unlikely to build up. The estrogen-mimicking compounds behave likewise.

There was initially some concern that some of these compounds are fat soluble but the amounts of these compounds in water are vanishingly small.

The only way we can actually detect them is because of enormous recent advances in analytical instrumentation. The bottom line is, there needs to be much less hysteria in the environmental field at all levels. Stirring people up over studies that have already been disposed of by the scientific community does nobody any good. Though I am sure it does sell papers.

Ann Morrill

Grove City, Ohio

Soul Searching in Order

Regarding “Bishops Criticize Pro-Abortion Pols” (July 1):

It is heartening to see stronger language being used towards Catholics who support the legality of murdering unborn children like that used by Bishop Thomas Tobin concerning Rudy Giuliani.

The problem here is not solely with Giuliani, it is with every pro-lifer who is willing to take a more welcoming stance towards Giuliani and Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and California Gov. Schwarzenegger than they would towards someone who supported the killing of any other class of human beings, or, as in the case of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was against killing Jews and Africans but thought it okay to experiment on their bodies once killed, through embryonic stem-cell research.

Consider the continued support of some pro-life organizations for those like Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., who share McCain’s willingness to experiment on the bodies of the littlest of human beings.

The bishops, politicians and the pro-life movement at large needs to do some soul searching about the source and meaning of these double-standards and double messages.

What are those little beings in the womb? And if they are really people worthy of full protection of the law, why do we tolerate things in relation to them we would not for any other class of humans?  

Mark Gronceski

Warren, Ohio

Mandatory Celibacy

Your headline about Voice of the Faithful’s request that the Vatican conduct a review of its policy of mandatory celibacy is in error (“‘Voice of the Faithful’ Stops Claiming Doctrinal Fidelity,” July 15).

Voice of the Faithful has always been about healing our Church and helping it to become a stronger healthier Church. To do this we must fully understand what contributed to the sex abuse crisis. Mandatory celibacy appears to cause a culture of secrecy. This culture protected abusers.

Mandatory celibacy in the Western Roman Church emerged as a discipline to respond to abuses of priestly power. Celibacy is not a doctrine. It is a discipline, that is, an institutional feature of the ordained ministry in a particular time and place. It is not a feature of the ordained ministry in many Churches in communion with Rome today, nor has it been a permanent feature of the priesthood in the West.

We have had a married clergy before and if we have one again that will come about precisely because our beloved Church is constantly reforming itself. We also have a married clergy right now with the married Protestants who have become Catholic and have been ordained Catholic priests while remaining married.

Sally Vance-Trembath Ph. D.

VOTF Vice-President

Adult Formation Coordinator/


Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton, California

3 Strikes and You’re Out

Regarding “Bishops Criticize Pro-Abortion Pols” (July 1):

Bishop Tobin was right on target regarding Rudy Giuliani. First, he is personally opposed to abortion, but has contributed to Planned Parenthood on six occasions, and also favors embryonic stem-cell research. Second, he has been married three times. What does this tell us about the sense of commitment he would bring to the presidency? Third, he favors same-sex unions. Three strikes and you’re out, Rudy.

It may not be just the Democratic Party which is morally bankrupt. If the Republicans nominate Giuliani, they will be repudiating the pro-life plank in their party platform, and casting serious doubt about their sense of commitment and moral fortitude.

John F. O’Brien

Ocala, Florida

Latin Mass’ Allure

Regarding “Pope Sparks Mass Revival” (July 15):

The apostolic letter of Pope Benedict XVI instructs a parish priest to accept the requests of a “stable group of faithful” to celebrate the Tridentine Mass. However, it does not say that a pastor must wait until this happens.

Many young people do not attend Mass. If the Tridentine Mass were celebrated, perhaps some would come out of curiosity. Once the experience its richness and beauty, they might come again and again.

Joel Fago

Sierra Vista, Arizona

Private Mass

Regarding “Why the Old Mass” (July 15):

Like many U.S. bishops and diocesan officials, Father Raymond De Souza has misunderstood what the Pope’s motu proprio Summorum Pontificum says regarding the Easter Triduum. As a result, the Register has unfortunately perpetuated this incorrect information.

The Pope’s document simply states that no private celebrations of Mass are to be offered during the Easter Triduum. This is nothing new and applies to both the ordinary and extraordinary forms. In parishes where the extraordinary form is celebrated exclusively, the 1962 liturgies will continue to be held. Summorum Pontificum does not restrict their use.

Scott R. Palermo

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Common Misconceptions

Father Raymond de Souza’s analysis of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum gets many things right (“Why the Old Mass?” July 15), including a recognition of the twofold purpose: reconciling with traditionalist groups and encouraging renewal in the Church as a whole.

However, he repeats two common misconceptions which are based in a misreading of that document. First, he states that the 1970 cycle of readings is to be permitted in the celebration of the 1962 Missal. However, the motu proprio itself makes no mention of the 1970 lectionary, simply of vernacular translations for the 1962 readings. (The newsletter of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy has clarified this point.) Second, he deals with the issue of the Good Friday prayer for the Jews by claiming that the Triduum liturgies are not to be permitted in the 1962 usage. However, Article 2, which excludes the sacred Triduum, is clearly speaking about private Masses.

Certainly, in places where there are personal parishes dedicated to the public use of the 1962 Missal, that will continue to be used during the Triduum, as it already is in such parishes. And since the word “perfidious” in reference to the Jews was already dropped from the prayer before 1962, the problem of anti-Semitism should not arise.

 Deacon Michael J. Houser

Kenrick-Glennon Seminary

St. Louis, Missouri

Points of Morality

In reading the Register columns and letters on the Iraq war, it strikes me that certain fundamental points of morality are missed.

A war is just, if its goal or end is just and secondly if the means are substantially just. And then there is the prudential surmising if the effort would make things worse than if nothing is done. But being imprudent about this is not at all the same as being unjust as to the goal or the predominant means.

This last point is the significance of the two popes’ opposition to finishing the original war by restarting its second stage. The second phase of the Iraq war seems more questionable as to the prudence in doing it, rather than in the morality of the end. Prudence is the virtue of choosing the apt means to reach a goal, with a shrewd guess on probable consequences. Here the Holy Fathers you quote are much more credible in their pleadings. It does not mean necessarily they are saying the goal is immoral.

The president was not without realism in going on the offensive against the jihadists nor unjust in trying to establish a workable example of a free society that recognizes basic civil rights for all in the heart of the Middle East.

But he certainly is open to criticism for imprudence inbeing a too optimistic about the possible outcome and too sparing in the quantity of troops needed to get the job done. Add to that no well thought out plan for the peace and ignorance of just how wicked the enemy is.

But that papal judgment about what is prudent does not remove the very real probability that the battle would have broken out somewhere else and just as fiercely.

We can not avoid the conflict forever, and it is also imprudent to think we can. That is the nature of this threat.

Rev. Robert Finnegan

Sunnyvale, California