Warn No Sinner, Inspire No Saint?

Relevant to “Marriage Prep With John Paul II” (Sept. 17-23):

I recently came across an article lamenting the presence of “contracepting priests” among Catholic clergy. “What now?” was my thought. “We’ve had enough of priestly scandals. What are those priests up to now? “ And exactly how do they contracept?

What first came to mind was my long-time dismay that I have never heard a priest say from the pulpit that artificial contraception is a sin and a matter for confession. Some 70% of married Catholics are said to prevent conception in one way or another despite Pope Paul VI’s declaration that “there must be rejection of all acts that attempt to impede procreation.” They never hear it is wrong and everyone has a story of how “Father So-and-So says it’s okay.”

Intercourse by nature has two purposes, babies and bonding. What God has joined together, man is not to put asunder with pills or plastic. A woman is fertile only one day a month, and conception can be prevented by a week of abstinence per month. How hard can that be? Yet natural family planning, which uses self-control instead of harmful chemicals, also gets very little attention from priests.

But that was not the main thrust of the article on contracepting priests, as I recall. Just as contraception prevents the life-bearing seed from reaching the ovum and making a woman fruitful, so the “contracepting priest” prevents the life-giving word of God from reaching the body of the Church and making it fruitful. How so? He chooses which Catholic doctrines he will talk about and which he will soft-pedal. More often than not, he chooses to ignore not only contraception but also abortion, euthanasia, divorce, homosexuality and self-centeredness.

We rarely hear anything about sin anymore. I ask around. Many Catholics tell me they hear no pro-life message even in the designated pro-life months of May and October. Our politically correct priests make no waves and offend no parishioners. They convict no sinners and inspire no saints.

We, the people in the pews, are hungry for the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We shouldn’t have to go to papal encyclicals to find it.

To paraphrase Edmund Burke: “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to say nothing.” Catholics have the “fullest” gospel of all. Let’s hear it!


Dorothy Vining

Danbury, Connecticut

Consistent Catechesis

In “2 Archdioceses, 2 Approaches to Teaching Kids” (Oct. 29 - Nov. 4), the Faith and Life elementary catechism series is favorably mentioned as being “in line with what the Church teaches without being fluffy and watered down.” It also rightly notes that the series was “reviewed by the U.S. Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee to Oversee the Use of the Catechism and was found to be in conformity with the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”

However, the author incorrectly states that the Faith and Life series was “the result of an effort begun in 1996 by the U.S. bishops to improve the quality of religious education by upgrading the nation’s catechetical textbooks so that they are consistent with the Catechism.”

The fact of the matter is that the Faith and Life series was published prior to that, in the 1980s, as a proactive response to the obvious need for children’s textbooks that taught the fullness of the Catholic faith.

While other series needed to be revised in the 1990s just to meet the minimal (but important) standards imposed by the U.S. bishops, it is noteworthy that the Faith and Life series was found to already be in conformity with the Catechism. The U.S. bishops did not require any revisions of this outstanding catechetical tool.

Register readers may find out more about the Faith and Life series by visiting cuf.org/faithandlife.asp

Leon Suprenant

Steubenville, Ohio

The writer is president of Catholics United for the Faith, which authored the Faith and Life series.

Death Multiplies

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

Legitimate debate among good Catholics and other Christians on issues such as just war, healthcare and the death penalty is perfectly acceptable. This is not the case with issues that attack the dignity of (innocent) human life or the sanctity of marriage. These are never justified and are declared intrinsically evil by Scripture and Church teaching.

Just as the prophets warned the Israelites in the Old Testament, so we are warned today. Those who consider it immoral to deprive homosexuals of special rights and privileges and consider the slaughter of a babies a “choice” are putting our entire nation in grave danger. Those who vote for them are guilty of formal cooperation in evil.

Without life, none of the other issues matter. Abortion and homosexual acts can never produce life — only death.

Aggie Langschied

Lambertville, Michigan

Discipline vs. Intrinsic Quality

I would like to clarify a couple of points on celibacy (“Celibacy Studies,” Letters, Oct. 29 - Nov. 4).

When we speak of something as being intrinsic to a sacrament, we speak of something without which the sacrament could not exist. An example of this would be the use of wheat bread for the Eucharist. If one chooses to use rice bread, the Eucharist does not happen. This is because Christ Jesus used wheat bread for the Eucharist. The Church does not make any exception to this practice because an exception is, quite literally, impossible.

