Personal God

Regarding Mark Shea’s article “Beyond Tribal Faith” (March 16):

Mark’s comments concern a mother at a loss to speak to her daughter meaningfully about God, or even about death. Mark intimates that the rattle of death is no mere flatulence: death, albeit definitively cracked by Jesus, is the final enemy to be swallowed-up for all who believe in him.

Until that day, death remains the tragedy for which Jesus wept. Now, the widespread misappropriation of such fundamentally personal aspects of the faith, and the life of Christ with his personal invitation to a life in him (conversion), Mark puts down to two things which I see as co-dependent.

Non-internalized sacramentalization and the obdurate content-illiteracy of cafeteria Catholics are ills that breed on each other. It is less a mother’s hubris than a failure of schools and of homiletics to convey the personhood of God and of our religion.

This personhood, which Pope Benedict emphasizes in many of his pronouncements such as Spe Salvi (On Christian Hope) for instance (“And if we know this person and he knows us, then truly the inexorable power of the material elements no longer has the last word”), is unfortunately lost in the language of “evangelization,” and can only be delivered by those who have it.

Personal commitment, personal dedication, personal warmth, personal witness — these are the kind of things that teachers, writers and homilists should offer to convey the intimate and very present personhood of Christ.

Gary D. Knight

Aylmer, Quebec

Home With the Register

I had heard mention of the Register sometime last year and had made a note to myself to check out the website. I came across that note I had written and last week I visited the website and I must tell you that the Register is doing an awesome work for Christ.

I have made the website one of my homepages so that every day I remember to read an article or more from your site. As soon as I’m able, I will be a regular subscriber to your site. I can’t applaud you enough for your publications, particularly the Guides to Confession, Catholic Living, the articles on Atheism, Relativism and others.

I look forward to each and every publication in the future and I hope that God continues to bless your ministry.

Juliet Cordova-Allen

Bunker Hill, Illinois

Get to the Point

Having received my first copy of the Register in 30 years, (the March 9 issue), and upon reading the “Vatican” section article titled “Jesuit Spokesman Affirms” I am still in the dark about the point of the article wherein the Jesuit spokesman affirms the order’s fidelity to the Holy Father.

Nothing in the article enlightens the reader about any issue or history of “infidelity.” Our diocesan paper seems to fail to offer much in the way of current Church controversy and so is a weak source of information on those important matters of interest currently being addressed in the Church.

Many of the responses of this “spokesman” seem to be couched in an all too familiar politico-diplo-speak that throughout the article fails to address some obvious concerns of the Holy Father regarding the Jesuit theologians’ divergence from sound doctrine or fidelity.

Please clarify the issues of concern that prompted the meeting between the “newly elected superior general of the Jesuits” and His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI.

Daniel L. Federspiel

Fort Wayne, Indiana

Candidates’ Credibility

Relevant to “Massive Protest” (Feb. 3):

Ron Paul supporters had a strong presence at this year’s March for Life. While some may see his call for an immediate pullout from Iraq as pro-life, there is much to suggest that immediate pullout incurs serious risk of a human rights catastrophe.

Political discourse has closely intertwined the issue of how we got into Iraq with the issue of what should be done now. Separation of these issues is critically important.

We can’t change the past, but future human rights in Iraq (including Iraqi Catholics) will be greatly influenced by the actions of those we elect.

While we are deeply and rightly disturbed by American casualties in Iraq, we shouldn’t forget that many other lives are also at stake. Television and print media have failed utterly in their serious responsibility to inform concerning this human rights risk, and “alternative media” coverage has been minimal.

A February 2008 Center for Strategic and International Studies analysis states that “there is now a very real chance that Iraq will emerge as a secure and stable state.” The Brookings Institute (hardly a right-wing think tank) warned in a January 2007 pre-surge analysis paper that unrestrained civil war would result in “hundreds of thousands (or more) of Iraqis killed along with several times that number maimed and millions of refugees,” “radicalization of neighboring populations,” potential “global threats” and potential “civil wars in neighboring countries,” which can “breed new terrorist groups.”

The Heritage Foundation warned in September 2007 of “a bloody and protracted civil war, similar to the conflict in Bosnia following the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s” should American troops be prematurely withdrawn.
Sudden pullout of American troops from Iraq will very likely be met with redoubled terrorist efforts. Presidential candidates (including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton) who advocate immediate or rapid pullout without seriously addressing the human rights concern lack credibility.

Patrick J. Grant

Lanham, Maryland

Cardinal Came Up Short

Regarding “The Church After a Storm” (March 2):

Cardinal Francis George is clearly one of the best friends of orthodox Catholicism in the United States, but his comments regarding Catholic higher education and the mandatum came up short.

He says that there are some “promising developments,” and perhaps there are, but Catholic education as a whole (with a few exceptions) has been absorbed into a wider culture and practically indiscernible from secular counterparts.

It is almost as though Catholic universities try to outdo each other in ways to offend Holy Mother Church.

Thankfully, there are schools such as Franciscan [University of Steubenville], where my son is a student, and you can get away with being “passionately Catholic.”

From an average parent’s point of view, why would you want your child’s theology professor to be a Protestant, atheist or anti- or apathetic-Catholic? Yet, this is the norm in our more than 200 Catholic universities and colleges.

There may be promising developments abounding, but not likely from an orthodox Catholic point of view.

Mike Acheson

Port Angeles, Washington

Embryos Are People, Too

Regarding your editorial, “McCain and Pro-Lifers” (March 2), the writer quotes out of context to assert it is okay for Catholics to vote for John McCain.

He is actually taking text from then Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter to Cardinal McCarrick and statement to the U.S. bishops on pro-abortion politicians receiving holy Communion. Far better to look to a directive on March 20, 2006, by Pope Benedict in which he defines the three non-negotiable principles for the Church and Christians in public life:

n protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception to natural death,
n recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family — as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage — and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its de-stabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role, and

n the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.

The Pope further stated: “These principles are not truths of faith, even though they receive further light and confirmation from faith; they are inscribed in human nature itself and therefore they are common to all humanity. The Church’s action in promoting them is therefore not confessional in character, but is addressed to all people, prescinding from any religious affiliation they may have.”

And that would include John McCain, of course. But John McCain does not seek to protect human life from the moment of existence — he seeks to destroy it by supporting embryonic stem-cell research and human cloning.

Since when did the embryo somehow lose its moral status in Catholic thinking?

To somehow imply that McCain meets the litmus test for Catholics even though he favors embryonic stem-cell research is patently false, at least according to Catholic doctrine. An embryo bears the same rights as the fetus.

Debi Vinnedge, executive director

Children of God for Life

Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Editor’s note: Remember, our argument is not that McCain’s position is perfect, but that it is the best available use of a vote. A voter has to take into account that McCain’s Democratic opponents have pledged to do everything in their power to advance the abortion industry’s wishes.

As we put it in the editorial: “A Catholic’s obligation is to cast the vote that will best advance the culture of life. When advancing the culture of life isn’t possible, our obligation is to cast the vote that would best protect the culture of life. And if that’s not possible, our obligation is to cast the vote that will do the least harm to the culture of life.”