Catholics who Clamor for Clinton

I am one of the more than 100,000+ Morgan Stanley Dean Witter (MSDW) clients who called and wrote to that large organization to strongly complain that it should not have paid Clinton $100,000 for a Florida speech.

The result of that was a strong denunciation of their action by MSDW and a clear message to other groups, especially public orientated corporations, not to give this evil person a forum to speak.

Now, St. Joseph's Hospital Care System in Hamilton, Ontario, is doing the same thing, but with a Catholic background (“Catholic Nuns Welcome Bill Clinton,” March 4-10). Reminds me of the two times Clinton vetoed the partial-birth abortion bills from Congress with mostly Catholic women behind him at a photo-op praising what he was doing.

Thank you for printing this article on the front page, and for keeping us informed.

ART ALARCON Denver

It's About The Priesthood

Just a note of praise and thanks for including excerpts from “Another Face of the Priesthood,” Msgr. Earl Boyea's article in the February issue of First Things magazine (“The Gift and Challenge of Priestly Celibacy,” March 4-10).

There is a timely text in Scripture which reads, “truth stumbles in the public square and uprightness cannot enter” (Isaiah 59:14) and indeed, current analysis and discussion of priests and the priesthood is often “stumbling.”

Without doubt, Father Cozzen's controversial book The Changing Face of the Priesthood needed precisely such a clarification. Msgr. Boyea has provided a positive, proactive response. He carefully nuances his analysis and manages to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 3:15). For example, he states: “I recognize many of the problems discussed by Father Cozzens, but I believe that, at least in some cases, he frames the problem in a way that is, no doubt inadvertently, profoundly misleading.”

Msgr. Boyea courageously asserts what many people suspect, but are rather reluctant to acknowledge. He writes within the context of a practical realism and pinpoints the distortion of facts and issues with competence and a sense of conviction. Msgr. Boyea states that he would welcome a “more accurate and balanced depiction of the priesthood.” This would be greatly appreciated by many people! Perhaps Msgr. Boyea himself could consider such an endeavor? Meanwhile I give thanks for the many splendid priests who daily witness a faithful, faith-filled “depiction” of the priest-hood.

I appreciate and commend the Register's instructive, inspirational and interesting articles!

SISTER J. SHEILA GALLIGAN, IHM Immaculata, Pennsylvania

St. Dale of Daytona?

I write you today to ask you to consider whether you missed a good opportunity to preach the Gospel following the death of the popular [race-car] driver Dale Earn-hardt.

Rich Rinaldi's article (“Faith in the Fast Lane: Earnhardt's Last Lap,” March 4-10) contained Daryl Waltrip's conjecture that Earnhardt went straight to heaven.

It's incumbent upon Catholic journalists to write about both salvation and damnation so that readers might ponder the eternal consequences of their actions. We should always try to pattern our lives after Jesus Christ, and ask ourselves “Would Jesus want me to do this?” or “Is this how Jesus would live?”

A professional stock-car driver enjoys many of the rewards offered by the prince of the world: fame, fortune, and adulation and worship by the public. None of these are prescribed by Our Lord as the sure path to salvation. The Gospel preaches poverty, service, humility and the seeking of our consolations elsewhere than in the hearts and minds of men.

It's hard to imagine that Christ would have strapped himself into a stock car. Moreover, it is a sin to put our bodies at risk of death if it isn't the service of God.

The writer should have proposed the question of whether God made Dale Earnhardt for some other vocation. The journalist might have prompted the reader to reflect upon whether stock-car racing is a vain pursuit, one that can put the soul in peril.

When Mother Teresa died, it was prudent to begin praying for her intercession for us sinners in this world, because many believe she is a saint. When Dale Earnhardt died, it was prudent for a Catholic journalist to answer the secular cry for Earnhardt's canonization by pointing out contradictions in his chosen career and the path pointed out by Jesus.

It was an opportunity to call readers to reflect also on purgatory and hell.

