National Catholic Register



BY John Lilly

June 24-30, 2007 Issue | Posted 6/19/07 at 9:00 AM

Health Care Concern

Father Andrew McNair’s argument for basic health care in “Everyone Has the Right to Health Care” (May 27), based upon the principle of common good, is compelling. However, his comments, “money should not decide the fate of this issue,” and “This can all be avoided if we have the courage to build a more just society” prompt this inquiry:

Where on the spectrum of market-oriented reforms with compassionate support for those unable to access this market vs. government control measures should we seek to be? Who should define basic health care?

I am particularly concerned, as these questions are debated before the upcoming presidential election. The majority may choose a candidate who effectively articulates a universal coverage message, while their record documents a lack of respect for life.

Our predominantly third-party reimbursement health care system, beginning after World War II for employees and the 1960s for the retired, has resulted in out-of-control spending and disturbed distribution. Medical resources are consumed without much in way of direct personal participation in the cost of those decisions.

We have to choose either market-oriented reforms or a government response. Price controls lead to shortages and rationing. Who will make these calls? The common good would be better served with compassionate market-oriented reforms.          

As you know, Pope Benedict XVI writes in Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love), “We do not need a state that regulates and controls everything, but a state that, in accordance with the principles of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need” (No. 28).

Let us consider justly oriented reforms and temper, perhaps well intentioned but potentially more harmful, interest in government controlled solutions for improving the allocation of scarce health care resources.

Donald P. Condit, MD

Grand Rapids, Michigan


Smacking of Socialism

I read with some dismay the article by Andrew McNair, LC, titled “Everyone Has the Right to Health Care” (May 27).

It begins with a story about the death of a 12- year-old boy that is sheer nonsense. Anyone can get free dental care and health care anywhere in America, if they are destitute. Dentists and physicians also give away millions in free health care. As a neurosurgeon, I gave away at least a million dollars over my career in free health care to the indigent. Even if the parents could not find a dentist to remove the tooth they could have taken him to any emergency room and it would have been taken care of.

The supposition that health care is a right smacks of socialism. Health care is not a right as long as people are supplying the service. It is by the goodness of the provider’s heart that it becomes free. You say that society is obligated to provide the service. Well, one’s religion and education could just as well be declared a “right.” Yet, Catholic schools charge parents huge amounts of money for educating Catholic students. It should be free for everyone, not just the destitute.

Why do they sell icons of the saints and of Mary? They should be free. Should saving and comforting souls be a marketable item?

Likewise, if health care is a right, then why doesn’t the Catholic Church with its trillions build Catholic medical schools and train their priests to be physicians and dentists, so they could dole out free health care. Why do they not build free health care clinics and hospitals? Everything the Catholic Church does should be free.

He asks me to try to imagine if Deamonte was my son. If he were my son, I would have cared for his nutrition, taught him good oral hygiene and taken him to an emergency room, should the worst happen. More people have died under socialized medicine that any health care system in the world; it is built into the system. No, health care is not a “right.”

Russell L. Blaylock, MD

Ridgeland, Mississippi

Guadalupe’s Message

Regarding “Death Wins in Mexico City” (June 3): Our Lady of Guadalupe’s appearance to Juan Diego in 1531 did not halt Aztec human sacrifices. Those had already been stopped by the Spanish capture of Mexico City, more than a decade previously. Neither did the Aztecs specialize in the slaughter of babies and children. Their overwhelmingly preferred victims were captured enemy warriors.

The message of Guadalupe in its own time was a reconciliation: The conquered Indians are just as much Our Lady’s children as the conquering Spanish.  Making the Guadalupana a pro-life icon is fine as long as we get our history straight and realize that this application was unheard of before the last third of the 20th century. For the meanings of Guadalupe across the ages, see Mexican Phoenix by D.A. Brading.

Sandra Miesel

Indianapolis, Indiana

Avoid Categorization

In response to Stephen Vincent’s “Who’s in Charge Here? Taking the Terrible Out of 2s” (May 27): As a mother of four children (ages 7, 5, 3 and 1), I wholeheartedly agree that we parents must take the “Terrible” out of the “Terrible 2s.” I think a perfect way to start is to stop using such rude, un-Christian nomenclature. As an adult, if I have a cranky moment (or day), I would not feel better if someone else labeled me “cranky” or “grumpy” or anything else negative. In fact, I would feel much worse.

