Letters 05.31.2009

'Choice' Noise

Regarding "Deadly Spin" (May 24): It is still surprising to me after 40-plus years in the nursing profession to hear noise about a woman's "choice" regarding an early end to her pregnancy.

The National Geographic Channel's "In the Womb" series is so spectacular, especially with today's technology, that it is easy to see when life begins.

The woman's choice ends at the front door, as it were. Except in cases of rape, the woman has to give consent to the man: It's truly her choice at that moment. What young people should be taught is how to avoid situations that might be compromising to both male and female.

Sister Geraldine M. Wagner, R.N.

Lompoc, California

Notre Fame vs. Notre Dame

As an iconic Catholic university bearing the name of Our Lady, the Mother of God, Catholics, as well as well-intentioned non-Catholics, should expect nothing less than that Notre Dame live up to its own raison d'être. ND has chosen, however, the path of fame, as discussed in "Benedict vs. South Bend" (May 17).

The dilemma between bearing witness to the Gospel and earthly fame is not new to Catholics. Therefore, a true reading of the ND fiasco goes beyond considering it only as a sort of "institutional" crisis. The kernel of the matter has to do more with the human soul. In this context, the Church's teachings and guidelines are the best antidote to the enemy of human nature.

Let us take a closer look at the meaning of this dilemma. It is not popular to oppose contraception in this culture: Abstinence doesn't sell, and it would bring tons of businesses, including probably most of the Hollywood anti-Christian show machine, to bankruptcy. It is not "cool" either to promote abstinence on campuses, let alone to oppose the relativist dogma of procured abortion when things "go awkward." Who, therefore — and ND is no exception — would commit political suicide by opposing the legal status quo of procured abortion? The same goes with the killing of embryos and all the other attacks on human life that the Church has identified as coming from the current administration.

Polls show that a majority of students supported the course of action adopted by ND's leadership in extending the invitation to the president. Those students who supported the invitation seemed to be saying: "Give me your education, but keep your moral teachings to yourself." In Catholic jargon, this amounts to saying: "I keep my fame, and you follow your own Dame."

But once again, the Church, in the voice of the bishops, is right — as she has been on countless other occasions.

The prophetic minority of ND students siding with the Church will undoubtedly have its day in (the celestial) court. Ultimately, the day shall come when every knee shall bend before the Lord — the Dame's son — in reparation for this disobedience, and all Catholics, clinging to the True Way, shall say "No more" to this type of affront.

Dante Figueroa

Washington, D.C.

Unhappy Gipper

Regarding "Obama Honorary Degree Text" (Daily Blog, May 15): There is a problem with this text, in that its credibility is questionable. The words in this text are reminiscent of the candidate's rhetoric when running for office except for: "dialogue with all nations and religions committed to human rights and the global common good. Through his willingness to engage with those who disagree with him and encourage people of faith ..."

Does support for FOCA (Freedom of Choice Act), rescinding of the Mexico City Policy, and requiring people of conscience to participate in abortion, etc. sound consistent with those words? Don't think so. Does the release of the water boarding procedures to reignite that issue sound like the move of a uniter?

As Arizona State University stated, he has yet to earn a degree. ND has made a terrible mistake in this case (no disrespect to the president intended): It's a violation of Church teaching and an error in judgment to have given him an honorary degree. The Gipper would not be happy.

Al Wunsch

The Villages, Florida

Pro-Life 'Seamless Garment'

The deceased pro-life prelate, Cardinal Bernardin, was an effective proponent of the "seamless-garment" notion concerning the spectrum of human life issues from conception to natural death. With the recent rabid Catholic uproar about President Obama speaking at Notre Dame, one wonders if that broad interpretation of pro-life issues is remembered in the Catholic community, particularly in South Bend.

If President Obama should be shunned for tolerance of abortion ("The Notre Dame Brand," May 17), why was former President Bush not shunned for his support of capital punishment? After all, as governor of Texas, Bush saw to it that the deadly injection needles of capital punishment were used with dispatch. What was the position of the bishop in South Bend and the other bishops of his ilk regarding the previous graduation appearance at Notre Dame by President Bush, such a notorious dissident from the full spectrum of Catholic pro-life views?

Regarding capital punishment, apparently there is a noteworthy "wardrobe malfunction" of the pro-life garment in conservative Catholic circles. The "seamless-garment" notion seems to be missing some stitches in the hem (or perhaps the bodice) of the fabric of moral evaluation of graduation speakers. Maybe the new seamstress for Janet Jackson could help several Catholic bishops with their torn ideological garments, which are splitting at the seams. Then again, maybe a diet from pharisaical double standards regarding graduation speakers is all that is needed to prevent those bishops from embarrassingly bulging out of supposedly seamless pro-life cassocks.

Brother Terrence Lauerman, O. Praem.

St. Norbert Abbey

De Pere, Wisconsin

Editor's note: Remember: Not all life issues are equally grave. Shortly before he became Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick: "While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."

Any and every act of direct abortion is wrong; the same can't be said of war and capital punishment, which are sometimes necessary actions for the protection of others. That's not to say that any and every act of war and the death penalty is right. But the case for withholding honors from a politician who supports them isn't as clear. For instance, Obama himself is for war in some places and for the death penalty for some crimes.

Intrinsic Worth of a Child

I realize I've come a little late to the discussion of Janet E. Smith's column of April 5 ("Adopting Embryos: Why Not?"), but I want to express support for her views.

My niece was conceived by in vitro fertilization (IVF). Shocked as I was when my brother and sister-in-law told me, I never saw her as anything but a new baby to be welcomed by our family. I'd be much more distressed if I ever found out that she had siblings who could have been adopted but were allowed to die or killed for research instead.

Saying, as several letters did, that embryo adoption is immoral strikes me as being perilously close to the view that abortion is justified in the case of rape. In both cases, the manner of conception is considered more important than the intrinsic worth of the child. The fact that both rape and in vitro fertilization are sinful should not be a death warrant for the children brought into being by those acts.

Several letters argued that embryo adoption would encourage more IVF. But most infertile couples who use IVF do so because they will only accept a child who is biologically related to them. They are unlikely to be either encouraged or deterred by the possibility of their "spare" embryos being adopted. The motive of an adopting couple is the opposite: They want to give a child life and don't care whether they pass on their own genes or not.

In short, it seems to me that this debate — like the abortion issue — is part of a larger question: How should we treat our unborn children? Are they the property of their parents, to be disposed of as the parents see fit? Or are they human persons with unalienable rights? The answer of embryo adopters is the same as that of pro-lifers: However these children were conceived, they exist now, they are persons, and they deserve a chance to live. Although Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI clearly teach that IVF is wrong, I can't imagine either of them agreeing that we should therefore throw out the baby along with the petri dish.

 Anne G. Burns

Cos Cob, Connecticut

Hand-of-God Story

My husband and I read with great interest "Colonial Catholic Dream Fulfilled" in the May 10 issue. We see this as an incredible hand-of-God story. Divine Providence has the reopening of the first English-American colonial Catholic Church, closed by the governor due to a misinterpretation of "religious freedom," happening when our present federal government officials are being extremely un-American and unfriendly to religion, especially Catholicism. 

We hope to get to this event. Thank you very much for this insightful and timely story.

Steve and Ann Craig

Robstown, Texas