National Catholic Register

Opinion

Letters 09.08.13

BY The Editors

Sept. 8-21, 2013 Issue | Posted 9/4/13 at 8:48 AM

 

Register Memories

Your piece about the Register’s longest subscriber of record ("Meet the Register’s Longest Subscriber," Culture of Life, Aug. 11 issue) will undoubtedly flush out more tales of this newspaper’s early days. How about one from the editorial staff of the 1940s?

At the moment World War II snatched men from their jobs in every corner of the country, women graduates of college poured into the workforce. This writer, as Mary Elizabeth Eisenman, was one to whom the Register came recruiting at Loretto Heights College in Denver, in June 1942, even before graduation day.

A masterful history of the fight for Catholic journalism and the Register’s founder, Msgr. Matthew Smith, titled Witness to Permanence, came out in 1987 from the pen of probably the most erudite of Register journalists, Paul H. Hallett, a convert to Catholicism.

Msgr. Smith, in his neo-Mission-styled building at 938 Bannock St., Denver, rolled out weekly editions of the Register for 32 dioceses across the nation. He required all writers, even the proofreaders, to attend extra morning classes in his "Register College of Journalism," staffed with professors from Denver University and the then-St. Thomas Seminary.

Nothing hindered the perfectionist that was Msgr. Smith. His "Listening In" column, on one occasion, was penned from his hospital bed. He ordered three heavy encyclopedias sent up, with a small table and typewriter — and me — to take his dictated column for the week. The only other stenographic tasks I recall were two letters to the Pope recommending clerics for bishop.

I was the first woman listed on the Register flag, on being assigned the "lonely hearts" column. We called it "What Do You Think?" My mother, living in South Dakota, clipped and saved the column from 1942 to 1945 — until the glorious armistice sent the men back home, many in a rush to the altar before Advent fell in December 1945. After three long years of war, my sweetheart, Bill Carson, and I were among them.

After leaving the Register, life found us in Latin America on assignment with the U.S. State Department.

I still read the Register avidly and marvel at its staying power. The new editor appears cast in the same perfectionist vein of Msgr. Smith, its founder. I scarcely ever catch even a typo. Also, the Register’s pairing with EWTN is spectacular on many fronts.

Mary Eisenman Carson

Seattle, Washington

 

Review Misstep

Having read the Register’s review (Aug. 10, NCRegister.com) of Disinformation by professor Ronald Rychlak and Gen. Ion Pacepa, I am writing to protest and express my outrage at the way in which a quotation of mine was misused to support this uncouth review.

The comment of mine which is quoted — "It is necessary to take into account that spies need to justify their existence and must give value to things that have very little importance or none at all" — comes from a 2007 Zenit News Agency story (as the review itself briefly acknowledges) and therefore has nothing whatsoever to do with the 2013 publication of Disinformation, the specific book under review.

My 2007 comment was simply meant to encourage a proper scholarly evaluation of Pacepa’s statements at that time — not to dismiss all of them outright, much less declare none of them could ever be established. In fact, the Zenit story referenced misleadingly in your review actually notes that I "agreed" with Pacepa in large part; and what I also told Zenit, but which your review of Disinformation left unmentioned, was the following:

"One needs to be extremely prudent and try to verify the facts." I did not — l repeat — say every aspect of Pacepa’s account could never be verified, only that it needed to be carefully considered — which it has been, by numerous scholars, since 2007, during which a considerable amount of new information has appeared supporting it.

Moreover, the way in which my 2007 quotation was used in the Register’s review of Disinformation leaves the impression that I doubt Pacepa’s statements dealing with the communist disinformation campaign against Pius XII and consider them nothing more than a spy-induced fabrication. In fact, as anyone who reads the 2007 Zenit news article can see, it was abundantly clear at the time that there was in fact a concerted communist campaign to infiltrate and compromise the Vatican and to defame Venerable Pius XII.

Therefore, both professor Rychlak and Gen. Pacepa deserve to be praised, not attacked, for recounting and documenting this indisputable historical reality in Disinformation. Debates among academics, historians and diplomats about certain details of this campaign are to be expected but pale in comparison to that central and overwhelming fact.

Instead of highlighting this, however, the review launches into a series of ad hominem attacks against Gen. Pacepa, which I am sure both he and professor Rychlak can answer. It should also be stressed that both men authored the book together — a book they submitted to me in advance of publication — and so the Register’s attempt to separate the excellent work of professor Rychlak, which I have long admired and supported, from Gen. Pacepa’s is not only unconvincing, but self-evidently wrong.

The Register’s use of my 2007 quotation in such an out-of-context and misleading way was highly irresponsible, and so I request the Register to immediately acknowledge this and publish this letter in your publication, lest your readers be misled.

Father Peter Gumpel, S.J.

