The article “Not a Magic Charm: Exploring the Purpose of the Brown Scapular” (Aug. 12-18) was misleading in a few areas. It is true that the Carmelite order has always viewed the scapular as a call to holiness and devotion to Mary, but not all Carmelites are skeptical of St. Simon Stock's vision or even the message in the Sabbatine Bull. Many Carmelites believe that the vision, which has been passed down to us by tradition, has been verified through miracles.

Even if there is some question about the original Sabbatine Bull, the essence of it has been reiterated by other popes. Sweeping statements like those made in the article need documentation. The article seemed to say that everyone was obliged to agree with the particular Caremlites who were sharing their opinions and interpretations, but this is not true. There is plenty of opposition to their perspectives within the order itself.

Many popular Catholic devotions are based on private revelations, which the Church does not require the faithful to believe in. Some of them have been recognized by the Church and encouraged as a way of helping people in their personal faith and prayer lives, as the catechism teaches (No. 67). However, private revelations do not hold the same place as the Eucharist, which must be accepted by all Catholics.

St. Simon Stock's vision would have been a private revelation. Tradition is held to be crucial in understanding Christianity as well, and a lot of the scapular debate is really about how much faith can be put in a tradition. Also, matters of faith cannot be analyzed in the same way the Civil War can, for instance. Although the Bible has historical information in it, it is not a history book, and the same goes for the Carmelite order. For an order that is so well known for its rich spirituality and mysticism, it makes little sense to apply a strict historical method to it.

These issues needed some clarification because, given the way the article was written, it could seriously challenge the faith of many. While it is not wrong to report the doubts that some have had about Carmelite traditions, it is not helpful to anyone when an issue is presented without the necessary background information or relevant details that would ensure a real understanding of the subject. In this case, regardless what the quoted sources believe, we are still permitted to believe that the Blessed Mother appeared to St. Simon Stock.

Further reading on the subject can be found at the discalced Carmelites’ Web site at which, has official statements regarding the scapular. EWTN also has some good articles on it in their Internet library.


Burke, Virginia

The Meek Shall Inherit The Third-Quarter Earnings

The “Family Matters” column of your Sept. 2-8 issue dealt with the conduct of Christian business people and their principles in the workplace ("Labor Day Examination of Conscience,” by Phil Lenahan). I would like to relate a story told by a friend of mine about his business.

At one point in time his business lost one of its largest customers. It looked as though, according to conventional business practice, they would have to lay off 11 people.

They had a meeting and decided that everyone would try harder to get new business and that everyone would be kept on as long as possible.

Before the year was out, they had gained enough new business to more than replace that which was lost. Not only that, but, shortly after this, the customer they had lost decided to bring their business back, and they had to hire more people.

This is Christian business in practice!


Omaha, Nebraska

Feeding Faith by the Footlights

Regarding “Major Masterpiece or Minor Shaw,” Father Peter John Cameron's review of George Bernard Shaw's play Major Barbara on Broadway:

Agreed, when enjoying theater offerings, a viewer sometimes comes away pleasantly surprised. A new play, Train to Nimroc , was startling in its simplicity and high moral content. In fact, the critic headed his review the next day: “Daring to be nice!” The performance was exceptional for many reasons.

Father Cameron's review of Major Barbara , likewise, has me wishing to see it. Failing that, my library will likely be visited so the play can be read again. There are some good things from our past and Father Cameron should delight in having called this to our attention.

Incidentally, when observing who Father Cameron is (editor of the liturgical-prayer monthly Magnificat ), one can only say, “It figures.” Incidentally, just the other day I thoughtfully asked someone: “Who is responsible for that wonderful Magnificat ?”—and, voila, the Register “registered” this information for me. So, thank you, as always, for another good issue.


Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Embryos Alighting

There are no “extra” frozen embryos; each embryo has its own DNA, and its own soul. The Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program of the Nightlight Christian adoption agency is the same agency used by Lucinda Borden who gave birth to the twin boys featured on page one of the Register (“Which Would You Kill? Father Asks Congress,” July 29-Aug. 8).

According to the adoption agency, there are tens of thousands of embryos out there—and 2 million infertile couples waiting to begin families of their own. If anyone is interested in adopting a little embryo, visit or call Snowflakes at 714-278-1020.

Also, please tell President Bush that he was wrong to compromise on embryo research, because he has condoned the killing of these embryos by the labs.

Also, it might be a good idea to contact him once a month or so to ask him to pick strong pro-life Supreme Court justices. The president can be reached at; phone 202-456-1111.


Corinth, New York

Disconcerted by Stem-Cell Symposium

A faithful Catholic friend purchased a subscription for my wife and me. He stated that the Register is an excellent publication and faithful to the teaching authority of the Church. And up till now my wife and I would agree.

However, I was deeply saddened by the article “Did Bush Get it Right on Stem Cells?” (Sept. 2-8). While it is fine to discuss politics of this once great nation of ours, what is missing is the challenge to the faithful to strive for Godly values. This is not just an additional topic to discuss. This touches the heart of our faithfulness to Jesus. Our respect for his divine power over the sanctity of human life. Please consider the following thoughts...

Why not print what the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has written?

Why not print what the diocesan bishops have written? Our bishops by the nature of their office are the people who have the responsibility to teach the faithful, to lead us to the truth. To challenge us to live God's will.

Why not print what the Church has taught on issues closely relating to this one?

Please answer my concerns.


Dixon, Illinois

Editor's Note: The Register asked several leading pro-life advocates and Catholic thinkers to write about Bush's decision. We didn't know what their opinions would be; if there is any consensus among them, it isn't because we planned it that way. We included a summary comment from Bishop Joseph Fiorenza, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference (we also quoted him at length in a previous issue) and included the words of the U.S. bishops’ spokes-woman on pro-life issues, Cathy Cleaver. In previous issues we featured extensive comments on President Bush's decision from Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, Philadelphia Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua and Bishop Fiorenza.