National Catholic Register


Letters to the Editors

BY John Lilly

January 30-February 5, 2005 Issue | Posted 1/31/05 at 9:00 AM


Gone With the Wave

Regarding “Miracles and Horrors: Tsunami Spares Church; Catholics Aid Victims” (Jan. 9-15):

In the wake of the Christmas earthquake and tsunami that killed at least 150,000 people, many are asking the largely rhetorical and somewhat accusatory questions of why does God allow such a catastrophe to happen and why do bad things happen to good people?

For Christians, there is an answer to those questions and that answer is to be found on the Cross. How can any good come from tragedy? Why did God allow his only Son to be crucified? Look at the Cross. There has been no greater evil in the history of the world and no greater crime than deicide. Why did God let that happen?

Again, Christians believe that without the Crucifixion, where Jesus took on the sins of the world and reconciled man with God, there would be no forgiveness of sins and no promise of eternal life for those who believe. The ultimate evil has brought about an ultimate good.

What good can come from the tsunami tragedy? Witness the infinite number of acts of compassion to aid the suffering as the world unites to heal a part of itself. Aircraft carriers and helicopters, machines of war, ferry relief workers, food, water and medicine to the afflicted. We open up our hearts and our wallets.

Catholic Relief Services’ website has reported online contributions of $100,000 per hour. Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, Jesus said. For a short time, at least, we have all become Good Samaritans.

Christians believe that God did not bring death into the world but that man did through his original sin of disobedience and trying to be like God. We are all going to die. The real question is how we are going to live, given this vivid reminder that each day is a precious gift that can be snatched away in a moment.

Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Daniel John Sobieski

Bishops, Take One

I enjoyed the Jan. 2-8 issue on the bishops, particularly Father Raymond de Souza’s commentary and opinion piece, “The Bishops are Back.” It gave me great hope. The editorial, “In Celebration of Bishops,” was good as well, helping me to see things in perspective of history.

I haven’t given any money to bishops’ appeals since the scandals broke, and I have to rethink this. When the John Jay study came out saying that over 10,000 people have been abused by priests, I very nearly left the Catholic Church altogether. I had been looking at and praying at a Greek Orthodox church in this area and was in love with the church architecture and the icons.

I figured that the bishops are intelligent men — couldn’t they see a pattern developing, talk to each other and do something about it much earlier? One person abused is too much, but 10,000? Couldn’t someone have detected that something big is amiss? They only seemed to act when it finally exploded in the media. At least from what I could see on television and read in the papers, both Catholic and secular, that’s how it seemed.

I believe the devil fights hard and is out to destroy us. My favorite priest, Msgr. Sean Murray of St. Brigid’s Parish in San Diego, Calif., once said during a sermon that “when you see child abuse — it’s pure devil.”

When I saw The Passion of the Christ, my Catholic roots woke up and I ended up switching parishes to what I felt was a more orthodox Catholic community. I started to forgive the bishops and realized that Satan often concentrates his attacks on the Catholic Church.

The bishops were “on the ropes” in the fight, but it’s good to see them fight their way off the ropes and make a difference. (Kudos to Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis for good, hard pro-life work.)

Frederick C. Weilbacher Jr.

New Port Richey, Florida

Bishops, Take Two

Not without a certain sense of chagrin did I ponder your editorial “In Celebration of Bishops” (Jan. 2-8). I certainly agree with you that “we should give the bishops the respect due their office, the obedience due their authority.” St. Ignatius of Antioch, circa A.D. 107, wrote; “For when you obey the bishop as if he were Jesus Christ, you are, as I see it, living not merely human fashion but in Jesus Christ’s way, who for our sakes suffered death that you might believe in his death and so escape dying yourselves. It is essential, therefore, to act in no way without the bishop, just as you are doing.”

Some 50 years earlier, St. Paul, in his Letter to Timothy, laid down certain qualifications for a bishop: A bishop “must be irreproachable, of even temper, self-controlled, modest, hospitable. He should be a good teacher, a man of peace. Nor can he be someone who loves money. He must be a good manager of his household, for if a man does not know how to manage his household, how can he take care of the Church of God?” (1 Timothy 3:1-6).

Your editorial rightly refers to our bishops as teachers. Yet, your newspaper has been crusading for almost two years on the fact that the vast majority of our bishops who have Catholic universities and colleges within their jurisdiction have failed to enforce the “mandatum” in accordance with John Paul II’s apostolic constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae [From the Heart of the Church] and Canon 812, which requires theology professors to teach only approved Catholic teaching. Yet, today only 12 out of 234 Catholic institutions have complied.

