National Catholic Register


Letters 11.09.2008

BY The Editors

November 9-15, 2008 Issue | Posted 11/4/08 at 4:12 PM


Benedict, James and Trig

The Oct. 12 column “Down, Hero Dad and Palin” reminded me of Pope Benedict’s visit last April.

Before Pope Benedict came to America to celebrate Mass in New York and Washington, it was revealed that as a young boy in Germany he had a cousin with Down syndrome. One day a Nazi doctor came and claimed his cousin for the Third Reich. Taken to be “cared for” at the “hospital,” young Joseph Ratzinger never saw his cousin again; he was one of a host of “useless eaters” marked for extermination by that brutal regime.

My wife and I operate St. Joseph’s House, a day care and respite care home for handicapped children. As it happened, one of the children we care for, a wheelchair-bound young lady, was chosen along with three other handicapped folks to carry the gifts up to the altar before the consecration at the Mass at Nationals Stadium in Washington, D.C., on April 17. One of those was James, a 30ish man who works at the Officer’s Club at Andrews Air Force Base. James has Down syndrome. He was chosen to carry the large host, which would become the body of Christ lifted up before the assembly. As James, with great ceremony, advanced toward the Pope, his native enthusi-asm overcame his reserve, and he started to run.

Simultaneously, the Holy Father leaped from his chair and walked toward James with his arms out-stretched. We have a picture of this moment which I cannot look at without tearing up.

What did he see as he gazed so lovingly at James? I believe he saw his cousin. I believe he saw the face of Jesus. And I believe that his great prayer as he elevated that host on that impossibly beautiful day was: “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

The next day, April 18, a boy was born to, of all people, the gover-nor of Alaska. They named him Trig.

Daniel LaHood

Silver Spring, Maryland

The Next 40 Years

Regarding “Catholic Voter Poll” (Oct. 26), the results of the poll are appalling, but not really surprising. So many Catholics are either ignorant or in denial of Church teaching. This is the result of very poor catechesis over the past 40-plus years, particularly from the pulpit, and also in Catholic schools and catechism classes. St. John Fisher reminds us, “Pastors are necessary in the Church of God to watch diligently over the instruction of the Christian flock.” We pray that a new generation of more diligent, truth-telling pastors will correct this situation in the 40-plus years to come.

Greg Lawson

Camano Island, Washington

Editor’s note: Polls that merely ask respondents to identify their religion end up counting as “Catholic” many people who never go to Mass, but will say they’re Catholic because their family was. The best way to identify Catholics is to ask if they meet the minimum requirement of the Ten Commandments and the precepts of the Church, which is Mass every week. The Knights of Columbus poll did better than most by counting as Catholics those who say they go to Mass at least twice a month. But it’s hard to tell what Catholics are thinking based on the poll. First of all, by regularly skipping Mass, the poll’s respondents have shown that they don’t inform their consciences according to the Church in the first place. Secondly, if we haven’t made an every-Sunday commitment, we tend to inflate our attendance numbers both in our own minds as well as in what we report. We wouldn’t be surprised if a significant number of those polled don’t even meet the poll’s arbitrary twice-a-month threshold.

Pray With Love

I was speaking with someone who has been a fighter for the unborn baby since the ’70s. We were discussing how disappointed we were with our own Catholic brothers and sisters in our own parish who feel it is okay to support a pro-abortion candidate. The Register also reminded me of the 40-plus percent of Catholics who also believe that it is okay to be pro-choice (“Catholic Voter Poll,” Oct. 26).

Instead of anger and confusion, God has enlightened me to pray with love for my fellow Catholics, and I hope that those of you who have also experienced this attitude will do the same.

Mary Beahm

Valencia, California

Wake Up, America

“Who are you voting for?” my friend asked. Quickly I responded, “I’m voting for life and that means for McCain and Palin.” Although my friend said she was pro-life, I was saddened when she told me that our country most needs change, and so she said she was voting for Obama.

As the years go by, there is a growing separation of faith from life. Many have come to think that economics, health insurance, war and poverty rank right up there with life. Like the bishops (“The Shepherds Speak,” Nov. 2), I don’t believe this.

