National Catholic Register

Opinion

Letters to the Editor

BY John Lilly

June 11-17, 2006 Issue | Posted 6/12/06 at 10:00 AM

 

Home Schooling Heat

I have enjoyed your publication since I converted to the Catholic faith five years ago, and yet I sometimes get a nagging feeling that something’s not quite right. Steve Weatherbe’s recent article “He Who Home Schools Teaches Twice” (May 28-June 3) is an example. I’m still choking on the quote from the man who graduated from Catholic school: “Most of our classmates at the 10th anniversary of graduation were divorced, sterilized or using contraceptives. Their spiritual formation was pretty darned weak. We want our children to go to heaven.” 

Yuck. Shame on him for such a presumption — and shame on you, the Register, for allowing such a statement in your publication.

I come from a family of fallen-away Catholics and never went to Mass once until I graduated from college. I attended public school from kindergarten through high school and graduated from a private Protestant college. By the grace of God, I converted to the Catholic faith in my 30s. I frequent the sacraments and have completely changed my views on contraception and abortion. Like all of us, I’m surrounded by Catholics described in the quote above. And yet they are still part of the Church. We, and our children, cannot turn our backs on them or forget that God is always with us.

As a mom with children in Catholic school, I find myself picking up your publication for some kind of support in the imperfect world I live in and find something lacking. Is it possible to present more articles on Catholics living their faith within the context of public or private school? Obviously, we struggle, but many of us struggle in that manner for a reason and are tired of feeling like we are not part of the pretty picture of the Church drawn by publications such as yours.

 Sarah Backer

Fulton, Missouri

I enjoyed “He Who Home Schools Teaches Twice” (May 28-June 3).

When my wife and I were blessed with our first child, we agreed that our child would either attend Catholic school or be home schooled. Fortunately, we live in close proximity to a very faithful, private Catholic school. We’re grateful that Catholic education is available to us and understand that this is not the case for all Catholic parents.

However, when Catholic education is a feasible option for a family, I’m left with a question that Steve Weatherbe’s article does not contemplate. What is the role or purpose of home schooling when Catholic education is a feasible option for a family, in light of what the Second Vatican Council proclaimed in the Declaration on Christian Education?

“The Council also reminds Catholic parents of the duty of entrusting their children to Catholic schools wherever and whenever it is possible,” the Council fathers wrote, “and of supporting these schools to the best of their ability and of cooperating with them for the education of their children.”

T. Joseph

Atlanta, Georgia

Father Capodanno Fan

I was so happy to see your feature on Maryknoll Father Vincent Capodanno, who now bears the title Servant of God (“He Died with His Men,” May 28-June 3). As an eight-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, I always enjoy reading military stories and history with a Catholic/spiritual aspect to them. I read the book by Father Mode, The Grunt Padre, two years ago and was deeply touched by Father Capodanno’s life story. I gave the book as a Christmas gift to my friend who is also a Navy chaplain. (He will actually become the chief of chaplains in June when he is promoted to a two-star admiral).

However, there were two minor errors in the Register’s story. The first error is that you referred to Father Capodanno as “winning” the Medal of Honor. It is improper to refer to the Medal of Honor and its recipients that way. The correct phrasing is to say someone was either “awarded” or “received” the Medal of Honor. An easy analogy to help readers understand the difference is this: We don’t “take” holy Communion; we receive it.

The second error was the picture of the Medal of Honor itself in the story. That is the Army Medal of Honor. Father Vincent would have received the Navy Medal of Honor (pictured above). The difference lies in how the Medals are attached to the ribbon. With the Navy medal, there is a ship’s anchor attaching the ribbon portion to the medal portion of the award. Both errors are completely understandable.

I encourage all Register readers to pray for the cause of Father Capodanno’s sainthood, especially those readers who are veterans or are on active duty. My son is so impressed by Father Capodanno’s story that, right now, he would like to be a priest in the military. He’s only 9, though, and several months ago he wanted to be a firefighter like me. So who knows?

 Steven Davison

Bremerton, Washington

Veteran Call

Relevant to “He Died with His Men” (May 28-June 3):

The Catholic War Veterans of the USA are recruiting new members to continue their service to God, country and home. Would you publish our web address to allow potential members to visit and learn all about our organization, headquartered in Alexandria,Va., and chartered by Congress? It is cwv.org.

Your cooperation would be appreciated and long remembered. God bless.

