Labels Mislead

Regarding “Loving Homosexuals” (Editorial, Feb. 11):

I think we would do society and the Catholic faith a great justice by refraining from labeling people by their sins, disorders or conditions. Seven times in this item, not including the title, the author discussed ministering to “homosexuals.”

I know it’s cumbersome to write out “people struggling with homosexual attractions,” but that kind of wording would help to combat the negative or bigoted feelings many people have against such people.

Imagine if you were to write about how Catholics need to reach out to “fornicators” and “gluttons.” It’s no different. People should be granted the dignity of their personhood before being identified by their sins.

 Ellie Peck

Oak Harbor, Washington

Us vs. Us

While I find myself agreeing in the main with your editorial “Loving Homosexuals” (Feb. 11), I am a little disturbed by the “us vs. them” mentality it seems to display. The abuse crisis alone shows that homosexuality is not an insignificant reality among Catholic priests and some bishops. But, beyond that, there are faithful Catholics who have to deal with the reality of same-sex attraction in their own lives. Your editorial should have acknowledged the fact of homosexuality right within the Church itself.

It seems to me that the main concern with homosexuality within or outside the Church has to do with the question of chastity. By virtue of their baptism, all Christians are called to a life of chastity, regardless of their sexual orientation. While active homosexuals engage in a sin against nature, they do not sin against future life as heterosexuals do when they have sexual intercourse outside of marriage. Also, homosexual men do not kill children the way heterosexual women do in abortion.

St. Thomas Aquinas said that, after murder, the second worst sin is fornication because of the sin against future children that it embodies. While the Catholic Church needs to be concerned with the sins against nature that active homosexuality represents, she also needs to be concerned with the sins against children and innocent life that out-of-wedlock heterosexuality inevitably represents.

Paul A. Trouve

Montague, New Jersey

We Need to Talk

Buffalo Bishop Edward Kmiec is probably correct in stating that the best way to handle errant public Catholics — such as politicians who publicly support legislation repugnant to Catholic moral teaching — is not to give them a dressing down in public but to invite them aside for a “substantive, one-on-one conversation” outside the context of Mass (“Homilist Names Names,” Feb. 11).

I agree. The bishop’s office should contact all such individuals in their diocese and invite them to a one-on-one discussion. The bishop or his delegate could present to the errant Catholic the Church’s moral teaching on the given topic in a complete and unambiguous manner. The politician could give his views but, in the end, the politician would be invited to agree with the Church’s moral position on the issue.

If the politician agrees, he could be invited to receive the sacrament of reconciliation as a sign of his acceptance of Church teaching and of his or her sorrow and regret for having misled his constituents. If he refuses the Church’s offer, it can then be explained that he must not continue to present himself to receive the sacred Eucharist until such reconciliation takes place.

Today there are many instances in which these little chats should be taking place “behind the woodshed,” as we used to say.

Bill Thorpe
Stuart, Florida

Steamed Over Shea

I just read Mark Shea’s column “Monotheism 102: Muslims Worship the True God” (Jan. 28) and wonder where he came up with his facts about the Muslim god. He sounds like a newly converted Roman Catholic, trying to prove a point — or, better yet, trying to tell us what we should believe. Since he doesn’t state how Islam began, I suggest that he review that event and then re-read what he wrote. Maybe then he will see how foolish his essay sounds.

It’s sad that the Register permits this type of article to be printed. Shea’s column would be trashed if it required a “nihil obstat” or an imprimatur. Now that the Church no longer requires that type of review, we get all kinds of self-proclaimed religious scholars professing to tell us what we should believe. We in the Roman Catholic Church have a rich history of apostolic and ecclesiastical tradition, inspired Scripture and divine faith.

We don’t need an Internet editor to expound for us.

The Roman Catholic Church doesn’t care to acknowledge the god or gods of other religions, period! 

Richard C. Moravsik

Groton Long Point, Connecticut

Mark Shea responds: As I made very clear in my columns on this topic, my facts are derived from the magisterial teaching of the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church, which teaches of Muslims, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ himself, that “together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.” This is what the Catechism teaches in No. 841. I trust that you will listen to the teaching of Holy Mother Church. Please note that Holy Mother Church is not teaching that Catholic and Muslim teaching is the same or equally true. Rather it is saying that, insofar as Muslims affirm what the Church affirms, they are right. When they contradict what the Church affirms, they are wrong. And when they affirm what the Church denies, they are also wrong.


