National Catholic Register


Letters 12.05.2010

BY The Editors

December 5-18, 2010 Issue | Posted 11/29/10 at 4:08 PM


Instrument of Grace

Regarding Mark Shea’s column “Parent Par Excellence” (Nov. 7):

His writings on Mary, along with a number of the Register’s articles and additional sources, were instrumental in bringing this 57-year-old, lifetime evangelical with a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies (Wheaton College), a master’s degree in theology (Fuller Theological Seminary) and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology (Fuller Graduate School of Psychology), along with my wife and son, into the Catholic Church at the Easter vigil 2008. Thank you for your part.

Wesley L. Vincent, Ph.D.

Pomfret Center, Connecticut

Formation Simplified

The editorial in the Oct. 10 issue of the Register, “Consistency Amid Change,” concerned “forming consciences” for Catholic politics and voting. It was long and difficult to master in practical terms.

I think it can be greatly simplified so that everyone can understand the first principle. The Democratic Party platform has a pro-abortion plank. The Republican Party platform does not.

Until such time that both platforms are at least abortion-neutral, Catholics in good conscience must vote pro-life. When the Democrats see less than 10% of Catholics voting for them, they will quickly become pro-life. Then our consciences will allow us to vote for them again.

Richard F. McMahon

Maplewood, Minnesota

Prudential, not Infallible

The Register’s response to “Diversity of Opinion” (Letters, Nov. 7), regarding recourse to the death penalty, seemed to imply that Catholics must oppose the death penalty. I took then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s comments to the U.S. bishops in 2004 as a clarification against that misreading of the Catechism.

Cardinal Ratzinger said, “While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

In my opinion, Pope John Paul II’s encyclical stating that the state can effectively prevent one from doing harm (life imprisonment) should be considered a prudential judgment, not infallible teaching. Criminals can and do escape. A case in point would be serial killer Ted Bundy, who escaped from two county jails on his way to receiving the death penalty.

I support the death penalty in the rare cases where serial, heinous crimes have been committed and where there is a serious threat that a criminal or his supporters (read: terrorists) might mount an escape/retaliation. Bundy’s escapes were in the 1970s, but I doubt our jails have become escape-proof in the 21st century.

Robert Call

Puyallup, Washington

Hiding the Truth

Pertinent to your ongoing coverage on the abortion issue (notably “Knights of Divine Mercy Battle the Culture,” Sept. 26), The Washington Post recently ran a story titled “Doctor planning late-term abortion clinic in D.C. area.” I wanted to express my grave concern.

[LeRoy] Carhart, a physician seeking to relocate a late-term abortion business, said, “I need a place where we could take care of patients we used to take care of in Kansas.” What does he really mean by this?

First, there are two possible definitions for “patient”: One is a sick or injured person seeking health, and the other is a paying client, someone receiving a service, which, in this case, is the termination of a baby’s life after the 28th week when the baby becomes viable (able to live outside the womb).

“To take care of” usually means healing and welfare, but here it means disposing of a helpless, unwanted infant. Next, let’s look at the word “need.” A need is “a must-have” or “a must-do.” Is he saying he needs to kill infants, or that he wants money? Finally, is he a doctor or a murderer? Another statement Carhart made in the Post that needs to be looked into is: “The laws are more favorable in these other jurisdictions, and we’re going to do the maximum the law allows.” Why do we have laws? The reason is to keep people from doing wrong and to protect society’s most helpless. “Favorable” can mean pleasing or not enforced. And he is going to do the maximum the law allows? He is going to do as much wrongdoing as he can without getting into trouble.

Lastly, according to the report, “in Virginia and Maryland, abortions are not allowed beyond when the fetus becomes viable.” Why is it allowed in the D.C. area? Aren’t they clearly taking away the baby’s rights as a citizen of the United States?

Reason shows us that this is an evil thing filled with trickery and deceit. Carhart’s statements are cleverly put together to hide truth.

