Letters 02.07.16

‘Fierce, but Powerless’

I have noticed lately that in movies there is an increasing fascination with the supernatural and the eternal battle between good and evil, with a multitude of special effects to add to the drama and portray the horror of the evil one. It’s usually depicted as being a close-run thing though, as if there is something close to equality between the two sides, but nothing could be farther from the truth. I had a peculiar illustration of this recently, following the long-awaited opening of our parish’s adoration chapel. I try to visit most days; and from that first day, each time I went, I was set upon by a vicious stray dog that came hurtling across the park, snarling and barking — stopping just short of the range of my umbrella. This may sound trivial, but it was every day, sometimes accompanied by a few other dogs that surrounded me as I approached the chapel. As days turned to weeks, I was getting quite weary of this daily ritual; I even prayed for Moriarty (that’s the dog’s name).

During this time, I was also reading a book about the life of St. Anthony the Hermit, and this was very insightful, as being attacked by the devil in various guises, from packs of dogs, to serpents and insects, was his “bus ride” to work. However, he soon discovered one important fact: They had no power. The devil even had to ask permission from God before he could do anything, as in the trials of Job. In reality, he was very much afraid of Anthony. So, one morning, approaching the chapel from a different road, I caught Moriarty unawares as he sat in the alley. He immediately recognized me and started barking and snarling; but I just walked towards him, and he started to run, turning occasionally to growl, but in retreat — and I realized that it was all a ruse, that, really, he was afraid of me.

As the darkness of our world seems to be ever increasing, it’s worth noting that, compared to God, the devil and his fallen angels are mere creatures, already a defeated enemy. The only way they have any power over us is if we give it to them, yielding to them usually through sin or fear. But as praying Christians, in a state of grace, we have nothing to fear — quite the contrary, we are conquerors and can apply Christ’s victory with every moment or subject of prayer, ushering in the kingdom of God and dispelling the darkness of evil.

         Stephen Clark

         Manila, Philippines



Inspired to Action

The Robert W. Degenhart letter in the Nov. 1 Register (“Moral Deterioration”) inspired me. If we could be called on to give our lives in defense of our country, how much more reason to repent and return to God’s laws — doing what’s best for our country? I will, therefore, do what I am able in order to effect return to the values we share, including adherence to that which is best for our country: in particular, choosing to support a moral and religious person for president. Because such a person will make the effort to reach the best decisions.

         Peter J. Hopkins

         Nashville, Tennessee


Reinterpret Islam?

In the Nov. 29 edition of the Register, Jesuit Father Samir says in his In Person (“Middle-East Scholar: Islam Needs a Renewal of Reason”) that his solution to radical Islamic terrorism is to have moderate imams “reinterpret Islam according to our daily knowledge of today, modern knowledge. But we are applying the Quran as it was said for people in the seventh century in the desert.” Following this line of reasoning, should we now also reinterpret the Bible and its teachings on homosexuality, marriage, divorce and contraception in light of modern thought? After all, today we are no longer living in the time when Jesus Christ walked upon this earth.

         Elizabeth Q. Grady

         Indianapolis, Indianapolis


The editor responds: No, there’s no reason to do the same with Christianity. Father Samir, the respected Egypt-born Islam scholar, knows that while Christianity, and Catholicism in particular, has undergone rigorous self-criticism — which Father Samir refers to as “re-interpretation” — Islam has not. This is the path he is suggesting, not just in the excerpt you cite, but in the entire interview.


A Question of Balance

I am a little surprised and disappointed in the seeming lack of balance in some recent articles. The first example was in the Nov. 15-28 edition article on Paul Ryan (“Catholic Takes Helm in US House”). A couple of points: First, there was a section on “Catholic Criticism.” The only source cited here was Stephen Schneck. His political credentials: He was a board member of Democrats for Life and co-chairman of Catholics for Obama. So do we think that someone who is obviously a liberal Democrat first, and “for life” second, will have an unbiased view on a Republican speaker? No. Later, the article mentions that Speaker Ryan’s bishop rose to his defense. Bishop Robert Morlino is an excellent bishop, and it would have been fitting to cite him — to balance Schneck — or at least include relevant references from the Catechism, regarding subsidiarity.

