A Plea to Our Bishops

Pertinent to the Register’s coverage of the proposed health-care package from President Obama:

A recent open letter from the U.S. bishops’ conference, signed by Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., makes clear the Church’s preferential option for the poor. It lays out four health-care imperatives: excluding mandated coverage for abortion and its federal funding; including “rights of conscience”; making health-care affordable and available to everyone; including safeguards of the health of legal immigrant families.

Passed by the thinnest of margins, H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, would eliminate federal funding for abortion and provide limited conscience protection. This victory is primarily a product of extraordinary U.S. bishops’ leadership, for which Catholics are profoundly thankful.

In a recent letter to the bishops, many concerned Catholics pointed out that the proposed bill, even with these protections, is fatally flawed. As drafted, it violates the principle of subsidiarity so beautifully articulated by Pope John Paul II and reaffirmed by Pope Benedict XVI.

It will place enormous dictatorial power in the hands of our pro-abortion — and Catholic — secretary of Health and Human Services who will unilaterally define all “qualified” plans and their cost to each individual and then force Americans into these plans. It provides conscience protection for health-care workers and fund sponsors, but only as it applies to abortion. No other procedures/medications that violate Catholic teaching will be covered. Coverage of contraception, in vitro fertilization and sterilization will continue under existing federal programs.

The loose drafting, among other things, also introduces the possibility of rationing health care for seniors and those with special needs, encourages coercive “end of life” planning in some states, and fines and even incarceration for noncompliance.

This legislation is seismic. Tragically, at the very forefront of the fight for its passage stand a phalanx of ostensibly Catholic public officials, led by Speaker Pelosi, Secretary Sebelius, Vice President Biden and many Catholic members of Congress too scandalously numerous to mention. The bill also disregards the “Manhattan Declaration,” which was recently signed by many Catholic bishops and other Christian spiritual leaders. Here’s hoping the U.S. bishops rebuke this latest threat to the exercise of our liberties, especially religious liberty.

Robert and Monica Mylod

Manasquan, New Jersey

Power of Prayer

I read with interest the article by Carlos Briceño, “Heart-Altering Power,” in your Nov. 22 edition. There is more to the story — and it is about God’s almighty power and the power of prayer.

For a few years before Abby Johnson left Planned Parenthood in Bryan, Texas, a young lady named Elizabeth McClung was often at the fence outside the Planned Parenthood abortion business at dawn or before the employees and abortionists arrived. She spoke to Abby Johnson once when Abby arrived, and then she found out Abby’s name and told her that she was praying for her.

Once Elizabeth brought her flowers with a prayer card. Abby kept that card, and it was on her desk. After Abby witnessed the unborn baby trying to avoid being killed on the ultrasound, she returned to her desk and saw that prayer card.

When Abby went weeping to the Bryan Coalition for Life, she asked to see Elizabeth. Elizabeth had moved to Austin.

Eventually, Abby called Elizabeth and told her all about her conversion. Elizabeth has started the Austin Coalition for Life in the most liberal town in Texas, which has four abortion businesses. Elizabeth recently organized hundreds of people in Austin to take part in the 40 Days for Life Campaign, praying at the abortion clinics in Austin. They already have had a role in the saving of unborn babies there.

I am very proud of Elizabeth McClung; she is my loving and lovable daughter.
And that’s the rest of the story.

Guy McClung
Houston, Texas

Indulgence Requirements

James Kurt, in his letter in the Dec. 6 issue, encouraged your readers to gain plenary indulgences for the souls in purgatory. This was laudable, and I hope many readers took his advice. However, I wonder what his source was for the statement that in order to gain the plenary indulgence: “One would also need to go to confession within 20 days before or after the act (basically once a month), receive holy Communion and pray for the Pope’s intentions.”

I consulted the Apostolic Constitution on the Revision of Indulgences (1967) and found no mention of 20 days or once a month. It merely states: “One sacramental confession suffices to gain several plenary indulgences.” And Father Winfrid Herbst, in his pamphlet ”New Regulations on Indulgences,” states: “For gaining daily plenary indulgences go to confession at least once every two weeks.” 

However, I agree with Mr. Kurt that the poor souls in purgatory need our prayers. What greater kindness can we do than to offer a plenary indulgence for a holy soul who, I am sure, will pray for us from heaven!

Mary Irving

Port St. Lucie, Florida

Editor’s note: The third edition of the Handbook of Indulgences, 1986, specifies: “To be capable of gaining indulgences a person must be … in the state of grace at least at the time the prescribed works are completed (No. 20). [S]acramental confession … may be carried out several days preceding or following performance of the prescribed work” (No. 23).

Taking Issue

I’m a faithful and careful reader of the Register, reading most of the articles and even a few ads. By the time I finish, the issue is crumpled and torn apart. I really appreciate your publication, which I daresay I would not read if it were only available digitally. So, I’m sorry that my comments are negative.

My initial reaction to the headline “Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ Setback in New York” (Briefs, Dec. 6) was “Oh, shucks, another setback for authentic marriage.” After realizing that the report was on the successful defeat for advocates of same-sex “marriage,” I found myself wishing that the headline had been constructed along more positive lines, such as, “Victory for Authentic Marriage in New York.”

Mary Hansen’s very interesting article on “St. Juan Diego’s First Church” (Travel, Dec. 6) unfortunately referred to the tilma as a “miraculous painting” (last paragraph). ”Miraculous,” certainly, “painting” not! I have read that scientific investigation has established with certainty that the image on the tilma is not a painting. Rather, the image is not even on the tilma itself, but is microscopically above it.

I’m disappointed that Donald DeMarco would imply that Jesus’ birth — celebrated at Christmas — is the time when “God becomes man, the eternal becomes the temporal, the divine becomes human, and the omnipotent Creator becomes the helpless Babe” (Commentary, Dec. 6).

We should all know, and proclaim at every opportunity, that Jesus came to us nine months before his birth, not as a babe, but as a zygote/embryo/fetus. By proclaiming this fact of his incarnation (celebrated on or about March 25), we not only celebrate his taking our human nature, but we recognize that the dignity he granted us began with nine months in utero — like all of the rest of us.

Steve Koob
Dayton, Ohio

Editor’s note: Koob is the co-founder of One More Soul, a nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading the truth about the blessings of children and the harms of contraception.


In “Boy and Girl He Made Them” (In Depth, Dec. 13), we incorrectly identified the author Michael Gurian as an educator at the University of Washington.

Gurian has taught at Eastern Washington University, along with Gonzaga University and Ankara University.