National Catholic Register



BY Jim Cosgrove

January 14-20, 2001 Issue | Posted 1/14/01 at 1:00 AM


The Rediscovery of Tim Drake

I have just read “The Rediscovery of Jesus” in the Dec. 24-30 Register. It makes me again mourn the transience of newspaper articles. This article should be a bedrock of formation classes for adults. Your Tim Drake has a genius for choosing, organizing and writing the very difficult combination of hard evidence within an inspirational message.

I have long admired and learned from Drake's interviews, but this article proves he can do far more than collect information and facts. He can weave them together with inspiration in a very readable and understandable writing style. I hope you will print more of his articles.

DOROTHY T. SAMUEL Saint Cloud, Minnesota

Editor's note: Though both the letter-writer and Tim Drake live in the same city, they have never met, and Mr. Drake assures us that no money changed hands in repayment for this letter.

Engage What Culture?

Upon reading Allen O'Donnell's letter (“So, What Next?” Dec. 17-23) and his question to you, “Why should a Catholic layman engage the culture?” something occurred to me. Because we are Catholics who represent a counter-culture in that we do not subscribe to the current mores of the culture in which we reside, perhaps the challenge is a bit different than merely engaging the culture.

The culture reflects a belief system contrary to Catholic teaching. And the Church, speaking as Christ speaks, calls us to be in the world but not of it. Thus it seems that perhaps the better question is: How can each of us have a positive effect on those around us with whom we may have influence, opportunity to witness or occasion to share the truth embodied in the Church and her immortal wisdom?

It is difficult to define “the culture” and subsequently take steps to challenge it; “the culture” is such a vague term. But it is not difficult to personally seek the courage and wisdom from the Lord Himself to make a difference one person at a time. Every single reader can do that if only he remembers that we are called to humbly make ourselves totally Christ's. Through Him, each one of us can affect others, and then the culture will be converted, soul by soul.

JUDIE BROWN Stafford, Virginia

The writer is president of American Life League.

Home School For Adults

I was very interested in the story about Vincentian Father Oscar Lukefahr and the Catholic Home Study Service (Inperson: “In Case You Missed CCD ...” Dec. 31-Jan. 6).

I am a member of the Society of Sts. Francis Xavier and Thérèse, which works with the Catholic Home Study Service to evangelize the American South. Members mail brochures, prepared by Father Lukefahr, to people in southern states where most of the recipients will not be Catholic. They contain a brief introduction to Jesus Christ and his Church and an invitation to enroll in the Catholic Home Study Service's basic correspondence course.

During the past 10 years more than 8,200 people have taken Catholic Home Study Service courses because they received our brochures and many of them have entered the Church.

The brochures and mailing lists are provided free to the Society's members and there are no membership fees or dues. The only cost is a postcard-rate stamp and the few minutes a day it takes to address a card and pray for the addressee. Anyone who wants to become personally involved in the Church's work of evangelization can get further information by writing to: The Society of Sts. Francis Xavier and Thérèse 216-32 Rockaway Point Blvd.

Breezy Point, NY 11697-1127

MARTIN W. HELGESEN Malverne, New York

Too Young to Vote for Bush

I'm just a teen-ager—too young to vote—but when I read the letter “Another Vote for Gore” I thought it was very upsetting. First of all, I'll agree that many Catholics (including me) don't like the fact that George W. visited an anti-Catholic school and supports the death penalty.

However, let me point out that not only did Al Gore support the death penalty, but he went on to say that it was all right to execute a woman, who is on death row, that is pregnant. Also, why do you think that the environment plan that Al Gore had is more important than Bush's plan to stop partial-birth abortion? I for one think that saving innocent babies’ lives is more important than saving trees.

Though George W. Bush may have some faults (like all of us do) I think that he will be a great leader for our country.

MARY DECRANE Greenwood, Indiana

A Democrat for Bush

As a retired County Democratic Chairman and former delegate to a National Democratic Convention, in 1972, I feel qualified to speak authoritatively on the voting responsibilities of Catholics, regardless of party affiliation.

First of all, as a practicing Catholic I must, in conscience, follow the basic philosophy of the Catholic Church, and its bishops, in my daily life, which includes voting.

My decision to vote the Republican ticket in the recent Presidential election was determined by my analysis of the Democratic and Republican platforms. There is no way that I, as a Catholic, nor any other Catholic, in good conscience, could vote for Al Gore's platform of killing human beings still in the womb by abortion on demand, and promoting and supporting worldwide financial support for Planned Parenthood's phony agenda of indirectly promoting business for their abortion mills by encouraging promiscuous sexual activity beginning in grade schools with distribution of various questionable and many times harmful birth control devices.

By the way, when will your paper enlighten us on the standing of the self-proclaimed “Catholics” in Congress, like Ted Kennedy, Leahy and others who vote against the official doctrine of the Catholic church?

