Letters 04.12.20

Readers respond to Register articles.

(photo: Register Files)

Eastern Mysticism

In the Register interview with Dan Burke (In Person interview, “EWTN Exec Follows God’s Will ‘Into the Deep,’” Feb. 2 issue), he reported that he was surprised by how much non-Christian spirituality had crept into the Church by 2009 when he became a Catholic.

I do not have a computer and would appreciate information as to what the Church teaches regarding Eastern practices, especially exercise programs derived from Eastern spiritualties. The programs I need information on are: Ti Chi Qigong, yoga (especially chair yoga) and centering prayer. These programs are being allowed in my parish and other parishes. The materials sent to me could be copied and sent to the pastors involved. The next Chi Qigong program began March 2. I appreciate whatever you can do.

Robert G. Thoman

Dayton, Ohio

The editor responds:: A good place to start is A Catholic Guide to Mindfulness by Susan Brinkmann and Is Centering Prayer Catholic? by Connie Rossini and Anthony Lilles. 


Capitalism vs.  Communism

Relative to “Soviet Union Rewind” (In Depth, March 15 issue): While Paul Kengor was right to critique communism and socialism (at least in their “pure” forms) in his piece “Soviet Union Rewind,” he failed to provide any positive way forward. Indeed, his one-sided critique fails to capture the sort of middle way promulgated by Pope St. John Paul II in such documents as Centesimus Annus.

Kengor correctly condemns the death toll in communist regimes like the USSR, China and Cuba, but similar numbers of individuals have been killed by capitalist regimes: millions of Africans transported to and enslaved in the New World; millions more dead in Belgian Congo; Winston Churchill’s willful starvation of Bengal. Colonialism is a capitalistic enterprise.

In our own nation, it was not the free market that ended child labor, produced safer working conditions, and limited the oppressive restrictions and overworking imposed by capitalist company shareholders and owners. Instead, it was the legislative results of the efforts of socialist organizations and other collective labor movements, like those of the Servant of God Dorothy Day. Admittedly, “democratic socialism” is not the most accurate term for a system that functions largely within a capitalist structure, but this is the current label attached to one version of what has come to us as a kind of middle way. If Kengor would have us reject socialism (along with the many Holy Fathers he quotes), then what would he have us do instead? As St. John Paul II said, “But there are many human needs which find no place on the market.” We do not need state control of industry, but we also do not need a completely free market. Instead, “Reasonable regulation of the marketplace and economic initiatives, in keeping with a just hierarchy of values and a view to the common good, is to be commended” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2425). Kengor states, “As for oddball Christians who confusingly want to be socialists, Pius XI advised a better course.” As for the oddball Christians who confusingly want to be capitalists, John Paul II advised a better course.

Timothy Chapman

Grand Island, Nebraska


Post-Pandemic Catechesis

Relevant to the ongoing coronavirus coverage: In support of civil authorities, U.S. Catholic bishops have canceled Masses and the public celebration of other sacraments, e.g., penance/confession. This to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Thank you to our bishops for invoking Our Lady of Guadalupe’s intercession for our country. But what about long-term catechesis?

The Register has previously reported the appalling lack of belief among Catholics in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, even among Sunday Mass-attending faithful.

Given the decreasing belief in Catholic doctrine among Catholics and shrinking Mass attendance, how will U.S. bishops reinvigorate the Catholic faith when the coronavirus subsides?

Would now be the time for bishops to collectively, publicly kneel with and lead all Americans in prayer, to invoke God’s protection for America?

Might now be the time for bishops to collectively process the statue of Our Lady of America into the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, as Our Lady has requested, in order to protect America?

Might now be the time to announce that after the effects of the virus lessen, Catholic schools will once again institute daily school Masses to promote reception of the Eucharist — and stop the excuses for why this is not possible?

St. Damien of Molokai knew no fear in tending to the lepers in Hawaii. St. Maximilian Kolbe knew no fear in giving his life for another’s life in a Nazi prison camp. The North American Martyrs knew no fear in bringing the Catholic faith to our shores. We pray for our bishops’ fearless courage because we believe that they, like sainted priests, share the love of God and his people.

We need bishops’ leadership. We need their voices. Most of all, we need their public Catholic example. As we know, Jesus said, “No one who lights a lamp hides it away or places it [under a bushel basket], but on a lampstand so that those who enter might see the light” (Luke 11:33).

I pray for Pope Francis and our bishops and priests daily. God bless you.

Patrick Kunklier

Fairlawn, Ohio


Catholic Tracts

“‘Watch This Space’” (Education, Feb. 16 issue) describes the extensive work done by the Catholic Truth Society, headquartered in London, with its numerous evangelical publications.

I call your attention to another organization, the Catholic Evidence Guild, whose assigned mission is apologetics and whose New York chapter has produced more than 30 brief and incisive tracts regarding the most important Catholic teachings. The Catholic Evidence Guild was active in New York City from 1918 until the 1960s, with Frank Sheed and Maisie Ward as longtime members. The New York Guild was revived in 1995 by Cardinal John O’Connor, and it continues to give apologetics talks one Saturday afternoon each month in public parks and Grand Central Terminal.

Don Murray

New York, New York