By the same token, it is necessary to be a baptized male in order to receive holy orders. Jesus was a male and, as the wheat bread bears a real physical likeness to the bread used at the Last Supper, so only a man bears a real physical likeness to Christ Jesus. Ordination of a woman is, therefore, impossible, because there is no physical sameness.

The Church does, however, confer holy orders on married men without requiring them to refrain from sexual activity. What the Church did in the past may not be the present practice, but because it is a discipline (law) rather than a necessary part of the sacrament, holy orders may validly be conferred upon married men.

If celibacy were intrinsic to holy orders, then no married man could become a validly ordained priest or deacon.

The magisterial documents of the Church, as well as the Church’s practice, make it clear, however, that Orders can be validly conferred upon married men — and that, when this happens, if the wife dies, the man is then bound never to marry.

Joseph Kasuboski

Denver, Colorado

Mom Marie’s Music

Regarding “The King and Queen of Catholic Pop?” (Nov. 5-11):

Thanks so much for the review of Marie Bellet’s new album, “A New Springtime.”

In many years of listening to Christian and Catholic music, I have never been so impressed by the depth and truth that shine through in this woman’s lyrics and melodies.

It’s all such simple stuff, like writing about the minor irritations in life (“It’s the little things that get ya, a little at a time!”). We all know these things, but she puts words to our knowledge and reminds us that God, too, gets to us “a little at a time.”

In listening to her music, you get the sense that you are not alone, that lots of folks experience what you experience, and that all of us are called to encourage, love and lift one another up.

I hope this album is found under every mom’s Christmas tree.

Kate Sciacca

Fairfield, California

Editor’s Note: We’ll take this opportunity to note that we made an error in our review. Marie Bellet and her husband don’t have eight children — they have nine. Our apologies. Find Bellet at mariebellet.com 

Respect the Amish

I was completely disheartened by the photographs published with “Heroic Forgiveness,” about the shooting of the Amish schoolgirls (Oct. 15-21).

As Christians, we are morally obligated to respect the moral tenets of other religions — regardless of whether or not we agree with their adherents or believe as they do. The Amish do not wish to have their picture taken.

On the Friday prior to the funeral, a police spokesman read a statement from the Amish community asking the public and media to stay away from the families and the funeral services. They specifically stated that the media attention surrounding the incident and all the cameras were “not appreciated.” The fact that some ignored this and took pictures anyway is appalling. These families deserve an apology.

Brenda Wilson

Malvern, Pennsylvania

Great Omission

After reading Edward Pentin’s article, “Vatican Promotes Use of Latin and Greek” (Nov. 12-18) about the Holy See encouraging Latin and Greek, I thought I must write.

I was surprised that, for a person reporting from Rome, your correspondent has no reference at all to the only Pontifical Faculty of Christian and Classical (Latin & Greek) Literature at the Salesian Pontifical University.

When it started in 1965, we students called it the “Latinitas.” It has retained that epithet throughout the years.

Certainly that faculty and its various institutes have been working for many years on the project of the living reality of Latin and Greek in the universal Church.

I thought that leaving this out of an article from Rome on promoting Latin and Greek was a great omission.

Fr. Harold Danielson, sdb

San Francisco, California

Facing the Divisions

Steven D. Greydanus’ review of Facing the Giants (“God on the Gridiron,” Oct. 15-21) was quite revealing.

You would think that, living in a world where Christians and Jews are in the crosshairs of foreign extremists and domestic relativists, an in-your-face movie extolling the power of faith in a loving God and Savior would be heralded. I gathered from the reviewer that the film’s exposition of mainstream Protestant values somehow lessens the film’s message, impact and importance. What a shame!

I guess that, if the coach would have been saying the Rosary, or had the players worn CYO uniforms, it would have been a better film. The film played just fine with me and my 10-year-old son — and we don’t even live in that horrible Bible Belt.

Just as the political culture in this nation seems to be dictated by people with Rs and Ds after their names, the tenor of Mr. Greydanus’s review would suggest that that, somehow, there is more value to being a Christian with a “C” after your name than a “P.”

It’s not about Rome, my friends. It’s about Christ.

Doug Hill

Huntingtown, Maryland