National Catholic Register


Letters 1.13.2008

BY The Editors

January 13-19, 2008 Issue | Posted 1/8/08 at 1:30 PM

Heavenly Photos

Thank you for the beautiful article in your Oct. 28 issue, “For all the Saints,” by Kimberly Jansen. The pictures especially drew my attention to the article and what was happening.

Marian Buchheit

Webster, New York

Evangelization in Prison

I’m writing to comment about the new postal rates, “Postal Hike” (Oct. 28):

This could potentially have a grave impact for me and many others in my position. I’m an inmate in a federal prison and we have no access to the Internet.

With the many publications switching over to Web-based only format for cost reasons, both for postal increases and cost of paper based printing, this will stop our ability to receive Catholic news and information.

I think for us to be able to read about our faith and perhaps find some inspiration to lead better lives than our past has great benefits for all. And let’s face it: My experience with Catholic evangelization in prison is a far cry from our Protestant brethren. My plea is for you to try and maintain your publication in print for the benefit of all of us that are in prison and I would like to see more Catholic prison ministries.

Gregory J. Marcinski

Otisville, New York

Ecological Concern

Relevant to “The Human Ecology” (In Depth, Dec. 16):

There are irresponsible members of the media who are misleading people on Pope Benedict’s position on environmental issues. For example, the Daily Mail has published an article called “The Pope Condemns the Climate Change Prophets of Doom” when in actuality Benedict did not do anything of the kind.

If one reads the actual document, it becomes clear that Benedict is actually concerned about mankind taking care of the environment. He thinks we should all be working together to protect, it with the more fortunate countries taking up the slack when poorer countries cannot help out.

This can all be read in paragraphs 7 and 8 in Pope Benedict’s message, found in its entirety at this link:

Obviously, there are members of the media who are trying to mislead Catholics who care about the environment into thinking that Benedict is an ideologue. They would rather attack the Church than enlist his help as an ally who has the respect of one-sixth of the earth’s population.

As faithful Catholics, we should do everything we can to do our own fact-checking and make sure we are not being misled by anyone trying to establish their own agenda. We should be making sure that we let Pope Benedict speak for himself and not repeat the slander of others who are trying to put words into his mouth.

I pray that we all do our part to combat these lies and promote the Truth.

With the help of St. Michael, I’m confident we can succeed.

Dutch Hedrick

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Learn Church Teaching

The hundreds of individuals who undersigned the “Sisters Witness Against War” advertisement (In your Jan. 6, 2008 issue) seem intent on publicly proclaiming their ignorance as to the teachings of our Church, especially regarding killing and war.

n The Fifth Commandment is properly translated as, “Thou shall not murder” (emphasis added), using a very different Hebrew word than that/those used for other forms of killing.
n St. John the Baptist did not instruct the soldiers who approached him to give up their killing trade; But, only to not practice extortion.
n Jesus the Christ noted the great faith of the centurion, without condemning his deadly profession.

n Later, that great Doctor of the Church, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, noted (In his De Laude Novae Militae) that it was sometimes necessary to strike deadly blows for Christ (and his people) against their foes — at that time and in these times, the followers of the false prophet Mohammed (or the secular equivalents as Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao and those other agents of the Evil One).

n Without acts of war, those ignorant signers would have ended up in Muslim harems or as “comfort women” for the Imperial Japanese Army or sent up the smoke stacks of Nazi death camps.

n Evil continues to exist in this world, and it is up to right-thinking and right-acting and armed persons (as individuals or such armies as now combat Islamic terrorists in the same spirit as the Crusaders praised by St. Bernard) to combat it as a duty to God and his people. To paraphrase: Such advertisements as you published subtract from the sum total of human knowledge.

James Pawlak

West Allis, Wisconsin

Doctrine vs. Discipline

Your 2007 summary of stories, “The Register’s Scoops of 2007” (Jan. 6) included the repeated accusation of Voice of the Faithful’s (VOTF) demise into doctrinal dissent. Since the primary point of the VOTF article focused around its call for a review of mandatory clerical celibacy, how can you falsely accuse them of doctrinal dissent for this? You know the difference between doctrine and discipline.

Asking for a change of discipline is not a doctrinal issue.

As a Catholic who is part of VOTF, I would not belong if there were doctrinal positions contrary to the Catholic faith. I also disagree with the organization’s call on the celibacy issue, but that is a minor part of the overall organization.

Colin LaVergne
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Editor’s note: After years of insisting that it would take no position opposing doctrines of the Church, the Voice of the Faithful called for a Vatican review of celibacy. Yes, celibacy is a Church discipline, not a formal doctrine, and is therefore open to discussion among faithful Catholics.

But this isn’t a scholarly group organizing an academic symposium; it’s an activist group targeting the Vatican in a press-release campaign that would seem to tie a centuries-old discipline of the Church to sexual abuse. As Russell Shaw said in our article, “If it isn’t dissent, it’s first cousin to dissent. I don’t see much difference.” The bottom line: The organization once claimed it only wanted the Church to change the way it deals with abuse accusations and the like. Now it wants the Church to change the way it interprets the Gospel.

Morality of ‘Discovery’

Thank you for the highly informative articles on stem cells you have printed since the discovery that embryonic stem cells can be produced from skin cells. There is, however, a statement in the article, “‘Historic Discovery’” (CNS Dec. 9), which needs another view: “The success of this approach, which the Japanese and U.S. researchers followed for scientific and not primarily for ethical reasons ...”

Actually, the Japanese researcher, Dr. Yamanaka, the first to reprogram skin cells to embryonic stem cells, was motivated by moral concerns over human life, saying: “When I saw the embryo, I suddenly realized there was such a small difference between it and my daughters. I thought, ‘We can’t keep destroying embryos for our research. There must be another way.’”

President Bush ordered that an ethical way be found to produce embryonic stem cells and provided funding for such research after he vetoed funding for the research that kills embryos (new human beings) to produce embryonic stem cells.

The December 2007 Our Faith In Action ( cites the work of morally driven Dr. Markus Grompe, director of the Oregon Stem Cell Center, in finding an alternative to cloning and killing embryos; and Wisconsin University’s Dr. James Thomson, who discovered embryonic stem cells in 1998, duplicated Dr. Yamanaka’s breakthrough and said after the discovery, “If human embryonic stem cell research does not make you at least a little uncomfortable, you have not thought about it enough.”

Which is tantamount to saying all thinking people, including researchers, are uncomfortable with embryonic stem-cell research that kills embryos.

That is because God has instilled in our hearts that we should always have the utmost respect for his magnificent gift of human life.

Catholics can be particularly proud that the Church has repeatedly, in the face of criticism and derision, condemned research that requires the taking of human life. And now we hear that even people engaged in such research are disturbed by it.

The Church is right because it teaches what God commands: that we “love one another,” not kill one another, including the youngest members of the human family.

The vast majority of researchers prefer to avoid the ethical controversy surrounding the killing of embryos for research, whether it is because of the ethical issues or to obtain federal funding.

Contrary to “Historic Discovery,” morality was a huge factor in the discovery that embryonic stem cells can be produced from skin cells.

John Naughton
Silver Spring, Maryland


In the Dec. 9 issue of the Register, we incorrectly reported that Best Buy, Toys R Us and Eddie Bauer were on the Liberty Counsel’s annual list of non-Christmas-friendly stores. Best Buy was, in fact, on the list of pro-Christmas stores, and Toys R Us and Eddie Bauer were not on either list. The Register regrets the error.