Change of Mind

I had been thinking about dropping the paper because of the economy. The Nov. 1 issue changed my mind, with a peek at the Anglican return, the Pierluigi Molla interview, the Bella drama, and JPII Film Festival news.

I also keep rereading “The Abolition of Man and Woman,” a very engaging piece.

Surprisingly, it doesn’t mention contraception as a root of the “spirit of androgeny” or the scary social ills it nicely exposes. John and Sheila Kippley cover this well in their new book, Natural Family Planning: The Complete Approach. The book recalls both secular and Christian writers predicting in the early 1900s that the acceptance of contraception would bring about just such social evils. It goes on to explain how this chaos is not going to be resolved until people accept the norm of human nature and not the norm of unnatural birth control.

This topic has profoundly affected our marriage for the better, and I applaud you for keeping this topic alive so your readers can make moral choices.

Ann Craig

Robstown, Texas

Sacred Human Life

Kathryn Jean Lopez’s commentary “A Few Suggestions for Next Year’s Nobel Peace Prize” (Oct. 25) was effective in calling attention to some of the true peacemakers in our world.

Apart from her main message, however, was a distraction of which I am becoming increasingly aware within the pro-life movement.

Within her commentary, Lopez used the phrase “sanctity of human life from natural conception to natural death.” Although her intent is, I believe, to highlight the Church’s teaching that unnatural conception is immoral and an affront to human dignity, the unintended implication of using “natural” to modify conception is that if a conception is unnatural, then its results are not worthy of this sanctity. Human life is sacred, regardless of the method of conception. Unnatural conception does not diminish the sanctity of life.

Those like Lopez who have admitted this phraseology into their writing and dialogue should rethink their wording. Although we need to be strong in our arguments against “reproductive technologies” that do not respect God’s design, we should always be clear that the “products” of these technologies are human beings with equal dignity to those of us who are naturally conceived.

John Miner

Saranac Lake, New York

Co-Opting Marriage

Regarding “The Maine Event” (Nov. 15): I have absolutely no doubt that same-sex couples really and truly do love each other. I pass no judgment on them. They are all part of our human family and must be treated as equals in every way.

This is most definitely God’s will. It is for no man or woman to judge another. No human being who judges another is himself or herself free of fault. “Let he who is without sin ... Judge not, lest ye be judged.” Judgment is God’s domain.

I do know, however, that throughout human history, marriage has been religiously, morally and legally defined as between a man and a woman.

It is so much more than a heterosexual tradition. It is a covenant between God and humankind; a sacrament in the truest sense of the word.

I understand that we are just talking about a secular act: a civil clerk issuing a piece of paper to a same-sex couple, but it is not that act that troubles me. It is the co-opting of the word “marriage” to meet selfish, personal demands of the times.

When we pray, we do not always get what we want. God hears our petitions, and God’s answer sometimes is No. That does not mean that God does not love us. It only means that God knows what is right and what is best for us even if we do not. God gives us what we need, not what we want.

I have prayed. In my heart, I believe I have heard God’s answer to this petition to allow same-sex “marriage.” The answer is No.

Rationalizing support for “gay marriage” by massaging and twisting sacred Scripture to try to make the answer “yes” or “maybe” is troubling, but again, it is not for me to judge.

I know how I feel — and how my Church feels. I know I will never see a “gay marriage” performed in my Church. I am quite at peace with this.

Joe Gaffigan

Silver Spring, Maryland


Regarding “Expunging Christ” (Daily Blog, Nov. 6): The European Court of Human Rights has ordered crucifixes in Italian classrooms to be removed because they are religious symbols — what is worse, because they are a violation (of the parents’ liberty) and an attack (against the students’ religious freedom). Were it not for the fact that malice is ascribed to this ruling, we would have to brand it as madness, or at least as deep ingratitude.

Let’s look at who is hanging from the cross: He is a victim of human cruelty who was denied the right to die, as we would say nowadays, with dignity. Flogged, insulted and carrying a burden since the beginning of his life on earth, especially during the three final years, God-made-flesh did not renounce his torment, as it was the payment of the ransom for our souls.

Indeed, the crucifix is a religious symbol that gives evidence of God’s immeasurable love for men. But it bothers some, as it reveals that they do not love love and that they do not wish to follow the dictates that bring happiness to man. Instead, they decree their own law, which is to follow their own will — this being a far cry from loving God above all things and one’s neighbor as oneself. 

Clara Jiménez

Murcia, Spain

The editor responds: See “Media Watch” on page 5 and the editorial “Take Up the Cross” at left to see that Italy is fighting back.

Positive Feedback

Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City, Iowa, says that he “has received both positive and negative feedback” for his pastoral letter on the authentic meaning of Vatican II (“True Vatican II Spirit,” Nov. 1).

Another instance of positive “feedback” would be the worldwide gathering of bishops convened by Pope John Paul II 20 years after the council, in 1985. The synod was convened to review the record following the council. Among its many findings, the synod remarked: “The Church is one and the same throughout all of the councils,” and as a suggestion toward a deeper knowledge and reception of the council, it called for “a new diffusion of the documents themselves.”

After 20 years, the documents were to be at least read! (Another suggestion from this synod led to preparation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.)

As for the “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture,” during the council and regarding some proposed wording for the council documents, “one of the extreme liberals made the mistake of referring, in writing, to some of these ambiguous passages, and indicating how they would be interpreted after the council” (italics added).

In this instance, the response from Pope Paul VI and the International Theological Commission was/is the prefatory note on collegiality appended to the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, now curiously located at the end. See historian Father Ralph Wiltgen’s The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber (Tan, 1966, p. 232). The author of this detailed, comprehensive, balanced and yet incisive book was the fly on the wall at the council. He daily published a news service in six languages (through the Council News Service, which went out to subscribers in 108 countries).

St. Augustine was finally converted by the words of a small child: “Take up and read” (Confessions, Bk. 8, sec. 29).

Peter D. Beaulieu

Shoreline, Washington

Love’s Symbol

I wish to express my disappointment with the European Court of Human Rights for ruling that crucifixes should be removed from Italian classes. (“Expunging Christ,” Daily Blog, Nov. 6):

The crucifix is the sign of the Passion, and at the same time it is a sign of the Resurrection. It is, so to speak, the saving staff that God holds out to us, the bridge by which we can pass over the abyss of death, and all the threats of the Evil One, and reach God.

In the crucifix the whole essence of Christianity is summed up; it displays what is distinctively Christian. It is also a symbol of universal love. The crucifix does not lead to any discrimination. Indeed, it is the image of the Christian revolution which has spread the idea of equality between all men all over the world. The realities believed in and hoped for are read into this visible image, but the image is more than a mere reflection; it is in fact an image in whose saving power one places one’s hope.

The most basic Christian gesture in prayer is and always will be the Sign of the Cross. It is a way of confessing Christ crucified with one’s very body. It is a visible and public Yes to him who suffered for us. It is a confession of faith, a confession of hope.

Let us fight to keep our religious signs and symbols from the atheistic clutches of Big Brother in this Orwellian age.

Paul Kokoski

Hamilton, Ontario

Burst Bubble

Regarding “40 Days, Countless Lives” (Nov. 8): In Illinois alone 18,000 people are waiting to adopt a baby; why not share yours if you do not want it?

The “bubble zone” prevents possible parents for asking for unwanted babies. First lady Hillary Clinton said it takes a village to raise a child; the child belongs to society if the mom does not want it. Why not give it to someone who needs a baby?

The “bubble law” prevents confused mothers from getting free support services, advice on their rights and the malpractice record of the abortionists.

Ed Smetana

Arlington Heights, Illinois