Mercy Me!

I loved the article, “A World Ablaze With Divine Mercy” (April 15). I love the Divine Mercy devotions and I have been watching them spread for a while. The article is well written, it’s informative and it is inspiring. I posted it on my site after my own short introduction.

Thank you! And by the way, here in the Bay Area, we have annual Divine Mercy conferences, which are always a wonderful moment to “re-boot” our spiritual lives. I’ll always remember the first one I attended, at the Cathedral, right here in San Francisco, where hundreds of people spent an hour in adoration with Father Stan Fortuna leading us in the Divine Mercy chaplet. The conference hall was drenched in God’s grace.

Michele Szekely

San Francisco

Catholic Pro-Abortion

Regarding “No Deal, Rudy” (March 11):

I read with interest your article on Rudy Giuliani for president and noted the last paragraph:

“The bottom line: Republicans have made inroads into the Catholic vote for years because of the pro-life issue. If they put a pro-abortion politician up for president, the gains they’ve built for decades will vanish overnight.”

I must disagree. Catholics are pathetically pro-choice. Fifty percent does not make for overwhelming support. The Catholic vote put Bill Clinton into the White House twice. When I sit in church I feel ashamed of my religion.

John Valenti

Redmond, Oregon

Editor’s note: Be careful what polls you pay attention to. Polls that ask Catholics how often they attend Mass find that Catholics who attend Mass weekly vote in majorities for the pro-life candidate, consistently, nationwide, even in “blue” states. Polls that merely ask respondents what religion they are end up counting as Catholics many people who have rarely, if ever, darkened the door of a Catholic church. It should not surprise us that these people are no different from the non-Catholic population.

Pole Position

In your March 11 article, “Trillions of Stars But Only One Light” Brother John Raymond reported that recently the first Mass on the continent of Antarctica was celebrated by Father James McCurry. I’ve been reading the autobiography of Father Theodore Hesburgh, retired president of Notre Dame, and he reported that in the late 1920s he celebrated three Masses at or near the South Pole. Brother John wrote an interesting article about the efforts of priest scientists in the study of astronomy, and the sponsorship of the scientific research by the Catholic Church.

I enjoy reading the Register and think it is one of the best objective sources of news concerning our faith and the Catholic Church.

F. Hohne

Largo, Florida

Confusing Catholics

The front page article, “Bishops Correct Theologian,” (April 8) told about so-called American theologian Daniel Maguire who teaches at Marquette University. He said abortion is sometimes the proper choice, and gave as an example a bipolar woman taking lithium who becomes pregnant.

I know a schizophrenic woman taking medication who became pregnant. A Catholic psychiatrist said she could stop her medication during the pregnancy, if she had mental, emotional and spiritual support. I knew several people who would help and support her.

Despite the fact that the baby’s biological parents were both mentally ill, a couple was found to adopt the child. Tragically, a hospital social worker talked the woman into having an abortion. She now becomes very agitated and upset if anyone mentions the abortion.

Maguire also said when a pregnant woman has cancer and needs immediate chemotherapy abortion is proper. Since the chemo is intended to kill the cancer cells and not the baby, it would not be considered an abortion if the baby dies.

There are too many self-proclaimed Catholic theologians wreaking havoc by confusing the laity, especially politicians, with their dissent from Church teaching, which dissent is nonsense.

Colleen Reilly

Lebanon, Pennsylvania

Fickle World of the Arts

Your interview with Catherine Hicks, “Finding ‘Heaven’ in Hollywood” (April 15), started me to reflect on the relationship between entertainment media and our faith.

The life of Marylyn Monroe is a poignant tragedy that goes far deeper than the sentimental lyrics of Elton John. Hollywood and the entertainment world create images and legends for the mass culture: They are usually glamorous visions of near-perfect people. Not every image made in Hollywood is bad; some roles have been quite inspiring and even noble.

In the past, our Catholic faith was respected by Hollywood. Inspiring movies were created about St. Bernadette of Lourdes. The self-sacrifice of priests and nuns could be admired in many films. In recent years, virtually every movie that has portrayed a priest, nun or religious person has slanted and distorted the character of our faith.

The world of art routinely degrades and insults the world of the sacred. Few people outside of the Church bother themselves about the “creations” of Our Lord or the Blessed Mother that pass for art in prestigious museums and galleries.

But the world of secular culture can be quite fickle and prone to turn on its own as the political winds flow. Here in New Jersey, recent remarks made by Don Imus have caused quite a stir. Imus said crude and offensive words about the Rutgers women’s basketball team.

Imus is a “shock-jock.” The popular culture created Imus and, until a few days ago, idolized him. His off-color remarks were applauded as the sign of a free thinker, a bold spirit expressing a gutsy independence. I didn’t listen to “Imus in the Morning.” It’s not my type of humor or fun. But I live in Hackensack and I see a building at Hackensack Hospital named after him. It’s a children’s wing of a huge hospital. Imus probably donated a huge amount of money towards its construction. It represents an admirable act of charity.

The world doesn’t seem to remember his charity now, only a few crude words. If anything, Imus’ problems teach us that the secular world is a fickle and fragile partner, truly a fair-weather friend.

Matt Terranova

Hackensack, New Jersey

Wisdom Needed

So tragic to read your recent article, “Parents Fight for Rights in Massachusetts” (March 18), on the destruction of the innocence of our children. It’s hard to get my mind around how low our culture has sunk. But, it’s also in places other than the home that these children’s innocence is destroyed.

Just recently, I heard on the news of an education bill that had made it part way through our Kansas Legislature, which simply required that teachers be responsible for what they teach.

It had passed with a margin of 95% of the votes. Before it could move any farther in the approval process, the ACLU (Anti-Christian Lawyers’ Union), the NEA (Non-Education Association) and the teachers’ unions warned that they would destroy it in the courts as a “book-burning” bill that “took away freedom from the teachers.”

So it was dropped. So sad.

Terry Hornback

Wichita, Kansas

Church Instruction Redux

Since more than one reader responding to the Register’s “No Deal, Rudy” editorial has written to imply that Catholics are obligated never to cast a vote for a pro-choice candidate under any circumstances, I think it’s worth re-visiting our Church’s instruction in that regard.

The defense of life from conception to natural death is a non-negotiable principle. The 2002 “Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding Catholics in public life” issued by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith makes this explicit: “Those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a ‘grave and clear obligation to oppose’ any law that attacks human life. For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them.”

The Register is therefore correct to insist that Catholics should be looking for a pro-life candidate for president. The primary process is precisely the time for arguing the urgency of the life issues and persuading fellow citizens to vote with us.

A different question arises if we lose the primary process and both major parties nominate pro-abortion candidates. What is our duty as Catholics in that unfortunate circumstance? 

Here, the same document gives us further guidance: “regarding the situation in which it is not possible to overturn or completely repeal a law allowing abortion which is already in force or coming up for a vote, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality.”

Extrapolating from the duty of politicians to that of voters, this means that while we can never vote directly against life, where the perfect law or candidate isn’t on the ballot, we are permitted to vote to limit harm. Cardinal Ratzinger, in a 2004 memorandum to the U.S. bishops on the worthiness of politicians to receive holy Communion, affirms this: “A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.”

It won’t be illegitimate in the scenario described, in other words, to consider what type of judges a president is likely to nominate or how aggressive his support of the abortion agenda is likely to be relative to the other candidate, to try to limit that agenda. The Church’s support for life is unswerving, but she does understand that we live in a fallen world.

Rebecca Teti

Hyattsville, Md.