National Catholic Register


Letters 09.22.13

BY The Editors

Sept. 22-Oct. 5, 2013 Issue | Posted 9/17/13 at 3:30 PM


Act Presidential

Regarding your coverage of the crisis in Syria: President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."

As he considers launching an attack on Syria, perhaps he should sit quietly in the Oval Office, with Nobel Medal and diploma in hand, and ask himself what extraordinary diplomatic efforts he has undertaken to stop the slaughter in Syria. Perhaps he should ask himself how much person-to-person cooperation will be achieved by the business end of a million-dollar Tomahawk missile.

Perhaps he should commit himself to drawing a new red line — a red line that won’t be crossed just to save face or just because it is politically expedient.

Keith G. Kondrich

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


Praying for Syria

Regarding your coverage of Pope Francis’ prayer service for peace:

Mass at the Mission of Divine Mercy in New Braunfels, Texas, is always a time of joy — a holy and reverent spiritual encounter with the living Jesus. On Saturday, May 11, Mass at the mission was celebrated in honor of persecuted Christians in Syria and across the world. Also in New Braunfels on that Saturday, members of Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church gathered in our sanctuary at 11am, along with Christians from other area churches, for an hour of silent, individual prayer. Hopefully that same weekend, many Catholic parishes around the country and abroad answered the call of Syrian Christians to pray and fast for the end of the violence in Syria.

May 11 has come and gone, but the Syrian Christians — Catholics, evangelicals, Orthodox, Protestants and nondenominational communities — continue to ask intercessors worldwide to pray for their country, their persecutors and their individual churches. To see the heart-rending prayers of many Syrian churches, visit the Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in New Braunfels, Texas, website at

Please share these prayers with all the Christians you know, and ask them to pray them. Let us hope many more Catholic churches will invite area churches — Catholic and non-Catholic — to come together to pray for persecuted Christians in Syria, Egypt and beyond. It is the least we can do, or perhaps the most we can do, for our sisters and brothers in Christ who share our faith but not our freedom.

Sts. Peter and Paul Wednesday morning

ladies Bible study class

New Braunfels, Texas


Revisit Pacepa

Pertinent to "Disinformation and a Dubious Source" (Aug. 10,

Last June, when Disinformation was published, I was sure that the immense disinformation machinery, which has survived the collapse of the Soviet Union, would unleash a merciless war against it.

The book, by Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa and professor Ronald Rychlak, reveals the Kremlin’s "secret strategies for undermining freedom, attacking religion and promoting terrorism," and it was an anathema to the Antichrist disinformation machinery.

Never, however, did I imagine that this disinformation machinery would be able to start its U.S. disinformation campaign against this uniquely important book in a prestigious Catholic publication. For "Disinformation and a Dubious Source," published on Aug. 10, has nothing to do with the real Gen. Pacepa, whom I have never met, but whom I know well.

I am one of the millions who still praise him for having sent the Romanian despot Ceausescu to the scaffold, as well as help the Romanians get their churches back.

Those who served communism until it collapsed, in order to discredit the message of Pacepa and professor Rychlak’s new book, Disinformation, are now crucifying Pacepa.

I would like to insert the words used by an Aug. 8, 2013, editorial that the prestigious German radio program Deutsche Welle addressed to Romania, which has the largest German population in Eastern Europe. I quote:

"A nauseating and stomach-turning mishmash of ex-securitate officers has once again confused the Romanians who still insist on reading the press and who, in their thirst for information, inevitably fall prey to the maneuver of lying on television to the people. Included in this sickening mishmash … is the reason for the self-protective tenacity with which the mob-like securitate oligarchy opposes any honest admission of its past or any punishment — even symbolic — by the justice system of the crimes of the political police.

"The Pacepa fairytale is one of the stories invented in Romania to confuse the minds of people who might recognize the fatal connection between the old and the new. Repeated ad nauseam by the securitate people who were never removed or punished by the post-communist regimes, the ‘Pacepa myth’ [insinuations that he is a traitor] — newly and credibly disproved by former CIA Director James Woolsey — is akin to other lies that have been going around for a few decades now and are intended to save the skins of the old securitate people."

