National Catholic Register


Letters July 20, 2008

BY The Editors

July 20-26, 2008 Issue | Posted 7/15/08 at 12:39 PM


Bogus ‘Marriage’

The May 25 editorial regarding California’s decision to allow homosexuals to marry (“Why Not Change Marriage?”) offers food for thought as well as action.

While a homosexual couple may raise children, these children are never the fruit of their relationship. The homosexual couple can never generate life from their relationship. The children of a homosexual couple come to them through adoption, perhaps through in vitro fertilization or through artificial insemination. No homosexual couple can ever bring forth the younger generation from their own relationship.

Despite the ruling by California’s Supreme Court, homosexual relationships are not marriages.

Janet M. Urbanic

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Choose Your Battle

In a letter to the editor titled “Abortion Trumps All Issues” (June 1), a Register reader concludes that the issue of primary importance in the upcoming election is ending the Iraq war. This struck me as an erroneous conclusion. A greater war is being waged in our own country. It is the war on the unborn.

The letter-writer quotes the approximate number of dead and wounded in Iraq. Should we not also acknowledge the deaths of approximately 1.4 million unborn children a year on our own soil since 1973? She thinks that we have graphically portrayed and described the act of abortion. We have barely touched the surface. She goes on to suggest that visually showing the bodies of soldiers dismembered by roadside bombs might help to end the war. Maybe it would.

Should we also show a visual of the 50 million (and counting) dismembered, burned and mutilated babies aborted in cities across America? Would that also help to end the ongoing war being waged on innocent life? How do we reconcile, ignore or remain indifferent about the years and the deaths resulting from legalized abortion?

I, too, want the Iraq war to end. And I understand the frustration felt by many, the sorrow at the loss of American and Iraqi lives, and the financial drain on our economy. But, I also recall the words of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta: “The greatest destroyer of peace is abortion.” The Register, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, our U.S. bishops and many others have it right. Abortion is the pre-eminent issue of our time. Our primary obligation is to vote for any candidate or law that will best limit or end the plight of endangered unborn children and protect their mothers, who are also victims. They are truly the poorest of the poor.

We may not have perfect candidates and they cannot solve all our problems. But I will not vote based on party loyalty, the Iraq war, the economy, gender, race, religion or personality. These are all secondary issues. I will vote for the candidate who is the most committed to ending the war on the unborn. I dare say that the very survival of our country, as a nation of many blessings, hangs in the balance on this one particular issue.

Donna Scira

Bishop, California

For the War

It was with shock that I read the column by Mr. Mark Shea titled “Beyond Hope?” in the April 27 issue of the Register. In it, he stated that “our political candidates offer us a choice between more abortion or more war.”

As a Catholic, he should know better. Abortion is one of the five matters that are always morally wrong and, therefore, must be opposed above all other social issues. (The other four are human cloning, embryonic stem-cell research, same-sex marriage and euthanasia.) War is not one of those items. Indeed, the Church teaches that war is something that political leaders must decide when and where to do.

I do hope that Mr. Shea does not believe that all war is evil, that this War on Terror that our nation is righteously engaged in is somehow wrong. The opposite would be surrender, appeasement, and destruction of our very nation/freedoms/democracy.

My son is over there, and I support him 100%. God bless President Bush for taking the war to the radical Islamists.

Emma Walker

U.S. Navy Veteran

Fayetteville, North Carolina

Sheep’s Rights

Regarding Mark Shea’s column titled “Theological Vending Machines” (June 8):

I do expect a priest to be a “theological vending machine.” Part of the charism of ordination is to preach. How can one preach what one does not know? When I want medical expertise I go to a physician. When I want legal expertise, I go to a lawyer. When I want lawn and garden expertise, I go to a horticulturist. When I want theological expertise, I should be able to go to a priest. I also expect each to be on top of his game.

Those of us who are old enough may remember when vocational advertising in the ’70s and ’80s went in big for the hyphenated priestly vocation. Calls went out to become a teacher-priest, or a counselor-priest, or a psychologist-priest, or an activist-priest. Anything more exciting than an “ordinary” parish priest!