Keep it Simple, Smarty

Mark Shea writes: “Tapeworms and televangelists both exploit other creatures, but atheists blame only the televangelists” (“The Incoherence of Atheism, Part 3,” Feb. 18).

It may be that I am too simple a person and unaware of the finer points of his arguments. But please recall such televangelists as Bishop Fulton Sheen, Father Benedict Groeschel, Father George Rutler and some equally fine Protestants before you again lump such persons with the Elmer Gantry sub-type.

Televangelism is a tool, neither better nor worse than fire or a hammer or a hatchet or a firearm: All can be used for good or evil.

Please do not lead the simple-minded, as myself, into the error of false analogies lest we be drawn into false conclusions.

James Pawlak

West Allis, Wisconsin

Pulpit Prophet?

It seems that the article on Deacon Tom McDonnell of Buffalo, N.Y., did not give all the details on why he might have used the pulpit to single out Rep. Brian Higgins, D-N.Y., for his vote in favor of funding for embryonic stem-cell research. There is no evidence indicating that a higher Church authority ever spoke personally to Higgins about his very public sin.

Sometimes a prophet must speak out. The deacon should have our support for his bold action.

Ric Ballard

Lake Alfred, Florida

Miscarriage of Ministry?

I am disappointed that no one has addressed the very real pastoral concerns of miscarriage (“Baptism Bailout” and “Unbaptized Infants,” Letters, Feb. 4). Since approximately 15% of all clinically recognized pregnancies end tragically in miscarriage, many women will be physically, emotionally and spiritually affected by the Church’s attention to this major issue.

The Catholic Church recognizes the presence of the soul since conception, and should not neglect the needs of both mother and child during a miscarriage. Typically, a mother has days to acknowledge her loss, and often the parents turn to their pastor for help during this time. Naturally, their first concern is the child’s immortal soul. But the Church lacks concrete pastoral application to this distressing situation, probably due to the ambiguity in the official teaching.

This omission can be irreparably damaging to a woman’s relationship with the Church, and perhaps even with God. Many women know of at least a few of us who have left the Church because an individual priest, lacking solid pastoral guidelines, responded in a brusque or dismissive manner.

At best, we parents can hope for the Church to consider a conditional application of redeeming grace, as in the general absolution of sins given to soldiers about to enter battle. This “conditional baptism” would confer the necessary graces for salvation.

Ultimately God makes all souls to be with him. Each human being should have access to the same sanctifying grace. But even if the Church can go no further than to ask us as parents to “entrust [our] child to the same Father and his mercy with hope” (Evangelium Vitae, 1995), then surely such very real consolation could be incorporated into a special Blessing for the Unborn, a ritual accessible to all priests during a crisis pregnancy.

During a time when all life, from conception to natural death, is under attack, we should as a Church acknowledge officially the passing of each human life, no matter how small. What a witness that would give to a world that increasingly gives little value to life in the womb.

If John the Baptist was given grace enough to recognize Christ in Elizabeth’s womb, who are we to deny each unborn child the same chance?

Susan J. Mullan

Elkton, Maryland


An Atheist’s Apologia

We atheists will be thinking for Catholics — while Mark Shea is praying for atheists (“The Incoherence of Atheism, Part 3,” Feb. 18).

Mark does a wonderful job of describing the misguided, dangerous outsiders so the loyal can feel more smugly cohesive. Can’t have a strong us without a them described in negative terms.

You’ll know how I feel when you read Baptist literature describing how Catholics are hell-bound, idol-worshipping, Mary-in-a-tortilla papists who need to be prayed for and converted.

The Church used to pray for us as it burned our heretic flesh at the stake. Your self-righteous prayers were unwelcome then and now.

Bruce in Orlando

Via e-mail

Editor’s Note: We know how you feel: Your statement, about the excesses of some of the inquisitions is itself the repetition of an anti-Catholic myth. Google “BBC” and “Spanish Inquisition” to find how the mainstream media has exposed that myth. And please do keep reading the Register. You may find we challenge the “unthinking” stereotype you’ve placed on us.