KISSINGER, COWBOYS AND ART

Regarding “McChesney Says Accused Priests Need Work” (Dec. 10-16): Kathleen McChesney’s suggestion that priests removed from ministry because of child-abuse accusations be given some kind of work in the Church has a feel-good sound but, in most situations, would be an impossible dream. How much church work can there be without some form of public contact? How many priests are going to find fulfillment running a copy machine? If their guilt is not clear, it is not clear to me and perhaps many other people that not nearly enough is being done to resolve the situation.

It was a joy to me to see that some accused priests in England, suspended only on suspicion, are rising up to demand due process — which, as they point out, is their right under both civil and canon law. Bishops would probably reply that their first responsibility is victim protection, but precautions need not always interfere with resolving guilt or innocence.

There is, I believe, an inordinate fear of trials. Consider the many years-old cases. Believe it or not, there are people evil enough to pick the Church’s “deep” pockets.

I was surprised to see McChesney’s suggestion that false reporting of sexual abuse by children is very rare. She worked for the FBI, but I worked directly with children. I saw and learned of numerous cases where children gave damaging information to police because of improper questioning that played upon children’s suggestibility, resulting in improper convictions. Los Angeles courts had to re-try numerous cases from years back not long ago, resulting in releasing many falsely accused people from prison. It was a major court scandal out West.

Justice demands due process for those who might be falsely accused, both at the Church and civil levels. It is just simple justice. The Church should not fear to handle these cases because of the publicity. That damage has been done.

If one is really innocent, a trial may not even be necessary. The district attorney simply will not file charges if evidence is absent. If innocence is proven through the court process, everyone wins and people will see justice in practice.

Joseph Callagher

Shingle Springs, California

Father Vakoc’s Progress

I was so happy to read that Father Timothy Vakoc, the seriously wounded military chaplain, is beginning to speak (“Priest Injured in Iraq Begins Speaking,” Media Watch, Nov. 26 - Dec. 2). I hope and pray that he recovers enough to be able to offer the holy Sacrifice of the Mass once again.

I have been praying for him since your article reporting his injury in Iraq about three years ago. His picture was on the front page with an update once after that.

Recently I have been asking the Servant of God, Father Vincent Capodanno, to intercede for him, our military leaders, our chaplains. Perhaps Father Timothy will be “the miracle” for Father Capodanno’s beatification.

I treasure your fine publication. Keep up the “good news.”

Bernadette Schoenherr

Rochester, New York

Thank You, Dr. Morse

Jennifer Roback-Morse sure hit a home run with “Give Us Your Heart: an Open Letter to Immigrants” (Commentary & Opinion, Dec. 17-23). This column ought to be e-mailed to all U.S. and Mexican cardinals and bishops, as well as the Vatican.

Our parents came here, legally, in the 1930s and did just what the headline asks. They worked in low pay/hard work jobs such as meatpacking and farming, and they attended English and citizenship classes at night. In short, they integrated into the melting pot we call “America” while maintaining their own ethnic cultures.

It is not easy for a Slav to learn English, just as it is not easy for English-speaking peoples to pronounce Slavic names!

Thank you for speaking up for us, Dr. Morse.

John S Szulecki Sr.

West Milford, New Jersey

What Henry Inherited

You let Mr. Samuel P. Di Muzio get away with blaming Henry Kissinger for the deaths of U.S. troops and millions of civilians in Vietnam (“Kissinger Kiss-Off,” Letters, Dec. 17-23).

President Eisenhower sent in the original U.S. advisers, President Kennedy reinforced them and President Johnson initiated direct involvement of U.S. combat formations in the Vietnam War long before Kissinger was senior enough to run a coffee pot in the State Department.

Even the most casual observer of that period in our history should be aware of the disconnect between Di Muzio’s words and reality. Henry Kissinger became the national security adviser in 1969.

When he took the post of secretary of state in 1973, his diplomatic efforts speeded the end of our direct involvement in the war.

Mr. Di Muzio seems to believe that opposing tyranny is always bad if it means people will get hurt.