In my opinion, therein lies part of the problem. Priests ceased to be subject-matter experts in religion or theology. Our priests today are probably more educated than at any other time in Church history. But the priests I know have degrees in education or social work or psychology, none in any branch of theology. (It seems this field is being taken over by lay theologians.)

The sheep have a right to expect guidance from the shepherds. (I am curious to know how many bishops in the U.S. have degrees in theology.)

Furthermore, a priest relying only on the theology he had in the seminary is as irresponsible as a lay Catholic relying only on the catechesis he had before Confirmation. I recognize that priests are also human, and that ignorance at the pulpit may not be “an indication of something sinister,” but it can be [an occasion of sin], especially when it unwittingly promotes heresy.

Don C Marrero

Clinton, Louisiana

Theologically Rock

I really enjoy Mark Shea’s commentaries and “Theological Vending Machines” (June 8) gave me some chuckles and some things to think about.

I have been on my Catholic faith journey for a little over a year. I have been a member of my church for nine months and a confirmed Catholic since Easter.

I guess I have thought of my pastor as a theological vending machine. He does always seem to know the answers to my questions and I have just assumed they are correct. He can also explain them in a format I understand.

My sister did tell me not to ask him, “What did the serpent in the Garden of Eden look like before God made him legless and a belly crawler? She said not to plague him with, “Why did Jesus have his disciple go catch a fish to get a coin to pay the taxpayer, when he could have just zapped one out of thin air?”

I have to say I did find the snake answer on my own but have not figured out the fish/coin thing.

My pastor can write six incredible homilies every week, assign penances of Scripture that actually apply to me and exhibit the patience of a saint with a new convert. Why couldn’t he answer any question I could come up with? He is light years ahead of me in theological knowledge. I will, however, think a little more deeply before I pose any snake or fish questions to him.

As for your dilemma on when Christ knew he was God, try the Catechism, No. 471-474, or the Pope Pius XII encyclical Mystici Corporis. His statement is that Jesus knew from the womb that he was God and explains why. There is quite a bit out there on that question.

Thanks for the great reads!

Deb Brunsberg

Coon Rapids, Minnesota

That’s Entertainment?

I would add one more criterion to Tom and Caroline McDonald’s guidelines for regulating the movies children are allowed to see (“Multiplex Mayhem,” July 6): Does the film contain vulgar language or immodest images of any type (even short of the “arousing sexual scenes” criticized by Mr. and Mrs. McDonald)? If it does, the show is not acceptable for viewing, even for teenagers.

Scatological and other 4-letter words have no place in entertainment. Nor does immodesty of any type, notwithstanding the fact that such words and images are liberally laced throughout current-day movies and television shows. Invariably, they add nothing to a film’s artistic value. One reason for the precipitous decline in American culture is the fact that our popular media are no longer censored. This means that parents must now exercise extra care to do work formerly performed by the broader society.

Many of your readers are old enough to remember when there were only three or four television networks in the United States. (Cable and satellite TV did not exist.) Each network had a standards department to make sure that every show was clean and fit for family consumption. Vigilant Catholic bishops of an even earlier era influenced America’s movie studios to institute the Hayes Code of industry self-censorship (backed up by the Church’s own Legion of Decency), which stopped the cinematic slide into increasingly risqué themes and images.

In our home, everything is pre-screened if children of any age will view it. Even if my wife and I are watching television alone, we limit our viewing to religious and educational programming, cable news, an occasional sports event and classic movies. With the exception of the religious stations, everything is taped first, and we skip over most commercials (because so many of them are vulgar and inappropriate).

As for current movies in theaters, we see very few of them, for the reasons described above. (Bella was a refreshing recent exception.) We instead have created our own library of truly good movies for home viewing. Most of these films, whether religiously themed or secular in nature, are available from advertisers in the National Catholic Register, such as Ignatius Press, EWTN, CCC and other similar outlets.

My own shorthand criterion for what constitutes acceptable viewing is this: If I couldn’t show it to my own mother or my grandmothers without embarrassment, then I shouldn’t watch it either — much less show it to children.

Richard J. Wall Jr.

Cheyenne, Wyoming