 

Brian Collinsworth

Catholic War Veterans of the USA

Alexandria, Virginia

 

Doubts About the Doubter

Concerning “Defending Thomas” (Commentary & Opinion, April 23-29):

I would like to side with the traditional Christian disapproval of his lack of faith. I think some of the points about the lack of stellar faith in the other 10 apostles are valid, but the conclusion is not. Thomas, it is argued, “only asked for what all the others had received a week earlier before they were able to believe.”

“[But] later, as the eleven were at table, he appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been raised” (Mark 16:14).

Thomas is unique as correctly noted by “historical Christian scorn” (scorn seems too condemning to me) in that he disbelieved the witness of not only of the first witnesses to the Resurrection but also the witness of the other 10 apostles as well. One can speculate if the missing apostle had been someone other than Thomas — say James or Andrew — would he have said, like Thomas, “unless I put my fingers into the nail marks and my hand into his side I will not believe”?

We cannot know, but we do know that Thomas did speak those words. Therefore we can speak only of his unique lack of faith in this instance. We can learn from it if we do not excuse it. Then, maybe, like Thomas, we will someday become a witness to the Resurrection and an inspiration of faith as he did.

Reverend Michael Menner

Sacred Heart Catholic Church

Warsaw, Illinois

Raising Joseph

In reference to Joseph Pronechen’s article “St. Joseph Works Above Ground” (April 30-May 6):

I agree with Fathers McSweeney, Pacwa and Linck, who were quoted as saying that homeowners seeking a fast sale should not bury a St. Joseph statue in the yard. Whatever the good or misunderstood intention, or however the legend goes, I believe that such a practice is disrespectful.

Icons of saints should be reflected upon for veneration, inspiration and intercession, not buried for good luck and treated as casually as a rabbit’s foot or a horseshoe. As the article correctly noted, a line can be drawn between praying for intercession and practicing superstition.

Having once been stranded and virtually homeless between a home sale and home purchase, and seeing friends and family members suffering the same stressful dilemma, I can certainly understand and appreciate the desperation some homeowners feel. I nevertheless do not believe in praying for money or material possessions. In my situation, I simply prayed for strength and a speedy resolution to my predicament within God’s will.

I have also seen that a proper intercessory prayer to St. Joseph is a worthy endeavor. When I was a child, my mother gave me an old, yellowed, tattered piece of paper that was passed down by my maternal grandmother. On that paper was a prayer to St. Joseph. Supposedly, it was to be said for nine consecutive mornings, and it was never known to fail. I have recited that same prayer daily for the past several months for a family member with cancer. That family member went through major surgery with little to no pain and a speedy recovery that even shocked her doctors.

St. Joseph should be prayed to with forethought, faith and reverence. The placement of any icon bearing his likeness should not be underground, but above it — preferably on a high shelf.

Douglas A. Wrenn

Beacon Falls, Connecticut

False Accusations, Real Harm 

A priest is falsely accused and finally exonerated. It doesn’t make the news. Even in Catholic newspapers. Except the Register (“False Charges Ousted Priest for 2 Years,” May 7-13).

The story about Father Charles Murphy, a priest in Weymouth, Mass., who was vindicated from a 30-year-old sexual abuse claim, is one of the few such stories I have ever read about falsely accused clergy. Why, oh why, won’t our bishops fight for these most precious resources of our Church? One accusation with little investigation and a priest is put out to pasture, separated from the flock that desperately needs him.

A few months ago I approached a respected reporter for our local archdiocesan newspaper. I requested that she and her editor think about doing some stories about our priests who have been falsely accused. I told her that, in 1998, I was falsely accused of sexual crimes by a student I had taught 12 years prior. Even after my exoneration, I related, the mental anguish still hangs on and I am sure the same trauma exists for priests who have also been so accused and had to go back when vindicated and face their congregations.

Both she and her editor were supportive of my request and thought it would be a revealing insight to the readers about how these clergy dealt with their nightmare. I anxiously awaited such an article, but in vain. In a later conversation with this reporter, I was told that the bishops control all articles printed in the archdiocesan newspaper and their reaction was not to print such articles.

According to what I have learned, a group known as Snap (Survivors Network of Abuse by Priests) place such pressure on our hierarchy that the bishops would rather remain silent on these issues than fight any allegation. When will our bishops wake up and know that we in the pews really want them to stand up to the money-hungry litigants?

 Michael F. Gallagher

Abington, Pennsylvania

Correction

In “Bottomless Mine of Motherly Love” (Travel, May 14-20), we identified Passionist Father Cassian Yuhaus as rector of St. Ann’s Cathedral in Scranton, Pa. We have since learned that Father Yuhaus was succeeded in that role in 2002 by the basilica’s current rector, Passionist Father Richard Burke. We regret the error.