Your editorial note should have corrected the record rather than merely dispelled any notion that Kissinger is officially a Vatican adviser.

James Kevin Richardson

El Paso, Texas

Rosary Redux

Regarding “How (and Why) To Pray” (Dec. 17-23):

The clip-out section on the Rosary omits the Creed and the prayers on the first four beads. Or have I been praying the Rosary wrong for 55 years?

Bob Penzkover

Rock Springs, Wisconsin

Editor’s note: Our explanation of the Rosary is based on Pope John Paul II’s suggestions in his 2002 apostolic letter on the Rosary, Rosarium Virginis Mariae. Space did not permit us to add the excellent custom of the introductory prayers, which many Catholics follow.

Vote Your Connection

We could minimize porn on the Internet if decent, well-meaning commercial Web servers would refuse to accept subscribers who intend to use their Web sites for pornography (“Scorn for Porn,” Dec. 17-23).

My Web server used to be Earthlink. When I found out that they accepted such subscribers without blinking an eye, I searched for a better one and found AOL. When you sign up with them, you have to promise not to use your Web site for pornography or other anti-social activities. They will cancel your subscription immediately if you renege on your promise.

The Register may want to do a survey of the leading Internet service providers and then publish the results, encouraging readers to patronize only the “clean” ones.

Josephine Harkay

Jamaica, New York

Fractured Morals?

That was quite an interview with Adriano Moraes, the “Cowboy of God,” in “World Champion Bull Rider Is ‘Cowboy of God’” (Inperson, Nov. 19-25).

We need more of his kind who boldly live their faith so publicly and so well. But he’s suffered at least 21 broken bones so far. How many more of those will it take before a moral theologian steps in to say “Enough is enough — this is an immoral sport”?

Father Cormac Antram, OFM

St. John Catholic Church

Tekakwitha Mission

Houck, Arizona

Steven Greydanus responds: It was on the basis of Shroud of Turin studies by Catholic forensic pathologist and well-known Shroud expert Dr. Fred Zugibe that I made my comments. Dr. Zugibe has commented to me more than once, in formal interviews and informal conversations, that the violence in The Passion of the Christ is far in excess of what the Shroud supports, not to mention what the human body can physically endure. The late Dr. Barbet never saw Gibson’s Passion and has not specifically addressed this question. Roman soldiers were cruel but they knew their business. It is highly unlikely that, if charged with beating a man and letting him go, they would inflict such violence as to kill any mortal man many times over. Artistically, the exaggerated violence in The Passion can be taken to represent the inexpressible sufferings of Our Lord, which defy all merely human experience. In literal fact, though, modern Hollywood violence exceeds even the cruelty of ancient Rome.

Artistic vs. Actual

Regarding “Mel Makes a Spectacle of Suffering” (Dec. 10-16):

Steven Greydanus is factually incorrect when he states in his review of Apocalypto that Mel Gibson exaggerated the scourging of Our Lord in The Passion of the Christ.

In fact, as bloody and horrendous as the scene was, Gibson did not show anywhere near the actual torture that the scourging and the crowning of thorns inflicted. I refer Mr. Greydanus to A Doctor Looks at Calvary by Pierre Barbet and to recent studies on the Shroud of Turin that give an accurate picture of how much more horrific the physical pain actually was.

There was not one inch of Christ’s body that did not bleed or bruise. The pain of the crown of thorns was excruciating to a degree of the most unbearable pain. No, if anything, Mel Gibson’s movie underplayed the pain Christ endured — a thought that should give us pause.

Ellen A. Carney

Bronxville, New York

Corrections

In “Experts Spar Over Practical, Theological Advice to Bishops” (Dec. 24 - Jan. 6), we referred to “Ave Maria University Law School.” The correct name of the institution is Ave Maria School of Law. The school is not part of a university. We regret the error.

Also: “Advent Woman - Bringing Hope and Comfort Throughout the Year” (Dec. 10-16) gave an incorrect number for the In The Arms of Mary Foundation. The correct number is (800) 451-1321.