National Catholic Register


Letters 06.07.2009

BY The Editors

June 7-13, 2009 Issue | Posted 5/29/09 at 1:36 PM


Invaluable Register

Rosemary and I were so pleased by the cordial reception at your office. It was a pilgrimage for us; your invaluable Register had been discovered only a year earlier at St. Joseph’s in Woods Hole, Mass. (We now leave copies in various churches, etc.)

The enclosed is our modest endorsement of the National Catholic Register’s service to the faith. We cannot give on a regular basis, but hope to do so as we can.

Our favorite historian, Hilaire Belloc, in his 1937 book The Crisis of Civilization, states: “Nothing is of greater effect upon opinion … than a good, capably written, intelligent review of men (sic), letters and affairs. To have its full effect it should be a weekly. They almost invariably lose money — and need to be subsidized in some way.”

Interestingly, in Belloc’s Essays of a Catholic (written in 1931), he makes another prescient point: “If in some grave point of faith or morals not yet defined the papacy decided Catholic morals to involve resistance to a new law, the Catholic would resist that law. For instance, suppose a majority to order for all young children of the modern state a certain course of instruction in certain sexual matters …”.

We are fast approaching that moment. The homosexual lobby’s blitzkrieg will have teaching manuals in the public schools this fall, giving the perverse message that same-sex “marriage” is fine.

Rosemary and I hope the bishops can be rallied to have the faithful boycott any “public health” courses.

Bill and Rosemary McNulty

Guilford, Connecticut

Child Trumps Choice

In William Blazek’s “Georgetown Jesuit on Notre Dame” (May 24), he states, “Both the mother’s freedom of action and her unborn child’s humanity are factors at play in every decision during any pregnancy or delivery.”

True. But the child’s right to life trumps the mother’s right to choose any time.

Father Alex Anderson

Pastor, St. Rose of Lima

DeSoto, Missouri

Irreconcilable Indeed

I read with interest all the different articles on President Obama’s comments while at Notre Dame.

At first, I was alarmed that Obama used the word “irreconcilable” for the differences between the “pro-choice” and pro-life movements (“What Obama Said,” Daily Blog, May 17).

But upon reflection, I realized he is correct. There can be no useful dialogue between the two movements.

Either you believe you are destroying a precious, irreplaceable human life or you believe that that life is the property of the birth mother who has every right to dispose of the inconvenience as she alone sees fit!

Dialogue doesn’t belong in the exchange. Only by continuing to boldly proclaim the gospel of life can we overcome the blindness of those who do not recognize the sanctity of human life.

Jim Hamel

Chicopee, Massachusetts

Responding to Notre Dame

What stood out the most at the Notre Dame commencement (“Notre Dame Hails Obama,” May 31) was a discussion of abortion by all speakers — Father Jenkins, Judge Noonan and President Obama — that emphasized love, respect, compassion and the essential priority of human dignity.

While all Catholics should lament the fact that President Obama’s definition of human dignity doesn’t include that of the unborn, the contrast in tone to recent public statements by Church leaders was significant.

Recent statements on abortion by Church leaders could easily be characterized as condescending, combative and incendiary.

The Catholic Church itself has a choice to make. It certainly can continue to play into the tactics of conservative politicians who use the abortion issue as a wedge to divide our country, utilizing incendiary tactics to whip up fear and anger among those who are already deeply opposed to the practice in the hope that they will show up at the polls in sufficient numbers to achieve a conservative political victory.

The problem with this approach is: As it divides the country, it hinders necessary collaboration on other important issues; it fails to sway the hearts and minds of those who do not already share the most conservative views on abortion; and, in fact, as evidenced over the last eight years especially, it has a very limited impact on the number of abortions actually performed in our country.

Or the Church can decide to follow the advice of the Notre Dame speakers, to reach out to all members of our society with a unifying message of universal love that emphasizes the Church’s beautiful teaching on human dignity and that recognizes abortion as not only an intrinsic evil, but as a loss of faith and hope in the future for many women and their families, a choice that ultimately does them great harm.