GEORGE WEIDNER Fort Mitchell, Kentucky

Out of Line

Having subscribed to the Register for several years we have found the paper to be one of high standards and full of interesting useful information. The pro-life page was especially informative. We were very pleased with our subscription until recent issues when several items raised the question of whether those high standards are dropping.

The letter, “Another Vote for Gore” (Dec. 31-Jan. 6), was a harsh, caustic diatribe against Catholics who voted for Bush. It was an insulting letter that did not receive any editorial comment, even to advise the author that the Register demands civility and charity in its published letters.


Editor's note: Our letters section became a lively forum for opinions about the election in the past month. On second look, the referenced letter's tone is the kind we will avoid in the future. Below, find readers’ response to that letter.

On another note: We have not abandoned the coverage you used to find on the Culture of Life page. The same articles about life issues are now featured on the news pages and front page, while the back page is devoted to features of help to families.

Drawing the Line

Mr. Szymanowski's letter “Another Vote for Gore” attempted to defend voting for a pro-abortion candidate by, among other things, citing the rejection of “single-issue voting” by Catholic Democrats. A candidate for political office—Democrat or Republican—disqualifies himself as a person for whom a Catholic can vote if he or she advocates the moral evil of abortion.

Even if this candidate espouses a variety of programs that are in accord with the Church's social teaching, a Catholic with a well-formed conscience will not vote for him given his advocacy of abortion.

Fortunately we have Church documents that address this issue. The 1974 document “Declaration on Procured Abortion” issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith states that we cannot take part in a campaign for laws that favor abortion or vote for them (No. 22). Since our elected representatives establish laws in the U.S., this provision clearly precludes Catholics from voting for politicians who support abortion.

In Evangelium Vitae Pope John Paul II states that the right to life is paramount because it is the right on which all others are based and cannot be regained once it's lost. The Holy Father also states that in politics and government today, the inalienable right to life “is questioned or denied on the basis of a parliamentary vote or the will of one part of the people—even if it's in the majority. This is the sinister result of relativism which reigns unopposed” (No. 22).

If this most basic of human rights is denied, a candidate's position on welfare, preferential option for the poor or any other issue is moot.

With regard to the death penalty, both candidates in the presidential election support capital punishment—so this argument is also moot.

Even if that were not the case, the death penalty and abortion are not on equal footing in terms of Catholic moral teaching. Abortion is the murder of an innocent person and therefore intrinsically evil. The Church has always taught that it is the right and responsibility of the legitimate temporal authority to execute capital criminals to protect society if no other means of defense is sufficient. The Holy Father has not changed this teaching, but he's asked that the death penalty not be used when society can be protected by other bloodless means. Morally, capital punishment and abortion are not the same act.

Every Catholic should read Evangelium Vitae and all members of the clergy should continuously preach its message. If we want 50% of Catholics in the U.S. to stop voting for pro-abortion candidates, then we need better catechesis of the laity. Every vote cast for a pro-abortion candidate is a vote for the culture of death. We're reaping what we have sown.

KATHLEEN M. HUNT Falls Church, Virginia

Community, Schommunity

Sorry to prolong this, but I can't let Mary Morch's snippy comments (Letters, Dec. 31-Jan.

6) about my previously published views on the awfulness of contemporary church architecture go unanswered.

“Churches today are designed for people, community, seeing and being with your fellow human beings and recognizing Christ in them,” Ms. Morch writes. Whenever I hear Catholics use that kind of jargon, I unholster my rosary. This is the kind of emotional cant employed to depict those of us who reject the ugly, depressing post-conciliar churches as mean-spirited and anti-human—and therefore the kind of people who can safely be ignored.

Surely Ms. Morch can't possibly believe that Catholics didn't engage in charitable works until the statues were removed, the tabernacle hustled away, and the altars stripped? That's not the life my family lives, nor many faithful Catholics today, and in generations past. On second thought, she probably does believe it. People like this are capable of convincing themselves of any oddball thing that advances their agenda.

It is a fallacy to suggest that today's churches are empty because past generations of church architects failed to appreciate “community.” There are many reasons why the Church is in dire straits, first among them the failure of the American church to teach its people what it means to be an authentically faithful Catholic. What's the point of filling hideous churchatoriums up with Catholics who have little idea what their faith is, much less any real commitment to living up to its demands?

The parable of the widow's mite comes to mind. The numbers of American Catholics who dissent from Church dogma on abortion, contraception, premarital sex, the Real Presence and other core teachings are scandalous. The notion that this can be remedied by newfangled church design is ridiculous. One suspects that the Mary Morches of the world don't see this as a crisis in need of remedy at all.

Ms. Morch says I appear to “need continued conversion.” I plead guilty; who doesn't? But if by “conversion” she means throwing in with the self-love hootenanny that obtains at many American parishes, I shall remain a hidebound heathen, so to speak, and do so in very good company. The “community” didn't save me from sin; Jesus Christ did. Would that he today rescue us from our co-religionists who seek to supplant the Catholic faith with an ersatz substitute.

ROD DREHER Brooklyn, New York