National Catholic Register


Letters 03.11.12

BY The Editors

March 11-24, 2012 Issue | Posted 3/5/12 at 10:19 AM


NFP: Spreading the Word

Thank you for Jennifer Fulwiler’s blog post on natural family planning (“Father, We’re Ready for that Homily on Contraception Now,” Feb. 22,

As a NFP teacher, I have waited for this for 30 years. I circulated it to as many people as possible, including all the bishops in the U.K.

Valerie Gamble

Gloucestershire, England

We Cannot Comply!

Pertinent to “Church vs. State” (Feb. 26 issue articles):

Our president has now mandated that Catholic organizations, despite their moral convictions, must give up their convictions in support of a woman’s choice.

However, this is not an issue of woman’s choice; it is about the First Amendment prohibiting the government from establishing any law limiting the free exercise of religion. It is also about government control of our lives.

We cannot comply with this mandate. I strongly urge the Church to stand up to the government, on this and other issues, and help us to rid this country of this administration and its policies.

Vincent Picarello

Hudson, Massachusetts

Regarding your coverage of the HHS mandate requiring Catholic institutions to offer contraceptives and abortifacients:

What I have not seen discussed and what is the greatest predictor of how we arrived at this sorrowful state of affairs and how the sorrow has and will increase is this:

When we did not rise up as Catholics, led by our priests and bishops, at the first mention of legalized abortion prior to and leading up to Roe v. Wade, we laid the fundamental path to where we are now.

When we looked around us and saw that so many Catholics were voting for Hillary Clinton, we paved the way.

When priests and bishops refused and continue to refuse to raise their voices against the immorality of contraception and abortion in their daily and Sunday Mass homilies, we miss the opportunity to instruct secular, uninformed consciences and continue to pave the way to these present and continuing tragedies.

There is no surprise to how and why we got here.

The question is: How will we get out?

The answer, as always, lies in suffering discipleship from each of us, led by visible and vocal priests and bishops.

Priests, bishops, laity: Wake up to your responsibilities for leadership!

Priests and bishops: Your un-catechized flock cries out to you for a strong and visible example. Get in the public square. Be unafraid. Announce your intention to close your hospital, your parish school, your Catholic charity headquarters.

We have Truth himself on our side, and it is only our own lack of faith and cowardice that prevents us from acting.

Unless we take a strong, forceful and visible stand — loudly, publicly and, unfortunately, with great sacrifice — we can only look forward to more of the same — and much worse.

Mary Kiely

Baltimore, Maryland

President Obama does not have the authority to abridge our First Amendment religious-liberty rights. Nor can he negotiate any diminishment of those rights as a means of political accommodation.

If you’ve shied away from this issue because of your views regarding contraception, sterilization or abortion, please reconsider.

This mandate is a direct assault on our civil liberties because it seeks to force religious organizations to take actions in violation of their teachings and beliefs.

The president’s so-called compromise changes nothing of substance. It requires insurance companies to offer these services, including abortion-inducing drugs, for free.

Religious and secular employers will be required to offer insurance or pay a heavy fine. The only exception is narrowly drawn and applies solely to houses of worship.

Our fundamental religious liberties cannot be bargained away or dismissed by bureaucratic edict. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website has excellent information regarding this issue, including ways to take action.

Now is a most opportune time to do so.

Paul Moses

Sterling Heights, Michigan

The Obamacare mandate issued by the Obama administration through Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of the Health and Human Services Department is not so much about coercing religious and other organizations to secure insurance that covers contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing (abortifacient) drugs, thus violating their teachings, although that’s an important issue.

But that’s not the main issue.

That mandate is not so much about abridging religious freedom, although that is a very important issue.

And that mandate is not even so much about abridging and violating our freedoms under the First Amendment to the Constitution, although that is a very important issue indeed.

That mandate is an attempt by the Obama administration to rule by decree in violation of the Constitution of the United States, in violation of our other founding document, the Declaration of Independence, and in violation of the political philosophy that underlies both documents and is the underlying political philosophy for representative democracy.

