Honor Our Priests
In regards to “Year of the Priest” (April 12), your readers might like to honor each and every one of their priests in a very special way.
They might like to mark the anniversary of father’s ordination to the priesthood by encouraging as many parishioners as possible to attend holy Mass on the appropriate date. The intention of the Mass could be to thank Almighty God for father’s vocation. The participants could also sign a special anniversary card beforehand to be presented to their priest at the end of Mass with a tiny memento to mark the occasion, such as True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary by St. Louis Mary de Montfort.
Why not arrange with father for a photograph taken on his ordination day to be on display? It would delight all present and remind their shepherd of the enthusiasm he felt for the priesthood on that never-to-be-forgotten day in his life.
Perhaps the little children in the parish might like to present their priest(s) with their very own “homemade” anniversary cards.
Let us be mindful of all those priests who labor in a different part of the Lord’s vineyard, such as chaplains in religious communities, schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, military establishments and prisons, in addition to the many priests who evangelize through the media.
The Year of the Priest is an appropriate time to show our love and gratitude to our sick and retired pastors. Hopefully, their carers will ensure that these chosen souls celebrate in a very special way the anniversary of their ordination to the priesthood this year.
Embryo Adoption Debate
I can’t believe what I’m reading by Janet Smith on embryo adoption (“Adopting Embryos: Why Not?”). It is still hardly an open question after the publication of Dignitas Personae (The Dignity of the Person), which defines the practice as illicit.
These theologians like Smith, May and Grisez, who were on the wrong side of the issue, should be honest enough to admit that they were wrong.
Why not, Dr. Smith? Well, maybe because it is de facto surrogacy and it is cooperation with the evil of in vitro fertilization. To say nothing of the fact that pregnancy must be seen as a continuum from conception to natural birth designed by the Creator. It can’t be divvied up between two women, which embryo adoption requires.
I actually wrote a six-page paper on the evil of embryo adoption and sent it to the Pope about a year before Dignitas Personae came out. I was right, and these theologians were wrong. They can contact Rome or me for a copy!
Paul A. Trouve
Montague, New Jersey
Response from Janet E. Smith: Believe me: I do not want to create any atmosphere of “dissent” from Church teaching. I agree that Dignitas Personae gives us strong reason to be hesitant about embryo adoption. But it does not, as you state, “define” embryo adoption as illicit; that is your interpretation — and not the interpretation of others who have some authority in the Church. Cardinal Ratzinger’s commentary on Ad Tuendam Fidem states: “Teachings set forth by the authentic ordinary magisterium in a non-definitive way … require degrees of adherence differentiated according to the mind and the will manifested; this is shown especially by the nature of the documents, by the frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or by the tenor of the verbal expression.” It is a reasonable interpretation that Dignitas Personae did not intend to set forth a definitive teaching on embryo adoption. After all, it is the first statement made on the issue; thus, there has been no “frequent repetition” of the teaching. Also the “tenor of the verbal expression” seems tentative to some in positions of authority. As I noted, Archbishop Fisichella and a comment on the U.S. bishops’ website indicate that embryo adoption is still an open question. Indeed, several of the most fervent opponents of embryo adoption (e.g., Father Tad Pacholczyk and Father Alcano Austriaco) believe the question is still open.
Another question that seems to be open is that of the legitimacy of brain death criteria; although Pope John Paul II spoke in favor of it several times, the tone of his remarks has led many to believe the question is open — even many at the Vatican continue to hold conferences on the issue. You might also want to look into the history of the Church’s eventual approval of organ transplants after repeated condemnation by Pius XII. Certainly, if I were advised by Church authority that embryo adoption is a closed issue, I would suspend my discussion. Otherwise, until there is a definitive statement on this issue, I hope to serve the Church by arguing for what my intellect now discerns to be the truth of the matter.