All of us need to be concerned about our current economy and other social justice issues that are pressing our nation. These issues are important, but there is a hierarchy of priority many are casting aside. Social concerns require prudential (cautious) judgment only, while the right to life is a natural law, God-given, and must always come first. If we put life first, all other issues and their remedies will fall into place. Our salvation is not going to come from our banking systems, but from God. As creations of God, we are called to be loyal to him and respect life, from the moment of conception until natural death. Life is a human rights issue; it is right and good to vote solely on this issue. There can be no compromise. Our day-to-day choices must be inspired by God (the Gospel) — not by secular culture. In voting for life, we are voting against intrinsically evil issues and against people who support these issues: abortion, homosexual “marriage,” embryonic stem-cell research, euthanasia and cloning.

Wake up, America.

Cathy Borries

Richland, Washington

Greydanus in the Gray

I am so glad you have a Catholic film critic that writes for your paper, but I was so disappointed to see Steven Greydanus miss the point of the film An American Carol. His review (“Maher, Zucker Provide Equal Opportunity Offense,” Oct. 12) paired David Zucker’s film with Religulous and basically denounced both movies.

Religulous stars Bill Maher, a notorious Catholic-basher. Religulous calls itself a documentary, indicating a serious attempt to educate viewers about its topic, but it makes every attempt to portray any faith-oriented individual as lost or unintelligent. Bill Maher has repeatedly taken potshots at Catholicism, referred to the Holy Father as a Nazi, and the bishops’ film panel rated this movie “O” (morally objectionable).

David Zucker is a respected director in Hollywood, despite his conservative leanings in a strictly leftist industry. An American Carol is a comedy and doesn’t mislead the viewer into “teaching” anything, except to point out the hysteria of the left and its notions of peace, even in the face of gross international atrocities. The final line of the film, “Don’t even go there,” regarding stem-cell research is a big plug for the culture of life, a wonderful ending to a highly entertaining — not necessarily Christian-themed film (Zucker is Jewish) — about patriotism and real-world foreign policy.

Jennifer Bioche

Marion, Iowa

Follow the Money

Thank you for your news analysis regarding the economic crisis (“From Gordon Gekko to Investing With a Conscience,” Oct. 5). Unfortunately, as was so common during this past election period, the article left out the essential body of facts about the underlying cause of the current crisis.

The formation of Fannie and Freddie in their hybrid form under Presidents Johnson and Carter, and then the draconian government regulations under President Clinton, which forced banks to lend huge amounts of money to totally unqualified buyers (now called subprime) or face severe government sanctions, are obviously the start of the current problem.     

Following federal guidelines and regulations, and in order to avoid charges of discrimination or redlining with criminal and civil penalties, those banks gave loans to those with poor credit, no income verification, no down payment, or worse — and often based on high home appraisals. 

Having been in finance for more than 30 years, I know from personal experience that the great majority of the originating lending institutions never had those poor lending standards before those regulations were imposed on them. Unfortunately, those same banks are being criticized for being “greedy and reckless.”

Often, those loan packages were managed and processed by ACORN and other community activist organizations that were paid many millions in fees for doing so.   

Those loans were part of a noble attempt to extend home ownership (as well as provide benefits to a political base of support). Unfortunately, those trillions of dollars of loans are the real source of the underlying financial problems the financial institutions and our country currently face.   

In order to not repeat the mistakes of the past, it is essential to study them, but accurately.

Ralph Desimone

Walnut Creek, California


“1st Choice for Voters: Which Guide?” (Sept. 28) misquoted James Salt, organizing director of the political group Catholics United. Referring to “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” the 2007 statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Salt’s quote should have been: “‘Faithful Citizenship’ says life is a preeminent concern, but ‘Faithful Citizenship’ also says that it’s a distortion of the Catholic faith to neglect our other obligations to other threats to human dignity.”

In the Books & Education page article “Feminists for Life Rolling Out College Pro-Life Videos” (Oct. 26), the Register mistakenly included “a woman who became pregnant right out of college and placed her child up for adoption” as part of a new video series the organization is producing. The Register regrets these errors.