National Catholic Register


Letters 04.05.2009

BY The Editors

April 5-11, 2009 Issue | Posted 3/27/09 at 3:41 PM


Sunday Reading

As a new subscriber, I spend Sunday afternoons reading the Register and writing to my congressmen and president. Your articles about life issues always spur me on to write! 

I know that President Obama and my representatives do not read my short letters, but someone does, and maybe they will be influenced.  

 Dean B. Baldwin

Frederick, Maryland

Back to Natural Law

Regarding the Daily Blog post “Benedict’s African Triumph” (March 20): While few would compare Pope Benedict XVI to John Lennon, their methods of saving humanity are in some sense similar.

In the 1960s, John Lennon pushed  for peace with his anti-war sign “WAR IS OVER! — if you want it.” His message was meant to convey the simple fact that peace is merely a matter of the people willing it.

Obviously, the fact that most nations and individuals are today at war with one another — both on the battlefields and in the court rooms — indicates  that few people really want peace. Posing as peaceniks, what they really want is their own individual “rights,” regardless of the consequences this may have for others.

This same kind of selfish freedom that has historically prevented peace also stands in the way of abolishing the AIDS virus. AIDS can be eradicated tomorrow if, as the Pope suggests, people were simply willing to exercise a little self-restraint and practice abstinence and marital fidelity.

Barring this refusal to submit oneself to the natural law, no amount of money or mass influx of condoms to various nations will stop the spread of the deadly virus.

On the contrary, it will only aggravate the problem, just as the fictitious kind of individual “rights” we have all championed since the ’60s has led to a mass proliferation of war and hostility.

Pope Paul VI rightly predicted back in 1968 that failure to follow the dictates of natural law on contraception would lead to a lowering of moral standards, a rise in infidelity and promiscuity, a lessening of respect for women, and government-enforced limitations on population.

Ours is a time of continual movement which often leads to restlessness, with the risk of “doing for the sake of doing.” We must resist this temptation by trying “to be” before trying “to do.”

Paul Kokoski

Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Troubling Legislation

Regarding “Anti-Church CT: Good News/Bad News” (Daily Blog, March 10): What I find really troubling about this is that these two legislators feel secure enough in being re-elected that they are willing to make such a frontal assault on freedom of religion and the First Amendment. What does this say about how their constituents regard freedom of religion and constitutional rights?

Dan Kennedy

CEO, Human Life of Washington 

Bellevue, Washington

No Double Effect

I have read Dr. Miller’s letter (“Extremely Insightful,” March 15) with great interest. I agree that Dr. DeMarco’s column was insightful. I also agree with many of the points in Dr. Miller’s letter. I do not, however, agree with her use of the principle of “double effect” as a means to an end. The principle of double effect involves an “unintended” consequence of an action. The more typical clinical scenario is the terminally ill patient who is suffering with pain who is administered a medicine to control pain and unintentionally dies as a result of this medicine. This “unintended” consequence (death) is looked upon in retrospect, only after the action (pain management) is administered. The “pure” intent of the procedure (pain control) was to relieve the pain, not the resultant death. More often than not, the “unintended” consequence is avoided and the patient’s pain is relieved without death.

This may sound like semantics, but I think the beauty is in the “pure intent.” In the case of the frozen embryo, there is not a second possibility to thawing. Death would be the “only” possible result; therefore, “double effect” could not be applied.

Thawing and death may indeed be the only way to “unconditionally respect” this human being, but double effect is not the argument in favor of that. This may be the very reason we are in “a situation of injustice which in fact cannot be resolved” (Dignitas Personae, The Dignity of the Person).

I have always argued that “location” is the only difference between the frozen embryo and the child in the uterus. I argue simply that once the new human being is conceived all that is needed is “growth and development.”

So, now I wonder: Why shouldn’t the frozen embryo, even though it is “conceived illicitly,” be given that same right to life as the “naturally conceived” human being?

Some of my answer is stated perfectly in Donum Vitae (The Gift of Life): “Thus the fruit of human generation, from the first moment of its existence, that is to say, from the moment the zygote has formed, demands the unconditional respect that is morally due to the human being in his bodily and spiritual totality. The human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; and, therefore, from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life.”

Anthony Pohlgeers, M.D.

Pediatric Emergency Medicine

Jacksonville, Florida

Fallen-Away Son Returns

In response to the “Fallen-Away After School” letter (March 15): I have never fully renounced God or his existence, but my journey through Catholic grade school, secular high school, and then Jesuit university left me at the mercy of popular culture, just like your son.

Since my parents left my catechism teaching to the world, the views of the world were instilled in me. I was at the mercy of the school of relativism, where your faith is right for you and my faith is right for me, regardless of the differences. I had learned to pick and choose what parts of the Church’s teachings I would follow, only because I agreed with them, and leave the rest.

I was blessed to go on a trip to Fatima, Portugal, with the woman who is now my wife. We were just friends at the time, but I knew I had found someone very, very special in her, and I was intent on marrying her.

She was, and still is, a devout Catholic who saw me as the lost soul I was and began instructing me in the Catholic faith.

I was frustrated and anxious about this whole trip. As I walked up to the church, I told God, “If I really should pray to Mary and be devout to her and this is all part of your plan for us in the Church, then ring the church bells as I enter.”

I got closer and closer to the church with nothing happening, and I was feeling more and more certain that I was right and they were all wrong. Finally, in my smugness, I crossed under the lintel of the door, and, immediately, the bells started to ring! I felt that God was showing himself to me personally, and I cried.

I have been blessed with many more daily miracles in my life since then, but this was the point of my conversion back to the Church. Since then, I have immersed myself into learning the faith.

I now have a newborn baby boy with my amazing wife, and we are determined to teach him the faith as best we can, with the leadership of the Church and the resources of the Bible and the Catechism, through the grace of God. I will pray for you and your son as you embark on the difficult and uncertain road ahead.

Kip Smith

Rhinelander, Wisconsin

Pro-Life Battlefronts

Did Eleanor Donlon’s article (“The Abortion Story,” March 1) accurately describe the status of the pro-life movement’s effort to fight the abortion issue as Mr. Irwin says (“Life’s ‘Story,’” Letters, March 15)? On the contrary, Donlon was referring only to one category: literature. But the failure of literature to fight abortion is not the only “battlefront” of the pro-life movement.

For example, abortion rates have dropped by 30% from 1981 to 2005 because of the passage of such laws as the Hyde Amendment defunding federal payment for abortion. States’ laws regarding parental consent and informed consent, among other restrictions, have also provided for reduction in abortions, especially for minors.

A vital but often overlooked element of the pro-life movement is the 36-year involvement of pregnancy-resource centers throughout the United States.

These centers are staffed by people who are helping many women distressed by pregnancy to mobilize their personal resources and those of their communities. These centers provide face-to-face, free, factual information regarding pregnancy, adoption and many necessary aids, along with ultrasounds and baby and maternity clothing. As statistics have shown, abortions are down through the steadfast efforts of many who wish to be a real friend to the pregnant woman and her baby.

Terry Ianora

Eugene, Oregon


“Disciplinary Cloud Shadows Nominee” (March 22) was great, noteworthy and very well written, but honestly, I am so tired of seeing President Obama’s face on the front page of almost every U.S. newspaper close to five times a week. 

I am beginning to feel like even Christian journalism is getting sucked into this “Obamamania.” It would be nice to see someone or something else on the front page of the Register rather than Obama. Since his election, he has made your front page on numerous occasions.

In my opinion, “California Reviews Prop. 8” in the same issue was just as noteworthy as Obama’s nomination of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

Karen Kennedy

Wadsworth, Ohio