Letters 01.11.2009

In “Hot Water Over Communion and Obama” (Nov. 30), Father Dwight Longenecker writes that because of Internal Revenue Service concerns, priests are “not allowed” to “speak out more forcefully before the election” on pro-life issues and that it’s “the role of the laity” to do so. With all due respect, that’s like saying the sheep are supposed to lead the shepherd.

A number of prominent priests courageously speak in defense of life no matter the season. Among them are the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word (EWTN), Father Frank Pavone (Priests for Life) and Father Thomas Euteneuer (Human Life International). The IRS hasn’t shut down these high-profile witnesses, so why should obscure diocesan priests be afraid?

Moreover, on Judgment Day, priests and bishops won’t likely be asked whether they appeased the IRS — but whether they did everything in their power to protect the unborn. The reason that 54% of Catholics voted for the most pro-abortion candidate in history is precisely because of the clergy’s historical silence on this issue.

If 3,500 homeless people were being butchered in the streets every day would our priests be equally silent? Wouldn’t they at least pray at every single liturgy for an end to the slaughter? Yet, in most parishes, the word “abortion” is rarely or never heard. The message to Catholics: Abortion is no big deal.

As long as this scandalous silence continues, and as long as bishops compound the problem by allowing pro-abortion politicians to receive holy Communion — which simultaneously jeopardizes souls, defames Our Lord, decreases faith in the Real Presence, and shouts from the rooftops that abortion is no big deal — the Catholic Church in America, endowed with the fullness of truth, remains uniquely culpable for the blood of millions of children.

Father Longenecker is right to urge the laity to get “into hot water” to defend the unborn. However, it’s more essential that he and his fellow priests do the same.

What the Church needs now are heroes. She needs heroes in every single vocation of which she is composed. Yet, above all, she needs heroes in the form of her priests, those men who by virtue of their ordination are called to wage war against evil and to lead the laity in persona Christi — in the person of the greatest hero of all time.

Don Himmelspach

Saginaw, Michigan

Catholic ‘Lite’

I would like to comment respectfully on your Nov. 30 issue.

It is good to have the hope you expressed in “Hope for America: No. 3: The New Springtime of the Faith”: The election was not the end of the world, as prophets of doom might imply. But we need to ask: Is Cardinal Stafford a prophet of doom or simply a realist? Let us quote the good cardinal: “If 1968 was the year of America’s ‘suicide attempt,’ 2008 is the year of America’s exhaustion” (“Cardinal Critical of Obama”).

In “Hot Water Over Communion and Obama,” you mention the controversy surrounding Father Newman, who told his parishioners they had better go to confession before receiving the Eucharist if they voted for Obama.

Then your answer to the problem of why Catholics were indistinguishable from the general population in the last election is to give your readers a “How (and Why) to Return to Sunday Mass.” It only skirts the main reason we need to go to Mass. That is, simply, missing Mass on Sunday is a mortal sin (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2181). The only way to take away a mortal sin is through the sacrament of penance (No. 1484). If you die with a mortal sin on your soul, you are in danger of going to hell (No. 1861). And you might want to help Father Newman out and tell your readers that if you receive Communion in the state of mortal sin that you have committed a sacrilege, which is a sin against the Holy Spirit, and the act itself is to eat and drink unto condemnation (No. 1864).

Before we can get to the springtime of Christianity, we have to go through the winter. You mentioned some of the winters Catholics have had to go through in your editorial. I am deathly afraid that we have not seen the winter of our unfaithfulness yet, that the winter is just beginning.

I thank God for priests like Father Newman and Cardinal Stafford, for they tell the truth, even if it isn’t always pleasant. I suggest that as you offer your readers “improved tools” to help them with their faith that you tell the hard truth and not the Catholic lite that I see in your Mass guide. Catholic lite is what got us into this mess. Fear of the Lord will get us out.

Don Moga

Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin

Editor’s note: Your point is well taken. We would clarify that the statement “We can and must believe, with the late Pope John Paul II, that God is preparing a new springtime for Christianity,” didn’t originate with us, but Pope Benedict XVI.