Regarding “Abortion Referrals Questioned” (April 5), there is one lingering question that I would ask Archbishop Sean O’Malley. I am not a theologian, but is there really a need to have the National Catholic Bioethics Center make the final determination regarding the partnership between Caritas Christi Health Care and Centene Corp.? Doesn’t the archbishop already know the answer? The partnership clearly states that “all reproductive services” will be offered, including abortion. A Catholic hospital that will make a referral to an abortionist is clearly engaging in intrinsically immoral evil.
Can Archbishop O’Malley and Sister Carol Keehan, for that matter, really say in good conscience that it is acceptable for a Catholic hospital to be involved in the abortion referral business and still remain untainted by sin because the abortion will not physically be performed at the Catholic hospital location? Do they really believe that the murder of unborn children can be justified because low-cost medical care will be provided to poor people? Jesus, have mercy on us, especially those who are in positions of authority that wash their hands knowing the obvious and yet still deny the truth.
My heart weeps for the Church. The Boston clergy sex abuse scandal pales in comparison to this most egregious partnership.
West Des Moines, Iowa
I would like to comment on Robert Dow’s letter to the editor “In the Right Direction” (March 22). He predicts that following Boston College’s decision to place crucifixes in the classrooms “more moderate universities such as Villanova and St. Bonaventure will be encouraged to follow.”
I would like to say a word in defense of my alma mater: Whatever its faults, Villanova already had crucifixes in the classrooms when I arrived on campus in 2001 — and still had them when I graduated in 2006. It was never a point of discussion; they were just there.
Faith and Reason in Science
I want to thank you for publishing your piece entitled “Darwinism and Catholic Faith” in the April 5 issue. I found it informative, but, at the same time, disturbing to read such a prestigious “Catholic” and scientist speak so disparagingly about intelligent design. Obviously, Gennaro Auletta is not familiar with the Pope’s stance on intelligent design, which happens to be a favorable one. Nor does he have a firm grasp of concepts such as the connection between the “supernatural” and “rational matters” as though “supernatural” is akin to “fairy tale.” Is not God supernatural? Is not God rational? If God is both supernatural and rational, then we can’t talk about one without remembering the other. We must use our reason in the light of faith, with the Church as our guide.
Because of his profound misunderstanding of fundamental concepts and his influential position, I believe Auletta should receive the same fate as Father George Coyne, another intelligent design disparager and former director of the Vatican Observatory.
Please consider printing a piece on the flip side of this coin that discusses how the world came to be in a way that embraces the truth of both faith and reason. Only with both faith and reason is science truly productive.
‘Universal’ Health Care
The notion that universal health care is a fundamental human right, as expressed by Kathy Saile (speaking on behalf of the U.S. bishops) and Jennifer Goff (speaking on behalf of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good) in “Church vs. President on Health-Care Plans” (March 29) is fundamentally flawed. Ms. Goff is correct to say “we have an obligation to defend human dignity and care for those who are sick and vulnerable.”
What we don’t have is the moral authority to compel someone else to provide their services to those ends. And that is exactly what is implied when we talk about universal health care and universal access to health care. Implicit in these phrases (and names such as Catholic Alliance for the Common Good — Who makes up these socialist titles for everything anyway?) is the same thinking that would require doctors to make referrals to abortion clinics.
William Toffler, the Oregon professor of family medicine, is correct: “Doctors are not vending machines.” They shouldn’t be treated like vending machines for birth control and they shouldn’t be used as vending machines to provide health-care services in some universal fashion according to the edicts of some “bipartisan effort for the common good,” as called for by Jennifer Goff.
Health care will be universally accessible when the terms of provision are determined by the people who provide the services. If those happen to be Catholic doctors, nurses, hospitals and clinics, then I am sure a percentage of the profits will be used to provide dignity and care for those who are sick and vulnerable. It will not be universally accessible while a small group of people in Washington are allowed to define universal, even if they have help from unelected staff members and powerful lobbyists. We have seen what a joke they have made of the definition of words such as law or justice, and these words have fewer syllables.
Skaneateles, New York