Letters 01.10.16

Catholic Animus

Steven Greydanus does a fine job in reviewing Spotlight (Arts, Nov. 29 issue), but gives no indication of The Boston Globe’s long-standing animus toward the Catholic Church. Could it be that he, too, is covering up the fact that he is also employed by the Globe?

It did render a service in giving major exposure to a scandal that cried for attention. What is virtually unknown, however, is that a weekly, lay-run Catholic newspaper was reporting similar cases on an ongoing basis for years.

One would expect that the Globe had a dog in the fight and emphasized the cover-up factor to reinforce its anti-Catholicism.

If not, why not expose cover-ups of sexual abuse taking place in the teaching profession, coaches in sports, other religious denomination leaders involved in the same egregious acts and Hollywood luminaries, to name more than a few offenders? Were they not also involved in cover-ups?

         John Materazzo

         Weymouth, Massachusetts


The editor responds: Steven Greydanus gave a thorough review of the film, pointing out where the film succeeded and where it fell short. He also disclosed his relationship with the Globe/CruxNow.com, and that relationship doesn’t hinder him from performing his job at a very high level. The mainstream media’s repeated ignorance of the much more frequent instances of sexual abuse in public education and sports is well-known and doesn’t enter into the purview of a movie review.


Keep in Mind Mercy

Relevant to your coverage of the Year of Mercy:

During the Jubilee of Mercy, it is important to keep in mind that true mercy must include justice. Mercy without justice is false compassion.

The most dangerous heresy in our time is half-truth. Forgiveness of sins includes not only confession, but turning away from sin and the near occasions of sin.

We leave it to God to judge the person. If we are to grow in discernment of good and evil, we need to judge words and actions.

         Joel Fago

         Hereford, Arizona


Lip Service

The Nov. 29 issue was the second issue in a row where I have seen a theme that seems to pay lip service to parents as the first and best teachers to their children: “Papal Nuncio to U.S. Bishops: Regain Catholic Identity in Schools” (Vatican). “We know that a solid Catholic family is the very first school for learning,” he said. “Good and faithful parents are always the best of teachers.”

My experience has been this is not the case. As a Catholic faith-based, home-school family, we are not considered “good enough” to prepare our children for the sacraments. Instead, our parish (and we have experience in three different dioceses) feels that Catholic schoolchildren receive better formation and don’t need to attend the classes, even when our curriculum is Catholic-based. We take faith formation seriously and would love to have the powers that be take seriously that “Good and faithful parents are always the best of teachers.”

         Jennifer Whiskeyman

         Tampa, Florida


The editor responds: Just as Cardinal Carlo Maria Viganò does in the story you cite, the Register quite often highlights the efforts of home-schooling families. Each individual diocese adopts a policy toward home schooling. The Archdiocese of Hartford, Conn., to name one, holds an annual Mass for home-schoolers. Developing a relationship with your bishop is key.


Spotlight on Relativism

In Steven D. Greydanus’ review of Spotlight (Arts, Nov. 29 issue), the reviewer makes a point of indicating that the majority of child sex-abuse cases are perpetrated by same-sex-attracted men. This claim is simply a reinforcement of the Catholic Church’s belief that homosexuality is inherently evil, and it has no basis in fact.

It was so stated in the review in an attempt (I believe) to somewhat exonerate the Catholic hierarchy in the Church and to insulate the blame, placing it solely on homosexual priests and, hence, child abusers. This claim, however, is erroneous.

An expert panel of researchers convened by the National Academy of Sciences noted in a 1993 report: “The distinction between homosexual and heterosexual child molesters relies on the premise that male molesters of male victims are homosexual in orientation. Most molesters of boys do not report sexual interest in adult men, however” (National Research Council, 1993, p. 143, citation omitted).

The Catholic Church can’t solve its problems in connection with child abusers in the priesthood and brotherhood unless it makes an attempt to understand the root of the problem that lies in the office of the priesthood and brotherhood itself.

         David Asset

         Rancho Mirage, California


Steven D. Greydanus responds: You have misread me on a number of fronts. I never said “the majority of child sex-abuse cases are perpetrated by same-sex-attracted men”; I simply expressed skepticism about “the common but unconvincing platitude that sexual orientation has nothing to do with the fact that the vast majority of victims (more than 80%) are male,” a very different thing. The suggestion that I meant in any way, shape or form to “exonerate” the hierarchy or place blame solely on child abusers is absurd; anyone who read my closing paragraphs should be able to see that.

“Citation omitted” is an interesting citation. Without knowing whether the unnamed source included adolescent and post-adolescent minors in its definition of “boys,” it is impossible to draw any conclusions from this claim. In any case, a significant correlation wouldn’t require that most molesters be sexually interested in men; it would only require a rate of interest higher than the general population.