Rome, Italy

 

The editor responds: The Register acknowledges that Victor Gaetan, while crediting the 2007 source of the quote he used, did not seek additional comments from Father Gumpel regarding the book Disinformation to clarify Father Gumpel’s views on the credibility of Pacepa. However, the Register did not at any time indicate that a disinformation campaign against Pope Pius XII did not take place. On the contrary, regarding the research of Ronald Rychlak, the Register previously has published Rychlak’s own account of why he believes Pacepa’s story in the article "The Framing of Pius XII — From Skepticism to Belief" (Aug. 17, 2012, NCRegister.com).

 

Costly Miscue

Regarding "WYD and the Trayvon Tragedy" (Opinion, July 28 issue), I would like to know how it was that you made the decision to call Trayvon Martin’s death "murder" when the authorities in Florida could not convince a legally chosen jury that it was murder.

In your second paragraph, you conclude that the precise circumstances remain shrouded in uncertainty. You are correct in saying that his death was a senseless tragedy, but at whose feet does the fault lie? Given Zimmerman probably profiled him before the event, what stopped Martin from leaving the area when he became aware of what was happening?

Martin, according to accounts I have listened to and read about, started the confrontation. You may say that Zimmerman started it by profiling Martin, but Zimmerman was in his own neighborhood; Martin was not.

I am of the opinion that when you write an editorial that will be read by thousands of people, you should present facts as a basis for your thoughts and not presumptions not based on fact. It seems to me that you have fallen prey to people such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

While I agree with most of your editorial, the above mentioned miscue certainly, in my mind, took away a lot of credence that you may have had.

Sylvester Kesel

St. Elizabeth, Missouri

 

The editor responds: An earlier version of this article inadvertently mischaracterized the death of Trayvon Martin as a "murder." The article has been corrected to remove this unintended mischaracterization, which did not accurately reflect the verdict of not guilty in the trial of George Zimmerman.

 

Mustard Seeds

Regarding "Komen for the Cure and Planned Parenthood" (Nation, Aug. 11 issue):

The story reported on Komen’s problems with funding Planned Parenthood but did not indicate why no one should fund Planned Parenthood. Below are reasons not to fund it and an easy way to join in helping reduce Planned Parenthood’s funding from private companies.

Planned Parenthood actively promotes abortion throughout pregnancy. Live Action’s films show that Planned Parenthood is willing to abort children from women imprisoned in sex-trafficking so they can remain captives, and they are willing to abort children of women impregnated from statutory rape so they can continue in those abusive relationships. These cruel policies increase their profits, but they inflict great pain on women.

Planned Parenthood lobbies against laws prohibiting sex-selective abortions and against laws to improve the safety of women in abortion facilities. It lobbies against laws requiring inspections of abortuaries to ensure they are clean and the equipment is sterilized after each abortion. It lobbies against laws to force abortion businesses to facilitate ambulance access when a woman is injured and requires hospitalization, and it lobbies against forcing abortionists to maintain hospital privileges nearby so they can treat the women they injure.

Planned Parenthood lobbies against all laws that provide information to women to help them make informed decisions about their pregnancies, including the many risks of abortion, and against showing them a sonogram so they can see their babies.

Planned Parenthood denies that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer and pre-term births in subsequent pregnancies, which results in infant mortality and morbidity, including cerebral palsy, epilepsy and retardation.

One easy way to reduce the evil Planned Parenthood does is to support Life Decisions International’s boycott list by joining Project Mustard Seed and sending a letter to a different boycott company each month asking them to stop supporting Planned Parenthood.

John Naughton

Silver Spring, Maryland 

 

Who Are the Faithful?

Janet Smith takes us down a very startling road in her article "An Epic War" (In Depth, Aug. 11 issue) by citing effects of the steady rejection of Humanae Vitae after its release 45 years ago.

She states that we might have been better equipped to fight this rejection had we maintained a united front. It is true that some priests, over time, have been directed by their local bishops not to preach or teach certain doctrines from the pulpit, lest they turn away the faithful.

But who are the faithful? Are they Catholics who only show up for Sunday Mass on occasion?

Are they a-la-carte Catholics, picking and choosing their own rules and regulations to fit their personal agendas or lifestyles? Or are they the ones who support public and political mandates and decisions that are diabolically opposed to Catholic teachings?

If we are to have a united front, we need strong leadership with priests who are well grounded and can realign the laity with the root teachings and truths which are inherent to the Catholic religion.

Perhaps we need to redefine what it is to be Catholic. One cannot be lukewarm in one’s faith, particularly when critical issues arise that require us to defend them.

For example, if one is pro-life, then one honors and respects the whole spectrum of human life, from the beginning (at conception) to the end, and accepts the teachings of the Catholic Church on life. If one calls him/herself a Catholic, then one believes, embraces and defends those teachings and doctrines.

In these challenging times, it requires us to be courageous and diligent and to practice and profess a strong faith as we deal with the forces that surround, threaten and jeopardize us and the Christian community at large.

Barbara A. Brooks

Farmington, New York