Heroic Defender or Zealous Relativist?

Regarding “Defiance Is in the Eye of the Defied: A Conversation with Melinda Tankard Reist” (June 25-July 1):

First of all, of course, Ms. Reist is to be commended for the pro-life projects to which she has clearly devoted much research and energy. Though I haven’t read either of them, both of her books — Giving Sorrow Words: Women’s Stories of Grief after Abortion and Defiant Birth: Women Who Resist Medical Eugenics — sound intriguing and more than worthwhile.

Near the end of the Register’s interview with Reist, however, I’m afraid her crusading zeal overtakes her reason. In defending her second book, she rightly denounces the pressure to abort that society and medical practitioners often exert on women whose unborn babies are likely to be born with disabilities. Her concern for disabled persons, as well as for the diseased society that would seek to eliminate them, is clearly righteous, but like so many “fighters for the cause” — whatever their cause may be — she stretches her argument to the point of ridiculousness.

Specifically, she loses credibility when she finds fault with the common sentiment, “We don’t care if we have a boy or a girl, as long as it’s healthy.” Honestly, what’s wrong with that statement? Is she saying that we as a society should rush to the other extreme? Must we actually wish for disabled children?

Continuing on, Reist insists that we should question our “entrenched assumptions” about “what it means to be normal.” This kind of talk sounds very relativistic to me. If she were to apply this type of thinking to the marriage-amendment issue, she would be forced to vote against it: What right has she, or have we as a society — or what right has the Constitution — to decide what is normal?

I have a beautiful, precious niece who has severe brain damage resulting from a traumatic birth. She is in no way unloved or unwanted by her family, but neither is she deemed normal with regard to her health. In fact, I would be guilty of nullifying her family’s heroic struggles if I were to insist that she were just another normal kid. I believe that disabled children bring special graces into the world with them, and those graces ought to be acknowledged and embraced along with the children they accompany.

I am myself pregnant, and I certainly do hope and pray that my child will be healthy. But by the same token, I pray that, if she or he is not perfectly healthy, I will have the grace and strength to accept and embrace all the difficulties and suffering that will lie ahead.

                                                                    Jessica Wierzbinski

Wichita, Kansas

The Party Principle

Congratulations on your June 18-24 editorial “Is Marriage a Side Issue?” concerning the Federal Marriage Amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. At the end you suggested that we find out how our senators voted and remember it in November.

I’ll second that, but because most of us will not find out how our senators voted, I suggest a general rule. Forty-seven Republicans voted for the Amendment but only two Democrats. That about sums it up. Vote your morals.

Richard F. McMahon
Saint Paul, Minnesota

Matrimony in the Dock

Marriage, the definition of which affects the very structure of every society, is not and cannot be considered a side issue (“Is Marriage a Side Issue?” Editorial, June 18-24).

Some want the matter handled by the states. But it has been, only to be overridden by activist judges who don’t mind rewriting the U.S. and state constitutions on a whim and ignoring the will of “We The People” as expressed through our elected representatives.

Voters in many states have passed referenda to prohibit same-sex “marriage,” often adding this prohibition to their state constitutions. Nineteen states have constitutional amendments against it, and an additional 26 have statutes.

As noted, the fact is that we restrict marriage all the time. Heterosexuals cannot marry whomever they want or how many they want or whomever they love. You must both be unmarried, of age, not closely related and, oh, yes, of the opposite sex.

The civil purpose of marriage is not and never has been to reaffirm the love of two people for one another. This country and healthy societies around the world and throughout history have given marriage special legal protection because of the recognition that it is the one institution that ensures the society’s future through the orderly upbringing of children.

Nor is marriage primarily a business arrangement. Estates can be passed to others by way of a will, insurance policy or retirement account, and many other legal and financial benefits can be provided and assigned to designated beneficiaries outside of marriage. Even hospital visits.

Marriage between a man and a woman has been sanctioned by all peoples across all times as the bedrock of civilization and the foundation of society: the best way to nurture and raise children.

The marital union of a man and a woman who have given themselves unreservedly in marriage and who can consummate their union in a way that can create new life serves as the best home for new human life — the place where this life can take root and grow in love and service to others. A marriage of this kind contributes uniquely to the common good.

Daniel John Sobieski


Sounding a Note of Hope

Thank you for Webster A. Young’s much-needed commentary on “What Happened to the Music at Mass?” (June 25 - July 1). I went to Mass at my parish one recent Sunday and the opening song started with the line “Sing to the mountains, sing to the seas.” Even though I really didn’t want to sing to the mountains or the seas, I joined in heartily anyway.

At the end of Mass our closing song contained the line, “Though the mountains may fall and the hills turn to dust!” Imagine my shock and dismay: The mountains that we just got through singing to have fallen and turned to dust! 

I left Mass that morning with my faith in mountains shaken and hopes that, one day, we can have more meaningful and Christ-centered music at Mass.

Kevin Rilott

Rockford, Illinois

‘Him’ Book

I very much enjoyed composer Webster A. Young’s column “What Happened to the Music at Mass?” (June 25 - July 1) and look forward to more commentary by him.

I am sorry to report that I am a member of a parish that uses the Marty Haugen Hymn Book (officially by another name) in which Mr. Haugen managed, as an editor, to insert too many of his own works and inflict them on too many Catholics.

James Pawlak

West Allis, Wisconsin

Truth or Consequences

Regarding “Cancer Breakthrough Called ‘Teachable Moment’ for Abstinence’” (June 25 - July 1):

A false sense of security seemed to sweep over the nation with the announcement of a new cancer vaccine. Take a deeper look into this preventive measure for cervical cancer and you will find that HPV (human papillomavirus), a common sexually transmitted disease, is the root cause of an explosion in cervical cancer over the past 25 years and is a leading cause of death in women.

Even more disturbing is the conspiracy of silence between the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), Planned Parenthood, school sex-ed instruction and the like. While blatantly promoting unrestrained sexual activity, they advise using condoms, which do not protect against HPV. It’s the best-kept secret around. You would think they own stock in the Trojan company! They have put the lives of millions of women at risk with this false assurance.

Worse yet, some are promoting adding the vaccine to required childhood shots rather than address the core problem, even though it does not prevent all forms of HPV. It would be far more prudent to tell the public the truth and to teach children from a young age that abstinence until monogamous marriage is the only truly safe sex.

Aggie Joseph-Langschied

Lambertville, Michigan

Father Capodanno’s Cause

Would it be possible for you to advise readers that the cause for Maryknoll Father Vincent Capodanno (“He Died With His Men,” May 28-June 3) can be supported? Write:

Archdiocese for the Military Services

PO Box 4469

Washington, DC 20017

My husband and I sent for prayer cards to distribute to our local church and also at St. Francis Chapel at Camp LeJeune, N.C. There are many active and retired service people in this area. I am sure veterans across the country would also like to help further this cause, if the information was made available.

Thank you for a wonderful newspaper. We scan the local paper but we read the Register. Legionary Father Andrew McNair, who contributes commentary, is the first vocation from our local parish, and we love his writing.

George and June Ritchie

Swansboro, North Carolina


Lost in Translation

With all the problems facing the Church in the United States, I can’t believe the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops don’t have problems of a higher priority than a new English translation for Mass (“New Words at Mass,” June 25-July 1).

With Mass attendance declining, the priest shortage, church closings and loss of trust of the clergy — our bishops have this as a top priority? Hello!


Dick Taber

Neenah, Wisconsin

Editors Note: A question for our readers: Why do you see translations as an important issue? Respond to editor@ncregister.com.