With a message of love, respect, compassion and human dignity — a message absent from our public debate on abortion for too long — the Church can convert the hearts and minds of the majority of Americans so that, more than just voting against abortion every four years, Americans will choose not to have abortions themselves and, nearly as important, work together to create a country that is more welcoming and more hopeful to women, children and their families.

For the Church, the choices — divide and conquer, or unify, edify and save — couldn’t be clearer.

Frank Z. Riely, Jr.

Floyds Knobs, Indiana

Editor’s note: As Dorothy Day said, Catholics’ vocation is both to “comfort the afflicted” and “to afflict the comfortable.”

Pro-lifers can take heart that Abraham Lincoln was also derided for refusing to moderate his words about slavery. But his words carried the day.

Said Stephen Douglas: “Mr. Lincoln, following the example and lead of all the little abolition orators, who go around and lecture in the basements of schools and churches, reads from the Declaration of Independence, that all men were created equal, and then asks, ‘How can you deprive a negro of that equality which God and the Declaration of Independence awards to him?’”

Wake-Up Call

Regarding “The Notre Dame Brand” (May 17): “Shake down the thunder,” indeed!

Like the line from the school’s famous fight song, the fallout from South Bend is a huge wake-up call to not only the vast majority of our Catholic colleges and universities, but to its feeder schools, our Catholic high schools.

My son attended a Catholic high school that has drifted away from its identity. When he was accepted to Notre Dame several years ago, we sent him there with hopes he would be inspired to grow in his faith.

Now, as an alumnus, he is ashamed and confused. The culture of life — in this case the unborn — needs to matter more.

Jeanmarie Passafiume

Louisville, Kentucky

Church Teaching Clarified

Reading various articles on this issue, I have become confused. “Catholics, Abortion and Torture” (Daily Blog, May 21) has clarified the issue for me! What the Catholic Church teaches is what I believe. Thank you.

Rosina San Paolo

Springfield, Missouri

Remembering Dr. Dillon

For the past two decades, Dr. Thomas Dillon, the late president of Thomas Aquinas College, played a decisive role in Catholic higher education, as Dana Lorelle’s excellent article on his accomplishments attests (“College Mourns ‘Bold’ President,” May 10).

Even more than his accomplishments, what still causes tears to come to the eyes of those who knew him is the extraordinary goodness with which he lived his life.

My first job after graduation from a secular university was a staff position at Thomas Aquinas College. 

I soon discovered that Dr. Dillon was a man of remarkable integrity whose life was marked by intense devotion to Christ, the Church, his family, and his college’s educational mission.

Dr. Dillon was a man of prayer and action, a man who confronted challenges immediately, a man who regularly worked past midnight so that the college could meet the full demonstrated financial need of every admitted student.

He was a man who made time for others at the office, the classroom, the cafeteria, the basketball court, and the ping-pong table.

He was generous and magnanimous, free from pettiness and rancor; indeed, I never heard him utter an uncharitable word about another human being. Compromise on principles and harshness with men were equally foreign to his heart.

Dr. Dillon was a college president of towering accomplishments.

But, more fundamentally, he was a man who day after day lived the virtues heroically.

Nearly two decades later, he remains a model for me — and I suspect for countless others — of what it means to be a Catholic layman.

Jeff Ziegler
Ellenboro, North Carolina

Health-Care How-Tos

Regarding “How Catholic Med Students Cope” (May 24), I would like to encourage all Catholic medical students and professionals to read Humanae Vitae (The Regulation of Birth) and Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life).

These two documents will give them clear direction in their vocations within the medical field, as well as their personal lives.

Dawn Damato

Deatsville, Alabama


Regarding Janet Smith’s response to Maria Key’s letter (“The Church and Embryos,” May 17): It was in 1996 not 1966 that Italian women volunteered to gestate orphan embryos.