Regarding “Vatican Envoy to Mexico Urges Priest Training” (Vatican Media Watch, Nov. 24-30):
There are no “lay” deacons in the Catholic Church. Diaconate is holy orders. Deacons are clerics. Deacons may also enjoy the sacrament of matrimony. That does not make one “lay”—as any married Eastern Rite Catholic priest will tell you.
I would like to see a story correlating this article to the other one that says the number of Hispanics in the United States who identify themselves as Catholic has declined.
REV. MR. DENNIS DOLAN
Diocese of Norwich, Connecticut
Editor's Note: The item in question was quoted from an Associated Press report about Chiapas, Mexico. We regret that we failed to point out the error.
Why Spotlight Non-Catholics?
I was greatly disappointed with the “Inperson” interview with Sue Thomas (“Deaf FBI Agent Inspires,” Nov. 24-30). While Sue Thomas' struggle to overcome her disability is certainly inspirational, I don't understand why the Register would devote front-page space to someone who is not a Roman Catholic and, moreover, appears to have been “ordained” by some sort of nondenominational Protestant sect.
I had thought that the Register was loyal to the magisterium (which would mean not advocating the ordination of women, etc.) This article makes me question the truth of that assumption. I would appreciate an explanation of this situation by the editors.
ALEXANDER M. BIELAKOWSKI, PH.D.
Editor's Note: Our Inperson section highlights people with national apostolates who credit the Catholic faith for their apostolic inspiration. Sue Thomas fits that description because Catholic nuns provided her formative experience. We thought readers would appreciate the power of the faith to reach people like Thomas in other denominations. We hope to report her conversion in a future issue!
Natural Family Power
Thank you for such an excellent, positive column from Tom and Caroline McDonald on learning natural family planning before marriage (“Natural Family Preparedness,” Family Matters, Nov. 24-30). I hope it will open a few eyes. It is important to present this information in short, positive, informative sections. Although there is quite a bit of positive info on NFP, much of it is too long to appeal to the average person.
Could I have permission to copy this column and give it to a few priests and young people preparing for marriage? My husband and I teach NFP through the Couple to Couple League.
Thanks again, and God bless you for helping to spread the true teachings of the Church.
Editor's note: Feel free to photocopy and share this column—or any of our content. If you want to reprint our content in another publication, however, you'll need to contact us with the details before proceeding.
Whither Pastoral Will?
Regarding “Nancy Pelosi Is No Conservative Catholic” (Inbrief, Nov. 24-30):
It is unfortunate that we have a number of high-level politicians who claim to be Catholic and are anything but. The series includes, but is not limited to, Pelosi, Kennedy, Davis, Granholm and Daschle. No Catholic can, in their right mind and conscience, turn their back on the unborn and either say “kill them” or ignore those who are taking steps to kill the unborn.
If a man walked into a schoolroom stating his intent to harm a child and the teacher said to him, “That's your business, and none of mine,” that teacher would be guilty of being an accessory to the fact—and, in God's eyes, as guilty as the perpetrator. Some of these politicians will do that by ignoring the problem, some will refuse to vote against such acts of murder and some openly vote for the killing of unborn children. They do not appear to fear God or hell.
Far worse is that their parish priests not only fail to instruct them in what is morally right but also seem to back them in their efforts to achieve political power and promote the killing of unborn children. It is wrong to give absolution to any person who has no intention of trying to change and, in fact, makes it known that they fully intend to continue committing mortal sins. These priests fail in their priestly duties—both to the unborn children and to the [so-called] penitents.
The priest who supports a pro-abortion politician—and the bishop who fails to take action against the “Catholic-pro-abortion” politician—contribute to murder of the unborn. In the least, these politicians should be denied the sacraments, if not excommunicated entirely.
At some point, our bishops lost the will and desire to take action against evil, be it sexually abusive priests or murderous politicians. It seems that the only time most bishops get the attributes to take action against evil is when their own hide is on the line. The ambiguity against evil only contributes to it. The murder of many unborn children lies on the conscience of priests and bishops. All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
Thank you for publishing my letter (“Anglican Angst,” Letters, Nov. 24-30). I do, however, need to ask you to make a correction. I made a big blunder.
I wrote my letter in response to a column you published by Dwight Longenecker TITLEd “Figuring Out the New Bishop of Canterbury” (Nov. 3-9). I wrote, “There is another bit of information that [former Canterbury archbishop George L.] Carey is ‘an acknowledged liberal who supports the ordination of women and gays.’”
In fact, the article I referred to said it was Rowan Williams, the new archbishop of Canterbury, who is “an acknowledged liberal who supports the ordination of women and gays.”
I felt it important to set the record straight, as I made a big mistake. Please accept my apologies.
Rio Rancho, New Mexico
Pro-Life Stasis: The Missing Piece
In your Nov. 3 issue, I read two very good essays—Father Anthony Zimmerman's letter (“Ice the Abortion Inferno”) and Dinesh D'souza's column (“Pro-Life Stasis? It's Time to Do What Lincoln Did”).
Each complements the other in recommending a phased, pragmatic approach to ending abortion in this country by addressing the body politic and human sexuality. I suggest though that the important theater of religion could also have been blended into their comments about politics and sexuality.
The horror of abortion is not a product of the political process. It has engulfed us because of the failures in Protestant Christian churches—first on contraception (witness the Lambeth Conference of 1939), then accepting easy divorce following World War II and, finally, acceptance of abortion to save the life of the mother following Roe v. Wade. An interesting progression from idolatry to adultery to murder.
We in the Catholic Church have not been fully spared. While formal Church teaching remains solid, that same teaching is considered more in the breach than through observance by many in the pew, and by more than a few theologians and priests.
As in the two essays referenced above, Catholics leaders will go public from the pulpit and in print against abortion. But little is said about the idolatry of contraception and the adultery spawned by divorce (your paper excepted).
D'souza recognizes the linkage of abortion as “the debris of the sexual revolution.” Father Zimmerman appreciates the need to “turn the big hose on the hottest flames” of big money in the abortion industry. However, what we need is something very simple that will take the wind out of these unholy sails. We need our priests to step forward to teach Catholics true human sexuality. Fix the Catholic problem first. Get our own house in order. Then change the wider culture of American society.
But first priests must immerse themselves in the Holy Father's major teaching of the theology of the body and then broadcast it from their pulpits. This is the truly pragmatic step that is missing.
MICHAEL A. FAULKNER
Ocean Grove, New Jersey
My one-year gift subscription to the Register expires soon, and I have decided to renew in large part because of Tim Drake's uplifiting coverage of abortion in politics. I truly believe that if we are to convert the country to respect life, it will be through the Catholic Church.
Our faith mandates a respect for life at all stages, including the unborn. Yet more than 50% of Catholic voters typically vote for abortion candidates. That is a scandal.
With sadness, I watch my beloved Church, at multiple levels, fail its obligation to guide the faithful on these moral matters of life and death.
With joy, I see that we need only convert Catholics to affect a widespread movement toward a pro-life majority. Drake's articles in the Register play an instrumental role.
His recent column on the pro-life victories in the U.S. Senate elections has inspired me to organize, or join, a group of Catholic grass-roots activists in California, and hopefully nationwide. If the Church hierarchy refuses, justly or not, to inspire its faithful, the faithful will have to inspire itself.
RAYMOND J. TITTMANN