The Hard Facts About Post-Christian Canada

I am offended by Donald DeMarco’s article “Pope Slams Canada” in your Oct. 8-14 edition.

Referring to the way Toronto newspapers characterized the Pope’s comments to seven Ontario bishops, Mr. DeMarco waters down his own message by saying “this shock word (slams) does resonate nicely with Canada’s penchant for using images drawn from the world of hockey.”

It is an immature remark and it suggests that Canadians’ identity is defined by newspaper headlines and ice hockey. Are the media in the United States any less guilty of what he calls distortion?

Moreover, Mr. DeMarco sneers at the opinion expressed by an advocacy group spokesman who suggests Canadians of various faiths keep religion out of the House of Commons. Is this any more “sinister” than the constant battle in the United States to separate church and state?

I lived most of my life in Canada. Mr. DeMarco might find it an eye-opener to visit a country where free speech is alive and well, where there is a middle ground in public opinion and where tolerance is the operative word. It is a stark contrast to the violent history of the United States and the current political divide in this country, a divide which makes one feel uneasy about expressing one’s opinions.

People like Mr. DeMarco are the embodiment of the xenophobia that has won the United States such hatred around the world, football and all.

H. Schwartz

New York

Donald DeMarco responds: I am sure that H. Schwartz would withdraw his accusation that I am “the embodiment of xenophobia,” the irrational fear of foreigners or foreign nations, if he or she knew that I have lived in Canada for the past 36 years, made presentations to the government in Ottawa, worked with a Royal Commission and lectured in each of the 10 provinces.

According to the logic of this letter, the charge might be re-directed at Pope Benedict XVI for stating that Canada is guilty of a “foolish tolerance” and daily violence against the unborn in the name of “choice.” Nonetheless, name-calling is not an intelligent substitution for looking at the facts. 

The hard facts may be unpleasant, but that does not make them any less real. Canada is not as tolerant as it used to be. The Bible is now considered “hate literature” in that country and Christians are routinely ridiculed in the press. The government is financing a spy network on college campuses, urging students to report anything they might suspect to be an instance of “homophobia.” I had to go to the United States to have my last 16 books published. Freedom of speech is far more alive in the States than it is in Canada.

Other Dominican Seminaries

I read with interest your article on the Halloween celebration for young adults at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. which is, according to your article, “the Order’s U.S. seminary” (“Young Catholics’ D.C. Haunts,” Oct. 29 - Nov. 4).

Until reading your article, I had been under the impression that I was president of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, Calif., the order’s seminary in the western United States.

I suspect that my colleague, Father Charles Bouchard, O.P., president of Aquinas Institute in St. Louis, Mo., similarly thought that he was a seminary president for the order’s midwestern province.

It is, therefore, with no little dismay that I read that, in fact, there is only one Dominican seminary in the United States, and that it is in Washington, D.C.

While I applaud the wonderful work of the Church and order in the nation’s capital, I would like to assure your reporter and your readers that there is Catholic and Dominican life elsewhere in the country.

Michael Sweeney, O.P.

President Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology Berkeley, California

Editor’s note: We apologize for our misleading newspaper shorthand. Of course there are other Dominican seminaries in the United States. The mistake was ours.

Cure for ‘The Common Good’

I am extremely upset that you listed the “Voting for the Common Good” booklet, prepared by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, on an equal par with authentically Catholic resources for voters (“Catholic Voters’ Many Choices — In Guides on Faith Issues,” Oct. 22-28).

Despite your weak “reservations” about this booklet in the “Voters’ Choices” article in the same issue, publicizing this booklet will confuse many voters. This booklet directly contradicts the teaching of the Vatican on proportionality. It basically says that abortion is on an equal par with other social issues. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I hope you will correct this before the election. I am seriously considering canceling my subscription over this very important issue.

Suzanne Scherer

via e-mail

Editor’s note: We included a mention of “Voting for the Common Good” not to recommend it, but to let our readers know that it’s out there. The article itself made points that you are making.

Trent Today

Regarding “Rome Reaches Out to Tridentine Mass Followers” (Oct. 22-28):

Catholics do not need Rome to give permission. St. Pope Pius V did so.