Popularity and worldly success does not buy us heaven. This is clear in the Gospel, and that front-page article which missed all these points did your readers no service.

A. MATT WERNER Highlands Ranch, Colorado

On the St. Ignatius Institute

I felt compelled to write to you concerning your article, “The Late, Great St. Ignatius Institute” (Feb. 18-24). I first read the cover story “Academic Earthquake Rocks San Francisco,” and I was appalled. Then, I read your article and was brought to tears over the loss of such a great educational institution.

I am a longtime fan of Jesuit Father Joseph Fessio, so I know what a great educational program the institute must have been. Magisterium-following Catholics are being discriminated against by their own people. I see it everywhere now. It is a shame, but we were not guaranteed an easy road. Quite the opposite: Christ promised a rocky, narrow road.

Your article especially hit home because my husband and I just this week made our final decision to home school our children. We are pulling them from our local Catholic school at the end of the year. Not only that, we are going to be using a “Great Books” program for the remainder of their education. We strongly believe that the works of great authors, thinkers and theologians will prepare our children to know and love the truth. We want them to be great thinkers.

Not that this is much of a consolation, but there is a growing movement in the area of Great Books, and careful, sincere study of these works can only strengthen our faith as Catholics.

Thank you for sharing your personal story in the Register. It meant so much to me to read this, specifically this week. It was a difficult decision for us to home school, and an even more difficult curriculum decision. Your article was a gift in many ways, but for me it was a sign from the Holy Spirit that we are doing God's will in our decision.

LESLIE HICKMAN via e-mail

Director Dares to Be Decent

As a mother who gets momentary panic attacks when I read about the things that are being promoted as entertainment, I am so grateful for the likes of director-screenwriter Bill Bindley (“Sun-dance Catholic,” Feb. 25-March 3).

Standing up for the moral and right thing is so overlooked. I really feel compelled to stop my busy day (and complaining about this issue) to focus a little praise on a man who is definitely going upstream in his industry. But upstream is just where we need to be headed, and (forgive the pun) that means up out of the gutter and raising our eyes to a better standard.

My thanks to a man who dares to do the right thing! Don't stop now — we are just finding out that you're out there and are ready, willing and able to support your efforts!

MARY K. MAZZOLINI Cumming, Georgia

The Economist and the Church

The commentary by your London columnist on The Economist's article on the Catholic Church was most disappointing (“The Church and the Calculator,” Feb. 25-March 3). I still fail to understand how your correspondent missed the opening paragraph of that article. It reads:

“Step into London's Westminster Cathedral at 8 a.m. on any morning, and you will find 60 or 70 people attending Mass in a side-chapel. The same number appear at the 8:30 Mass, and at the 9 o'clock. Most are on their way to work, but they make a deliberate pause for this. And the scene could be repeated the world over.”

Daily Mass. Yes, daily Mass. Celebrating the Eucharist, rendering Christ present, making the Church visible: the universal sign (sacrament) of salvation. To his credit, that is what the article observed; to my bewilderment, that is what your columnist failed to perceive.

When I read that statement in The Economist, I was both delighted and surprised. Delighted that someone shared my belief that the Mass makes the Church; surprised that the secular press would notice the centrality of the Eucharist in Catholic practice and devotion. I thought the expression “a deliberate pause” was most apt in capturing the disposition of the faithful who attend Mass daily.

I do not share your columnist's view that the article was a “slam piece on the Catholic Church,” nor was it “death-watch journalism.” Rather, the article seemed to echo comments that I hear from fellow-priests and laity (informed and ill-informed). It even seemed to me that the writer deplored some of the things he was reporting.

I would venture to say that The Economist writer believes in the Church when he concludes: “The Church should be able to speak out as a radical voice. It still has a startling message for humanity to consider.”

That, sir, is precisely the view of Pope John Paul II.

FATHER DOUGLAS DANIEL Lennoxville, Canada