Calling people names or categorizing them in this manner (however accurate the label may seem at the time) is never a compassionate way to approach a situation or, at a later time, to reassess one. And little ears are always listening …whether we think they are or not!

Above all, let us remember with soft hearts, these 2-year-olds are 2! They are delicate, precious, constantly learning, always discovering, eager to please and deeply sensitive souls who are more Christ-like than most of us adults! They are not “Terrible.”

Denise Montgomery
Highland Village, Texas

Pope of Peace

Relevant to “Cardinal Decries ‘Black Legend’ of Pius XII” (June 17):

For the past 12 years, I gathered documents that prove outrageous the misrepresentations about Pope Pius XII’s so-called silence and anti-Semitism. With my book, Did Pope Pius XII Help the Jews? (Paulist Press, 2007), I have proven that Pius XII was not silent, nor was he anti-Semitic. He was prudent. Had he taken a more public stand, he would have endangered the lives of thousands of Jews who, at his direction, were hidden in 155 convents and monasteries in Rome alone.

Pius XII was a saintly man, a man of peace and compassion. He condemned strongly the anti-Semitic persecutions, the oppression of invaded lands and the inhuman conduct of the Nazis. He urged the Christian restoration of family life and education, the reconstruction of society, the equality of nations, the suppression of hate propaganda and the formation of an international organization for disarmament and maintenance of peace. He was a champion of peace, freedom, human dignity. He encouraged Catholics to look on Christians and Jews as their brothers and sisters, all children of a common Father.

Recently I received a letter from a convert to Catholicism. She went on a field trip with her daughter’s eighth grade class from a Catholic school, to the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. She wrote:

“I was shocked and offended when a film shown to our students said that none of the churches helped the Jews and even the Pope and the Vatican did nothing!

“I wrote the museum with documentation stating that this information was not true and would they please change the film. I also asked the teacher if I could speak to the class and correct this information. She said I could submit the info and she would make sure it was okay.

“So, I gave her a lot of information. I told her I just needed 10-15 minutes to explain why the Pope had to do what he did secretly; that the chief rabbi of Rome converted after the war and took the Pope’s baptismal name as his own at baptism. And I wanted to tell the kids a couple of the stories about how Catholics rescued Jews so they would not feel ashamed of their Church and their faith. The teacher called me stating that the principal of our Catholic school and our priest said I could not present this information because the Church says Pope Pius the XII and the Catholic Church were just bystanders.

“It took my breath away: Catholics who would rather believe lies about our Church and the Vicar of Christ!”

Sister Margherita Marchione

Morristown, New Jersey

Editor’s note: Sister Margherita, a resident of Villa Walsh in Morristown for 72 years, is author of 10 books on Pius XII, including: Yours Is a Precious Witness: Memoirs of Jews and Catholics in Wartime Italy; Pius XII: Architect for Peace; and Did Pope Pius XII Help The Jews? Paulist Press, 2007.

Muslim Memories

“Never in a Million Years” (May 27) could one have guessed that Ferdinand and Isabella’s final reconquista of the Iberian peninsula from the Moorish occupiers would be held up as an ongoing cause of humiliation for contemporary Muslims, which needs redress. Yet so it was in a fatwa Osama bin Laden issued in 1996.

As well, in 2004 bin Laden lamented the destruction of the Ottoman Empire and secularist Turkish leader Kemal Ataturk’s dissolution of the Caliphate in 1924. A Muslim so aggrieved might well resort to any number of means of response — including weapons of mass destruction.

Yet, Mark Shea would have us believe that it was the very existence and proliferation of such weapons that would “lead to the proliferation of rogue states and terrorist organizations all seeking such weapons.”

No: Angry non-state actors and political leaders have their cause, to which weapons — whether hijacked airliners or suitcase nuclear bombs — are merely ancillary.

In the Islamic world, memories are generally far more tenacious than Mark Shea expects his readers’ to be.

 John R. Traffas

 Wichita, Kansas