Michael K. Balcom

Housatonic, Massachusetts

Real Choice

Relevant to “Catholic Voters’ Many Choices — In Guides on Faith Issues” (Oct. 22-28):

“Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil.” said Thomas Mann. For decades, citizens of this nation have been tolerant of abuses of the innocent lives of our nation’s pre-born babies and their mothers because of “choice.”

Homicide is the leading cause of death for pregnant women in our country. There is an epidemic of pregnant women being forced to abort their babies. They are under pressure to abort by threats, violence, lack of support, abandonment and emotional blackmail. Recently a study of American women who had an abortion revealed that 64% were pressured by others to kill their babies. Currently, there is an anti-forced-abortion bill in the Michigan Legislature. Abortion supporters actually oppose the bill! So much for “choice.”

Another survey found that an overwhelming majority of women regretted having an abortion. As a result, some of them were left unable to have children. Some “choice.”

The abuse of women in our nation is a crime. It’s changing the face of America, and not for the better. This is not tolerable.

Our choices of people to represent us in our local offices and state and federal legislatures are vital to the future of our country. Check out the website of the state’s pro-life or right-to-life organizations for the names of candidates who respect human life from the moment of conception until natural death.

Let us no longer tolerate the evil of abortion. There is a better choice. Let’s “choose life” for our great nation!

Theresa M. Burling

Chardon, Ohio

Wise Priest

Your front page interview with Father Samir Khalil Samir (“What the Pope Said — and What the Muslims Heard,” Oct. 1-7, Inperson interview) is the most enlightening analysis that I have seen anywhere regarding Pope Benedict XVI’s talk on reason and its necessity for dialogue.

I would like to add that what seemed almost to be a diplomatic error by the Holy Father in the manner in which he quoted a Byzantine emperor’s criticism of Mohammed has actually turned out to be nothing of the kind.

The Pope’s remarks, while certainly relevant to Islam, were also intended for both secularists and fundamentalists in the West. But, outside of academic circles, his talk would have been almost totally ignored if militant Muslims had not seized upon a quotation that they took out of context and used it to launch a widespread protest. It was their action that forced the West to face the background questions on what the Holy Father had actually said and what it really means.

Now that the proponents of secularism realize that they are a target of his remarks, the press has moved the incident, and the issues, to the back burner.

The task now is for Catholics and other Christians to keep insisting on the need for reason in examining the teachings of religion and especially in examining, from a historical viewpoint, a religion’s claims regarding the actual communication of any alleged revelation.

David V. Murray

New York

More Immigrants, Please

Relevant To “Much at Stake in Mid-Term Elections” (Oct. 8-14):

Wake up, America: We are so lily white in our prejudices that we are missing the gray! This is about the immigrants. We have listened to political debates, discussions and, yes, we have real anger. We are missing the point just as our neighbors in Europe are missing it. The numerous foreign-exchange students living with my family in our home over the years have clued us in: We are the sandwich generation. Before we know it, our own kids, like my husband and I, will be caring for aging parents as well as young offspring. Social Security looks dim for us. Pensions are in danger of going bankrupt.

There is a simple solution to this looming economic disaster: our immigrants. For the most part, they are responsible people who, like our forefathers, just want better lives for themselves and their families.

We need to remember that “illegal” immigrants are not paying into Social Security and Medicaid. Would it not be better to screen them, legalize them and let them pay into the system so that the money will be there for all of us when we need it? Would it not be much better to employ these qualified people legally to care for our elderly at home rather than draining Medicaid to put them in nursing homes simply because we cannot quit our jobs to tend them?

The immigrants are not taking jobs from Americans. Have you heard the story about the farmer in Yuma, Ariz., who tried a while back for months to get a “legal” farm worker to help him in his fields? The bureaucracy took more than a year to process his petition. He got one applicant from South Africa, but that was not enough to prevent the fields from being lost at harvest. Now much of the work is done south of the border, with the result that there is money lost to support our schools, roads, police, fire departments, Social Security and Medicare.

And we’ve all seen those labor-pool workers on street corners, waiting to do an honest day’s work in good weather or bad, to support their parents and children back home. They need the work; we need their work.

Debbie Kenney

Mesa, Arizona