Regarding “Working to Stop the War” (editorial, March 16-22):

I believe the correct translation (according to Dennis Prager, a Jewish talk-show host who has taught Judaism and the Torah for more than 20 years) is “Thou Shalt Not Murder.”

According to Mr. Prager, God's admonition of murder is the only law mentioned in each of the five books of the Pentateuch. Murder is always immoral. However, murder is much different than killing, which may be justified and, therefore, not necessarily immoral. Although you didn't make this distinction when discussing the Fifth Commandment, you later referred to Cardinal [Joseph] Ratzinger's analogy of the man defending his family by “killing” (justified) a potential “murderer” (unjustified).

Wars may or may not be moral. But, contrary to your statement that “war does bring evil,” wars do not always bring evil. While wars invariably bring devastation and suffering, they can be a force for good. Our war against Japan and Germany in World War II stopped evil and brought peace to Europe and the Far East. Our war against North Korea brought peace to the people in South Korea.

Since 12 years of diplomacy have not worked, your “working to stop the war” position means (1) we place ourselves at risk of being attacked with weapons of mass destruction by either Saddam himself (or someone he sells them to), and (2) we ensure that millions of fellow human beings will continue to be tortured and maltreated by the Hitler of the Middle East.

If I were you, I wouldn't want to be asking Our Lord at the Last Judgment, “Lord, when did we see you hungry, naked and oppressed?”

MIKE MCGLONE

Laguna Hills, California

Abortion in the Aftermath

Saddam Hussein's defeat will open the door for the pro-abortion, pro-condom United States Agency for International Development (USAID). For months, the State Department has been planning the reconstruction of Iraq, which includes an assault by this agency. This organization has helped “liberate” nations such as Pakistan, Afghanistan and Albania by helping legalize abortion. They will provide stocks of condoms and contraceptives. USAID programs will subject Iraqi children, especially girls, to graphic sex education. They will further insist that family planning (population control) programs be in place, warning that the penalty for noncompliance will be a denial of additional aid.

I pray Iraqis will resist these assaults on life and family. The million or so Christians in Iraq will be just as unhappy about this turn of events as their Muslim neighbors. Perhaps we Americans need to look at ourselves and ask, “Are we the ones who need ‘liberation’ from our sinful lives?” We are imprisoned by sex on demand, pornography, the slaughter in the womb, epidemics of sexually transmitted disease and HIV. How can we honestly call ourselves a progressive nation?

THOMAS MESSE, M.D.

Groton, Connecticut

The War is Just

Did the Catholic newspapers and cardinals forget why the leaders of the United States decided to go to war? Saddam's an evil man, he is connected with terrorists, he has chemical weapons and dirty bombs. He is an enemy of the United States. He is evil like the leaders of Germany and the Soviet Union in the past.

[Your] Catholic paper is following what movie stars believe and the media says. If the media had its way, the United States would be stuck with pro-choice Al Gore as president. He believes in the same things as Clinton. The ministers who speak in television programs are on President's Bush's side. They say this is a just war. I agree.

J.T. COOK

Phoenix, Arizona

Lay Homilists Stay Home

Regarding “Columnist Calls for Lay Preachers in Church” (Media Watch, March 2-8):

We do not worship the golden calf of the Exodus, but many Catholics have laid down their Bibles and catechisms, obviated the magisterial teachings and accepted the impinging heresies of television and the Internet, a stream of salacious literature, the hedonism of Hollywood and the permeation of our schools and libraries by society's pagan element. They have embraced contraception, abortion and a redefinition of the family.

Is this the laity we want more involved and mounting our pulpits as a viable solution to scandals in the Church? Do we want chaotic rule by committee, ending the oneness of the Church? What we really need is a more vibrant, fearless leadership from bishops, priests and deacons even if it results in a remnant called to holiness and faithfulness to the commands of the Old and New Testaments, as pronounced by the magisterium.

JOHN F. O' BRIEN

Ocala, Florida

Umbert Aficionado

I am 9 years old and home-schooled. My favorite part of the Register is Umbert the Unborn. I think he is very funny. Every week I cut out the Umbert strip and glue it on construction paper. I have made my own Umbert comic book. I enjoy reading [the strips] over and over again.

PETER GUTOWSKI

Phoenix, Maryland

Catholic Pride Day

It seems to me that, in recent years, Catholics have become very shy and reluctant to profess their religious affiliation publicly. Almost every group has a “pride day” once a year. Perhaps we Catholics could plan a national pride day to pray and assemble in stadiums, arenas and schools.

Even though we are experiencing a tough time from the media, most Catholics remain strongly in support and proud of our Catholicity. A Catholic Pride Day could bolster our enthusiasm and show those detractors that we are still united and strong — in our faith as well as our religion.

Continue to speak the truth. Bless you.

RALPH MACIOCE

Fair Haven, Michigan

Amend the Courts

I am writing in response to “Appeals Court Upholds ‘Under God’ Decision in Pledge of Allegiance” (March 16-22).

I believe one should not seek simply to define and protect the words “Under God” in our pledge with an amendment as some have suggested because there are many decisions that need to be changed. What about prayer in schools, the words “In God We Trust,” the posting of the Ten Commandments in public places, defining and restricting pornography, and outlawing abortion and mercy killing? Will we need an amendment for each of those things? Is it realistic to think that many of those amendments could survive the long amendment process?

I believe there is only one solution to protect the rights of American people and to make sure that the “government of the people, by the people and for the people” is not eliminated by “activist” judges. What we need is a constitutional amendment that states bills passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by the president cannot be overturned or declared unconstitutional by any court.

Nowhere in the Constitution are judges given the power to declare void Congress’ laws. Their job is to judge people under the laws — not judge the laws. In the beginning of the country this was so. Then the court usurped more and more power as no one questioned its right to do so. A constitutional amendment limiting judges is the only hope for Christians and other people of this country.

JOE HEFFRON

Tekoa, Washington

Babied Brides

Regarding “Philippines Bishop Bans Visibly Pregnant Brides” (Media Watch, March 16-22):

She is not pregnant with sin, she is pregnant with a child.

It was so sad to read the news that Philippine Bishop Sorra has relegated the weddings of pregnant brides to private ceremonies. This ruling would appear to foster feelings of shame and embarrassment in these pregnant brides. These feelings often drive Catholic women to choose abortion for their child for fear of offending anyone or dishonoring their families. “Pregnancy outside of marriage” is not a sin; sex outside of marriage is. With the statistics of rising abortion rates among all women, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, even in countries where it is illegal, we must tread carefully when discussing pregnancy.

The sin that the pregnant bride should confess is unchastity. But she should be encouraged and embraced lovingly in her pregnancy. A white dress and a visible pregnancy indicating a loss of virginity might be a “contradiction of symbols” — but behind these symbols is an innocent, vulnerable and precious baby made in the image of God.

ASTRID BENNETT

Downey, California