It’s Up to the People

In light of the recent March for Life (“Massive Crowd Marches,” Feb. 8), the president, Supreme Court justices or a political party cannot eliminate abortion. Roe v. Wade was passed by Supreme Court judges. The majority of those were appointed by Republican presidents. This does not add up.

None of the above can decide what is or is not a sin. It is the responsibility of Church leaders, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to do this. It is a mistake to pass this responsibility to politicians. Think of how many abortions would not have happened if all efforts, put into newspaper articles and opinions of political candidates, were used to preach about the terrible sin of abortion.

Abortion will not stop because of manmade law. It will stop when Church leaders make people aware that abortion does not show love, is against God’s commandment, and causes the loss of salvation and the pain of hell.

When God’s people are taught morality, they will demand that their elected representatives pass legislation in accord with their morality.

Andrew Williams

Roach, Missouri

FOCA Means Lost Leaders

Kudos to Karen M. Berkon for “What FOCA Really Does” (Jan. 11). A few minutes after reading it, I read a fine letter in the Jan. 29 edition of The Pantagraph in Bloomington, Ill., from which I quote, with the writer’s permission:

“A young unmarried woman becomes pregnant. The father of the child is a ‘summer romance’ and will abandon mother and child, the perfect scenario for abortion.

On Jan. 20, that very child was inaugurated as the first African-American president of the United States of America! Had his own unrestricted abortion policies been in effect during his mother’s pregnancy, the 44th president may never have made it to birth.

Our new president often speaks of hope, yet abortion is clearly the enemy of hope.”

Wow! A rock-solid argument against passage of the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA)! How many leaders have already been lost in the millions aborted since Roe v. Wade?  How many more leaders would be lost should FOCA pass?

John W. Hartford

Gibson City, Illinois

Oppose Mexico City Policy

On only his fourth day in office (Jan. 23, 2009), President Obama quietly signed an executive order to allow our tax money to be used for organizations that perform abortions and promote abortion in other countries. With one stroke of his pen, Obama reversed the Mexico City Policy and made America an exporter not of freedom, but of death for unborn children, which the commentary piece “What the Mexico City Policy Does With Your Money” (Feb. 8) discussed.

As if giving hundreds of millions of dollars to abortion promoters like Planned Parenthood wasn’t enough, now Obama is planning to give millions more of our tax money to the United Nations Population Fund, which has been linked to communist China’s oppressive one-child policy. The Chinese policy violates the human rights of women by forcing them to undergo abortion or sterilization if they dare to have more than one baby.

The election of our nation’s first African-American president represented a step forward for civil rights in America. Unfortunately, because Obama is beholden to abortionists like Planned Parenthood, we are taking several steps back when it comes to the human rights of unborn children. More than 50 million have been killed in the U.S. since 1973; now, because of Obama, our tax dollars will help kill unborn babies across the world.

Yes, as a recent letter to the Register stated, we need to pray for our president. But now is also the time for us as Catholics and Americans to wake up the government leaders we elect — and ask them to stand with us against abortion, the holocaust of our time.

Rita Kelly

Harlingen, Texas

Higher Standard

Kathryn Jean Lopez’s “Obama’s Oath of Humility” (Feb. 1) includes the statement “We’re a nation not just where you are free to believe or not to believe; we’re a nation founded for Him — so we could praise Him, so we could do His will.”

That statement is just dead wrong, and your publishing it puts you into the business of disseminating misinformation (or, to be accurate, lies). I believe there’s a commandment holding you to a higher standard. You should look it up. It’s No. 9.

Bill Mills

Guerneville, California

‘Assessing’ School Faith

I read with great interest your article “Assessing Catholic Schools” (Jan. 25). While I am sure that your assessment of the financial situation Catholic schools face is very accurate and a problem that will affect many families, I would like to comment on a point I feel you overlooked. The Catholic schools in this country should not be assessed primarily by statistics of enrollment and accessibility. Rather, they should be assessed by what kind of Catholic education they are offering their students.

