National Catholic Register


Letters to the Editors 06.17.2007

BY John Lilly

June 17-23, 2007 Issue | Posted 6/12/07 at 9:00 AM


Reno Dropped the Ball

Regarding “Pornography Crackdown” (April 22):

Wayne Laugesen missed the boat. When Janet Reno fired every U.S. attorney — all 93 of them — she also dropped every pornography case under investigation and on the dockets.

During her two terms as attorney general there were only a few minor porn cases that were weakly prosecuted. The porn industry was able to expand exponentially and now it is too late to bring it under control. It metastasized.

Porn is damaging our nation as seriously as all the illegal drugs combined. Only our prayers and our votes can change the course of America’s future.

J. Norman Sayles

Lodi, California

Jesus, Mary, Joseph

Regarding “To Have, To Hold and to Work With” (April 29):

I am amazed at how the Holy Spirit seems to be working wonders with Catholic groups that are moving along the same lines independent and unknown to each other.

To strengthen family life, which is the basis of all societies and which is suffering horrendous attacks from a Godless materialistic ideology of our times, the Holy Spouses Society offers the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, Joseph of Nazareth as models to imitate. Should the majority of married couples follow this ideal, our society is assured of salvation from its slow slide into chaos and ruin.

What particularly caught my attention was the emphasis on Joseph and Mary as a couple. Many devotions and prayers in the Church emphasize Jesus and Mary, but somehow St. Joseph gets lost on the sidelines. In my prayer life I can never exclude him. My prayer is always: “Jesus, Mary, Joseph.” I do not even say “and Joseph,” because it seems like a put-down or something secondary.

I am convinced that this approach is absolutely necessary for our troubled times and is a vindication of what Scriptures states unequivocally, “What God has joined together, let no one separate!” The whole mystery of our salvation resides in the great mystery of the incarnation of Jesus as God made Man who comes to save us from eternal damnation. And that mystery was always lived out by the three members of the Holy Family who were never separated from each other: Jesus, Mary, Joseph.

Paul Leehan

Seal Beach, California

‘Artificial’ Contraception

In your article, “Northern Lights” (May 13) in the Culture of Life section, Father Jim Whalen uses the term “artificial contraception.”

Is there a contraception that is not artificial? I now have seen this false term in about seven different Catholic papers.

All good wishes and prayers.

Father Paul B. Marx, OSB

St. John’s University

Collegeville, Minnesota

No Justified Reason?

In the May 27 issue’s Letters to the Editor, there was an editor’s note to the first printed letter, “A Stab in the Back?” The editor’s note clearly stated that Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have written there was “no just cause of war in Iraq.”

In my earlier academic studies regarding “just war theory,” I remember discussion about a school of thought that basically says that, “if you have the means to relieve suffering of people, by using force to remove an oppressor” than you are justified in doing so. I cannot cite the source of that line of reasoning; however, in removing Saddam from power, were we not justified in that action by giving 23 million Iraqis the chance for a “better” life and ridding them of the oppression of a tyrannical dictator?

I’ve been wondering how that aspect would be explained in saying there was no justified reason to go to war in Iraq.

I’d be appreciative if you could help me with my Catholic understanding of that dilemma.

I attend Holy Spirit Parish in Burke, Va., and attend Mass as often as I can at the Basilica of the National Shrine in northeast D.C.

Chris J. Krisinger

Colonel, USAF

Burke, Virginia

John Paul II on Iraq

Bob Barattini’s letter to the editor, “A Stab in the Back?” in the May 27 issue, correctly characterizes the opposition of Pope John Paul the Great to the Iraq war, but omits what he thought was of greatest importance once the war had begun. Here is what John Paul said:

“The many attempts made by the Holy See to avoid the grievous war in Iraq are already known. Today what matters is that the international community help put the Iraqis, freed from an oppressive regime, in a condition to be able to take up their country’s reins again, consolidate its sovereignty and determine democratically a political and economic system that reflects their aspirations, so that Iraq may once again be a credible partner in the International Community” (Jan. 12, 2004, Address to the Diplomatic Corps).

