What a beautiful and moving article you ran regarding Holy Saturday (Daily Blog, “Holy Saturday: Harrowing Hell,” April 11). The frescos are wonderful, and the accompanying article is just a beautiful meditation on Jesus’ descent into hell.
Keep up the good work — and Happy Easter.
Los Angeles, California
Editor’s note: The letter refers to a feature we provided at our website only.
Notre Dame Controversy
To correct one point in your blog post “ND: 33 Bishops and Counting” (April 15): You list Cardinal George in the list of those who criticized the university for inviting the president to attend and receive an honorary degree at the upcoming graduation.
In questions and answers at the end of his presented remarks, the cardinal stated that he did not expect the university to withdraw the invitation nor did he ask them to do so. He stated something to the effect of: They should go through with the ceremony in deference to the respect that the office of the president deserves.
Universities talk to the whole world and listen to and entertain all points of view. A church pulpit may not do so. Political debates of all types make our democracy work.
The many recent letters decrying President Obama’s invitation to speak at Notre Dame are an embarrassment to every Catholic who believes in our liberal democracy. He was not invited to speak on abortion, nor has he ever argued against the logic of the Catholic position on this issue, and he surely knows that our moral stance against abortion on demand will never change. Like it or not, he could be an enormous ally in reducing the number of abortions. We would harm our cause by humiliating this powerful man, who openly admits that he has not made a personal decision as to when human life begins and thus is reluctant to make a woman choosing abortion and her doctor criminals in the eyes of society.
We must tread carefully when confronting non-Catholics on this issue. If we leave our pride aside, the president can be persuaded that if a human life is at stake then abortion is indeed equivalent to killing — and, if so, are not late-term infants with beating hearts and a fully formed nervous systems not human beings? We have the logic. We should not self-righteously make the perfect the enemy of the good! Let the president speak, and listen in respect. Then, surely, he will listen to us in turn.
San Luis Obispo, California
Editor’s note: The following letter can serve as a reply.
Furthering Mr. McDonald’s article (“‘Prestige Over Truth,’” April 5), last month Notre Dame hosted a seminar for presidents and trustees of Catholic colleges and universities entitled “What We Hold in Trust.” The premise of the gathering: “Trustees of Catholic colleges and universities have a fiduciary responsibility for the Catholic character, identity and mission of their institutions. Trustees must understand what, exactly, that means and develop practical skills that will make it possible for them to effectively exercise their fiduciary responsibility.” Thus, the question may be again asked of Notre Dame: How does honoring President Obama at commencement fulfill that fiduciary responsibility?
No action taken by the president since taking office, not a single appointment nor a single policy initiative, signals a desire or even a tolerance for dialogue on Catholic teaching about the protection of human life.
By inviting the president to address the graduating class and receive an honorary degree, it is reasonable to question whether the same fidelity to mission and identity can be said of the University of Notre Dame. The prospect for dialogue with an adversary seems to be the justification most appealing to the university. If Notre Dame had invited the president to openly discuss issues of public policy having disturbing moral implications for Catholics, the university would be applauded. But no dialogue is on the agenda for Notre Dame’s commencement.
Fiduciaries must exercise judgment to achieve the mission of the institution they serve. Their judgment cannot simply yield to election results or polling data. If Church teaching is not an authoritative guide to the exercise of such judgment for the good of a Catholic university, then to what higher standard is the Church’s teaching subordinate in the university setting? Are our universities and their faculties motivated by the Gospel or more reliably by envy of the wealth, prestige and celebrity of their avowedly secular counterparts?
Are we witnessing Catholic universities and colleges drifting from their religious founders in the example of the Ivy League? Given what has transpired at Notre Dame, those of us who make substantial financial sacrifices to support our children at Catholic colleges and universities are keenly interested to know the mind of those who lead those institutions. We can only hope that some account of the Notre Dame seminar will be available, and if papers are presented, that they will be published so that parents and grandparents can make informed fiduciary judgments of their own.
Francis P. Burns III
Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania
Thank you for your wonderful articles and updates on our faith.
Case for Intelligent Design
I heartily agree with Douglas Parent’s letter to the editor, “Faith and Reason in Science” (April 19), regarding the “Darwinism and Catholic Faith” interview in the April 5 issue. Like Parent, I also was disturbed by Gennaro Auletta’s hostility to and ridicule of intelligent design and creationism.
I recently watched the intelligent design documentary Expelled. Part of it shows an interview that Ben Stein conducted with the famous atheist Richard Dawkins. Stein asks Dawkins how life began on Earth. Since the probability of a cell forming on its own is so absolutely miniscule as to be virtually nonexistent, the only answer Dawkins gives is that it was “seeded” on Earth — meaning by an alien race from another planet. Is this not more of a fairy tale than the possibility of an intelligent designer? Furthermore, there is the problem of how the alien race that seeded life on Earth began, with the possibility of an infinite regression of alien races.
Intelligent design proponents realize there must have been a first cause — and call this first cause God. It is simply following the evidence where it leads. Intelligent information, such as that found in DNA, comes from an intelligent source. It doesn’t simply happen.
In this instance, I am grateful that the Church’s authority only extends to matters of faith and morals, and not to science. Like Parent, I would also be interested in a piece or series in the Register presenting the intelligent design point of view.
Buffalo, New York
I recently read your article on Darwinism and how it is compatible with Catholic teachings and was quite disturbed by what I read. In it, Gennaro Auletta states that animals have souls that evolved into the human soul and that intelligent design can’t be seen as science. Both of these statements seemed very anti-Catholic to me.
As far as the Church’s teaching on
the human soul go, it isn’t related in any way to that of an animal. Also, you
can see intelligent design in creation. If you were walking through a forest
and happened to come across a watch, you would assume that it was created by
intelligent design. The watch is irreducibly complex; in other words, if one
piece was missing or in any way changed, the watch would have no
The human body is made up of cells; every cell is irreducibly complex. Each cell has over 60 functioning parts, so that if one part was missing or slightly different, it would have no function and would die. In order for this to have evolved, macro evolution would have had to take place, and the only type of evolution that has ever taken place is micro evolution, which is a small change in species. You can see this in the different variations of dogs, or in Darwin’s finches. They haven’t evolved into something else, and neither did the apes. The man whom you interviewed obviously hadn’t done very much research.
I am only 17, so my knowledge only goes so far, but I was very disappointed that the Register would publish such a liberal viewpoint and make it seem like it has been proven that we evolved from an ape.
Please do your research and listen to both sides of the argument before you basically declare that we evolved from an ape. The theory of evolution was basically created and is now widely accepted just to take God out of the picture.
American Canyon, California
In terms of “Adopting Embryos: Why Not?” (April 5), if we only look at the adoption of embryos in the short term, a strong case can be made for rescuing those embryonic human beings. However, adopting embryos encourages more evil: the production of more embryos.
As Pope John Paul II stated, there is “no morally licit solution regarding the destiny” of frozen embryos. Even with good intentions, if we have anything to do with adopting embryos, we are part of the problem, not the solution.
Sierra Vista, Arizona
“Will the West Get a Shrine?” (April 19) noted that the cornerstone of St. Paul Church in Sauk Centre, Minn., was blessed on April 10, 1994. The correct year is 1904. The Register regrets the error.