There are many families who would be willing to make the necessary financial sacrifices to send their children to their local Catholic schools but choose not to do so because the formation in the truths of our faith is not being taught at an appropriate level. There are wonderful Catholic schools spread across this country, but, unfortunately, in many instances, they are not expected to be places of moral formation. They are, however, far too often a nice middle ground of being cheaper than exclusive private schools yet safer than public schools.

It is my opinion that any fair discussion of declining enrollment in Catholic schools should also include an assessment of how faithfully the schools are promulgating the teachings of the Church to the next generation of Catholics. Especially in these economic times, parents should be able to have confidence that their children are getting the religious education they are paying for.

Kelly Schiffiano

Charlotte, North Carolina

Questionable Movies

In virtually every weekly issue of the Register, we have noticed questionable comments and reviews in Mr. Greydanus’ work. Jan. 11’s “DVD Picks & Passes” was no exception. He chose to review Brideshead Revisited, a movie that by his own admission contains “an adulterous bedroom scene … some male nudity; crass language, homosexual themes ...” and other assorted items that are not at all in line with Catholic teaching. Yet, Mr. Greydanus chose to focus on how it is “all jars of clay, little or no treasure. … Skip the big screen adaptation and go with the 1981 mini series (also recently released on DVD).”

He is encouraging people to watch this movie, albeit the miniseries version. How can he do this? As near as we can tell, this is a very offensive movie that contains nothing relevant to living a virtuous Catholic life.

If Mr. Greydanus continues to review materials for the Register, we would recommend that he simply list the titles of movies that are not in line with Catholic teachings and spare us all of the garbage details.

We once heard a Catholic speaker at a conference say something along the lines of: “Before watching a movie or TV show, ask yourself if you would be comfortable watching the material with your child in the room. If not, then why are you watching it?” Clearly, Brideshead Revisited falls into the category of something that adds absolutely nothing to Catholic life — and we would not be comfortable watching it with anyone of any age.

Tim and Rose Gorton

Marion, Iowa

Response from Steven Greydanus: Mr. and Mrs. Gorton feel that Brideshead Revisited (whether they lump the original Waugh novel as well as the 1981 miniseries along with the 2008 feature film, or whether, indeed, they appreciate that there are three different works, is unclear to me) is without merit, or even interest, to devout Catholics.

The Catholic significance of Brideshead Revisited is too big of a topic for this space, but there is plenty of solid Catholic writing on the subject. The Gortons might begin with Joseph Pearce’s essay on Waugh at, Deal Hudson’s “Brideshead Reinvented” piece at, George Weigel’s book review “St. Evelyn Waugh” and Thomas Hibbs’ essay “Brideshead Revisited,” both at Some of these touch on the merits of the 1981 miniseries, as well as the problems with the 2008 film.

The Gortons also apparently feel that a) devout Catholic adults should confine themselves to works that would be acceptable viewing for children, b) technical matters such as the quality of acting and script are not points of Catholic interest, and c) specific critique of the shortcomings of problematic works is not necessary; a mere list of objectionable titles is all that is needed in this regard.

This, too, is a bigger question than I can fully address here, but suffice to say Catholic teaching will not support these claims. The Church calls on critics to “put moral issues in their proper light” (Inter Mirifica, Decree on the Media of Social Communications, 15), which includes illuminating “both the strength and the weakness of the work under review so that the public can make its own fair judgment” (Communio et Progressio, Means of Social Communication, 78). At the same time, the Church highlights not just moral qualities but also “artistic or technical merit” among the criteria that Catholics must consider in forming correct critical judgments (Inter Mirifica 9).

On appropriate fare for children and adults, Church teaching notes the need to “safeguard young people from printed matter and performances which may be harmful at their age” (Inter Mirifica 12). What may be harmful to children “at their age,” in other words, need not be harmful to those who are no longer at that age. For more on these matters, see my essay “The Challenge of the Catholic Critic” at and