I would encourage the Register to glance through Disinformation, watch the documentary movie about Pacepa’s role in demolishing the Soviet Empire and revisit its review.

Darnelle Mason

The Guardian Foundation

Redlands, California


Journalist Responds

In light of Jesuit Father Peter Gumpel’s letter ("Review Misstep," Sept. 8 issue), I’m afraid the following three historical facts are not clearly enough stated in my book review of Disinformation:

1) From its inception, the Soviet Union targeted the Catholic Church as an enemy power;

2) the Kremlin’s intelligence apparatus, the KGB, attempted to infiltrate the Vatican, especially during and after the Second Vatican Council; and

3) Pope Pius XII’s heroic behavior has been maligned by political forces uninterested in historical accuracy.

No other global institution forsaw communism’s evil. As early as 1846, Pope Pius IX explained communism would lead to "the complete destruction of everyone’s laws, government, property, and even of human society itself" in the encyclical Qui Pluribus (Faith and Religion).

The Holy See, under the guidance of Pope Pius XII, issued a decree in 1949 that Catholics who "defend or propagate" the communist doctrine "contract ipso facto excommunication."

An excellent source on Kremlin attempts to undermine the Church is Spies in the Vatican: The Soviet Union’s Cold War Against the Catholic Church (Pegasus Books, 2009) by John Koehler, a former Associated Press reporter, U.S. Army Intelligence officer and adviser to President Ronald Reagan.

Koehler portrays the KGB’s operational program against the Vatican. He explains how some priests, especially from Hungary, Poland and East Germany, were recruited to serve as undercover agents, gaining access to the Curia.

Stefano Bottoni, an Italian-Hungarian scholar, plumbed the Hungarian archives and found devestating evidence of decades-long spy missions launched against Rome after 1963 — information not even mentioned by Pacepa/Rychlak.

KGB archives confirm the reality of a multilateral plan to penetrate the Vatican.

According to material in The Sword and the Shield by former KGB archivist Vasili Mitrokhin and British historian Christopher Andrew, senior Soviet bloc officials met in Budapest in 1967 to discuss ways to discredit the Vatican. Interestingly, only representatives from Romania disagreed with the need to target the Catholic Church.

Father Gumpel says that former communist offical Ion Pacepa’s claims should be weighed. I conducted that research; there’s no evidence for his particular story: nothing. The entire book is fraught with factual errors that would require a separate review.

The very noble goal — which I share — of proving Pope Pius XII righteous among nations in his heroic efforts to save Jews will succeed because it is true. We do not need to rely on false stories to set the historic record straight.

Victor Gaetan

Washington, D.C.


Awesome God

In the Aug. 25 edition of the Register, "Father Dowling’s ‘Missouri Miracle’" shows the awesome power of God at work.

In an age of texts and tweets, emails and faxes, our "virtual world" consumes us. It is precisely in times like this that God shakes things up and wakes us up to his personal relationship with him and to one another. From the sublime faith of a child, Katie Lentz calmly asked her rescuers to pray with her, and they prayed. From their prayers, Father Dowling, alter Christi, walked toward the accident.

Through and with our Divine Healer, Father Dowling anointed and prayed with Katie. We are all reminded of the passage in sacred Scripture where Christ reassures the hemorrhaging woman, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace" (Luke 8:48).

Bobbette Davis

Tickfaw, Louisiana



Twin Relationship

It is wonderful to see the article on Gregorian chant by Eddie O’Neil ("The Beauty of Chant," Education, Aug. 11 issue).

The beauty and prayerfulness of Gregorian chant is something we know well here in Petersham, Mass.

I am the prioress of St. Scholastica Priory (, and there is a Benedictine monastery of monks, St. Mary’s Monastery ( We are separate in government, finances and how we live, but we share our beautiful church and liturgy. We have been praying the seven hours of the Divine Office using the Latin and Gregorian chant since the ’70s.

It is unique, though not unknown in history, to have a twin relationship between a monastery of women and a monastery of men.

God bless!

Mother Mary Elizabeth Kloss, OSB

Petersham, Massachusetts