How fascinating that you consider “the root of the problem ... lies in the office of the priesthood and brotherhood itself.” Clearly the way to solve child abuse is to abolish the priesthood. Oh wait, that would still leave all the victims of everyone from school personnel to the U.N. Perhaps the real answer — which still has a long way to go in Catholic culture — involves transparency, accountability and education.


ISIS and Dr. Who

In 1977, as a schoolboy, I had the opportunity to visit the Soviet Union. I had little appreciation of faith in those days but did attempt to attend Mass on Sunday. Arriving at the one church that was still open, we were met with the news, from a few grandmothers, that there would be no Mass, as the priest was ill. Sixty years after the revolution, the youngest priest must have been in his mid-80s. The lights must have almost gone out on the Church in Russia in those days.

And yet, perhaps it was from among those grandmothers (Orthodox and Latin) that the country’s future return to faith lay. Both Mikhail Gorbachev and Vladimir Putin were secretly baptized as infants, a spirit lying dormant for many years, as they grew up atheists and part of the Communist Party machine.

Now, Putin seems to be the standard-bearer for a new Russia that, astonishingly but correctly, pointed out how godless America and the West had become, whereas Russia upholds the traditional family and teaches the Christian faith in state schools, a freedom now curtailed in the U.S. The high ground has shifted, so perhaps it’s fitting that the Russians are the ones to lead the fight against ISIS in Syria.

At the beginning of the airstrikes on TV, I noticed a Russian MIG pilot entering his jet with an icon in his hand, showing an understanding of what alliance he and his comrades needed for this particular fight.

While Putin may never be the poster boy for tactful foreign policy, in this instance, he is the only leader with the backbone to tackle ISIS, which is certainly the world’s priority at present.

Defining a just war in our day is difficult, but perhaps defining the adversary leads to the conclusion. I searched for an apt description of ISIS on Wikipedia, and these extracts, while from the entry on the Daleks, the nemesis of television’s Dr. Who, describe ISIS perfectly: “no ability to feel pity, compassion or remorse” ... “view themselves as the supreme race and began a conquest of domination and extermination” and … “having had every emotion removed except hate.”

          Stephen Clark

          Manila, Philippines


Confession and Mercy

Relevant to the Year of Mercy jubilee, which kicked off Dec. 8:

It seems to me that Catholics are depriving themselves of several important graces only to be had in confession. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that there are “graces specific to each sacrament.” This means that if a person does not frequent confession on a regular basis, he or she is depriving him or herself of these graces.

What are these graces?

First and foremost, the gift of fortitude, the spiritual power to overcome all obstacles in life or spiritual life that we experience each day; also, the gift of courage to take on arduous tasks and difficulties, confident of dealing with them in a Christian manner in order to overcome them.

Confession gives that individual personal care, which everyone needs to deal with their particular situation in life: The priest is especially trained to give that spiritual direction we all need in life in order to live it in a Catholic way.

Finally, confession allows the penitent to learn the doctrines of the faith, so as to not fall into serious sin.

Sin is the enemy of our happiness, now and forever, and must be avoided at all costs, lest we fall into its grip and lose the salvation of our souls.

          Bob Saverine

          Stamford, Connecticut


Polar Opposites

Last year’s tragic attack on Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs was the work of an individual with a long record of psychological disorder, as reported by one of his ex-wives, who gave a detailed statement regarding their life together. In her divorce affidavit filed in 1993, she described him as an angry, isolated and alarming person, who would erupt into fury in a matter of seconds, and she had to constantly monitor his emotional state.

He left a decades-long trail of broken marriages, scant social connections and a record of extreme rage when he felt someone did him wrong and would plot revenge for the persons he thought were responsible. He has an arrest record dated 1992 in Charleston, S.C., charged with criminal sexual conduct for using a knife and forcing a woman into her apartment, assaulting and raping her. No record shows how the case was ultimately handled.

Obvious to all, Robert Lewis Dear, the man accused of the murders at this Planned Parenthood facility, should have been removed from society decades ago. The mentally ill among us deserve to be humanely treated, both for their distressed state, as well as for the public’s safety. In this case, as in so many others, attention was paid only after the loss of innocent life.

Abortion promoters are trying to use Dear’s actions to attack the motives and integrity of the pro-life community and to further promote Planned Parenthood’s despicable money-making business of taking the lives of the unborn, as well as selling body parts of some of the aborted babies.

In the 42 years since Roe v. Wade, pro-lifers have stood in solidarity with those working to save lives, promote strong families and maintain programs for remorseful post-abortive women and men — polar opposite to Planned Parenthood and its agenda.

                        Mabel Ryan

                        Ocala, Florida