Yawning as Rome Teaches?

Regarding “Survey Finds Mass Attendance Affects U.S. Catholic Views” (Dec. 16-22):

As a former Protestant, now studying to enter the Catholic Church, I offer this reverse take on the poll results: U.S. (and any other) Catholic views are reflected in the regularity of attendance at Mass

Why? It is my perception, at this point, that many “cradle Catholics” are greatly unin-formed about their faith. Oh, they attended CCD, or maybe even Catholic schools, but, like Americans and their high-school civics classes, they viewed attendance in religion classes as an obligation to be met, not vital matters of faith to be learned.

And so, as the article points out, Americans mistake matters of faith as matters of majority rule, just as they misunderstand the nature of the rights enumerated in the Constitution of the United States as controlled by majority rule. They are equally ignorant, unfortunately, of the nature of both.

MEL PATRICK

Lennon, Michigan

St. Foy is a Star

Your travel-page account of the abbey church of St. Foy at Conques, France, is delightful and educational (“Medieval Magnificence in the Midi Pyrenees,” Nov. 25-Dec. 1). Are you aware of an outstanding book written about this very saint and her mid-Pyrenees village? Little Saint (now in paperback) by Hannah Green, Random House division: Modern Library, 2000, is truly a remarkable and beautiful spiritual encounter.

Ms. Green, a Protestant, was a widely acclaimed author who died in 1996.

MRS. PAT FLANEGIN

Pittsboro, North Carolina

Punting Potter

Regarding “Michael O'Brien: Beware the Danger of Harry Potter,” Dec. 16-22:

Thank you for your superb interview with Mr. O'Brien. This settles the Harry Potter question for me.

Mr. O'Brien points out: “By and large, modern culture has replaced the splendor and wonder of existence with cheap thrills. The Potter series is a full-blown orgy of cheap thrills, dipped in a little pseudo-morality".

Stating that the Potter books must be seen within the context of “the unprecedented power of the new media culture to reshape our understanding of reality,” Mr. O'Brien sees them as overwhelmingly full of “corrupt messages, both overt and subliminal.”

Most importantly, Michael O'Brien's message is a wakeup call about the “spiritual assault that is waged primarily through culture.” What do terrorism and Harry Potter books have in common? Satanic influences. We would do well to heed Mr. O'Brien's advice; most urgently, we must recognize that the nature of the spiritual war in which we are all immersed is changing rapidly, entering a new phrase of intensity.

DOROTHY BOYLE

Bristol, Connecticut

Harmful Harry

I am concerned about the 14-year old boy who wrote to say that Harry Potter is harmless ("Harmless Harry,” Letters, Dec. 16-22). I think he is very wrong because Harry Potter is like a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Harry Potter is another one of Satan's tricks to suck everyone's mind into evil, but God will win always. I have heard people say that they can tell the difference between fantasy and reality, but his is no fantasy. This is reality because children's minds and hearts are at stake. We should be spending our time focusing on Jesus and his way.

FRANCES PARSONS

Miami, Florida

Righteous Redwall

A letter in the Dec. 16-22 Register titled “Harmless Harry” states the following: “Harry Potter is virtually harmless children's fiction. There are other children's books out there that are far more dangerous, like Brian Jacques' Redwall series, for instance, where violence is glamorized and glorified and made to look honorable. In the Harry Potter books, good moral lessons are always taught, and magic should be seen as a backdrop and not as a primary influence.”

In Brain Jacques' Redwall series, the destruction of evil, not violence or battle, is glorified. The heroes of Redwall destroy evil, while the “hero” Harry Potter practices the occult.

If good moral lessons, as well as sorcery, are taught by Harry Potter's example and are grouped in the same category, how are the readers going to know the difference? How do they know that witchcraft is wrong if a hero who holds good morals and ideals practices it? It will only inspire the study of witchcraft among children.

STUDENT, Age 12

Newbury, New Hampshire

D.C. Heroes

You are to be congratulated for your “American Catholic Heroes” issue. You even had a story about a man who died of anthrax.

There was, however, one glaring omission in your special edition (Dec. 30-Jan.).

There were four aircraft hijacked on 9/11. There were four aircraft that crashed on 9/11. Two were crashed into the WTC. One crashed into a Pennsylvania field. Another was crashed into the Pentagon. You had excellent coverage of the first three crashes, but you barely mentioned the Washington, D.C., incident. Why was that?

Certainly, Cmdr. Perez was not the only hero there.

BOB SKINNER

Memphis, Tennessee

The Pope and Bin Laden

It is despicable that anyone would compare Pope John Paul II to Osama Bin Laden, claiming he is a terrorist because he is opposed to homosexuality ("Columnist Compares Pope to Bin Laden,” Inbrief, Dec. 2-8).

Most homosexuals have a liberal agenda, especially of being pro-choice. This is the ultimate terrorism on our country. These people are hypocritical. Most of them are opposed to the death penalty; yet, these same people give no thought to killing unborn babies. It clearly states in the Bible that homosexuality is wrong.

This [columnist] for [the New York Press] has to shut his mouth. If he thinks this, do it in private.

Don't proclaim to the whole world what he thinks. I believe in freedom of speech; but not to bash the Pope. He is our religious leader. He is following what God teaches. I urge all Catholics to speak out against this [columnist], who is very misguided.

RITA BYLER-MAY

Richmond, Missouri