The emphasis on promoting Sunday Mass (along with confession and prayer) is also not ours, originally. Pope John Paul II made these the emphases for the entire Church in his apostolic letter at the end of the Jubilee Year.

The Holy Father’s proposal is brilliantly conceived, we think: To convince someone to commit to Sunday Mass, confession and prayer is an easy sell, and it reorders the person’s priorities.

Those guides are available online at NCRegister.com. Click on “Resources” then “How to be a Catholic Guides.” Readers can feel free to distribute them far and wide as part of their effort to fulfill what the popes have requested.

Prayer for the President

In light of the monumental problems now facing our country, this prayer is very timely:

Keep our new President Barack Obama healthy, safe and out of harm’s way. Give him the wisdom of Solomon and the integrity and courage of St. Thomas More. Lord, hear our prayer.

Jerry Mazenko

Garden Grove, California

Great Guides

Please have more of your Catholic guides (Culture of Life, Nov. 30-Dec. 21 issues). They are so excellent. We need more of these to help evangelize our parishioners.

Father Peter Carota

Ripon, California

Complete Rosary

Concerning “How (and Why) of Daily Prayer” (Dec. 14), you had instructions on how to pray the Rosary. You left out the first four beads and just jumped right into the fifth bead for the Our Father prayer. As my husband, who is a convert, said, “What about the other four beads? What are they for?”

I always thought that they could be for the Pope or for your own faith, hope and charity.

Please don’t water down the Rosary. I have heard about dropping these important first four bead prayers, but it is just not right. Teach the proper way, especially for new learners.

Jane Nakashian

Boston, Massachusetts

Catholic Promises

You duly note that Pope Benedict will be able to fulfill Barack Obama’s promises of unity, hope and change in “Benedict vs. Obama” (Jan. 4). While the arguments put forth by some Catholics who supported Obama are truly an embarrassment, it is difficult to excoriate sincere Catholics who once again found themselves between a rock and a hard place in having to choose between the economic and social-welfare policies of the Democrats and the anti-abortion promises of Republicans.

The Republican Party has unfortunately turned abortion into a single-issue political bone, which it dangles in front of orthodox Catholics and conservative Protestants every election, with no attempt to link the having of children with the very necessary resources to raise children and promote stable families.

Let’s face it: With the exception of a very narrow definition of the abortion issue, how “in communion” are Republican politicians with the rest of the teachings of the Church?

Jeffrey McHale

Scranton, Pennsylvania

Pro-Life Spotlight

We owe Joseph Nolan (“Pro-Life Backup,” Letters, Nov. 30) thanks for shining the spotlight on the impressive safety net in this country of quiet, safe support services for pregnant women who are facing difficulties or crises.

One reason why Mr. Nolan may be unaware of them is their tight budgets and the cost of advertising. The centers, by and large, are staffed by well-trained volunteers and supported by donations. The word has to get around by word of mouth and very carefully placed ad dollars. They would be able to boost their visibility through your contributions.

No one can do it all, Mr. Nolan. I can’t, you can’t, and individual pro-life organizations can’t. However, I would reassure you that those in the other aspects of pro-life work in this country work to support any pregnant woman and direct her to the service best suited to helping her in her need.

Mary Szydlik

Brooklyn Park, Minnesota

Editor’s note: Look to the Register for frequent reports on these centers — and how you can help.

Real Choice

Words have meaning and power. Words can influence and sway. Words can lead and mislead.

We are challenged today by the current corruption of our English language. “Freedom,” “choice,” “dignity,” “healing” and “service” are examples of misused words. Their connotation in the past was to uplift, inspire and hearten. Not so today. We are led by way of manipulation and obfuscation to consider what is naturally unacceptable and offensive — the killing of innocent life — acceptable and good. That’s why companies like VirtueMedia are needed to proclaim the truth (“Thousands Alive Thanks to Ads,” Dec. 21).

The time is now to return “choice” to its correct usage and understanding. The real choice is for life. The real choice is before the act, not after the fact.

Rosalie Monaco

Coordinator, The Real Choice

East Rockaway, New York