National Catholic Register


Letters to the Editor

BY John Lilly

March 5-11, 2006 Issue | Posted 3/5/06 at 11:00 AM


Sisterhood Is Powerful

I am grateful for Robert Brennan’s commentary headlined “Catholic School Confidential” (Feb. 12-19).

About the year 1933, my mother, separated from her husband, was looking for work and desperately needed to find shelter for her three little girls, ages 8, 6 and 4. The Sisters of St. Joseph Convent School on Bay Street in Toronto took us into their boarding school and into their hearts.

My first-grade teacher, Sister Mary Inez, and many other sisters taught me about the love of Jesus and, in his name, they gave me a special home for about five years. I shall never forget the peace and security I felt in their chapel every morning at Mass and every evening at Benediction.

It has been sad for me to hear from some people that their chief memory of Catholic sisters was being taught to fear God, more than to realize how much he loved them. It has also been sad for me to think that a greater faith in our Church was given to me than to them. I have prayed that the vocations of Catholic teaching sisters would again increase and help strengthen our Catholic faith.

There is an order of Dominican Sisters here in Nashville, Tenn., that has been flourishing. These sisters have helped to give a strong faith and knowledge of truth to some of my children and grandchildren. I urge everyone to pray that we gain more self-sacrificing Catholic sisters.

Connie Derrick

Nashville, Tennessee

Motherhood or the Mountains

I had been receiving news stories via e-mail from various friends about Olympic skier Rebecca Dussault during this year’s Olympic Games. One of these articles, in particular, quoted Mrs. Dussault as saying, “I’m paying witness to how life doesn’t end after marriage and childbirth.” After reading that, I asked myself, cynically, whether she thought that giving up skiing to pursue her more humble vocation as wife and mother would be the end of what she considers to be “life.” Since the Catholic news source that produced this article was not on my list of my favorite conservative sources, I shrugged my shoulders and moved on.

Then, seeing a copy of the Register in the commons of my dorm, a headline caught my eye. It read: “Mom Is Racing With God” (Feb. 5-11). My first thought was that the poor skiing lady had had some accident and died. I picked up the story. To my initial relief, I found that the article was not tragic, but then to my deep disappointment I found that it was another article much like the one that I had read before — only this time it was from a source I considered to be very conservative. Therefore, I am writing to protest.

A career of the wife, if truly necessary for the sake of money, is morally excusable; worldly affairs are not to be shunned as totally unimportant, just very secondary. On the contrary, a career for the sake of glory seems utterly incomprehensible if one understands the vocation of marriage, especially as it relates to the wife and mother. This is a role where glory is quiet, known by only a few, but by those few known in ways completely unprecedented by any other career. It is a life embodied by the “fiat” of the Virgin.

The home is a liberation of femininity, allowing a woman to spend all her energy toward doing what women do best — loving her family. What “dreams” are to be pursued beyond the home, or, as the case would have it, in spite of it, seem to be hardly worth upholding as some admirable moral goal. To do so presents a deep contradiction to the Catholic worldview that I have come to ascribe to your publication.

While I wholeheartedly support the evangelization of the world, and encourage everyone to preach the truth of God from the very rooftops, I cannot help but think that the efficacy of our evangelization is inhibited greatly by this contradiction of ideals. Motherhood is not something to be glorified by an Olympic medal; its glory is humbly displayed in the beautiful souls of a family well nurtured in love.

In the future, I would hope to see more articles from your esteemed publication that defend the dream of true feminine freedom.

Emily Harrison

Thomas Aquinas College

Santa Paula, California

Hospice Hindsight

Relevant to “Hospice Hope and Horror” (Feb. 19-25):

I am Catholic and have worked in end-of-life care for most of my professional career, having run the largest hospice program in Kansas for many years in the latter part of the 1980s and throughout the ’90s. If you really want to portray hospice care in an unbiased context, I would suggest interviewing such persons as Dr. Carlos Gomez and others whose credentials and contributions far exceed those of Ron Panzer. In fact, your reference to him in the article raises more doubts than confidence as to your authentic agenda.

For my entire 15-year tenure as hospice director, we had a Catholic priest on staff who advised us — not only on the teachings of the Church, but also on the societal and clinical dimensions of pursuing the vitalists’ agenda of transhumanism (a philosophy advocating the use of technology to overcome human limitations). If you think euthanasia is the only threat to Catholic teaching, you are not seeing the whole issue.