“It is the evident desire of everyone that this situation now be normalized as quickly as possible with the active participation of the international community and, in particular, the United Nations Organization, in order to ensure a speedy return of Iraq’s sovereignty, in conditions of security for all its people” (June 4, 2004, Address to President Bush).

The “complete and immediate pull-out of all the troops now” that Mr. Barattini favors would in all probability result in the complete and exact opposite result of the one desired by John Paul II.

Patrick J. Grant

Lanham, Maryland

A Just War

In your May 27 issue, you carried a letter, “A Stab in the Back?” from a gentleman in Florida who claimed you “stab[bed] the Church in the back” by publishing an article supporting a Marine serving in Iraq. His extreme accusation seems to have prompted from you an extreme, and factually incorrect, response. If I am wrong on this, I am open to fraternal correction from you, but if you are wrong, I hope you will take it from me.

It was factually incorrect for you to claim that “Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI ... say that there was no just cause of war in Iraq.” Did the Holy Father oppose the idea of beginning the war in 2002 and early 2003? Yes, he did. However, did he condemn the war as unjust after it actually became a war in April of 2003? No, he most certainly did not. I would respectfully challenge you to list so much as one statement made by Pope John Paul II after April of 2003 — that is, after it became an actual war, and not simply an idea — which condemns the war as unjust. Or for that matter, I would respectfully ask you to list at least one direct quote from Pope Benedict XVI (not media spin or some theologian’s interpretation, but a direct quote) that proclaims, in the name of the Catholic Church, that the Iraq war is unjust. If you can, I will thank you for the education on this issue. However, if you can’t, I would respectfully ask you to refrain from “pontificating” on this matter, when the Supreme Pontiff (and his predecessor) have not done so.

I would also ask you to make clear to everyone, not only to your own editorial board, but your readers in West Palm Beach, Fla., and everywhere else, that Catholics may legitimately disagree on this issue, and that those Catholics who believe that the war is just are not stabbing the Church in the back, just because “everyone” says the Pope said something he did not say.

Larry A. Carstens

Castaic, California

Editor’s Note: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger spoke about the Iraq war after it began, in the magazine 30 Days’ April 2003 edition. Later, as Pope Benedict XVI, he would echo his words about the importance of “anything positive” being obtained:

“The Pope has very clearly expressed his thoughts, not only as the thoughts of an individual, but as the thoughts of a man of conscience occupying the highest functions in the Catholic Church. Of course, he has not imposed this position as a doctrine of the Church, but as the appeal of a conscience enlightened by the faith. This judgment of the Holy Father is convincing from a rational point of view also: reasons sufficient for unleashing a war against Iraq did not exist. First of all, it was clear from the very beginning that proportion between the possible positive consequences and the sure negative effect of the conflict was not guaranteed. On the contrary, it seems clear that the negative consequences will be greater than anything positive that might be obtained.”

On June 4, 2004, Pope John Paul II met with President Bush and also recalled his previous interventions for peace:

“Mr. President, your visit to Rome takes place at a moment of great concern for the continuing situation of grave unrest in the Middle East, both in Iraq and in the Holy Land. You are very familiar with the unequivocal position of the Holy See in this regard, expressed in numerous documents, through direct and indirect contacts, and in the many diplomatic efforts which have been made. ... It is the evident desire of everyone that this situation now be normalized as quickly as possible with the active participation of the international community and, in particular, the United Nations Organization, in order to ensure a speedy return of Iraq’s sovereignty, in conditions of security for all its people.”

Pope Benedict XVI this past Easter spoke again about Iraq, echoing his words about the relationship between a just cause of war and positive consequences outweighing negative ones:

“In the Middle East, besides some signs of hope in the dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian authority, nothing positive comes from Iraq, torn apart by continual slaughter as the civil population flees.”

New Pentecost Has Begun

Regarding “The World’s Language” (May 27):

Perhaps the New Pentecost has already begun, starting in the ’60s with charismatic renewal. Most charismatics are traditional in their beliefs. There are many communities and prayer groups around the world.

Check out Perhaps the resurgence of the priesthood especially in the South (Diocese of Savannah) is another sign. There is a groundswell of very solid Catholics in the world. It’s beginning.

Tom Valois

Augusta, Georgia