In the Nov. 28-Dec. 4 edition, your top headline read: “Bishops Again Postpone Statement on Catholics in Public Life.” This, after weeks of bishops contradicting each other in the press as to who can or should receive holy Communion when the communicants publicly disavow Church teachings on morality and doctrine. It became the veritable “Tower of Babel.” If the bishops can’t agree on the doctrine and discipline of the holy Eucharist, which is the source and summit of our faith (Vatican II), what teachings can they embrace as one, catholic, holy and apostolic?

Perhaps the counsel of Jesus is our solace: “Do as they tell you but not as they do.”

Deacon John M. Edgerton

Tarpon Springs, Florida

Doubts About Deal’s Deal

I have a lot of respect for Deal Hudson and am pleased to see his byline gracing your pages, but I must take issue with some of what he implies in “Steubenville Elects Bush” (Commentary & Opinion, Dec. 12-18).

First, he attributes Mr. Bush’s victory in Ohio to an increase in votes from pro-life Catholic Democrats, inspired in part by admirable student activism at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. The problem with this thesis is that it ignores much of what else went on in Ohio during the campaign. Most specifically, it ignores the sustained, impassioned, get-out-the-vote drive by fundamentalist and conservative Protestants that centered around a ballot initiative, the toughest in the country, outlawing homosexual marriage. That effort overcame not only the inertia of working-class Protestant groups that had low turnouts in recent elections, but also opposition to the ban from most of the state’s prominent Republicans, who opposed it because “it would hurt business” (thereby manifesting what god it is some Republicans really worship). Credit should be given where credit is due.

This brings me to the second erroneous implication of Hudson’s column. On this he quotes a Steubenville alumnus: “The blue-collar values of Catholics no longer match up with the Democratic Party agenda.” This is true only in the arena of the life and sexual-morality issues. I have deep roots in the Steel Belt along the Ohio River. Both my grandfathers and many of my uncles and cousins were or are steelworkers. I assure you that, on other issues, the values of ethnic Catholics in the region still match up very well with the Democratic concern over economic policy, health care and many other issues.

Many of the Catholics who crossed over and voted for Bush this time did so with their teeth clenched and feeling it to be the most painful vote they ever cast. They did so for the sake of pre-born children and out of repulsion for the moral silliness represented by the “gay rights” movement. But it would be a grave mistake, and a disservice to the personal sacrifice they made in voting for Bush, to see in this a broad conversion to “Republican values.”

Mark Gronceski

Warren, Ohio

Just Another Love-In

The Southern Baptists are not refusing to join Christian Churches Together (CCT) out of the certainty that “they’re right and everyone else is wrong,” as claimed by Rev. Robert Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches (“Catholics and Protestants Together,” Dec. 12-18).

Rather, the SBC is using its God-given common sense in having nothing to do with a group which any child can see is programmed to self-destruct.

Even if the Catholic Church weren’t still reeling from the sex-abuse scandals, why on earth would we want to join a coalition of heretical churches that don’t know what they’re going to do about “peace, poverty and justice,” but do know they want to get together and “talk” about it, “learn” from each other and “live together” while avoiding any controversial issues?

Since nothing will happen if even one CCT member disagrees, one can be certain that nothing will happen, except a waste of time, talent and money. Placing “relationships” over “action” sounds like just another ’60s sensitivity love-in. Is this the best the USCCB can do?

Carol Suhr

Pine, Arizona


The page-one story “Bishops Focus on Judges” (Jan. 23-29) gave the impression that a spokeswoman for the U.S. bishops had commented on 20 judges who were re-nominated to the federal bench shortly before Christmas by President Bush.

In fact, the quotes from Cathy Cleaver Ruse, director of planning and information for the Pro-Life Secretariat of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, referred to a litmus test imposed on pro-life judges.

“Denying a vote on nominees who do not swear allegiance to Roe v. Wade is unjust,” Ruse has since told the Register. She called filibustering nominees because they are or may be pro-life “discriminatory” and “offensive to the majority of Americans who are pro-life.”

The article also gave the impression that an internal bishops conference memo discusses a strategy to fight filibuster threats to Bush judicial nominees. But it concerns more specifically a pro-abortion litmus test for judges.