Teresa Mattingly

Sykesville, Maryland

Perfect Sense

“Mary’s Ultrasound Draws Fire” (NCRegister. com and this issue): The ad makes perfect sense. It is not at all political; only perinatal. I really think it’s cool and clever! Very cute, too. Merry Christmas in advance to everyone, including Terry Sanderson. Peace to all of good will.

Celia Bonilla

Quezon City, Philippines

Delusional ‘Calling’

I was somewhat surprised that you printed the contra Ecclesia letter from one of my fellow residents of Southern California without a response (“Women’s Ordination,” Nov. 7). Since you demurred, I decided I’d send you mine.

To answer Mr. Welch’s question, the following is what’s wrong with this picture. Our Lord never concerned himself with the question of whether or not anyone found his actions “unusual.” He spoke with God’s authority, and so does his Church, with or without the approval of popular opinion. And if his Church is truly the body of Christ, then the source of its authority is God, not Pope John Paul II or any other person, and it has never had the authority to create Catholic priestesses, regardless of what “the rest of Western society” or even the rest of the world is doing or not doing.

If Mr. Welch truly believes the Church to be “outdated” on this issue, there are plenty of more “up-to-date” denominations that he has the option of joining. They tend to have a lot of empty pews. The question Mr. Welch needs to ask (or be asked) is whether the Church should follow society or follow Christ. And if it should follow Christ, why have its holiest and most admirable women, such as Blessed Mother Teresa and Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) (or Chiara Lubich or Mary Ann Glendon, if you’d like someone more current) never “felt themselves called” to something that the Church has never had the authority to do?

Does the Holy Spirit do bipolar callings? Anyone can claim a calling from God: Martin Luther, John Calvin, the prophet Mohammed and Joseph Smith come to mind.

The question is whether the calling is authentic or self-delusional. And if the Church’s magisterium is essentially the same authority conferred on St. Peter by Christ himself, and continued for the last two millennia, then any “calling” that results in a rejection of the Church’s clear teaching (on this or any other matter) must be recognized, with humility, as originating from some other spirit besides the Holy Spirit.

And if one lacks the humility to make such a recognition, hopefully one will awaken (or be awakened) to the realization that one’s attitude resembles that of the character Lucifer in Milton’s Paradise Lost, whose signature phrase was non serviam (“I will not serve.”)

Larry A. Carstens

Castaic, California

Misplaced Desire

The letter regarding “Women’s Ordination” (Nov. 7) left me baffled. The real question, it seems to me, should be: How can a woman represent “the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5), when he says through the priest, “This is my body. … This is the covenant of my blood”?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it this way: “Through that sacrament [holy orders], priests by the anointing of the Holy Spirit are signed with a special character and so are configured to Christ the Priest in such a way that they are able to act in the person of Christ the head” (1563).

In his human nature, Jesus is a man — not a woman; the male priest acts in the person of Christ and is configured to him.

In the next paragraph, we read that priests are “after the image of Christ, the supreme and eternal priest” (1564).

While more could be said to the point, I would just add that for women to really want to become priests, is, it seems to me, at best, a misplaced desire.

Pam Haines

St. Petersburg, Florida

End of Discussion!

Richard Welch’s letter of Nov. 7 concerning socalled women’s ordination shows great ignorance on his part of the official Catholic teaching on this matter. Pope John Paul II said it best: “Christ has not given the Catholic Church authority to ordain women.” End of discussion!

Welch also is incorrect in saying that the Catholic Church and Islam are the only religions that do not ordain women. The Orthodox Church and Orthodox Jews also do not ordain women.

Mr. and Mrs. Constantino N. Santos

Atascadero, California


“Advent Musts and Movies,” in the Register’s Nov. 21 issue, did not feature movie suggestions in the print version; you can see the film suggestions in the Sunday Guide online at NCRegister. com.

Our Nov. 7 In Person interview (also online) with Bishop Sartain incorrectly noted that he would be the youngest archbishop in the U.S.; we updated the articles to correct this error.