“Mechanical paths to death,” a term coined by Dr. Bill Knaus, acknowledges the powers of technology that rob humans of being fully human in the twilight of life. We must always embrace our Creator’s role in the mystery of life, and we must always respect his openness to the free will of humans, along with our capacity to err, however sincere we may be. Headlong pursuit to define life as the vitalist would define it is just as destructive to Catholic teaching as advocacy of its premature end.

 John G. Carney

Vice President, Aging and End of Life

Center for Practical Bioethics

Kansas City, Missouri

Joy in the Confessional

I enjoyed reading Brother John Raymond’s column, “I Confess” (Spirit & Life, Jan. 29-Feb. 4), as anything written on confession can be helpful and is most needed in our “post-confessional” age. However, one line in the article I believe needs amplification because otherwise it could cause confusion.

Brother John writes: “Now, we know that we are only required to go to this sacrament when we’re aware of having committed mortal sin.” Unfortunately, many good priests and even printed examinations of conscience today reflect this erroneous thinking. It is true that Canon Law states that “All the faithful … are bound faithfully to confess their grave sins at least once a year” (No. 989). But that is because we are only obligated to confess mortal, and not venial, sins. However, that does not mean we are not bound to go confession at least once a year with or without mortal sins. (Never mind that, pastorally speaking, it is often difficult to determine which is which.)

In 1215, the Fourth Lateran Council declared: “Every one of the faithful … should at least once a year faithfully confess all one’s sins.” This Church teaching of the highest authority (an ecumenical council) is repeated in another ecumenical council, the Council of Trent, and in encyclicals such as Quam Singularis by Pope St. Pius X. Last but not least, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The Church obliges the faithful to take part in the Divine Liturgy on Sundays and feasts, and, prepared by the sacrament of reconciliation, to receive the Eucharist at least once a year, if possible during the Easter Season (No. 1389; emphasis added).

May we all line up with Brother John at least once a year, but hopefully many times a year, whether we are big or little sinners, and receive God’s greatest attribute — his mercy in the sacrament of reconciliation.

Father David Phillipson

Roy, New Mexico

Da Vinci Skip

I am writing about the soon-to-be-released movie version of the Da Vinci Code.

It is too late to do anything about the disgraceful novel; it is already a best seller even among Christians. But we can prevent the movie from being a best seller. I urge anyone who reads this letter to contact his/her pastor and local bishop. Simply ask them to encourage all Christians to not se the movie.

Money talks.

A boycott can send a powerful message to the media that we Catholics are fed up with the vicious, diabolical anti-Catholicism that is insinuated into so many movies and TV shows. Why are we Catholics afraid or too weak to stand up for our faith? If our faith means anything to us, here is a simple, effective way of living it.

Don’t spend money on the Da Vinci Code.


Father Robert J. Prior, C.M.

Spring Lake, Michigan

Parental Notification

Regarding “Court Ruling On Abortion, Hard to Score” (Jan. 29-Feb. 4):

I have been blessed by God to be the parent of seven children. Except for an immediate time-critical emergency, if my child had a physical condition that was potentially life threatening, it would make obvious sense for the physician to inform the parent (me) before a medical procedure was scheduled, especially if the procedure itself was potentially life threatening.

Yet the courts have decreed that this parental notification does not need to happen.

If a girl, who is a minor, is pregnant and her life is considered to be “at risk” by a “physician,” the parent need not be notified if the child is offered and accepts an abortion to “save her life.” There are few time-critical “life-of-the-mother” issues early in a pregnancy and in the later stages a C-section could be performed. The time when a parent most needs to know about the condition of their child (life-threatening condition) is the very time the law requires no parental notification.

Now I know why judges’ faces are not on our country’s coin currency, as some presidents’ are: Some of their judgments make no sense, so why should they make cents?


Joe Marincel

Flower Mound, Texas


The photo caption accompanying “Bernadette Film to Get American Premiere” (Feb. 5-11) incorrectly identified St. Bernadette Soubirous as a Carmelite sister. She was a member of the Sisters of Charity and Christian Instruction of Nevers at Lourdes, France.