Catholic Schools Should Nourish Faith

This is a comment on Tim Drake's recent article on Catholic education (“Back to School Means Many Things These Days,” Aug. 26-Sept.1). He points out that many parents prefer Catholic schools for such reasons as discipline, low teacher-to-student ratios and emphasis on academics. While these are positive values, they are not the reasons why Catholic schools were founded. The main purpose was not merely to avoid the secularism of the public schools, but to teach the Catholic faith.

I submit that, in too many cases, the Catholic faith is not being well presented to the students. Many of these schools are more preoccupied about SAT scores than helping their students come to eternal life in heaven after having learned on earth to know, love and serve God. It comes as a great shock to many parents to find that, after having graduated from Catholic schools themselves, many of their children apostatize from the faith.

A recent phenomenon, and a welcome one, is the rise of home-school education by the parents themselves. This is based not only on the mistrust of the public schools, but also of the Catholic schools. On the positive side, these parents are becoming more aware that the natural teachers of children are the parents. The Church has always taught this, and parents must never be complacent in delegating the exercise of this right and duty to others.

In earlier times, when there was a sufficient supply of good priests, sisters and brothers in Catholic schools — where the faith was steadfastly taught and nourished by frequent Mass and other Catholic devotions — it was easier for parents to rely confidently on Catholic schools. This is no longer the case. Too many parents recall their own good experience in these schools and naively think the same situation is present today. It is not.

Hopefully our Catholic parents will consider the faithful transmission of the heritage of our faith their most important priority. Faith must be constantly nourished. Otherwise it will die like an unwatered plant.


Palo Alto, California

Recall Ridge

I think it is critical that we all oppose the nomination of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge to be the new secretary of “Home-land Security.”

Tom Ridge is pro-abortion and has been banned from speaking in Church facilities by the bishop of his home diocese.

How long before Ridge defines pro-life protesters as threats to “Homeland Security?” Why are we elevating a man of low character (supporting killing babies is about as low as you can go) to higher office? Will not this post be a steppingstone for Ridge to run for president?

Ridge is already being talked of as Bush's right-hand man — Cheney is obviously not going to run. It is even likely that Cheney may step down and that Ridge will be tapped for VP. I'm a Catholic and a Republican and the last thing I want to see is a pro-abort Catholic with the GOP nomination for president in the future. We have to stop Ridge now.

My advice to other Register readers: Write to President Bush and your U.S. Senators as soon as possible.


State College, Pennsylvania

Just Catholic

Regarding “The Register Is Not Conservative, I Told the Bishop,” (Aug. 12-18):

It's an interesting question. You aren't like the diocesan papers. You aren't like that other national Catholic newspaper. You never mention prominent dissenters, thank God.

You are just a good Catholic weekly.

I have read the liberal and conservative papers — I don't have the time for them. I am orthodox, and I love your paper. Does that say something?


Tucson, Arizona

Stem Cell Parable

I am writing in response to a letter on stem cells (“Partisan on Stem Cells?” Sept. 9-15) by Mr. Patrick Delaney, an associate director of the American Life League (ALL).

For years, I have been a strong supporter of ALL, and I still am. I also agree that President Bush's personal position on life does not qualify him as strictly pro-life; but I do not think Mr. Delaney realizes it is possible to support Bush's stem-cell decision on nonpartisan grounds.

For those who are reluctant to lend their support to Bush's decision on moral grounds, because existing stem-cell lines were derived from the evil deed of killing live embryos some time ago, I offer the following consideration:

Suppose there is alive today a rich man — someone like the one Our Lord spoke of in a parable, Luke 12:16-20. Let us say he is ten times richer than the next richest man alive. Suppose he has two sons, both very idealistic. Both would fund research beneficial to human health and other good deeds, if they had the father's wealth.

On his own initiative and without the knowledge of his brother, suppose the older son, William, makes arrangements to have their father killed in order to get the father's wealth. This older son has certainly committed a murder, even though by proxy. The question is: Can we in good conscience support the younger brother, George, when he decides to use the father's wealth, which he has inherited as a result of an evil deed, for good purposes? Readers may draw their own conclusions in this case.

Now, there is a parallel between this parable and the government's role in funding stem-cell research. The stem cells of an embryo are like the wealth of the father. They become available only after the embryo has been killed.

Under the administration of President Clinton, the National Institutes of Health established guidelines that allow the destruction of human embryos and the harvesting of stem cells for research. Because President Clinton failed (purposefully or conveniently) to intervene, and thus allowed the guidelines to take effect, he is like the older son in the parable who arranged to have the father killed in order to obtain his inheritance.

Because President Bush proposed funding research which makes use only of existing stem-cell lines, he is like the younger son in the parable who uses his inheritance, which is the fruit of an evil deed, for the good of others.

I pray that this parable may be helpful to some in arriving at a decision in regard to supporting Bush's stem-cell directive and to make that decision known to their legislators.


New Haven, Connecticut

The writer is a professor at Yale University.

We're Right to Fight Back

Father Michael Orsi's just war analysis (“After Sept. 11, What is a Just War?” Sept. 23) omitted one critical point. Criterion No. 4 on proportionality, as stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, also includes this sentence: “The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.”

As shocking as the events of Sept. 11 were, even greater horrors could await us.

We now know that terrorists will stop at nothing in their assault on America. This includes using such weapons of mass destruction as biological and chemical agents, as well as nuclear bombs.

There is chillling evidence that terrorist organizations may have some, if not all, of these capabilities now.

If this is not a just war (not to mention a war of national survival), there has never been one.


Sedalia, Missouri