National Catholic Register


Letters to the Editor

BY John Lilly

January 21-27, 2007 Issue | Posted 1/17/07 at 10:00 AM


Christ Develops Dads

There are two important stories on the front page of the Dec. 17-23 Register. “Scorn for Porn” points out the widespread availability of pornography and the danger of its leading to addiction. “The Father Factor — Crime on the Increase in ‘Dad-Free’ Zones” discusses the effect of fatherless households in leading youths to what often becomes a life of crime. These issues are strongly connected and have wider and deeper implications.

The rise of fatherless families is the result of the widespread acceptance of recreational sex, which leads many to explore pornography, which further increases the incidence of recreational sex. Too often this cycle leads to deeper irresponsibility as people choose between the two evils of fathers abandoning the children they conceive or mothers resorting to abortion.

But people’s attitude toward recreational sex is even further harmed by the mistaken belief that contraception is permissible, even within marriage. This practice leads one or both partners to value the sensations of sex above caring for their spouse, especially when it would involve self-sacrifice. And it often leads the husband to pursue pornography.

All three evils — contraception and pornography and the acceptance of recreational sex, which underlies both the others — must be confronted simultaneously. Success here could lead to a reduction in violent crime by enabling the growth of healthy, fruitful two-parent families.

“The Father Factor” refers to researchers who say that marriage and religious conversion are important factors in reforming an adult criminal. But religious conversion must be grounded in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, in which the appreciation of, and gratitude for, his sacrifices for us become strong motivation for one’s own willingness to sacrifice for him. This is the attitude that can lead people to overcome their impulses to engage in recreational sex and its consequential evils, and thereby strengthen themselves and their families for both this world and the next.

Donald V. Murray

New York

Fathers Figure

I write regarding your Dec. 17-23 issue. I refer to your article “The Father Factor — Crime on the Increase in ‘Dad-Free’ Zones.”

I have volunteered at a homeless shelter now for many years. My job is to interview new residents and make an assessment of their situation. I do not have any statistics, but I can say without a doubt from my experience that a vast majority at this shelter are from broken families: single-parent families with no father.

In the family section there is only one father for every 50-plus families with two or three children. The same is true for residents who have just come from prisons and for those living on the street. I will frequently ask residents if they can get help from their family. That is totally out of the realm of possibility.

Family life as God planned it is so important in our society. If we are to improve our society, our effort begins with the family.

Leonard J. Langenderfer


Mel’s Methodology

Regarding “Mel Makes a Spectacle of Suffering” (Dec. 10-16), Steven Greydanus’ review of Mel Gibson’s movie Apocalypto:

Greydanus obviously did not see the message that I saw throughout the film: Fear not.

One man’s spectacle of suffering is another man’s reality check. If Greydanus objects to Mel’s presentation of man’s cruelty to man, then he should also take issue with pro-lifers who display pictures of burned and mutilated babies to show what is really going on in abortion businesses.

I believe the film challenges you to contemplate and compare man’s inhumanity to man — yesterday, today and tomorrow. It reveals man’s never-ending struggle for survival. Of paradise gained, lost and begun again. Throughout the film we hear Pope John Paul II’s message, “Be not afraid.” A message that needs to be internalized by the men of all generations who endure persecution and derision.

In the Dec. 16 issue of India Bulletin, there is analysis of a recent UNICEF report on the abortion and infanticide of 10 million girls killed in the last 20 years in India. Some 7,000 fewer girls are born in the country every day than the global average, largely because female fetuses are aborted after sex-determination tests, but also through murder of newborns.

The publication’s editors do not hide behind euphemisms. “The minute the child is born and she opens her mouth to cry, they put sand in her mouth and her nostrils so she chokes and dies,” the article states. “They bury infants into pots alive and bury the pots. They put tobacco into her mouth. They hang them upside down like a bunch of flowers to dry. You have a whole society that ruthlessly hunts down girl children.” Shame on India.

I would not be offended if Mel Gibson made a reality film showing this brutal murder of baby girls. Unfortunately, I don’t think it would change very many hearts and minds regarding abortion. I think we have so dulled our consciences that only a God-sent catastrophe will bring man to his knees and repentance.

Joan Solms

Aurora, Illinois

Of ‘Many’ Things

Your Dec. 3-9 Inbrief item “For the Many” erroneously stated that Pope Benedict has directed that pro multis is to be translated as “for the many.” Not only is that not the case, it is an inaccurate translation anyway. Rather, the Holy Father directed that the Latin phrase be translated “for many.”

Latin has no articles, as I am sure you know, but Greek does — it has definite articles — and the Latin is a translation of the Greek, which was the language of worship in Rome for a couple of centuries. Moreover, all translations of the phrase (until Paul VI’s new Order of the Mass translations) in all churches East and West, including the Protestant ones, have over the centuries translated it as “for many.”

The present translations in various languages are simply wrong, though not invalidating, and it seems the reason for that error is simply a cavalier attitude toward Tradition: The modern tendency is to reject what is not understood on its own terms from the past, i.e., an insufficiently reverent religious sense owing perhaps to a shallow intellectual rationalism and an undue thirst for freedom to just change what one does not like or feel. Like inclusive language.

Thank God we have a Pope who knows how to be a pope!

Father Robert L. Finnegan

Sunnyvale, California

Editor’s Note: According to a Dec. 5, 2006, Vox Clara press release: “Cardinal Arinze also recalled the most recent decision of Pope Benedict XVI that a more precise translation of pro multis be included in the translation of the Order of the Mass. He emphasized the importance of a common English-language rendering of this text, noting that it remains to be seen whether the translation will eventually be formulated as ‘for many’ or ‘for the many.’” Cardinal Arinze is the head of the Vatican department that oversees liturgical translation.

Spider Bite

Regarding “Not as Flashy as Some, But She’ll Do” (Dec. 24 - Jan. 6):

Steven Greydanus either doesn’t have a sweet tooth or hasn’t spent much time in the South — or he wouldn’t have found the question to the Zuckermans so mystifying in the new version of Charlotte’s Web. “Divinity” is the name of the fudge-like candy he was offering them in that scene. Apart from that, I heartily concur with his review.

Rebecca Teti

Hyattsville, Maryland

Register? Check!

I have recently received requests for financial support from various worthy organizations. I decided to send a check to support the National Catholic Register.

The media is very important in today’s society. Newspapers have the responsibility and duty to tell the truth. I hope the Register continues to serve as a light in our country and our Church.

God bless you and your staff. May you have a blessed New Year.

Mary Kwan

Houston, Texas