In other words, it’s an attempt at a power grab.

Scott Tonk

North Fort Myers, Florida

Charity Begins at Home

The article appearing in the Jan. 29 issue entitled “Diocese of Tulsa Goes Local” brings up an interesting point.

It seems that the American bishops have a strong tendency to support government-funded charity. While the Church places great emphasis on charitable giving, I wonder how much this is passed on to the Catholic population other than to support one’s parish and various but limited causes for specific Church-supported charities.

Local dioceses and parishes have admonished their members and parishioners to be generous. Seldom have I heard any message coming from the bishops or pastors about giving to the point that government funding could be all but eliminated in terms of caring for the elderly, disabled or anyone who is truly needy and without financial resources.

The government will not give means tests to eliminate fraud. Private charities could and did before government began funding causes. Hillsdale College is a shining example of a fully accredited university that survives and prospers without a dime of government funding — and therefore cannot be dictated to by the federal government.

Is there any reason why charitably inclined Catholics and other committed Christians could not be urged to support the needy in lieu of government funding?

If it can be accomplished in Tulsa and Hillsdale College, then it certainly could be in dioceses throughout the U.S. — and eliminate government mandates, many of which violate our tenets of belief.

Many overseas charitable needs are being met through individual philanthropy. Why couldn’t the bishops assume leadership for Catholics and those Protestant denominations that agree on life issues and care for the needy to accomplish the same at home?

John Therrien

Redmond, Washington

Catholics, Unite!

I am a recent subscriber of your newspaper. With regard to the editorial “Catholics, Unite!” (Feb. 12 issue) on the Respect for Rights of Consciences Act, in which you state that Kathleen Sebelius was the one responsible for the action taken in this matter:

Everyone knows that President Barack Obama was the person responsible. Can you imagine her taking such a position on her own? I can’t, and neither can most Americans. I believe it was columnist Mark Shields who said that he cannot imagine anyone advising the president to take such a course, as it would hurt him politically.

If this happened the way you said, Sebelius would be looking for a new job.

James F. Healy

Middle Village, New York

Thank you for your important editorial (“Catholics, Unite!”) discussing recent authoritarian actions by the regime in Washington.

While the Catechism of the Catholic Church acknowledges, “Human society can be neither well-ordered nor prosperous unless it has some people invested with legitimate authority to preserve its institutions and to devote themselves as far as is necessary to work and care for the good of all” (1897), it also cautions, “Authority does not derive its moral legitimacy from itself. It must not behave in a despotic manner, but must act for the common good as a ‘moral force based on freedom and a sense of responsibility’” (1902).

With these vicious, despotic assaults on the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (no law “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion), the totalitarians in Washington have demonstrated total indifference to “justice,” “domestic tranquility,” “the general welfare” and “the blessings of liberty … and our posterity.”

It is imperative, now more than ever, that Catholics in America resist this exercise in tyranny.

I suggest the following five-step campaign: 1) prayer, 2) communicating with politicians and the media, 3) voting in the next election, 4) donating to like-minded organizations, and, when all else fails, 5) engaging in civil disobedience, as provided for in the Catechism (2242).

Roger W. Smith

Waterloo, Iowa

More to the Story

Regarding “Getting Tough on Sexual Abuse” by Edward Pentin (Feb. 26 issue):

There is far more to the story of accused Catholic priests than what has to date been presented in Rome. Msgr. Stephen Rosetti recently presented to the Holy See that 95% of the claims against priests have been credible. Yet he offered no authority to support such a statement.

The media watchdog site has quoted former Los Angeles District Attorney Donald Steier — clearly someone who has been in the trenches with these claims — who today says that 50% of them have been false and financially driven, at least in the United States.

Other writers have shown that the peculiar American practice of contingency law and mediated settlements has set the stage for a proliferation of false claims. A simple Google search for “Catholic Priests Falsely Accused” will tell another side of the story that, in all fairness, the Holy See must hear.

Ryan A. MacDonald

Indianapolis, Indiana