Another point is one that, in all fairness, goes well beyond this article, but is as often neglected as it is important. It has to do with what the role of the federal government is: It exists to fulfill the responsibilities defined for it by the U.S. Constitution. It does not exist to cure every social ill or fulfill every want. It is, therefore, inappropriate to call on or expect members of the federal government to act in areas in which they have no business acting. The sad fact is that the federal government is fast heading towards fiscal collapse, and, despite this, so many people, seemingly blind to the obvious, continue to call on it to still do more.

The second example of lack of balance is in the Nov. 29-Dec. 12 edition, in the article entitled, “Climate Change and the Church.” The article is written as if anthropogenic global warming is a known fact. It is not. First, “global warming” itself is a debatable proposition. Just one example: According to satellite data, there has been statistically no warming for over 18 years … unless, of course, the data is “adjusted” to fit a desired outcome, as some have done with this data. And as for humans being the cause, this has always been theoretical and, again, not in accord with the data, if one looks at carbon-dioxide emissions and global temperatures.

The climate-gate emails of a few years back should have been enough to give any honest person pause, with respect to this issue. They showed beyond doubt just how political key players in this enterprise of “global warming” are, with their machinations on how to “hide the decline” in temperature (after predicting a “hockey stick”-shaped trend upward) and how to squelch those who dared to hold a differing opinion. This is not honest; this is not reputable, and it is not science.

         Andy Shakal

         Bloomer, Wisconsin


The editor responds: Balance in journalism includes providing supporting and opposing perspectives. The Ryan story includes praise and criticism of the speaker. On climate change and the Catholic Church, the article provides a historical overview of the Vatican’s approach to care for the environment. Although we have in other stories offered critiques on climate change science and the Vatican’s approach, this story simply shows the historical perspective of the Church’s treatment of the issue.


Scandalous Stand

Your Nov. 29 edition carried the article entitled “U.S. Bishops’ 2016 Fall Assembly: Voter Guide Prioritized.” In Section 7 of the “Faithful Citizenship” voters’ guide, it conveys that abortion is an “intrinsically evil” action that “must always be rejected and opposed and must never be supported or condoned.” Yet, sadly, nowhere in the document does it say that voting for pro-abortion candidates is intrinsically evil. Rather, in the four following ways it conveys that it is morally acceptable to so vote.

1) Supporting abortion is part of a long list of matters that voters have to consider, and not singled out as rendering a candidate morally unacceptable for office.

2) In Section 35, it justifies voting for a pro-abortion candidate if there is a truly grave moral reason to do so; such as the poor starving, without homes and no medical care. The reality is that, in America, there is a bipartisan consensus to meet the needs of the poor (regardless of the political party in office), and our society does remarkably well in doing so. One needn’t accept killing a million unborn children a year because you have to prevent the deaths of more than a million individuals by starvation and/or freezing to death.

3) In Section 42, a voter need not disqualify a candidate from receiving support because the candidate supports an intrinsic evil.

4) Also in Section 42, it states: “As Catholics we are not single-issue voters.” This clearly indicates we can vote on other issues, regardless if a candidate supports an intrinsic evil.

This support for voting for pro-abortion candidates has been in every voters’ guide since the first in 1976. It has been supplemented by national, diocesan and parish staff, indicating that it is okay to vote for pro-abortion candidates; as well as by the bishops keeping pro-abortion Catholic legislators in good standing in the Church, permitting them to receive Communion.

I personally find this scandalous. It has played an essential role in keeping abortions legal in America, with 60 million unborn children killed. And the killing will continue unabated until the bishops teach that it is morally wrong to vote for candidates who will keep abortion legal.

           Mark Gallagher

          Ocean City, New Jersey